tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC April 1, 2012 4:00am-4:30am PDT
let's get to the truth and let's play "hardball. good evening, i'm chris matthews. in washington, leading off tonight, what really happened? we are hearing two versions of what happened the night that trayvon martin was killed. first george zimmerman's brother told cnn that george was nearly unconscious and in danger of brain damage when he shot trayvon. we've also been told that brother had not spoken to george in years and may not have talked to him since the shooting. so we don't know the source of his information. and then a source came out to
describe a fight, one on top of the other, two men. and another man who walked up to the scene. we will try to untangle that story at the top of the the program tonight. and also those stand your ground laws like the one in florida, george zimmerman's attorney said may be applicable in this case. they're in force in roughly two dozen states in this country. we have compelling audio by the way of someone who left his house to shoot to death two unarmed men who broke into his house. the shooter use the the law in his defense. and also, there is a saying in baseball, don't believe what you see in march, in other words, don't get too excited about how well someone plays in spring training. it's only march now in politics but we have another poll, this one in wisconsin showing president obama pulling away in double digits from mitt romney. but we also know the far more important month in, well, in politics is october. the eve of the election itself. and the dnc is having great
fun lashing mitt romney in his new budget plan which democrats insist favors the rich. ♪ when old mitt claps his hand ♪ for the paul ryan plan ♪ that's amore >> that is amore and that is the side show and let me start with the unpredictable election coming our way this summer and fall. we begin with the trayvon martin shooting. michael isikoff is msnbc's chief investigate i investigative correspondent. and also david wilson from thegrio.com, managing editor. michael, what can you tell us that you have been able to uncover? >> well, chris, look, there's still a lot that's murky with regard to what happened that night between trayvon martin and george zimmerman, but one new piece of evidence that we did find today that is -- that could raise some
further questions is that the original 2005 police report on the arrest of george zimmerman. zimmerman was arrested at a bar near the university of central florida by a state law enforcement officer and charged with battery and use of violence and obstructing justice. when you look at the underlying police report, what we find is that zimmerman was disobeyed the orders of a state law enforcement officer to back off. he was in the process of arresting some employees at the bar. they got into a scuffle, and zimmerman -- when the officer showed his badge, zimmerman shot back, i don't care who you are and then "f" you. which is in the police report, zimmerman talking to the state police officer, then it says they got into a short scuffle. so here we have a history of a physical altercation between zimmerman and a law enforcement officer. zimmerman disobeying what the law enforcement officer told him to do, and he could have been
charged with a felony. we spoke to the prosecutor on this case who said this could have been a battery charge, a felo felony, but a junior prosecutor in the office did reduce the charges to a misdemeanor. >> well, he was 21 years old by myalculation, and now he is 28. he was involved in getting drinks or alcoholic beverages for someone below age. is that what it began with? >> no, with him interfering with the state liquor control agent. >> wasn't it about underaged drinking? >> the underlying case, the case that the liquor control officer was investigating was sale of liquor to underage drinkers. zimmerman is friends with one of those who's being charged. >> i see. >> one of the bar employees being charge. he interferes with the arrest. he told to back off. he refuses to do so and then they get into the scuffle. look, this doesn't resolve any
of the questions of what happened that night between trayvon martin and george zimmerman, but in the larger effort to understand both of the two principles in this case, this prior police report does shed some light. >> i want to show you something, gentlemen. let's take a look at this. the brother of george zimmerman came to his defense on cnn last night, and although robert zimmerman jr. did not say he had spoken to his brother george since the shooting, he did describe the moments leading up to trayvon martin's death, and we don't know the source, but let's watch him. >> george was out of breath. he was barely conscious, and the last thing that he remembers doing was removing his head from the concrete to the grass so that if he was banged one more time, he would not be wearing diapers for the rest of his life and being spoon fed by his brother, and there would have been george dead. >> well, subsequent to that, george zimmerman's lawyer, the lawyer for zimmerman himself, told nbc, the brothers, robert
and george, have not spoken in years and the comments by the brother robert are totally irrelevant. that's according to the defense attorney -- or the attorney for george zimmerman. let me bring in david here. how do you put this together? people coming out of the woodwork on both sides and this guy for zimmerman. we don't know the source of the information and assume that he talked to the father or did he talk to the brother? >> well, it appears that the father and the brother have a similar story, and what is interesting about the story is that it is sort of like painting a life and death situation for george zimmerman, that this was something where he had to act, to do something. what was also interesting about both of their statements was the fact that they say that trayvon martin was reaching for the gun. this is new information that we obviously didn't hear last week. i think it's just creating this story that, look, he had to act. when you look at the police tape, that video that came out, again, it creates some difficulty for the zimmerman
camp, because, again, he looks like someone who, you know, just walked off the street. he does not look like he is in distress or physical distress, and there is not any physical bruising that you can see clearly. >> what about the close-up by another network that looked at the back of the head and you can see cuts in the back of the head as he described in the testimony? >> well, again, his brother said he was beaten inches away from being unconscious. here you see this guy getting out of the police vehicle rather easily, walking on his own volition. so this creates a problem for the zimmerman side. >> and then there was zimmerman's father describing the fight on the sidewalk as he put it. let's watch that. >> after nearly a minute of being beaten, george was trying to get his head off the concrete, trying to move with trayvon on him, into the grass.
in doing so, his firearm was shown. trayvon martin said something to the effect of you're going to die now or you're going to die tonight or something to that effect. >> michael isikoff, back to you, sir. this has become the battle of sourcing some of it secondhand, some perhaps derived from hearing it from someone else on television or radio or listening to this, this case, what can you figure out down there about the progress of the case itself? everything is on the hands of the state attorney in brevard koun ti and not anywhere but a state case primarily? >> yes, they are overseeing it and taking a look at it, but the investigation is being done with the state investigators with a state prosecutor in charge.
look, the evidence is as murky as it can get. clearly, one witness, crucial witness trayvon martin is dead. you have george zimmerman and you know, there may or may not have been good eyewitnesses who can back up or dispute some of what he saw. it is worth pointing out that there are two sort of known facts that people on both sides could point to here. one is that we know that george zimmerman did disobey the instructions from the 911 officer to not keep following trayvon martin around. that's perhaps why this police report from 2005 might be relevant. but we also know from the original police report on this incident in february, that the police officer on the scene did report that zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and had blood on his body.
so that's a contemporaneous account by a police officer that suggests that there was -- that strongly suggests there was a physical struggle between martin and zimmerman. how it began and exactly what happened we may never know. >> this stand your ground law down in florida and a number of other states, david, will be an issue. it seems to me we're stuck here now deciding what the law says. i mean, the moral issues here are complicated as hell but david it does seem to me we have a challenge on our hands now. what constitutes self-defense under this new statute? >> it's very murky, right? you have two people, right, often times if you have one person who is going against the word of a dead man. and i think -- >> that's the case in any murder case, let's be honest. >> yes, that's true but i mean, there are other things you can judge by. i can easily say someone came up to me and i decided to shoot them, you don't have to take anything else into account, that's a problem. >> michael isikoff and david wilson, thanks both of you
gentlemen. the trayvon case, the trayvon martin case, the case that's shined a spotlight on these so-called stand your ground laws. we'll talk about them right now. we have an incredible 911 tape of a man who left his house, this is another case, to shoot and kill two burglars at a neighbor's house and use the stan your ground law as a defense. this is "hardball." two of the mt are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy. you see the gray. try root touch-up by nice 'n easy. just brush our permanent color matching creme right where you need it. then rinse.
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law's origin, where it came from, in florida and two dozen other states that have similar laws to it. a "time" magazine report in 2008 said these right to defend yourself laws were sweeping the country and that was no coincidence. as our guest john nichols reports, a group called the american legislative exchange council used the florida law as a mod toll push stand your ground-type legislation across the country. as i've said, two dozen states have something like this. ben released a report that says a.l.e.c. is behind any anti-state voter laws. and we are also joined by the editor of the "nation" magazine who has written extensively about this alec law. gentlemen, i want you to listen to something right now, a
variation of the stand your ground law in texas after the florida law paved the way. it was a linchpin for the man joe horn. let's listen to a portion of a scary 911 call from september 2007 in which he, mr. horn, describes two men breaking in a neighbor's home. >> i want you to listen to me carefully. okay? >> yes. >> i have officers coming out there. i don't want you to go outside of that house. i don't want you to have that gun in your hand when those officers are poking around over there. >> i understand that, okay, but i have a right to protect myself too, sir. you understand that. >> yes, sir. >> and there are laws that have been changed since september 1st and i know it and you know it, and i have a right to protect myself. he is coming out of the window right now. i have to go, buddy. i'm sorry, but he's coming out the window. >> don't go out the door. mr. horn, mr. horn -- >> [ bleep ]. >> they just stole something out of the house. >> i don't want you to going outside of the house. >> here it goes buddy, you hear the shotgun clicking, and i'm going. >> don't go outside.
>> don't move. you're dead. >> well, john nickels, that was pretty graphic. that the live account of a 911 tape on two men who were caught burglarizing a house, but killed and gunned down dead by a civilian who decided to use this law. and he was defended in court on the basis of this law. john? >> absolutely. yes. you will find cases like this in places across the country. there is a case in wisconsin and where -- >> how can he say he was defending himself. just a moment, back to the law and how it is used. stand your ground means if you are in danger of somebody is coming at you and you are in danger of your life and threatening you or with a gun outside of your home, and how does that relate to how he went after them?
>> well, the issue here is that there are several variations on the stand your ground laws. there is a castle doctrine law which suggests that you can protect your property and the environs right out to the sidewalk. stand your ground is more something that takes it out into the streets. the bottom line on this, chris, is that the interpretation kind of goes to the gunman. the person with the gun can say i felt threatened. i felt i was endangered. prosecutors, police officers, judges who traditionally have been able to interpret statements like that are really robbed of the ability to do it by these laws which essentially say there's a blanket immunity. >> mr. nichols, how do you justify self-defense even in the broadest definition if you're shooting down, pretending you're a law man chasing an escaping felon? he was acting like a police officer. maybe an officer does in some cases have a right to shoot a fleeing felon but in this case,
explain to me how he used that as a self-defense motive. >> i don't think it's credible to use as a self-defense motive. it's almost obscene of the traditional protection for self-defense. unfortunately this is what has happened in states across the country. we've had instances where people have shot. in circumstances where by just about any reasonable measure you'd say it was not necessary to use lethal force. and the person who did the shooting has been let off the hook on the argument that they felt threatened. >> let me go to my friend, thank you for coming from the naa kcp. you are concerned about this group, american legislative exchange council which pushes these laws. tell me what you know about them and why you're concerned. >> this is a group, frankly, when we took a look at them, we hoped maybe it was like the chamber of commerce, started off mom and apple pie and moved steadily to the further and
further, you know, to the right. but actually, what we found is that, no, they were founded really for ill-intent. this is a group whose founder has said, you know, our best interest is when the voting populous is constrained, when the number of people who can vote in this country goes down. in case after case, they're just on the wrong side. they're super extreme. this wild wild west law that they passed, you know, i mean, frankly, chris, if someone made a 911 call from the frontier in 1880, that's what it would sound like, right? >> yes. >> it raises the question, why are so many corporations supporting a group that is trying to shrink the number of people who can vote in this country? and who is out there pushing the sort of super powered laws that let people gun each other down in our streets? >> thank you, sir. thank you for that great report. >> thank you.
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back to "hardball." first from the gop, president obama's personal exchange with russian president dmitry medvedev earlier this week turned into a dreaded open mike moments. superpac, american cross roads wasted no time mocking the president with a james bond-style trailer. let's watch. ♪ >> in a world where one man cannot lose, the fate of the world rests in one top secret mission. >> and after my election i have more flexibility. >> i understand.
>> your mission is simple, mr. obama, win one last election to gain unchecked flexibility, weaken our defenses and fundamentally transform the world. dmitri will transmit the information. >> i'll transmit this information. >> starring barack obama. as president flexible. dmitry medvedev and vladimir putin as himself. >> after my election i have more flexibility. >> wow. that's a fun one, i suppose. it's yet to be seen if the incident we saw will be much of a long-term problem for president obama. the democrats might have you singing along with this, their latest elise. mitt romney got the endorsement of congressman paul ryan today and the dnc had some fun linking ryan and his tax cutting medicare threatening budget with mitt romney. ♪ when ole mitt claps his hands
for the paul ryan plan ♪ ♪ that's amore >> when his plan came out i applauded it. ♪ when paul ryan gives props to ole mitt romney's chops that's amore ♪ >> the enentitlement speech was very good. ♪ if they pass their budget >> their plan to really end medicare as we know it. ♪ what great care for the millionaire and the billionaire who is sharing big tax cuts ♪ >> gives tax cuts to the wealthy. ♪ when they meet to prepare ways to end medicare that's amore ♪ >> we've done coordination on our plans. ♪ when old willard goes nuts for the congressman's cuts they're in love ♪ >> paul ryan is one of the brilliant visionaries in our party. ♪ when you work hand in hand pushing parallel plans ohs
signore ♪ >> somewhere the great dean martin is smiling. that's "hardball" for now. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. miracle-gro garden soil. you just mix it with your backyard soil... and it feeds your plants for up to 3 months. my plants grew bigger... more beautiful... with more flowers and vegetables. guaranteed. everything changed with miracle-gro. for you are these flowers, like soap is for showers. everyone grows with miracle-gro.