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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/17/2015

Guests: Erroll Southers, Pete Williams, Ari Melber, David Corn, Matt Lewis, Josh Barro, Tom Davis

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 17, 2015 Guest: Erroll Southers, Pete Williams, Ari Melber, David Corn, Matt Lewis, Josh Barro, Tom Davis

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Trump gushed -- hosted a lengthy live interview with Donald Trump, but fawning mutual appreciation society interview in which Alex Jones told Donald Trump that about 90 percent of his listeners support Trump for president.

Trump gushed to Alex Jones about his amazing reputation, and especially all the stuff you`ve done on Sandy Hook about how it was all a giant hoax.

That didn`t come up, right? But that`s where Donald Trump was. Florida Atlantic University finally today started to sever ties with the Alex Jones corner of the conspiracy theory, right?

The fringe in this case was too much for that one university in Florida, it`s not apparently too much, though, for the guy next in line to be the Republican nominee for president.

That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, I`m sure Alex Jones and Donald Trump found complete agreement on President Obama`s birth.

MADDOW: Yes, exactly. You know, Donald Trump doesn`t want to talk about the birth certificate thing anymore, but it was really his first foray into presidential politics.

O`DONNELL: Yes, complete --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Invention, yes --

MADDOW: Yes, thank you Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Thank you Rachel --

MADDOW: Thanks --

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, why would Vladimir Putin want the most ignorant and gullible candidate running for president of the United States to win?

Why would he want that? And why is Glenn Beck saying he`s not going to vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump seems to have a fan over in the "Kremlin".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drew some praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m not afraid of a guy riding around on a horse without his shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was asked about the GOP frontrunner in Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: The admiration appears to be mutual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that they`re just very similar personalities.

TRUMP: Putin is a nicer person than I am. I think I`d get along well with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s with the bromance?

GLENN BECK, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: I will not vote for Trump, I won`t vote for Hillary either. I will not vote.

TRUMP: Big deal.


O`DONNELL: We now know who Vladimir Putin would like to be staring down as the next president of the United States.

It should come as no surprise that Putin wants his rival on the world stage to be the most ignorant president in history.


TRUMP: Well, it`s an amazing statistic. The press is going to have to check it because what do I know.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what Vladimir Putin said about Donald Trump.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that.

He`s an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump then once again proved his stunning ignorance of the world by saying, it was an honor -- that was his word -- an honor to be complimented by the imperialistic dictator of Russia.

He also called Vladimir Putin highly respected. Those were Trump`s words, highly respected.

Needless to say, Trump supporters in the media and elsewhere did not attack Donald Trump for calling Vladimir Putin highly respected, the way they obviously would attack any Democrat or anyone else in politics for calling Vladimir Putin highly respected.

Now that Putin has seen how easy it is, so easy, to trick Donald Trump into complimenting him, he must be all the more eager to start negotiating with such a simple mind over the removal of sanctions that President Obama has imposed on Russia.

At the same time, Trump was calling Vladimir Putin highly respected, he was calling Glenn Beck a dog.


BECK: If they put Donald Trump in -- try to put him in office, if that`s what the people want there, you`re going to see an end to the Republican Party. It will just be over.

There`ll just be nothing left.


O`DONNELL: After that, Donald Trump tweeted, "Glenn Beck got fired like a dog by "Fox". "TheBlaze" is failing and he wanted to have me on his show, I said no, because he is irrelevant."

For the record, no one has ever fired a dog, and secondly, all business reports indicate that Glenn Beck`s media empire including "TheBlaze" are making him way richer than anyone who has ever worked at "Fox News".

Today, Glenn Beck said this.


BECK: I won`t vote for Trump. If it`s Hillary-Trump, I will not vote for Trump. I won`t vote for Hillary either. I will not vote.

I`ve stopped putting my name on people I don`t believe in. I don`t understand how people could say and stand in those small government constitutional tea parties and then say, I am for this guy.

The only reason why they`re doing it is because they`re angry. What we need is somebody to articulate the American dream.

Have you heard Donald Trump articulate the American dream? Have you heard him teach the American people about the constitution?

Have you heard him articulate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think he mentioned the constitution --

BECK: Have you heard him articulate and be able to actually make a case for who we are as a people?


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us, Josh Barro, correspondent for the "New York Times" and an Msnbc contributor, and Matt K. Lewis, senior contributor for "The Daily Caller" and a columnist for "The Week".

David Corn, help me. Why would Vladimir Putin want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: You know, this would be really entertaining if it was just a Netflix series.



CORN: But it may well be one day. I`m sure Trump is already selling the rights. But for Trump, not to quite recognize that being complimented by Putin is not actually a compliment, it`s pretty stunning for the guy who wrote the best business book ever called "The Art of the Deal" -- have you heard of it, Lawrence?


I mean it was just a couple of nights ago that he didn`t know what the nuclear triad was, which must have been great news to Putin.

He says yes, I want somebody in charge of the nuclear arsenal of the U.S. who doesn`t really understand it. That will probably help us somehow.

It is gobsmacking (AUDIO GAP 00:01:35-39) but yet, you know, Trump isn`t the greatest. He`s the smartest, he`s the most intelligent person who has ever run for president.

O`DONNELL: So, Matt Lewis, Donald Trump now has maybe 35 percent supporters, so among Republican voters and voters leaning Republican.

Does that mean that today those 35 percent became converts to that world in which Vladimir Putin is highly respected? Do they now think that Vladimir Putin is highly respected?

MATT LEWIS, WRITER, THE DAILY CALLER & CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE WEEK: It`s weird. This is actually someone who has been -- this -- no, this is something that`s been around for a while.

There`s a strain of this sort of paleo-conservative movement that likes Putin, that thinks that he`s tough, that he`s trying to restore Christianity in the western world and that we should be allied with him against radical Islam.

Pat Buchanan, a few years ago wrote a column pretty much to that effect. Look, I`m old enough to remember the Soviet Union, and I know that Putin was a KGBA agent.

And you know, the invasion of Ukraine and all of that. He`s an authoritarian. He reminds me a lot of Donald Trump actually.

I would say, though, in fairness, it is nice to hear -- it was almost diplomatic. It was nice to hear a leader of another country say something nice about an American politician. So there was something nice about that.




O`DONNELL: All right, now, you know, you said there`s some fans of Vladimir Putin out there. Donald Trump is one of them, and he has been a fan of Vladimir Putin before this. Let`s listen to Trump.


TRUMP: I would get along with Putin. I`ve dealt with Russia --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you can get --

TRUMP: Putin hates --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Along with Putin? --

TRUMP: I think I`d get along with him fine. I think in terms of leadership, he`s getting an "A" and our president is not doing so well --


TRUMP: They did not look good together. He does not like Obama at all. He doesn`t respect Obama at all, and I`m sure that Obama doesn`t like him very much.

But I think that I would probably get along with him very well and I don`t think we`d be having the kind of problems that we`re having right now.


O`DONNELL: So, Josh Barro, there`s the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination giving Vladimir Putin an "A" for invading Ukraine and an "A" for propping up the Assad regime.

And an "A" for all sorts of other things that Vladimir Putin is doing around the world.

BARRO: Well, I think that reflects two things. One is a trope that`s not limited to Donald Trump.

You hear from a lot of Republicans about how basically Obama is weak and his weakness is perceived by foreign leaders and if we just had a strong guy in there, then we`d be able to deal with Putin man-to-man and he wouldn`t give us so much trouble anymore.

So, I think that`s one of the things he`s reflecting. But another is a real substantive policy disagreement, not just with the Obama administration, but with much of the Republican field about our interests versus Russia`s interests in much of the world.

The way Trump sees it, you know, we hate ISIS, Russia hates ISIS, why not let Russia go in, meddle in Syria so we don`t have to do it.

That`s -- Donald Trump says that explicitly. There`s something of that in what Ted Cruz is saying, too, he wouldn`t put it quite that way. But Cruz basically says this isn`t our fight, let`s let other people deal with this.

So I think that it reflects actually a real substantive thing where he thinks that something Russia is doing in the Middle East is more aligned with U.S. interest than people in the establishment on either the Republican or Democratic sides believe.

O`DONNELL: Now, it seems Donald Trump is the biggest Republican fan of Vladimir Putin since the last Republican president.

Let`s listen to George W. Bush and see if this sounds a little bit like what we`ve been hearing from Donald Trump.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I looked at the man in the eye, I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.

And we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul. He`s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.


O`DONNELL: David Corn, so this could --

CORN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Be a little trip back to that era.


CORN: I don`t know if it`s going back to the future or ahead with ignorance. But, you know, I think Josh, my pal Josh here, gives Trump perhaps a little too much credit.

I don`t know if there`s a lot of policy analysis that`s underlying his comments about Putin. I get the sense that it`s like, we`re all just big dogs, bold names, you know in the Greek, and living in one giant global green room.

And I like him, he likes me, we`re both winners. And that that`s the way he sees this. Because at the same moment that he can praise Putin, he`s out there saying that the Iran deal is the worst deal that ever happened.

Well, that was a deal that was cut with Russia, you know, working with the United States and other nations, too. So I think it`s very much a jumble inside or underneath that orange glow of Donald Trump`s.

And but basically, you know, he`s probably reacting to the personality type and seeing Putin in the way he looks in a mirror, another strong man that he thinks he is.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what John McCain said about this today.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS: Putin mentioned Donald Trump? Said he --


BARTIROMO: Welcomes -- you know, Donald Trump wants better relations with Russia and we welcome that.

MCCAIN: That`s a match made in heaven.


BARTIROMO: A match made in heaven, Putin and Trump you mean.

MCCAIN: Absolutely, I can hardly wait.


O`DONNELL: Josh Barro, no one can keep a straight face when this --

BARRO: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Subject comes up.

BARRO: Yes! -- no, I mean, it`s as you pointed out earlier. It`s something that no other politician in this country could get away with.

And I think people are at a loss. Like John McCain could get all outraged and express his outrage, but that doesn`t work.

So, I think people are left with nothing to do but shake their heads and laugh. But I think, you know, John McCain, like a lot of people in the Republican establishment, they`ve been toying with the idea that if they just watch this happen for a while, Donald Trump has to implode sooner or later.

That`s implicit in Ted Cruz`s strategy that he`s just sort of waiting here, waiting to pick up Donald Trump`s supporters when they finally grow tired of him.

But I think we`ve walked past the point where it`s become clear that something that should be fatal. Like talking about how wonderful Vladimir Putin is will ever actually do Donald Trump in.

O`DONNELL: Matt Lewis, Glenn Beck seems to be doing what a lot of Trump supporters are not doing, and that is listening carefully to the things that sound like policy coming out of Donald Trump.

And Glenn Beck is hearing way too many what he calls progressive policies coming out of Donald Trump, and so he doesn`t think he`s a conservative, he doesn`t think he`s a legitimate Republican.

He will not vote if that`s who`s on the top of the Republican ticket. Is that -- is there a time in this calendar where what Donald Trump has actually said about policy, and sometimes continues to say about policy will actually start to separate him from his supporters?

LEWIS: I don`t know about that. But look, I will say it`s fascinating that Glenn Beck is now the voice of reason.


You know, a couple of years ago, you might not have anticipated this. But I think Glenn Beck is actually exactly right.

I could not -- I`ll just say, I could not in good conscious support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and I suspect that I`m not alone.

And I -- and I would urge that if Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party, it could be the end of the Republican Party as we know it.

It would be an existential crisis for the conservative movement. And I would hope that somebody like a Marco Rubio or somebody else would run as a third party candidate, if that is, you know, feasible to do to provide an alternative.

Because again, if Glenn Beck is seeing through this guy that he`s not a conservative, and that he`s gone too far for Glenn Beck, I think that says something about how far Donald Trump and --


LEWIS: We have all gone.

O`DONNELL: Well, Matt, you --


O`DONNELL: Might -- you might just have to spend election day with Glenn Beck not voting somewhere --

LEWIS: Yes --


LEWIS: I might sleep in --


LEWIS: I might sleep in that day --

CORN: Yes, look --

O`DONNELL: Matt --

CORN: Well, wait a second -- but Matt --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead quickly --

CORN: But Matt, would you really -- you know, the choice is who is going to control the government. I know how much you hate Democrats and liberals and Hillary Clinton.

But you have to admit she`s at least sane. And if the choice is a sane person and a not sane person, don`t you have an obligation to participate in that decision?

LEWIS: I could -- you know, I -- to be honest with you, I could not in good conscious do it because, you know, the Supreme Court picks because -- let`s just take the issue of abortion.

I am strongly pro life. I could not in good conscious vote for somebody who is pro choice and support them. But I also can`t see myself voting for Donald Trump either.

O`DONNELL: Well, Matt, the good news for you, in all the states I have voted in, really when you look at the presidential ballot, there`s always like 15, 17 names on it.

LEWIS: Yes --

O`DONNELL: These little -- you know, it`s not just third parties, it`s 15 parties --

LEWIS: Isn`t there a Deez Nuts running? --

O`DONNELL: And there`s a lot --

LEWIS: Or something --

O`DONNELL: Of real, right-wing categories there, and there`s a lot of left-wing categories on that ballot.

There`s a lot of other choices you can make if you need to. Josh Barro and Matt Lewis, thank you both very much for joining me tonight --

LEWIS: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it --

BARRO: Thank you, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Paul Ryan facing his first big test, and I mean a big test as speaker of the house tomorrow.

And we have an Msnbc exclusive report, an update on the state investigation about the death of a man in Virginia who was tased by police repeatedly and then died.


O`DONNELL: Thirty two-year-old Martin Shkreli was arrested in New York City this morning. Shkreli is the young brash CEO of a pharmaceutical company that raised the price of a life-saving drug 5,000 percent earlier this year.

But his arrest today was for stealing from his former employer. He is out of jail on $5 million bond, he pleaded not guilty to fraud.

Prosecutors say he lost investors money through bad trades and then stole $11 million from the company to pay off clients and hide his losses.

Up next, Paul Ryan`s first deal as speaker is with Nancy Pelosi.




Like I say, you always find out when the vote comes.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan will find out tomorrow if the budget deal that he agreed to with Nancy Pelosi will pass.

For some Republicans, what Paul Ryan did is exactly what got John Boehner driven out of the speakership.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: This is causing some people to wonder if they just dreamed all that stuff about Boehner resigning.

It is his doll Nancy Pelosi still running the house and Harry Reid is still running the Senate. The trend is not even the word here.

What is happening here is worse than betrayal. And betrayal is pretty bad, but it`s worse than that. You know, we don`t even need a Republican Party if they`re going to do this.

You know, just elect Democrats, just ban the Republican Party, let the Democrats run it because that`s what`s happening anyway.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan is counting on at least 124 of his Republicans in the house to join the 100 Democrats to pass the budget bill which would fund the government through September of 2016.

But neither side is expressing confidence about votes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident that you can provide the votes necessary to get this over the finish line?



PELOSI: It`s up to them, they have the -- they have the majority. They have the majority. They have the legislation. We have some serious objections which we`ve been made known all along, so we`ll see.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, former Congressman Tom Davis, Republican from Virginia. Tom Davis, can you explain to Rush Limbaugh what`s going on in this budget deal and why Paul Ryan had to reach a deal with Nancy Pelosi?

TOM DAVIS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Sure, they`ve got to keep the government open at this point. They`ve got -- they`ve lifted the ban on exporting oil, which has been in effect for 35 years.

This is very important to oil-producing states and a lot of Republicans, EPA funding is at the lowest since 1989. Under this, they`ve changed the Visa Waiver Program.

There`s a lot of things in here for conservatives that I like, but for the Rush Limbaugh`s, the world is never enough.

If it doesn`t cure cancer, they`re going to find a way to be against this, it`s part of the business model. And this is a compromise across the way.

A lot of Democrats are unhappy with this. But I think Paul is going to deliver the votes tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: And why couldn`t Paul Ryan do this with Republican votes?

DAVIS: Because I think -- because of people like Rush Limbaugh that are stirring up the party base, the stuff that goes around on the internet, the misinformation that goes around on this.

Look, this is a compromise. Republicans don`t control all of government. You got to reach an accommodation with the Democrats and there are things to like and not to like in this.

But there are some irresistible measures in this for some of the Republicans that they vote against this. Like the crude oil export ban that will be lifted that are just death if Republicans were to vote against this.

So they`ve loaded this up with some things that Republicans can`t resist. Here`s Donald Trump`s statement about this bill.

He`s finally getting involved in Congressional action now. He issued a written statement -- someone obviously wrote this for him.

"If anyone needed more evidence of why the American people are suffering at the hands of their own government, look no further than the budget deal announced by Speaker Ryan in order to avoid a government shutdown.

A cowardly threat from an incompetent president. The elected Republicans of Congress threw in the towel and showed absolutely no budget discipline."

So, David Corn, and I think Tom Davis will back me up on this --

DAVIS: Yes --

O`DONNELL: The way -- the way I`m reading that is, the Trump Limbaugh side of the Republican Party believes that President Obama would not veto a budget coming from a Republican Congress that he disagreed with.

CORN: Well, it also has to get through the Senate where you could hold up some of this, too. So they need something that can pass the Senate and can get signed.

What`s happening -- what you`re seeing now -- America is what used to happen; government working and everybody being upset and disappointed at the end result because you don`t get exactly what you want.

The tea party position for the last few years has been, if we can`t blow it up, we don`t want it. And we don`t want to cut a deal with the president.

And so they had to give up on going after Planned Parenthood and stopping Syrian refugees. The tax bill has some great progressive stuff in it from middle and low income Americans.

But also has some things that actually do -- that the Republicans wanted that will blow up deficits.

So, the Republicans, you know, like to bash Democrats in deficits, but they`re not even abiding by their own discipline on a lot of this, because they`d rather have the tax cuts than the deficit savings.

And so it`s kind of a jumble, it`s a mess, this is a compromise, and it is. You know, this decision was made a couple of months ago under Boehner to not have another government shutdown.

And he said the overarching numbers and now they`ll filling in the details beneath it --

DAVIS: Right --

CORN: And this is how we want things to happen if we have divided government.

O`DONNELL: And Tom Davis, Rush Limbaugh wouldn`t mind a government shutdown. He would be happy to see the Republicans force that.

And it seems like -- I mean, you told me, you know how it works inside that caucus. But it seems like there are people who still believe that if somehow they got a fully Republican-endorsed budget through the house and through the Senate, it went to the White House and the President vetoed it.

There are -- I assume there are Republican members who firmly believe that if that happened, the President would be entirely blamed by the public for the resulting government shutdown.

DAVIS: Well, I mean, that may be the narrative, but as David pointed out, you got to -- you need 60 votes in the Senate to get --


DAVIS: This through the Senate. And these numbers were set in law two months ago before speaker Boehner left.

So, the number was already determined, this is filling in the blanks. You may not like the number at the end of the day, but you`re not going to change that.

Congress has already voted on that, that`s part of law. So, what you have are business models over there in the right to stir this up.

And some members react to that. But I think you`re going to find that Paul Ryan has got a lot of cache with members at this point and they`re going to be able to pass it tomorrow over the objections of some of these commentators.

O`DONNELL: And quickly --

CORN: It will be interesting -- it will be interesting to see just how many votes Ryan can corral for this. There`ll be a real measure of his standing as a Republican leader at this point.

Nancy Pelosi will get as many votes as she thinks she needs to do what she wants. That`s always been the case for the last few years.

O`DONNELL: David Corn and former Congressman Tom Davis, thank you both, really appreciate it.

DAVIS: Bye --

O`DONNELL: Up next, President Obama is going to San Bernardino tomorrow, that will be the day after former neighbor of the San Bernardino shooters was formally charged in connection with that case.



PRES. BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: I want to repeat what my team just told me. At this moment, our intelligence and counterterrorism professionals do not have any specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST OF "LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" PROGRAM: That is the president giving his second speech on terrorism this week after a briefing at the national counterterrorism center today. President Obama said this about the threat posed to the United States by so-called lone actors.


PRES. OBAMA: We are in a new phase of terrorism, including lone actors and small groups of terrorists, like those in San Bernardino. Because they are smaller, often self-initiating, self-motivating, they are harder to detect. And, that makes it harder to prevent. But, just as the threat evolves, so do we. We are constantly adapting, constantly improving, upping our game, getting better.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Erroll Southers. He is a Counterterrorism Expert and a professor at USC, where he teaches about home grown violent extremism. Professor, to what the president just said, upping our game, as he put it, against these homegrown lone actor terrorist, what more tools do we have to up our game?

ERROLL SOUTHERS, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: Well, Lawrence, what we have now is a national terrorism advisory system that is going to give us information based on Intel that we get from our fusion centers around the country that can help us connect the dots better, inform the public faster and hopefully thwart these plots. And, so, what we are looking to do in the future is really connect even further with the community in terms of gathering information and preventing things from happening.

PINSKY: There is a new Gallup Poll showing Americans fears on this. The fears being killed in a mass shooting or an ISIS-inspired or planned terrorism. Forty-seven percent are fearful of being shot or injured in an ISIS-inspired planned terrorism. Less than that, 38 percent fear a mass shooting.

And, professor, the statistics on this are just stunningingly different. It is so much more likely for an American to be shot in a movie theatre by one of these classic American, you know, wild shootings that predate any form of ISIS or al-Qaeda terrorism in the United States that have been going on forever, apparently, will continue to go on. The fears of those two things are wildly disproportionate to what the actual likelihood is.

SOUTHERS: Well, they are disproportionate, Lawrence. And, they are disproportionate because the public tends to have an outweighed understanding of risk. And, so as we have continued focus on events like ISIS-inspired attacks and ongoing conversations that are almost endless about ISIS-inspired attacks, they tend to trend upward when people think about the risk of it happening.

So, that is why you are seeing these numbers skewed this way in the polls that are being taken. And, you are right, you know, after 9/11, many people chose not to fly. They chose to drive, when actually flying is safer than driving. And, so it is the focus by the media and it is the focused on the continued conversations that tend to have these polls result the way that they do.

O`DONNELL: I mean just for this year, for example 457 killed in mass shootings; 19 killed in violent jihadist attacks. And, that 19 is the single biggest number since 9/1 1, 14 of those in that one event in San Bernardino. A typical year is single digits or low single digits, which I do not mean to suggest in any way should give people reason to take this less seriously.

The three deaths of the Tsarnaev brothers at the marathon in Boston that they achieved in one explosion are something that we should be fighting to stop. But how -- is there a way, professor, that you think the public rhetoric on this can actually bring in a perspective on how statistically small the risk is?

SOUTHERS: There is a way to do this. And, I think we have to have a more mature perspective of terrorism in America. You have cited some statistics here with regard to other incidents that may occur. You know, the UK does this quite well, and I hope we are getting to that with regards to letting people know. We will not thwart every plot, we will not stop every attack, but we can prevent certain things with your participation. And, so we are getting better at what we are doing.

O`DONNELL: Professor Errol Southers, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Up next, a friend of one of the San Bernardino attackers is arrested on terrorism charges. Pete Williams report is next.



O`DONNELL: Today, federal prosecutors filed criminal charge against a friend and former neighbor of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Pete Williams has the latest.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, these are the first charges to stem from the San Bernardino shootings. But, the man charged today, Enrique Marquez is not accused of knowing anything about that shooting in advance, even though the prosecutors say he knew that Syed Farook, one of the people who fired the shots in San Bernardino, had been talking about terrorism for years.


WILLIAMS (voice-over): Two weeks ago after the shooting attack that left 14 people dead and injured 22, federal prosecutors file charge against 24- year-old Enrique Marquez. The friend and former next door neighbor of one of the attackers, Syed Farook.

Prosecutors say in late 2011, the two men plotted to attack Riverside Community College, where both had been students with pipe bombs and guns. The FBI says they also talked about throwing pipe bombs to stop traffic on a crowded section of a state highway during rush hour, then to shoot at people stuck in their cars.

Marquez is also charged with violating firearm laws when he bought the two assault rifles in 2011 and 2012 that ended up being used in the San Bernardino shooting. Under Federal Law, it is illegal for someone to buy a gun knowing the purchase is being made for someone else. The gun store form even warns you cannot acquire a firearm for another person.

The charges filed today say, Marquez and Farook continued to plan for terror attacks by going to firing ranges; but that the two stopped plotting together in late 2012 after some unrelated terror arrests in Southern California. And, there is nothing in today`s charges to indicate that Marquez knew about the plans for the shooting in San Bernardino earlier this month.

He is also charged with defrauding the government with a sham marriage. Official say Farrok`s brother also called Syed is married to a Ukrainian woman whose sister is married to Marquez. FBI agents questioned Marquez for at least a week after the shooting.

They say he answered questions voluntarily and did not request a lawyer. President Obama was briefed on the national threat picture today at the counterterrorism center and said there are no known threats of attacks. He urged people to get on with the holidays.


PRES. OBAMA: We cannot give in to fear or change how we live our lives. Because that is what terrorists want. That is the only leverage that they have.


WILLIAMS (voice-over): Earlier this week, the bodies of Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, who were killed in a police shoot-out were buried in the Muslim tradition in an undisclosed cemetery miles from San Bernardino.


WILLIAMS (on camera): It is clear from these charges that the FBI believes that Farook was originally influenced by al-Qaeda. In fact, there is very little reference in these charges to ISIS. And, the FBI believes that he in turn radicalized his friend and neighbor Enrique Marquez.

Marquez was arrested this afternoon and made his first appearance in federal court late today. It was a brief hearing. There was no plea at this stage. But, the prosecutors are asking that he be held in jail pending a trial and the judge is set a hearing on that issue for Monday. Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, thank you. President Obama is scheduled to go to San Bernardino tomorrow.

Up next, an NBC exclusive report about video of police tasing a suspect who then died.



O`DONNELL: We have new developments tonight in the case in Virginia, where a man was shot by police tasers repeatedly and then died. Here is NBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melbor`s exclusive report.


ARI MELBER, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When video first surfaced last month of police repeatedly tasing a man at the entry of Virginia hospital, little was known about the 2013 incident. Police said they planned to take Linwood Lambert inside for mental care, but after he broke their squad car window -- they tased him repeatedly while he was cuffed and took him to jail where he died in custody.

Prosecutors are reviewing an investigation to decide whether to charge the officers. But, new records from that inquiry and handwritten police statements obtained exclusively by MSNBC show police made claims contradicted by the video.

One of the three officers, Corporal Tiffany Bratton seen here outside of her car told investigators her 15 taser discharges were necessary -- because Lambert grabbed the end of the taser pulling it several times. But, the video does not show that ever happening. Lambert`s hands were cuffed behind his back the whole time.

Bratton also told investigators Lambert got back up four times after four separate tasings. But, the video shows he never got himself up. That police statement is potentially critical, says former Federal Prosecutor Kendall Coffey.


KENDALL COFFEY, FMR. FEDERAL COURT PROSECUTOR: An officer credibly stated that a suspect was trying to get the taser several time, then that would certainly justify elevating the force used by the officer.


MELBER (voice-over): But since that activity is not shown on the video, prosecutors could also focus on whether the officer was deliberately misleading?


STEVE BENJAMIN, VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: In Virginia, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. It carries up to 12 months in jail for any person to knowingly and willfully make a materially false statement to any law enforcement officer investigating the commission of a crime.


MELBER (voice-over): Whether prosecutors charge police for false statements or use of force remains to be seen. Two and a half years after the incident, the case is still open.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ari Melber. Ari, so there is that video. Was that what controlled the investigation of this case or did they go by written reports or interviews? What was the most important evidence that they have used in the investigations so far?

ARI MELBER, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: We have obtained the entire state investigation file and what we found is they almost completely ignore the video. And, basically, take those statements that we just showed, which are contradicted by it and leave them. And, that is what they presented to prosecutors.

And, Lawrence, having gotten this information, I called these prosecutors involved here. I have new statements from them as well. They usually do not comment on these cases, as you and many of your viewers know, but given that we obtained the entire file, they did.

Mark Herring, who is the second in command, essentially, said his role is not to be looking at false statement. He said, he was not brought out to this case to decide whether south Boston -- that is the South Boston Police in Virginia lied to state police investigators as for Tracy Martin, who is the prosecutor who is to make this call and this is an open case.

She says the state police investigation left questions unanswered. It must be answered questions that would not have been contemplated by the state police investigator, she told me. And, that she says, she did not fully develop until she have consulted extensively with colleagues. In other words, Lawrence, these are prosecutors, that in their own careful language are suggesting the state investigation was essentially lacking.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh. And, they seem to be saying -- I mean, if you read between the lines of this thing, if this video never became public, this case would be over as a possible criminal investigative matter.

MELBER: That is the complete supposition and implication of the investigative file, which we have obtained. And, by the way, we are going to post it on; because two and a half years later, this case remains open. It is not a who done it.


MELBER : The incident is on video. And, whether you want to charge or clear the people involved in the incident, two and a half years is a long time to remain open. And, in that investigative file, the summary from the state investigators basically repeats a lot of those statements and reiterates things that we know to be untrue based on the video.

It would be a big deal if this individual, Linwood Lambert, as you there getting outside the police car, if he did grab an officer`s weapon. We all know that that is something that could justify force. But, as we report, that is not on the video. Indeed his hands were shackled behind his back the entire time.

And later, his feet were shackled when he was put back in the car. So, we are seeing that something sometimes people are concerned maybe a pattern. Not only the police statements, but the next layer of investigative review does not actually cross-examine anyone on what happened and does not even necessarily use, Lawrence, the video.

O`DONNELL: And, this is all about the power of video, because there are no eyewitnesses to what we are seeing there, other than the police officers, all of whom have a story that coordinates and is not what the video shows.

MELBER: That is right. It is not what the video shows. And, the other person involved, Linwood Lambert there, died that night. The cause of death listed on his official autopsy was acute cocaine intoxication. But, our reporting shows that the coroner did not know about the frequency of tasings, only knew that some occur.

So, it is an open question for the criminal inquiry over what may have caused the death, if it was not only cocaine. Was the 20 discharges, not all of which reached him, but many did, were those the kind of things that could have been precipitating factors?

But again, what we have learned now, and tonight`s the first time we are releasing this, is that the state investigation, which took five months and turned it over to the prosecutor does not deal with the video at all.

It does not do that investigation. It basically says, here is the police officers` defense -- which they have every right to offer. But, it says here is their defense, do not look at the video, end of story, as far as the state police investigation was concerned.

O`DONNELL: This is the classic old fashioned contours of cover-up before video came into these kinds of cases. Ari Melber, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

MELBER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.

Coming up, a Christmas gift for one of my favorite columnists.


O`DONNELL: If you are betting on the next republican candidate to drop out of the race, consider Politico reporting tonight that former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee`s presidential campaign has slashed the salaries of his senior staff because he is not raising much money, big surprise.

His top communication`s aide also quit the campaign. Huckabee`s new communications manager, his daughter, says the campaign is now focusing resources on Iowa. Mike Huckabee has fallen in the polls since he kicked Ted Cruz out of his rally with Kim Davis on September 8.

In the poll that came out immediately after the rally, Mike Huckabee was at 6 percent. Ted Cruz was at 7. They were tied. In the most recent poll that came out last week, Ted Cruz is now at 15 percent. Mike Huckabee is at 1 percent.


O`DONNELL: And, now tonight`s "Last Word." Last month, on my first night back from a three-country trip to Africa, I talked a bit about the oddity of adjusting to life in this country, where the most famous and richest movie director in the world wears the same kind of shoes as a poor kid who lives across town from him or across the country. I talked about how I measured the wealth in the places I go to in Malawi. Shoes.

In most of the villages I visit, most of the kids do not have shoes. Shoes are the big indicator there, not iPhones. None of the kids have phones. And, many of them have never seen phones. Rich is relative, right? There are a lot of people who are a lot richer than Donald Trump, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. We are all a bit richer than someone.

If you want to see how much richer you are than people in Malawi, just look down at your shoes, or your kids` shoes or anything else that you take for granted, including food. When I talked about this, that first night back, I did not mention why I was in Malawi, which was to deliver desks like this one for K.I.N.D., Kids In Need of Desks, a project that we created with UNICEF to provide desks for schools that have never had desks.

I did not say how you could contribute by going to Did you get that? But, I got a handwritten letter at home saying, "Lawrence, your comments on Africa and shoes just killed me." And, enclosed in this envelope was a check. It is signed, but it was not made out to anyone.

It was from my friend the legendary New York Columnist Liz Smith. She said, "I should make out the check in some way that I thought would help those kids." The envelope that Liz sent me had a Paul Newman stamp on it. Now, you have to be of a certain age to know people on postage stamps. And, Liz Smith is going strong at 92 and she knew Paul Newman, who devoted most of his non-acting time to raising money for worthy causes.

Liz Smith has also been a great supporter of worthy causes throughout her long life. And, she has been contributing to the K.I.N.D. Fund since we started five years ago. And, what I love about this check, what I love about it is that I did not ask for it. I was just telling a story about where I had been the week before and why I was having a little bit of trouble feeling completely present in the show that night.

And, Liz saw a need in that story I was telling and wanted to help. The kids in that story reached through the screen and grabbed her heart. And, so, the first official contribution to the K.I.N.D. Fund this season came from Liz Smith without me even asking for it. And, in return, I am sending a Christmas gift to Liz.

I am contributing a full classroom of desks in Liz Smith`s name and UNICEF will send her an acknowledgment of that gift. You can do that with anyone on your Christmas list. You can give a desk in their name. I am also giving a full scholarship for a girl to finish high school in Malawi, which is one of the giving options you will see when you go to the I am giving that in Liz`s name.

The girl`s graduation rate in Malawi is much lower than the boys and girls education needs special support there. There are girls who are in high school now in Malawi who know that they would not be there without your help. We have a long way to go to keep all girls in high school in Malawi, and a very long way to go to get desks in every school.

But, in the coming school year, there will be many more desks in those classrooms and more girls in those classrooms. Thanks entirely to you, the viewers of this program who see a need and want to help. And, thanks of course to Liz Smith, who did not even have to be asked to help.