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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/8/21

Guests: Kirk Burkhalter, Daniel Goldman, Joe Neguse, Simone Campbell


Day nine of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd delivered the most important expert testimony of the trial so far, when Dr. Martin Tobin took the witness stand. Congressman Matt Gaetz`s friend Joel Greenberg could provide information to prosecutors about Matt Gaetz in the federal investigation of Congressman Gaetz for the sex trafficking of a minor. President Biden announced his new executive orders to reduce gun violence, after ten people were murdered in a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado last month.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Nicolle.

I`m just guessing it`s Nicolle by the sound of your voice because there is absolutely nothing on my monitor right now and thank you for filling in on Rachel tonight on a night she needed to take off.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Lawrence. Have a great show.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, I`ll be watching tomorrow, Nicolle. Thank you.

Well, today, day nine of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd delivered the most important expert testimony of the trial so far, when Dr. Martin Tobin took the witness stand.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: How long have you been a physician, sir?

DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: I have been a physician for three months short of 46 years, over 45 years.

BLACKWELL: And where did you go to school?

TOBIN: I went to medical school in Dublin, Ireland, and I took my degree there.

BLACKWELL: Not that anybody noticed the accent. But are you from Dublin?

TOBIN: No, I`m not from Dublin. I`m from a small village called Frankfort in County Kilkenny in rural Ireland.


O`DONNELL: Six hundred sixty-two people at last count live in the village of Frankfort in the county of Kilkenny where Martin Tobin grew up. Frankfort is about 70 miles west of Dublin, which is where Martin Tobin went to medical school before getting additional training in London and then coming to United States to work first in Miami and now in Chicago and along the way, Martin Tobin has become one of the world`s leading authorities on pulmonary and critical care medicine.

His work has been published many times in the most important medical journals in the world. He is an expert on how we all stay alive moment to moment by breathing. Dr. Tobin`s clarity and authority effortlessly held everyone in his grip for every second that he was speaking.


BLACKWELL: How long can the brain go without oxygen?

TOBIN: That`s well worked out. If you stop the flow of oxygen to the brain, you lose consciousness in 8 seconds.


O`DONNELL: Eight seconds. The stunned silence that you just heard after Dr. Tobin spoke was exactly eight seconds long. That is how much time it would take for George Floyd to go from saying, "I can`t breathe," to dying. Eight seconds.


TOBIN: So, it tells you how dangerous this is the concept of, if you can breathe or if you can speak, you can breathe. Yes, that is true, on the surface, but highly misleading. Very, a very dangerous mantra out there.

The cause of death is a low level of oxygen that caused the brain damage and caused the heart to stop.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Tobin delivered the single-most haunting line of expert testimony in the trial so far when he identified the precise moment when the life goes out of George Floyd`s body.

Darnella Frazier who is a 17-year-old bravely held up her phone to record video of Derek Chauvin`s knee on George Floyd`s neck testified that she regrets she didn`t do more. She testified that she can`t sleep at night wishing that she could have taken action to stop what Derek Chauvin was doing to George Floyd.

But the action that Darnella Frazier did take enabled Martin Tobin to identify that haunting moment. And so, today, in court, the work of a 17- year-old girl from Minneapolis, teamed up with the expertise of a world- renowned medical scientist from a small village in Ireland to deliver the most important moment in the trial while the jury was being shown, Darnella Frazier`s video.


TOBIN: You can see his eyes, he`s conscious. And then you see that he isn`t. That`s the moment the life goes out of his body.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Tobin said that no one could have survived what George Floyd was subjected to.


TOBIN: A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Tobin testified that nothing in George Floyd`s medical history contributed to his death and nothing in George Floyd`s history of drug use, including small traces of drugs found in his system contributed to his death.

Dr. Tobin testified that the police officer`s weight holding down George Floyd essentially shut down his left lung.


TOBIN: Because of the knee that was rammed in against the left side of his chest, sometimes the knee was down on the arm or in against the chest, so this would have the same effects of basically on the left side of his lung, it was almost like a surgical pneumonectomy, which is almost to the effect if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Tobin gave the jury a new crucially important time measurement. Using police body cam video that was being shown to the jury at the time, Dr. Tobin testified that the amount of time from when George Floyd takes his last breath to when Derek Chauvin takes his knee off George Floyd`s neck was three minutes, 27 seconds.


TOBIN: When he last take a breath, the knee remains on the neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds after he takes his last breath. There is the knee remains after there is no pulse, the knee remains on the neck for another two minutes and 44 seconds after the officers have found themselves, there`s no pulse, the knee remains on the neck another two minutes 44 seconds.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Dr. Tobin. No further questions.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Melisa Murray, professor of law at New York University and a former law clerk to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she is an MSNBC contributor. Also with us, Kirk Burkhalter, criminal law professor at New York Law School, where he is the director of the 21st Century Policing Project. He is the former New York City police detective.

And, Professor Murray, let me begin with you. This testimony we`ve heard today, many commentaries have already said the most powerful expert testimony yet, especially in a case where the entire defense has presented in the opening statement by defense counsel is going to be about cause of death.

MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that`s exactly right, Lawrence. Not only was this the most important expert testimony we`ve heard so far. It was probably the most effective. Everything the reporters in the courtroom have said that jury was absolutely wrapped as Dr. Tobin walk them through the entire nine minutes and 29 seconds that George Floyd was thrown on the ground and explain to them in layman`s terms, incredibly technical material that made clear that asphyxiation and hypoxia were the contributing causes of death.

As you say, that`s the factors here. The first question is whether Officer Chauvin`s conduct was a substantial cause of George Floyd`s death. And then once that`s established, the question then reverts to the defense to show that Officer Chauvin had an affirmative defense that his use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. So first determining that cause of death is absolutely critical.

O`DONNELL: And, Professor Burkhalter, the examples that Dr. Tobin reached for when he was trying to make a medical point to this jury were so accessible, they made so much sense. I want to show one of them. He talked about the absence of bruising which is defense is going to want to make a lot of, they`re going to make that a major issue, an absence of bruising to the neck of George Floyd.

He used an example of going to church to make his point about that. Let`s listen to that.


BLACKWELL: There was also a reference made to the absence of bruising on the neck during autopsy.


BLACKWELL: Does that make any difference to you whatsoever?

TOBIN: No, obviously, whenever I go to church, I sit on a hard bench. I don`t get bruising of my buttocks when I leave. So I wouldn`t expect anything in terms of that.

So, if you have somebody, this was a static force. It`s not as if somebody is jamming against it. So you wouldn`t expect anything in the way of bruising.


O`DONNELL: Professor Burkhalter, your reaction to that.

KIRK BURKHALTER, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR: I thought it was really quite amazing. You know, expert witnesses sometime can really kill you because they`re overly technical and the jury just simply won`t understand them.

Dr. Tobin, the way he described this intensely dense and important subject matter was akin to, you know, the best teacher or professor you`ve ever had for a particular course, and you felt like, wow, I`m riveted to my seat and I really understand every word this person is saying, even though the subject smatter so complicated.

He is the first person if I`m not mistaken to address the lack of bruising on the body, and every time the defense has had an opportunity, they have certainly made a point about that. And it seems like common sense that there would be bruising, but here he gave this explanation that just really hit home and those are the things that tend to stick with lay people more so than the technical -- overly technical descriptions.

O`DONNELL: And, Professor Murray, I think we can detect a pattern here where a Lead Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, who is especially hired just for this case seems to always be the one who gets up to handle the most important moments in the trial. It`s almost a message to the jury that if Prosecutor Blackwell is on his feet, pay attention, this is a very, very important moment.

He delivered the opening statement for the prosecution and he has stepped in on days like today for this kind of crucial testimony.

MURRAY: That`s exactly right. A trial is nothing more than a choreographed story-telling session between the lawyers and the jury, itself. And here, every time Mr. Blackwell steps up, the jury knows he is about to say something pivotal to his case, to make the underlying point that the state has to approve and again has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction here.

And again, they`re doing a masterful job of being consistent on that messaging to the jury.

O`DONNELL: And another thing we heard from Dr. Tobin today is what doesn`t show up in autopsy reports and that frequently can be as important as what is in an autopsy report and he made the point that there actually isn`t a way of seeing the loss of oxygen in an autopsy report. He says, that doesn`t leave a fingerprint. Let`s listen to the way he said that.


TOBIN: Low oxygen is a functional thing, just like an arrhythmia is a functional thing. It doesn`t leave a fingerprint on the autopsy. It`s just there. It`s something that happened. It`s -- but it won`t leave any fingerprint afterwards. You don`t see it.

BLACKWELL: But it doesn`t mean a person didn`t die of lack of oxygen?

TOBIN: No, absolutely not.

So, if you take somebody and you suffocate them with a pillow, and it`s very clear to you after you suffocated the person that he`s dead from the pillow, you`re not going to see the effects of the low oxygen.


O`DONNELL: Professor Burkhalter, another example of the way Dr. Tobin was able to make these things so clear to the jury.

BURKHALTER: Yes. And this was really an important strategy for the prosecution. So what the prosecution was doing here with Dr. Tobin was actually attacking the defense`s case before they had an opportunity to put it on. The defense has been pointing to this, you know, issues surrounding whether there was a lack of oxygen, not a look of oxygen, what was not found in the body and trying to get the jury to draw inferences from that.

So knowing what your adversary`s theory of the case is going to be, it`s your job to preempt that attack. Don`t wait for your adversary to take that pre-shot. And that`s what the prosecution did today and by putting Dr. Tobin on the stand, they did it in a rather artful manner.

And we saw that the defense got up on cross and attempted to walk back some of those things and the prosecution I thought was rather masterful at being, giving a redirect that was crisp, short, to the point, did George Floyd die of a coma? No. Did this happen? No. Did this happen? No.

The milliseconds, does it matter in the totality of the event? It was crisp and that`s what the jury was left with.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it was such a point. The way Jerry Blackwell comes back on redirect after there has been a cross examination by defense counsel, Professor Murray, he comes back with such confidence about it and kind of just dispatches everything you just heard in the defense cross-examination in a matter of a couple of minutes.

MURRAY: You know, it`s very crisp. It`s very succinct. It will stay with the jury.

And to add to what Professor Burkhalter said, the other point of this testimony that`s critically important in anticipating the defense case to come is basically a battle of the medical examiners. The medical examiner that performed the autopsy who is going to be a key part of the defense`s case going forward is going to say that this wasn`t caused by a lack of oxygen but rather a heart attack, cardiac arrest.

And what they are saying is that this person didn`t have contacts. They never saw this video. They never saw Mr. Floyd in the prone position and as a consequence, they didn`t know to look for what was actually hiding in plain sight that low level of oxygen that actually was the cause of death. So they anticipated it and rebutted it be every the defense has had a chance to make that case.

O`DONNELL: We have to go to a break. But, Kirk Burkhalter, I have to ask you one more thing. It`s about police training, because today on the witness stand, Dr. Tobin really destroyed the idea that if you can speak, you can breathe. And we heard that in police training, in the past, that has been a bake message in training.

When you were trained for the NYPD, was that the theory at the time, if they can speak, they can breathe?

BURKHALTER: Well, believe it or not, it goes a little further than that. There was no training with regards to what asphyxia looks like, what will happen if someone was being choked out, so to speak. Perhaps you had asked the question.

Now, this was many years ago and training has evolved. But it does show the need where training by medical officials and something I`ve stressed, there`s -- while I have great respect for our men and women who served in police departments, they`re police officers, and it might be a time where we start integrating more civilians into the training process, perhaps someone like Dr. Tobin who might be an effective person to start with.

O`DONNELL: Law professors Kirk Burkhalter and Melissa Murray, thank you both for starting off our discussion tonight. I really appreciate it.

BURKHALTER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. .

Coming up, Congressman Matt Gaetz had a bad day in court, even though he wasn`t in court. But his friend Joel Greenberg was. And Joel Greenberg could provide information to prosecutors about Matt Gaetz in the federal investigation of Congressman Gaetz for the sex trafficking of a minor.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Justice Department prosecutors may have a new key witness in the federal investigation of Congressman Matt Gaetz. That new witness could be Matt Gaetz`s friend Joel Greenberg.

Joel Greenberg currently faces 12 years in prison for charges of sex trafficking of a minor as well as stalking, bribery and while he was at it, defrauding the pandemic-related Paycheck Protection Program.

During a procedural hearing today in the case against him that lasted only six minutes, lawyers for both Joel Greenberg and a federal government said that they expect the case to be resolved with a plea by May 15th.

Here`s what Joel Greenberg`s attorney said outside the federal court in Orlando, Florida, today.


REPORTER: Does Matt Gaetz have anything to worry about?

FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: Does Matt Gaetz -- that is such a --

REPORTER: When it comes to what happened today in court?

SCHELLER: Does he have anything to worry about? You`re asking me to get into the mind of Matt Gaetz, right?

REPORTER: Well, from your mind?

SCHELLER: From my mind.

REPORTER: Based on what your client knows.

SCHELLER: Based on what my client knows, OK.

REPORTER: And the fact that --

SCHELLER: See, if I kept on talking and talking, I would avoid these questions and not to say -- I`m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.


O`DONNELL: Yes, it was a strange camera angle for a very strange sounding lawyer.

Joel Greenberg`s lawyer did not say whether his client provided information about Matt Gaetz to federal prosecutors. He said Joel Greenberg is uniquely positioned, that was his phrase, uniquely positioned to do that.

"The New York Times" is reporting Mr. Greenberg who has known Mr. Gaetz since at least 2017 when he began serving in Congress could provide prosecutors with a witness who has a deep knowledge of Mr. Gaetz`s dealings with women, can explain how the men paid the women and how the two men bought and used drugs like ecstasy.

Congressman Gaetz has denied that he violated any laws.

Joining us now is Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel, former federal prosecutor, and a former member of the Mueller investigation. He is now an MSNBC legal analyst.

Andrew, you are reading on where this situation -- I don`t even know what to call it. I can`t quite call it the Gaetz case, because there`s no case filed yet. But where this situation lies as of tonight with a possible guilty plea in the Greenberg case?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, a lot of people try to be very careful when reading tea leaves at this point, but there is no question that today was, you know, a big tea leaf for reading. You know, for weeks, we have been looking at the fact that there`s going to be a very good paper trail, that there is going to be records of financial transactions. It seems to be witnesses, whether they`re in Congress or whether their staffers for even Matt Gaetz, who may be witnesses, there are going to be victims because the women who are involved are all going to be interviewed.

But today signaled something that although it is not clear yet, it is certainly looking like Greenberg will become a cooperating witness, and as your viewers and you know having an insider is critical. Now, with somebody like Mr. Greenberg, the challenge is going to be making sure they can corroborate what he says. You`re never going to go to a trial with just based his word.

But if he ends up flipping, that`s going to be a huge development.

O`DONNELL: And I have to say you know when I see who your lawyer, is I get a sense of who you are in some situations, and that lawyer today outside the federal courthouse in Orlando kind of rambling on about questions that he should not have responded to at all. It was really striking to me because it indicates that we could be hearing all sorts of strange things developing in this case from all sorts of source like possibly lawyers like that.

WEISSMANN: Well, one thing that was a chip off. There is no question that you would expect him to have been a little more polished and prepared to either speak or not speak. But the tip-off I think that he is really going to contemplate cooperating is that that was not -- as inarticulate as it was, it was not the statement of somebody who is planning to fight the government, that is planning on either defending himself at trial or trying to anticipate what they`re going to say at sentencing.

And I sense that attention in terms of, you know, what can I say but not really hurt the government when my client becomes cooperator? So I think that was the reticence, although I take your point that it probably could have been done a little bit more deftly than it was.

O`DONNELL: To go to the situation that`s developing where Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz seem to be in a race who ends up as a criminal defendant. Donald Trump multiple exposures in Georgia and Manhattan and matt Gaetz I guess hoping for some public encouragement from Donald Trump that he`s not really getting?

WEISSMANN: Yeah, but I think one of the things that this is real education for your audience in terms of how a case is made. And if you look at what`s happening, Joe Greenberg was facing a host of charges. He was on his third superseding indictment. So he is facing an enormous amount of time.

And when in Manhattan, what the prosecutors are clearly trying to flip insiders like the CFO of the Trump organization. But to do that, they need to develop the same kind of case that you`ve seen those federal prosecutors in Florida develop with respect to Greenberg, because that`s how you flip people.

O`DONNELL: Now, Matt Gaetz still has hasn`t said anything that really goes straight at these accusations in terms of, he hasn`t presented anything that we could look at and say, well, that`s a kind of convincing form of denial to what he is possibly being accused of.

WEISSMANN: Yeah, well, that is actually smart of his defense lawyer. Wait and see what the government has and then poke holes in it, because right now just giving blanket denials is probably smart strategy and then wait to see what happens. But, you know, that`s not an enviable position to be in at this point in that wait-and-see mode, because all signs are that he is going to be charged.

One thing I would point out is at times he has spoken, where he`s given specifics, which has to do with this bizarre extortion claim. That could very well be the subject of an obstruction of justice charge. The sex trafficking statute, itself, has an obstruction provision.

There is also a general obstruction charge. And that is certainly going to be something to look at. Whether they get to the end of the road, we`ll see.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, thank you for joining us tonight. We always appreciate it.

WEISSMANN: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, it could be, as I say, that Matt Gaetz is now in a race with Donald Trump to see who can become a criminal defendant first. Donald Trump has a bit of a head start. And he has hired a new criminal defense lawyer as the Manhattan district attorney has now suspended documents from the former -- follow this -- the former daughter in law of Trump`s accountant.

Former Manhattan prosecutor and former lead counsel to the House Intelligence Committee during Donald Trump`s first impeachment inquiry, Daniel Goldman, will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Because the Manhattan grand jury investigating Donald Trump and his business is not full of Republican senators, Donald Trump needs real criminal defense lawyers to handle that case. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that the Trump Organization has hired a criminal defense lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, who has represented a number of high profile public corruption and organized crime defendants.

"The Washington Post{" is reporting today that the former daughter-in-law of Trump accountant Allen Weisselberg has handed over important documents subpoenaed by the Manhattan grand jury. Jennifer Weisselberg told "The Washington Post" in an interview, "My knowledge of the documents and my voice connect the flow of money from various banks and from personal finances that bleed directly into the Trump Organization."

Joining our discussion now is Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was the lead counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during President Trump`s first impeachment inquiry.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. You know all of these players in the New York criminal bar. What do you make of this new hiring on the Trump side?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: I find it very interesting. I tried a case against Ron Fischetti who is an excellent trial lawyer. But he is the last person you would want to hire to cycle through a lot of documents. That is not Ron`s forte.

He`s really a trial lawyer. He`s an outstanding cross examiner and is not someone that the Trump Organization is bringing in to distill the tax returns and the bank records. That`s not what he does.

So that tells me that they`re gearing up for some sort of significant defense work that needs to be done. And in light of the information that came out about the daughter-in-law cooperating, providing documents and clearly being very eager to provide not only the documents but her own testimony about what her ex-husband and perhaps her ex father-in-law have said is an indication that this investigation is certainly heating up.

O`DONNELL: One of the interesting notes here is that this new hire by the Trump team, Attorney Fischetti, used to be a law partner of Mark Pomerantz who`s been hired by the district attorney`s office to help out, if not lead, this prosecution.

GOLDMAN: That`s right. They practiced together I think in the 80s before Mark Pomerantz went back to the southern district of New York and became the criminal chief or the head of the criminal division, the head of all the prosecutors.

I don`t read much into that. I think that Ron Fischetti and Alan Futerfas who is the Trump Organization`s lawyer are -- have been long-time colleagues in a variety of different cases and travel in a lot of the same public corruption organized crime case circles. And that`s my guess as to why Ron was brought in.

But Lawrence, this -- you know, as Andrew just said in the last segment about how you build a case it`s very interesting to me that Barry Weisselberg, Allen`s Weisselberg`s son is suddenly in the hot seat. He also works for the Trump Organization and, you know, one way to get to work your way up as you start low on the ladder so to speak and Barry Weisselberg could be a target for some tax fraud charges now that we know that the Trump Organization`s tax returns have gone over to the D.A.

There may be other white collar type of fraud cases that they`re looking into. And if you charge Barry, does Barry then start to cooperate against others in the organization?

So, this is prosecution 101. It`s what`s going on with Joel Greenberg in the Matt Gaetz case and it`s now what the Manhattan D.A.`s office seems to be focusing in on in this Trump Organization case.

O`DONNELL: One of the big issues whenever you see a criminal investigation moving toward an individual or company is, is there a possibility for a plea agreement.

I think with Donald Trump, we all know that that`s impossible. It would be impossible for him to agree to some kind of guilty plea in Manhattan or Georgia and that his strategy is going to have to be fighting it out in court all the way.

GOLDMAN: That`s for sure. The real question is right now as I kind of look at this from the outside, we know Donald Trump does not e-mail. In order to charge Donald Trump, particularly with tax fraud case, insurance fraud, bank fraud, you are going to need a cooperating witness who had direct conversations with Donald Trump about the illegal conduct. It`s almost a sure thing that that`s what you are going to need in order to prove any case against him.

And so that`s why Allen Weisselberg seems to be such a key possible defendant and potential witness. Because he is the one who would have had those conversations. Without someone like him, I don`t think -- I think it`s very hard to make a case against Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: Daniel Goldman, thank you for your invaluable expertise on the workings of criminal prosecutions in New York. We really appreciate it.

GOLDMAN: My pleasure, Lawrence. Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Congressman Joe Neguse was in the Rose Garden today when President Biden announced his new executive orders to reduce gun violence, after ten people were murdered in a supermarket in Congressman Neguse`s district in Boulder, Colorado last month.

Congressman Neguse joins us next.


O`DONNELL: Today in the Rose Garden with guests that included members of Congress and families of gun violence victims and the survivors of gun violence, President Biden announced a series of executive orders to reduce gun violence.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our flag was still flying at half-staff for the victims of the horrific murder of eight, primarily Asian American people in Georgia. And 10 more lives were taken in a mass murder in Colorado.

You probably didn`t hear it, but between those two incidents less than one week apart, there were more than 850 additional shootings. 850 that took the lives of more than 250 people and left 500 -- 500 injured.

This is an epidemic, for god`s sake. And it has to stop.


O`DONNELL: Just before the president`s speech, there was a mass shooting in South Carolina today. Five people were killed, including two children. And just after the president`s speech today there was another mass shooting in Brian, Texas. One person has died. Four people are in critical condition and another is in non-critical condition.

One of the president`s orders will stop the proliferation of ghost guns, untraceable guns. Another order requires the registration of stabilizing braces, a modification that gives pistols a firing position like rifles that increases their accuracy.

The suspect in the supermarket mass murder in Boulder, Colorado last month allegedly used one of those stabilizing braces.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse who was in the Rose Garden today and represents Boulder, Colorado where ten people were murdered at a supermarket on March 22nd.

Congressman Neguse, what was it like to be in the Rose Garden there today? I couldn`t help thinking as I was watching it that if there were a Republican president, none of that would be happening today.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): I think that`s certainly the case, Lawrence. That was certainly my observation as well at the Rose Garden today during this critically important ceremony.

I`m very grateful to the president for taking action. As you know, it`s been a very difficult few weeks here in Boulder, Colorado in my community where our community is still very much healing and grieving after the terrible tragedy that occurred at the King Supermarket.

And my constituents had made very clear to me that inaction is not an option. So a number of us in Congress have been imploring the president to take action, to use his executive authority to take steps to save lives.

We sent a letter to him last week requesting that he issue a regulation on the stabilizing brace that you mentioned, essentially the concealable assault-style weapons that had used by the alleged shooter -- or allegedly by the shooter here in Boulder as well as in Dayton, Ohio and other locations across the country where tragedies like these have occurred.

And we are grateful that the president took that step. That he announced that he would take that commonsense measure and to promulgate regulation and ensure that those heightened regulations under the National Firearms Act are enforced with respect to those weapons in addition to a number of other important steps today.

So it was a really very important day. But it`s only a set of first steps. I think it importantly warrants for us, I think, to underscore that there is a lot more that we have to do.

O`DONNELL: The president mentioned today that when he was a senator in the early 1990s, he managed to get passed a ban of assault weapons and it was a ten-year ban. That`s the deal they had to make. They had to put a so-called legislative sunset on it meaning it would end some day in order to get it passed.

It worked. All statistics showed that it reduced the use of those weapons in these kinds of mass killings. And because George W. Bush was elected president when that ten years expired, absolutely no action was taken to extend that ban and this president would like to bring it back.

NEGUSE: I certainly agree with him. The fact that the president is willing to so boldly state the need for reinstatement of the assault weapons ban I think is evidence of his commitment to ending gun violence in America.

And as you said, the empirical data speaks for itself. It`s clear that the efficacy of the assault weapons ban that was enacted in 1994 clearly worked in our country and reduced the pervasiveness of mass shootings.

I would just also say that what has changed, unfortunately, is that the Congress has lacked the political will to ultimately do what it did successfully 25 years ago. But I think that that pendulum is beginning to shift again. I honestly believe in conversations with my colleagues and so many others that folks are tired of excuses and that they`re ready to finally make some progress on this issue to save lives in our community and communities across the country.

O`DONNELL: One thing that I was struck by in the way the president handled this today was doing everything he can at the executive order level and then at the same time that he`s doing that recognizing that it`s not enough.

He doesn`t come out and say problem solved. And he lays out the aspirations he has legislatively beyond the executive orders.

NEGUSE: It`s a salient point, Lawrence because obviously, you know the president has broad authority constitutionally and under statute to issue the executive orders that he issued today. And they will certainly make a difference and (AUDIO GAP) he issued today will ultimately save lives.

But at the end of the day, it`s going to take the United States Congress mustering the necessary political will to enact these common sense gun violence reform measures that the American public so broadly supports.

And so his willingness to use the bully pulpit to demand, to implore us in congress to get this done was a welcome, welcome action today and certainly I am hopeful that we can build on that in the coming weeks and months.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Joe Neguse, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We appreciate it.

NEGUSE: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, we will be joined once again by the person who has logged more appearances on this program than any other nun. That`s right, the leader of Nuns on the Bus, Sister Simone Campbell will be joining us. President Obama personally thanked her for her work in helping to pass the Affordable Care Act.

And Joe Biden once signed her bus. How many people can say he signed my bus? Sister Simone Campbell will join us next and get tonight`s LAST WORD.


O`DONNELL: Sister Simone Campbell announced last week that she has completed her work as executive director of the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice after more than 16 years and will be moving on to other adventures that might or might not involve Nuns on a Bus.

Sister Simone was an important ally for President Obama and the Democrats trying to pass the Affordable Care Act. In March of 2010 she published what came to be known as "The Nun`s Letter".

She wrote, "Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold long standing conscience protections and it will make historic new investments, $250 million, in support of pregnant women.

This is the real pro-life stance. And we as Catholics are all for it."

When the Affordable Care Act became law President Obama thanked Sister Simone privately. In 2012 Sister Simone spoke at the National Democratic Convention.


SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, NUNS ON THE BUS: In Cincinnati I met Jenny who had just come from her sister`s memorial service. When Jenny`s sister Margaret lost her job she lost her health insurance. She developed cancer and had no access to diagnosis or treatment. She died unnecessarily. And that is tragic. And it is wrong.

The Affordable Care Act will cover people like Margaret.


O`DONNELL: President Obama invited Sister Simone to the Oval Office when she organized Nuns on the Bus to oppose congressional Republicans` budget proposals. In 2013 Sister Simone testified before the House Budget Committee which was then chaired by fellow Catholic Congressman Paul Ryan.


CAMPBELL: Everyone has a right to eat in to realize their human dignity. And therefore there is a -- in our position, a government responsibility to ensure everyone`s capacity to eat.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Sister Simone Campbell, the leader of Nuns on the Bus. She`s a former executive director of the Catholic Advocacy Group Network.

Sister Simone, does this mean you have more or less time to be on the bus?

CAMPBELL: Well, Lawrence, it`s going to be interesting to see. I believe I`m going to take a vacation for a little bit. I have four months off for a sabbatical and then we`ll see what`s next.

O`DONNELL: Well, I know you`ll be active. I remember moderating a discussion in Washington that you helped organize involving rural issues.

There`s so many -- you have such a range of interests that doesn`t always get expressed, let`s say, in these kinds of segments that we do. And so what have you learned in your experience in dealing with Washington that you want to bring into the rest of your work?

CAMPBELL: Well, actually learning from the rural round tables as well as from the bus what we`ve learned is that listening to people around the country, people who ordinarily don`t get heard, and bringing those messages back to D.C. is critically important.

We`re informing members of congress as well as the administration about the reality on the ground. And it`s out of that reality on the ground we can make good change for the entire nation.

Broadband is one of those issues that`s being picked up now finally, as a national issue. We need to address that and to ensure that all have access. And we know that because of our conversations around the country.

O5; In leaving this job certain things happen, like you get a letter from the president of the United States. I want to read what President Biden said in his letter to you as you step down from this job.

He said, "As Catholics we are called to serve rather than be served, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to be our brothers` and sisters` keepers. You exemplify these tenets of our faith. And I am so grateful for the passion you bring to everything you do.

Your support and friendship mean the world to me. God bless you."

What was it like when you received that letter?

CAMPBELL: Well, I have to say, I was so touched by it. And I know that the president values his faith deeply and to think that I`ve been a support to him in making challenging decisions, in caring so passionately for the American people I was really humbled and heartened by it, and I have to confess I got a tear or two in my eye. It just really touched me.

O`DONNELL: When you see the work that needs to be done by the Biden administration that you fully supported the election of, what do you see as their biggest challenge.

CAMPBELL: Well, I think one of the big challenges is they`re not mentioning the last president and the fact that the government itself is decimated because of the policies of the last president, the last administration.

And so rather than naming that problem they`re just working to make change and that shows up most in immigration. The challenge of addressing the immigration issues at the border are huge. And we need to both fix the law in congress as well as build a system that can respond with compassion and clarity to the people at the border.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to -- we`re going need to hear more from you about that on this program.

Sister Simone Campbell, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.

CAMPBELL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Sister Simone gets tonight`s LAST WORD.