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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 10/12/15

Guests: John Danforth, Eliana Johnson, Margie Omero, Dean Valore, JanaiNelson

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: There`s something -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To use it, not the analogies -- BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not hyperbole at all. (END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS-PERRY: There`s something deeply troubling about blaming victims of mass murder and even the holocaust for their own distraction. But I have to say the most troubling part is the fact that Dr. Carson is not only a top-tier candidate, he is also viewed in a deeply favorable light. America, I`m going to need us to do a little better. And that does it for us tonight, Rachel will be back tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Melissa, thank you very much. HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks. O`DONNELL: Most house Republicans are praying that Paul Ryan will save them, but one Republican thinks only God can save them now. That Republican will be my first guest. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: I haven`t changed my mind, my answer is still the same. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Republicans don`t seem to be taking no for an answer. RYAN: I have nothing more to say (INAUDIBLE) -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Ryan does not want to have to run for speaker -- STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: As one of his friends told reporters, because he`s not a -- moron. (LAUGHTER) If that`s the standard, then Congress is loaded with qualified candidates. (LAUGHTER) REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The house is bordering on ungovernable right now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have this group, this Freedom Caucus who says compromise is a bad word. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re much more concerned about reforming the institution. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a more modest goal which is to make sure that Congress doesn`t do damage to the economy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are one day away from the first Democratic debate. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s not going to be very well rated because Trump isn`t in the debate. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one on that stage I think wants this to be an all out slug fest. LESTER HOLT, JOURNALIST: Still no word from Joe Biden about whether he is in or out. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve got an extra podium in case Joe Biden shows up. STEVE KROFT, JOURNALIST: Do you think if you run again or could run again, you would be elected? OBAMA: Yes. KROFT: You do? OBAMA: I do. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan`s communication director tried to make his and Paul Ryan`s life easier today by tweeting this first thing this morning. "Before you ask, nothing has changed and I don`t anticipate any news this week." Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is the only member of the house to be publicly begged by most of his party including conservative media to run for speaker and to publicly refuse to run and turn his back on all those beggars. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: I haven`t changed my mind, my answer is still the same and I have nothing more to say or nothing new to add. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You probably -- RYAN: So -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heard from a lot of your colleagues. RYAN: I have, but I haven`t changed my answer and I really have nothing more to add. So, I`m just going to have to leave it at that -- all right. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Chaos in the house has spread to the Benghazi Committee where a former member of the Republican staff of the committee has accused Chairman Trey Gowdy of running a politically motivated investigation aimed at discrediting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Chairman Gowdy called that, "a damn lie on the "Today Show" this morning and he said this about the speaker`s job. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOWDY: The house is bordering on ungovernable right now, being a speaker is a very difficult job. We need to have a family conversation and sometimes you got to hit rock bottom before that conversation starts. We`re getting close. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Lost on most observers of this crisis and most of the participants in this crisis, is the all important fact that Paul Ryan already has what I think is the best job in the Congress; chairman of the all powerful Ways and Means Committee. The only committee whose jurisdiction is actually protected by the constitution. Chairman Ryan has jurisdiction over virtually all of the revenue raised by the federal government and most of the spending. Everything the Ways and Means Committee does from taxation to international trade to welfare to Medicare to Social Security, all of it is vitally important to all of us. It is not one of those committees stuck with a bunch of stray cats and dogs of government that no one cares about. Chairman of Ways and Means is the dream job for anyone who actually cares about policy, cares about governing and cares about power. I`ve never known a chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who would ever consider giving up that job to be speaker of the house. For the chairman of Ways and Means that is now and always has been a demotion. Joining us now Eliana Johnson, Washington editor of the "National Review". She broke the story about Representative Kevin McCarthy withdrawing his name as candidate for speaker of the house. Also with us, Richard Wolffe, the executive editor for And joining us, former Republican Senator John Danforth; he is a former senator from Missouri and he is the author of the new book, "The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics". Senator Danforth, we`re going to get to your book later in the show, feel free to sneak in any references you want to before the book segment. Let`s listen to what former speaker Newt Gingrich had for advice for Paul Ryan this weekend, let`s listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think Paul should be very cautious, so when he is the most prestigious member of the house on the Republican side, he has the best future, he`s still very young. You see, it`s easy to get 218 on the first vote and then you get to keeping the government open through a continued resolution and then you get to the debt ceiling and if you`re not careful by Christmas, you resemble John Boehner. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Do you agree with that, Senator? JOHN DANFORTH, (R) MISSOURI, FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Right, I sure do. Who would want to be speaker of the house? I mean, it is -- it is chaos and totally dysfunctional Congress right now. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee can accomplish more. He has got all of the interesting subject matter, virtually. Taxation, if there`s going to be tax reform, entitlement reform, if there`s going to be that. Matters that are really consequential for the future of the country. And being speaker of the house, I mean, you`ve seen what`s happened. It`s just absolutely impossible position to be in. So, if I were in his shoes, I would stick with my present job. O`DONNELL: What about the party though? I mean, tell us about the dynamics of the party pressure to do it, everyone saying, Paul, you`re the only one who can do this. DANFORTH: But, I mean, the question is, do what? I mean -- (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: OK -- DANFORTH: What is -- what is Congress doing now? What is the house of Representatives accomplishing? What can the speaker do when he has 40 or so rebellious people -- O`DONNELL: But on -- DANFORTH: Who are going to be -- O`DONNELL: On a personal level, that party pressure, how does that work on someone like Paul Ryan, do you think in this situation? DANFORTH: Well, I am sure that he`s very interested in what the members of his party have to say. But I think the more important thing for him is, in addition to the family, you know, I mean, it`s going to be a big family drain if he were speaker of the house, and I`m sure that`s important to him. But in addition to that, where can he make the most difference? I don`t see the speaker of the house making any difference with 40 rebels on his hand taking the rule or ruin position. But in ways and means, the chairman of that committee, that`s really something. And he can guide public policy at least up to a point, so, I think it`s the better job. O`DONNELL: Eliana Johnson, who is or what is plan B if Paul Ryan holds to his absolute no? ELIANA JOHNSON, WASHINGTON EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I think Newt Gingrich can take to heart that Paul Ryan is absolutely taking his advice and there are several plan Bs right now, though. We`re in an odd situation in which the vast majority of the people who say they would run for speaker are saying they`ll only run if Paul Ryan doesn`t run. So, it`s a rare historical moment. But there are several names being thrown out there. The chairman of the (INAUDIBLE), Congressman Flores threw his hat in the ring of Texas today, said he`ll run if Congressman Ryan doesn`t run. We`ve heard Peter Roskam, Jason Chaffetz will get in if Congressman Ryan doesn`t run. And so, there are several names out there, but there`s nobody who commands the broad respect that Paul Ryan does; the undisputed intellectual leader of Republicans in Congress. And unlike all these other names tested on the national stage because he was Mitt Romney`s vice presidential nominee. And as we saw, Kevin McCarthy didn`t have that experience and fumbled in his first major national interview. So, I think that`s something Republicans are really looking for. O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, there`s also the question for Paul Ryan, where would I go from there? And if you`re looking -- RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Right -- WOLFFE: At what`s happened to speakers of the house just during Paul Ryan`s adulthood, the outcomes are not good. The -- John Boehner, the most recent example, others being driven out in effect. Tom Foley, Democratic speaker defeated in his own re-election which obviously used to be automatic for speakers of the house that they`d be re- elected to their positions. And so if you`re Paul Ryan, whose future do you like if you`re looking at - - WOLFFE: Right -- O`DONNELL: The futures of all the past speakers of the house? WOLFFE: Well, his present and his future, right? You know, if the president -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- WOLFFE: Isn`t going to be much fun and the future -- if you have presidential aspirations and surely if you`ve run for that vice president once, you think about running at the top of the ticket later on, that`s not going to happen either. Because you end up being a wounded animal, essentially. You`ve had so many problems trying to hold this coalition together, or you`ve been super pragmatic and said, you know what? This Hastert rule running with the majority of the majority, that`s no longer relevant or even possible, so we`re going to have to create some grand coalitions across the aisle which is of course going to be poisonous for anything you would want to do later. And again, it wouldn`t work in the present term either because you would lose your caucus, too. There isn`t a good solution for a Republican house speaker right now, and that means there`s not a good solution for the Republican Party either. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Ted Cruz said today about this uprising among Republicans. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We were told if only we had the Republican house, things would be much better. Millions of us rose up in 2010, we won a tidal wave election. Very little change. Then we were told the problem is the Senate, we heard over and over again, well, it`s Harry Reid in the Senate, if only we could win the Senate, then finally, we can do something. Said OK. Millions of us rose up in 2014, won nine Senate seats, retired Harry Reid as majority leader and won the biggest majority in the house since 1920s. Been a little over nine months we`ve had Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. What on earth have they accomplished? It is why people are volcanic. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Senator Danforth, if you got to speak to that same audience after Ted Cruz, what would you say that he might have left out there? DANFORTH: What is our government about? Is it about making decisions in just a few months? No, it wasn`t designed that way by our founding fathers; by the writers of the constitution. What he just said is, look, we went to the polls, "we" being the conservatives, we went to the polls, nine months later, we haven`t repealed Obamacare and we haven`t defunded Planned Parenthood. I mean, government, you really would have to have an all-powerful view of the federal government if you thought that it could turn on a dime that way. So, I think it`s just a mistake in view of the way the government was set up. O`DONNELL: And Richard Wolffe, one of the interesting things about the demands that the house members, the so-called Freedom Caucus who are holding up the situation for the Republicans in the house, their demands actually include that the house operate more like the Senate, open up to more amendments. More of these things that we`ve seen, slow things down in the Senate. WOLFFE: Right, they`re not talking about responsible government, they are talking about irresponsible government. So, the idea that this could be a protest body is fine if you`re in the minority and that`s what I think quite perplexing about this Republican Party at this moment. Where it has power but chooses not to exercise it because the people exercising that power are themselves suspicious. So, you hear it already about Paul Ryan and the conservative media that he`s just going to be another John Boehner, why? Because he would want to get things done. You know, this is -- this is an extreme view where actually they rail against paralysis, you heard Senator Cruz saying right there. But actually, they want to embrace it and perpetuate it. So, it`s not a rational strategy. It`s one that really demands permanent opposition because it seems to be more satisfying. O`DONNELL: Eliana, since the house and the Senate are very good at not getting things done, what are the odds that they actually get nothing done on the selection of a new speaker? And when we get to Christmas, the John Boehner resemblance that Newt Gingrich was predicting is actually true and John Boehner is still the speaker of the house. JOHNSON: I actually think there`s a good chance of that, and the irony is, of course that the Freedom Caucus asserted itself in what they may have gotten in response is more John Boehner who has been the bane of their existence. And I think the bigger problem here is that leadership, not only as Congress` power at an ebb here, but the house leadership has really lost its ability to exert power in large part because of social media actually. So the ways that we -- house leadership used to exert power by revoking committee chairmanships and all of that, it can no longer do. And I think the house and the Democrats will have to grapple with it when they`re in power, need to come up with a different way of exerting this power over its members. That`s what`s really going on here, is that Boehner needs to come up with a new way and the next speaker will have to come up with a new way to exert influence over in Congress and enforce some discipline. O`DONNELL: Senator Tom Cotton suggested Dick Cheney as a speaker of the house since you don`t have to be a member of the house. How about Speaker John Danforth? DANFORTH: (INAUDIBLE) would say, not with his wife. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: OK, all right, we`re going to take a break here -- Eliana Johnson, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will finally face-off for the first Democratic debate tomorrow. And later, new reports released in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a police officer, those reports say that the shooting was justifiable. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: "Cnn" is making a big deal about holding open a spot for Joe Biden on the debate stage tomorrow night just in case Joe Biden announces at the last minute that he`s running for president. Professor Lawrence Lessig has already announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination, but Professor Lessig will not be allowed to occupy the empty Biden spot on the debate stage. Because the debate rule say that his poll numbers are not high enough. Professor Lessig will join us here for our debate coverage tomorrow night on THE LAST WORD. Coming up next, who does President Obama want to be the next president? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KROFT: Do you think you`d run again, you could run again or did run again, you would be elected? OBAMA: Yes. KROFT: You do? OBAMA: I do. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: President Obama is not going to get the chance to vote for himself for president again, and if you`re trying to guess who he will vote for in the Illinois Democratic presidential primary, this might help. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: And I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history and one of the more consequential. And if you`re sitting right next to the president in every meeting, and you know, wrestling with these issues, I`m sure that for him he`s saying to himself, I could do a really good job. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: A new national "Cbs" poll released on the eve of the debate shows Hillary Clinton holding her solid lead at 46 percent with Bernie Sanders holding steadily in second place at 27 percent and Joe Biden running third to Bernie Sanders at 16 percent. That same poll shows that if Joe Biden is not a candidate, Hillary Clinton would get two-thirds of Biden`s supporters pushing her up to 56 percent and Bernie Sanders would pick up the rest and move up to 32 percent. Joining us now Richard Wolffe, executive editor, and Margie Omero is a Democratic pollster for Purple Strategies. Margie, these polls with Biden in, Biden out, clearly show that he does more damage to Hillary Clinton than to Bernie Sanders. But they -- what they don`t show is any upward movement for him over the last, say, 60 days. MARGIE OMERO, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, PURPLE STRATEGIES & DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, there was a time earlier when some outlets were actually not even including Biden in the match-ups. And now they`re starting to put him back in and you saw as speculation grew that his numbers grew. I think they may be stabilizing because he hasn`t announced that he`s going to be a candidate. In fact, he`s announced that he`s not sure if he`s going to be a candidate. So, I think it`s OK, it doesn`t mean that Biden can`t be successful, it doesn`t mean that voters don`t want to see him come in. You`ve seen other polls that show Democrats are divided as to whether or not they want him to enter the race. So, I think they are where you`d expect given that he is not yet an announced candidate. O`DONNELL: Richard, how does the Biden factor play in tomorrow night`s debate? WOLFFE: Well, clearly there are going to be questions there. There`s going to be some gaming of the different scenarios. But Hillary Clinton really ought to find that easy to move beyond that. You know, be -- the harder questions are going to be the kinds of things Joe Biden would raise about her position on foreign policy, about the President`s record on foreign policy. But those are not going to decide the core support of the Democratic voters in these primaries and caucuses. So, I don`t think that his absence is going to twist the field. It might pose some tricky questions, but if Hillary Clinton can`t deal with those, then she`s in serious trouble. O`DONNELL: And Margie, this is Bernie Sanders big opportunity. He`s never been seen, he`s been pulling the biggest crowds for Democrat, no question about it. But in terms of television audiences, he`s never had the exposure that Hillary Clinton has had. Is there a special strategy that he should be working on for this debate because it is going to be in many ways for him, an introduction to many new voters? OMERO: Well, I think you`re going to see him introducing himself to people. People who are seeing him speak for the first time, they may know a little bit about him, but they don`t know that much about him. So, I think his first order of business is really saying who he is, his background and what he`s about and the things that he stands for. O`DONNELL: Richard, there`s a new poll -- in that "Cbs" poll, one of the internal questions is about Hillary Clinton`s e-mail and how it`s affecting voters and you have 71 percent of voters saying the way she used private e- mail at the State Department was not appropriate. Forty eight percent of Democrats saying it was not appropriate, 41 percent saying that it was appropriate. You can see that there is -- and there`s dissatisfaction -- another question, are you satisfied with her explanations? Mostly dissatisfied. This is registered voters overall, 59 percent. And then the issue of how important is this as a voting issue for you? And about 50 percent of voters say that it is either very important or somewhat important. It`s -- these things are usually hard to figure out exactly -- WOLFFE: Right -- O`DONNELL: How they`re affecting a candidacy. These questions get you a little bit closer to figuring it out. WOLFFE: In the absence of any other discussion about Hillary Clinton, yes, this is going to be -- have an impact on her numbers. She has to move beyond it by talking about what she is, what she represents, the kind of narrative and the purpose of her candidacy. But she also has to speak in a candid way about who she is as well. And I think the character questions are more important than the e-mail questions. So, she has to establish what kind of leader she would be. And I think for many Democrats, and this may just be anecdotal or you may be seeing it in the numbers. The problem about the e-mails is that it won`t go away. She has to put it to rest as an assertion of her own strength and that strength is what people are going to want to see tomorrow night. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said about the e-mail controversy last night on "60 Minutes". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I don`t think it posed national security problem, I think that it was a mistake that she`s acknowledged. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Margie, a mistake that she`s acknowledged. There`s the President calling it a mistake but Hillary Clinton has already called it a mistake. OMERO: Right, I mean, I think he is reiterating what she said about it. I don`t -- and I think that that reflects where vote -- how a lot of voters see the issue. I mean, she`s taken some heat over this over the last few months. I think at the same time, to Richard`s point, she`s been out, also talking about a variety of issues at the same time. And I think the debate prevents -- allows an opportunity for her to discuss the issues more so than the daily news clip from folks who are attacking her on the e-mail issue. That said, I do think it`s something that has -- she`s struggled with a little bit in the polls. I think overall with the polls where you see people who are saying that it affects their view, those are folks who are most -- for the most part are already disinclined to vote for among Democrats, the numbers are really quite different. O`DONNELL: And Richard, Hillary Clinton`s strength has always been a command of details, a better command of details than most other candidates and certainly most other candidates she`s faced in her career. Would you expect her to try to emphasize that tomorrow night? WOLFFE: Yes, I would, I actually -- O`DONNELL: I mean -- WOLFFE: Think -- O`DONNELL: The risk -- the risk of it being that you can start to sound a little in the weeds and a little boring. WOLFFE: Right, and a little establishment. O`DONNELL: Yes -- WOLFFE: So, it would be a major mistake for her to do that. I think her strength is actually her strength. O`DONNELL: Yes -- WOLFFE: She`s got to project the core essence of who she is, which is an extremely strong leader and a strong woman, and someone who can speak authentically at a time when voters(ph) -- Democrats and Republicans are looking for that authenticity. Policy substance does not equal authenticity at this time. Emotion, character, forcefulness, direct communication and an honest answer to questions, those are the kinds of factors that I think are shining through. And that`s true for Bernie Sanders especially. O`DONNELL: And, yes, Margie, I mean, that is -- that`s what Bernie Sanders is running on basically, is I`ll tell it to you straight, I`ll give you the absolutely unvarnished truth. OMERO: Yes, I think you`re going to see both Sanders and Clinton really want to talk about the issues in this debate. I think you`re going to find a lot of Democratic voters who are going to find it refreshing. A lot of people who are not Democrats watching this debate are going to find it refreshing. You`re not going to see the slug fest that you`ve seen in the Republican debates where people are kind of barging into the conversation and then try and get -- be part of a viral, you know, viral video where everyone is kind of shouting at each other. You`re not going to see that, at least not with Sanders and Clinton this time around. O`DONNELL: And Richard, Bernie Sanders has the imagine me as president challenge. He`s not only -- WOLFFE: Right -- O`DONNELL: Introducing himself to a lot of new voters who won`t be familiar with him, but he also has to get them to imagine him in the Oval office. With Hillary Clinton, she`s worked a lot in the Oval office as a Secretary of State, she`s been there, that`s not hard to picture. Bernie Sanders has to create that picture. WOLFFE: He has to create a picture while on stage alongside people who can project that already. So that side-by-side comparison is going to be hard for Bernie Sanders, much harder than when you`re surrounded by thousands and thousands of people who are eager for your every word. It wasn`t easy for Barack Obama right at the start, in fact, it wasn`t really particularly easy for him even at the end of the primary debates. Debating skills weren`t there. The way you project hope and change is not really the same as the way you really slash and burn through a debate. And even though it`s not going to be a slug fest it still requires those skills. People want to see the fight brought to life on the stage. If only it`s a fight against Republicans, Bernie Sanders has to embrace that while also looking the part on that debate stage. That`s not easy. O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe and Margie Omero (AUDIO GAP 00:02:36-39) -- to a report saying that the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice was justified. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Eleven months after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland while holding a pellet gun the first but not the last investigation of that shooting has been completed. Here is video of what happened to Tamir Rice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL (voice-over): The prosecutor in the case chose the unusual time of 8:00 P.M., Saturday night to release two reports on the shooting. Each of those reports found the shooting justified. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Dean Valore, a former county prosecutor in Cleveland, Ohio, and former U.S. Assistant Attorney, specializes in use of force by police. Also joining us now is Janai Nelson, the associate director council for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Dean Valore, what is your reaction to these reports, and what was the -- why do these reports exist? It is not something I have seen in any prosecutorial chain of action before. DEAN VALORE, FMR.COUNTY PROSECUTOR IN CLEVELAND, OHIO: Right. It is an unprecedented move when Prosecutor McGinty first decided that he was going to ask some independent experts to evaluate this evidence for him and make report back for use in the grand jury. So, when we learned that that was going to happen, it was a bit unorthodox and unusual for the prosecutor to ask some outside source to do this. He further took the step to then ask the county sheriff`s department to then conduct the investigation and not the Cleveland Police Department. Maybe because of conflict of interest, maybe just because he thought the sheriff`s department was better suited to handle that. But, then, secondly when these reports came out, everyone was sort of surprised here to learn that the experts in question that wrote these reports, in fact, justified their use of force as reasonable in the legal sense. O`DONNELL: And, they -- what was the basis of the findings? VALORE: The basis of the findings was at the time of the incident, the experts analyzed the police reaction which is what all use of force experts do, at the time of the incident the experts analyzed the use of force and whether that was justifiable given the circumstances. And, in this case, they perceived a threat of bodily injury of -- deadly bodily injury and could then reasonably use deadly force as a response. O`DONNELL: And, Janai Nelson, they reached these findings without ever speaking to the police officers involved. JANAI NELSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR COUNCIL FOR THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE & EDUCATIONAL FUND: That is correct. They just looked at the video. They dissected the video. They dissected parts of the record. But, what is really key is to understand what was the officer thinking. When Officer Loehmann arrives on the scene, jumps a curve, and winds up within five to seven feet of Tamir Rice and shoots within two seconds, I think it is rather relevant to think about what the officer was considering at the time that he pulled the trigger. O`DONNELL: And, what is fascinating is the reports get in to complete supposition on that point, saying that they just assume that the officer saw certain things, saw certain movements that are virtually undetectable on the video. And, then that the officer makes decisions based on these movements that take place in less than a second, some of the things they are talking about. NELSON: That is right. Well, the standard that applies the Supreme Court decided in 1999 in a case called Graham versus Conner, that the standard to determine whether an officer uses excessive force in a stop or an arrest or seizure of a person is whether it was objectably reasonable at the time. So, we are all supposed to freeze frame what happened the moment that he arrives on the scene and -- Tamir Rice and determine what was reasonable at that moment. Was it reasonable for him to pull the trigger on a 12-year- old child who was holding a toy gun? We do not know exactly where it was positioned at the time that he pulled up. But, we do not look in hindsight, we really freeze frame at that moment and determine what was reasonable for any officer to do at the time? I think it is highly questionable that experts would analyze the facts and considering the video and what we have all seen with our own eyes to determine conclusively that this was a reasonable action on the part of the officer, given what the circumstances were, given that Tamir Rice was not posing a threat to anyone including the officer or himself at the time that officer arrived on the scene. O`DONNELL: Dean Valore, do you see anything in that video that allows you as an experienced federal and state prosecutor, that would allow you to reach the conclusion, and without any testimony from the officers themselves -- any explanation from the officers themselves, reach a conclusion that, that shooting is justified? Could you see a decision- making process by the officer unfold in a way that you can evaluate? VALORE: I do not see that clearly on the video. It is too short. It is too -- the sequence of events of the pull-up and the firing of the weapon, it is -- it happens too quickly for -- in my opinion, to be able to make an analysis of whether that was reasonable under the circumstances. I think that the investigation needs to be conducted further, which the prosecutor said he is going to do. They are going to continue to investigate. They are going to continue to talk to people. They are going to continue to generate reports. And, I think that once more facts come to light you are going to hear more opinions ability whether this is justifiable or not. I was surprised, frankly, that these experts gave the -- such a definitive opinion that given that small frame of relevant conduct on the video allowed them to say it was justifiable at the time. Ad, I think Janai is right, that is the analysis that needs to be done. O`DONNELL: The timing could not be stranger, 8:00 P.M. on a Saturday night for any prosecutor to release any relevant information about an ongoing investigation. Hillary Clinton tweeted first thing this morning about this. "Sending support to Tamir Rice`s loved ones. Too many black families are mourning the loss of a child. We need to change that reality." And, Janai, we have not heard from any other presidential candidates. NELSON: Yes. Well, I certainly think that the issue of police violence is something that should and I hope will factor significantly in this upcoming presidential election. All candidates need to address this issue. It is something that is really pulling our country in many different directions and pulling us apart in many ways. And, it is a critical issue for us to expect our elected leaders to consider and to react to. And, this is one of sadly many cases that we have dealt with in the past year, and we know that this is preceded this past year as well. But, it is finally coming to light and becoming a real national issue to confront. O`DONNELL: Dean, why has this taken so long to get to this point? VALORE: Well, to tie in with what Janai just said, in Cleveland specifically like the rest of the country, there is a lot of tension in the community, especially as it relates to the police activity. And, what the prosecutor is doing and has done since this case was referred for special investigation, he has taken enormous amounts of time. So much so that in Cleveland, the family and their lawyers of this poor boy have been pushing it themselves through the court system. And, ANOTHER unprecedented move, they got a sitting judge to issue a complaint and make a probable cause determination himself based on an affidavit of citizenship that has never in recent memory being used in our state. And, so, the amount of time that he has been taking and the amount of thoroughness and the length that he is going with these investigations is definitely unusual, but given the stakes and given the tensions and the pressure mounting on all sides, a lot of people are thinking it is justified. O`DONNELL: Dean Valore and Janai Nelson, thank you both for joining us tonight. Coming up next, the presidential candidate who was proven right on the Iraq war. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: The Iraqi Defense Ministry released more video of Iraqi troops attacking ISIS militants trying to take back parts of Iraq that are under the control of the Islamic State. Iraqi officials say air strikes were also carried out by coalition forces against the Islamic State Headquarters. Thirteen years ago, almost exactly 13 years ago tonight, it was on October 9, 2002, then-Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders explained his vote against authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing civil war that can develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region at large, Islamic fundamentalists` populations be over thrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authority be exacerbated. And, these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up next, a republican recommendation for fixing the mess in congress and for how to proceed with the presidential election. It is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) ALAN ALDA, AS SENATOR ARNOLD VINICK, IN THE T.V. SERIES, "THE WEST WING": Whatever happened to separation of church and state? MARTIN SHEEN, AS PRESIDENT JOSIAH BARTLET, IN THE T.V. SERIES, "THE WEST WING": It is hanging in there, but I am afraid the constitution does not say anything about the separation of church and politics. ALDA, AS SEN. VINICK: Are you saying that is a good thing? SHEEN, AS PRES. BARTLET: I am saying that is the way it is, always has been. ALDA, AS SEN. VINICK: Do you think the voter really needs to know if I go to church? SHEEN, AS PRES. BARTLET: I do not need to know, but then I am not going to vote for you anyway. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Former Republican Senator John Danforth has written a book whose title would terrify the secretly atheist candidate for president played by Alan Alda in the MSNBC series "The West Wing." The book is, "The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics." Back with us to discuss the book is Senator Danforth. And, Reverend Danforth, you are an Episcopalian. DANFORTH: That is right. O`DONNELL: And, so, there is -- you know, I created that republican candidate for president in "The West Wing." I was trying to give him the worst problem I could think of. It took me a while. And, I came up with, "What if he secretly is an atheist. Could you vote for an atheist for president? DANFORTH: Yes. I mean we have just had this debate very recently as there should there be a religious test for holding public office, and the answer is no. It is playing in the constitution. O`DONNELL: So, your reaction to what Ben Carson had to say about he would not vote for a Muslim candidate for president? DANFORTH: No, I think that, that is mistaken and it is not -- it is not true to the expressed terms of the constitution, but this book is really not written for candidates for public office. It has to do with the tone of American politics, and what has gone wrong with American politics. And, as you pointed out in your first segment, something has gone terribly wrong. I mean when the House of Representatives cannot even elect a speaker, there is something wrong. And, what is the cause of this? And, I think it has to do with what is it that politicians are hearing from the American people, and what are they trying to evoke from the American people in response? I think what they are hearing from the so-called base of the party, the kind of people who vote in primaries is do not compromise, do not give an inch. And, you cannot do politics that way. And, you cannot do government that way. And, that is not the way congress was set up. So, part of this book is about compromise and about how compromise is consistent with religious principles because the opposite of compromise is enshrining one particular philosophical position or party or political position as the highest good, and that is called idolatry. So, compromise is very much consistent, I think, with the message that religious people should be giving to politicians. O`DONNELL: Yes, the title of the book I think will be misleading to a lot of people because they will not expect to find this book saying, as it does, attempts to translate religious beliefs in to stands on specific issues are misguided for both religious and political reasons. But, what about -- for example the belief, that abortion is murder, which is a belief held by millions of people? If that person with that belief is elected to office, where the congress and the lawmakers decide what is against the law and so forth, why should not that view inform how that person -- DANFORTH: First of all, that particular issue is over. It is no longer in the hands of politicians and has not been since 1973 when Rowe versus Wade was decided. But the point that I make in the book is that -- to translate religion into one particular political view is idolatry. And, it is just not correct to say, in my view, that religion compels people to be republicans or democrats or vote for candidate "A" or "B" or to have one particular philosophical position. There are plenty of good faithful people right across the political spectrum. And, so, I think it is important to recognize that. But, there I think -- there are common messages that faithful people can offer politics, which would make American politics much healthier and much more workable than it is today. One is compromise, as I said earlier. Another has to do with the common good. I mean, what has happened to Kennedy is message about asking what you can do for your country? And, the Americans would be willing to pay any price for the defense of liberty. Is there any politician since then who has ever asked us to pay any price at all? -- O`DONNELL: You mentioned in the book -- DANFORTH: And, the idea that there is a common good instead of just what is in it for me is also very much a religious concept, I think it is one that deserves to be heard. O`DONNELL: You mentioned in the book one of the low points for you as a republican was to watch every republican candidate on the debate stage last time around refuse to raise their hand, and accept a deal in which they would get 90 percent of what they wanted to say and have to give to democrats 10 percent of what they wanted if what the democrats wanted was to tax increase. DANFORTH: Well, it can and it cannot be done that way. And, back when it worked, when you were with Moynihan and when I was in the senate, that is the way the senate finance committee worked for sure. Everything had to be done on a bipartisan basis or it would not be done at all. Everything had to be worked out. And that is the way our congress was constructed. It is a place to work things out. And, it is not functioning now because people are hearing from at least some of their constituents, we do not want you to compromise. There is a new verb to be primaried, and that is what people are threatened -- O`DONNELL: Let us have a quick break. When we come back, this fascinating thing, where you see religion as teaching compromise. Most people think religion is absolutist. And, we want to get your view on Kim Davis` refusal to do our job as a county clerk based on her religious positions. We will be right back with Senator Danforth. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC PLAYING) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KIM DAVIS, ROWAN COUNTY CLERK WHO REFUSES TO ISSUE MARRIAGE LICENSES TO SAME-SEX COUPLES: To affix my name or authoritative title on a certificate that authorizes marriage that conflicts with God`s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman violates my deeply held religious convictions and conscience. For me, this would be an act of disobedience to my God. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We are back with former Republican Senator and permanent Reverend John Danforth. Your reaction to Kim Davis. DANFORTH: When you are elected to an executive position in government, your job is to execute the law whether you agree with it or not. It is just as simple as that. O`DONNELL: It is as simple as that. DANFORTH: But, I think that as far as the general public is concerned, I mean there is this discussion now about accommodating people`s religious beliefs, if they are minority religious beliefs, I am all for that, when it is possible to do it. But that is very different from somebody who is holding a public office. They have to execute the law. O`DONNELL: You have said -- in your book, you talk about libertarianism and how you see that as just fundamentally opposed certainly to Christianity and Christian values, and you find it surprising that Paul Ryan has claimed adherence to both -- to both humane and catholic priests. DANFORTH: Yes, I really do not think he meant it. He spoke to the society and said he agreed with that philosophy. No, I really do not think he does. I think though that the philosophy of libertarianism is of extreme selfishness and that really is counter to what religion is all about. And, it is also counter to what our founders intended America to be all about. It was one of the great concepts of our first four presidents was the idea of virtue, and by that they meant commitment to the common good, not just that we are all selfish. One of the points of this book, really the point is that people really should be more outspoken on behalf of the basic values of America, not leave it just to the people who are angry or shouting or say that do not ever compromise about anything or give me all the benefits I can get and do not make me pay any taxes for them. So, I think that there is a role for a different voice in American politics, and that is what I am trying to encourage. O`DONNELL: You actually quote Iran in the bookand saying things like, you know, you should never try to help other people in any way, you should not do that and you cannot imagine a politician getting up and actually quoting her. DANFORTH: No, that is why Ryan really did not mean it. I think he was just being nice to an audience. But, no, he would not believe that. O`DONNELL: All right, that is going to be the last word. Tonight, we are going to keep Senator Danforth with us. We are going to do a very last word, which we will post online, more about this fascinating book. The book is "The Relevance of Religion," the author, former Senator Jack Danforth. Senator, always great to see you. You really make me miss working with you whenever we have these discussions. (LAUGHING) DANFORTH: Thanks. O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END