'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
July 16, 2013
Guests: Sam Bagenstos, Susan Zalkind
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour.
Right now, as we speak, the Florida governor`s office looks like this.
Somewhere north of 100 protesters have taken over the statehouse office of
Florida Governor Rick Scott.
It is peaceful, there have been no arrests. Clearly, there has been
singing. But this does not look like it is ending any time soon.
This started early this afternoon when protesters gathered on the
steps here of the state capitol building in Florida. And then they decided
that they were going to march to the governor`s office directly saying they
want to meet with Florida Governor Rick Scott. They will not leave his
office, they say, until they do meet with him. That means that at least
they are planning on occupying Rick Scott`s office overnight tonight.
Right now, law enforcement, thus far, saying that as long as the group
does not interfere with state business, the group will not be asked to
leave. The director of the capitol police saying, quote, "We will close
these doors into the governor`s suite and they, the protesters, will be
allowed to remain here."
Photos of this protest today at the governor`s office were posted on
social media by some of the protesters, themselves, also by reporters from
Florida news outlets that cover the state capitol and are not use to
covering anything nearly this exciting. But unless something changes
overnight, this is the office scene that will greet Governor Rick Scott
when he finally gets back to work.
Governor Scott is apparently out of town at the moment on a trip to
New York. But even while he is away, he has already responded in writing
to the group`s demands.
The protesters say they want Governor Scott to call a special
legislative session in Florida to pass what they`re calling the Trayvon
Martin Civil Rights Act, which would include a repeal of the state`s "Stand
Your Ground" law. Rick Scott today in a written statement, already, said
The governor`s communications director e-mailed to the "Today" show
this statement. Quote, "Immediately following Trayvon Martin`s death,
Governor Scott called a bipartisan special task force with 19 citizen to
review Florida`s `Stand Your Ground` law. The task force recommended that
the law should not be overturned and Governor Scott agrees."
Do you remember that task force, actually? The chair who Rick Scott
put in charge of that task force was his lieutenant governor -- his
lieutenant governor who has since been forced to resign in a corruption
scandal over Internet gambling and scamming veterans charities. But,
anyway, that task force, under her leadership, made the decision to leave
"Stand Your Ground" in place in Florida and Rick Scott says, at least as of
this afternoon, he is sticking to that decision.
That, however, does not mean that the issue is going away. Yesterday
in Gainesville, Florida, another young group of protesters took over the
local office of the Department of Justice making the same demand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Stand Your Ground! Change the law! Stand Your Ground!
Change the law!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They marched from Bo Diddley Plaza, right into the federal
building in Gainesville and from there, they marched up three flights of
stairs to the U.S. attorney`s office to make their case. Again, no
arrests. A peaceful takeover -- a peaceful but very vocal, very determined
Florida Democratic legislators are now echoing the demands of these
protesters, saying that "Stand Your Ground" should be reconsidered in
Florida. One legislator who is an African-American man is telling the
press now that he says even he personally, now, feels afraid to go running
in sweat pants and a hoodie the way he used to because of this case.
Again, though, as of late this afternoon, Rick Scott is already saying
no to that demand. Him saying no does not necessarily mean the pressure is
going to ebb in Florida, and indeed, this afternoon, the pressure stepped
up dramatically. Late in the day, when Attorney General Eric Holder gave
the keynote speech at the NAACP convention which convened this week in
In a surprise move in his speech today, the attorney general
springboarded beyond the specifics of this case and the tragedy of Trayvon
Martin`s death to make a blunt broadside attack on Florida -- on the laws
of the state of florid Florida, specifically on the "Stand Your Ground"
law. The law that says essentially if you feel afraid, you can kill the
person who made you feel that way.
I should note, though, beyond his very pointed attack on that policy
issue, though, the attorney general also spoke in terms that were very
personal and for him, especially, I think pretty emotional.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Years ago, some of these same issues
drove my father to sit down with me, to have a conversation, which is no
doubt familiar to many of you, about how as a young black man I should
interact with the police, what to say, and how to conduct myself if I was
ever stopped or confronted in a way that I thought was unwarranted.
Now, I`m sure my father felt certain at that time that my parents`
generation would be the last that had to worry about such things for their
The news of Trayvon Martin`s death last year, and the discussions that
have taken place since then, reminded me of my father`s words so many years
ago. And they brought me back to a number of experiences that I had as a
young man when I was pulled over twice and my car searched on the New
Jersey turnpike when I`m sure I wasn`t speeding. Or when I was stopped by
a police officer while simply running to catch a movie at night in
Georgetown in Washington, D.C. I was at the time of that last incident a
Trayvon`s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a
conversation with my own 15-year-old son. Like my dad did with me. This
was a father/son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down, but as
a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the
world, I had to do this to protect my boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Attorney General Eric Holder speaking today at the NAACP
convention in Orlando, Florida.
What happens next here? The governor`s office in Florida is right
this second, and looks to be overnight, occupied with a sit-in. It`s
happening now. It`s expected to last overnight and into tomorrow.
Protesters demanding to see the governor, saying they will not leave
the office until they do get to see the governor, saying that what they
want is for Florida`s "Stand Your Ground" law to be taken off the books.
This weekend, there will be more pressure and it will be nationwide
pressure. Civil rights activists including the National Action Networks
and MSNBC`s own Reverend Al Sharpton announcing today that they expect
vigils in more than 100 cities this weekend including at federal buildings.
Vigils demanding that Eric Holder`s Justice Department bring federal
charges in this case now that there has been an acquittal at the state
If there were federal charges, those would likely be hate crime
charges. It was hard to figure out how likely it might be that the Justice
Department would try to bring that.
Meanwhile, though, the attorney general today bluntly and without
euphemism going right after the state of Florida saying its laws contribute
to more violence than they prevent.
Listen to how the attorney general made his case. Listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: It`s time to question with laws that senselessly expand the
concept of self-defense and sew dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.
These laws try to fix something that was never broken.
There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if, and
the "if" is important, if no safe retreat is available. But we must
examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and
age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat
outside their home if they can do so safely.
By allowing and, perhaps, encouraging violent situations to escalate
in public, such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting
tragedies is long, and unfortunately, has victimized too many who are
innocent. It is our collective obligation. We must stand our ground to
To ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws
that contribute to more violence than they prevent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Sam Bagenstos. He served in the Justice
Department as the number two official in the civil rights division from
2009 to 2011. He`s currently a law professor at the University of
Mr. Bagenstos, thank you very much for your time tonight. I
appreciate you having here.
SAM BAGENSTOS, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: The attorney general came out very strongly today against the
"Stand Your Ground" law that exists in Florida, and it exists in other
states as well. In concrete terms, does the Justice Department have any
role to play in terms of seeking changes to laws like that?
BAGENSTOS: Well, I think the role that the Justice Department has is
really the role that the attorney general engaged in today which is to use
the bully pulpit, to try to continue the conversation that really began
with the Trayvon Martin shooting about whether these laws are a good idea.
MADDOW: As a civil rights lawyer, somebody who practiced at very high
levels in this field, can you explain to me how "Stand Your Ground" laws
legally mesh with civil rights concerns? I mean, with law enforcement, we
track who get arrested, who gets convicted, how severe the sentences are,
we can track all that for signs that the justice system is somehow skewed.
Is there a civil rights question about the way "Stand Your Ground" is
BAGENSTOS: I think there is definitely a civil rights question about
how it`s applied. There are some very instructive but early, nonetheless
instructive work from the Urban Institute about the racial effects of
"Stand Your Ground" laws, and particularly the way that disproportionately
it seems like based on what we know in white-on-black crime, you have a
higher number of people being exonerated, essentially, because of "Stand
Your Ground" laws. So that`s very concerning from the civil rights
MADDOW: What about the attorney general`s argument, today, that these
were laws that were designed to solve a problem that didn`t exist? That
there was nothing wrong with the age-old consideration of self-defense as a
defense to having killed somebody or hurt somebody? Do you agree with him?
And what do you think he meant by making that assertion?
BAGENSTOS: Well, so, it`s always been the case that self-defense even
before "Stand Your Ground" law existed that a person can defend him or
herself if there is a threat to life or serious bodily injury. And there`s
no reasonable opportunity to retreat with safety. What the "Stand Your
Ground" law does is says a person doesn`t have to retreat, doesn`t have to
break off from a fight like that, even if there`s an opportunity to do so
So, it increases the chances that someone will use deadly force when
it`s not really necessary to do that.
MADDOW: One of the unknowns, beyond whether or not Florida might
change its "Stand Your Ground" law, other states might in response to the
kind of pressure we saw from the attorney general, from these protesters
today, pressure I think that`s going to be ongoing -- one of the other
things we`re waiting to find out is whether the Justice Department might
get involved to prosecute George Zimmerman under federal charges. Likely
that would be federal hate crimes law.
How difficult do you think it would be to make that case? Much of the
commentary around that makes it sound like it would be almost impossible.
BAGENSTOS: Well, I think it would be very difficult. So, in order to
prove a hate crime, the Justice Department would have to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman acted because of Trayvon Martin`s
And the problem with proving that beyond a reasonable doubt in a case
like this is there were only two people who were there close enough to
really hear what went on. One is dead and the other person doesn`t have to
So, proving what was on his mind is going to have very difficult.
MADDOW: From your experience, at the Justice Department, should
people understand the hate crimes law as being more symbolic value or
political value than prosecutorial value? I mean, are cases brought under
BAGENSTOS: A lot of cases are brought. It`s actually a very
significant and important statute. In the years from 2009 to 2012, the
Justice Department got convictions of 141 defendants in hate crimes cases.
These are hate crimes involving people targeted because of race as well as
people targeted because of religion, sexual orientation, et cetera. It`s
very, very significant and important problem.
MADDOW: Sam Bagenstos, former principal deputy assistant general for
civil rights at the Justice Department, now at University of Michigan law -
- thank you very much for your time tonight, professor. It`s nice to have
BAGENSTOS: Thank you very much.
At around 5:00 today, 5:00 Eastern Time, the news gods looked down on
us, felt a twinge of pity and said -- here, this is for you. That gift is
MADDOW: A lot of the big amendments to the Constitution, even if you
don`t remember all the details, at least they bring something to mind right
away. First Amendment, freedom of speech. Second Amendment, that`s the
guns one, right? Fifth Amendment, self-incrimination. You know, I take
But the 12th Amendment? Anyone?
The 12th Amendment is the Dick Cheney has to pretend he doesn`t live
in Dallas amendment. Seriously.
The 12th Amendment is a big, long amendment explaining how we vote for
presidents and the Electoral College. But look at the first line. "The
electors shall meet in their respected states and vote by ballot for
president and vice president. One of whom at least shall not be the
inhabitant of the same state with themselves."
This it turns out is an awkward thing. This made even more awkward in
already astoundingly awkward situation in the summer of the year 2000. The
governor of Texas at that time, of course, George W. Bush, was running for
president. You will recall he outsourced the job of picking a vice
president running mate to his father`s former defense secretary, Dick
Now, before being Dick Cheney defense secretary, Dick Cheney had been
Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney but hadn`t lived in Wyoming for years. He
was running Halliburton. He was running the big oil field service company
that he had turned into a giant defense contractor.
And Halliburton was headquartered in Texas. And Dick Cheney and his
family were living in Texas. They were living in Dallas. They`d been
living there full time for years.
And from his perch in Dallas, where he lived, Dick Cheney took a long,
hard look at all the possibilities he was given for who could be George W.
Bush`s running mate. Dick Cheney, after reviewing everybody, decided the
best man for the job was Dick Cheney. He picked himself -- which is
awkward in so many ways.
But Dick Cheney don`t care. He picked himself. That`s what he`s
But that 12th Amendment was going to be a problem, right? Because
George Bush lived in Texas, obviously. He was governor. And Dick Cheney
also obviously lived in Texas. He lived in Dallas and ran Halliburton from
But that meant they`re both Texans. And under the 12th Amendment,
when Texas` electors would meet to cast the state`s electoral votes for
president and vice president, they would be barred by the 12th Amendment of
the constitution from casting those votes for both George Bush and Dick
Cheney. They could vote for one or the other of them but could not vote
for both of them. If it turned out to be a close election in 2000, that
How do deal with this problem? Dick Cheney decided to move,
technically, at least. Cheney lived in Dallas while he was chairman of
Halliburton company until he changed his voting registration to Teton
County, Wyoming. Four days before becoming Bush`s running mate.
Cheney lived in Dallas, but he changed his registration to Wyoming
four days before the announcement that he had picked himself to be Bush`s
running mate. Nice work. Maybe people won`t notice.
Last week, Cheney put his Dallas house up for sale for $3.1 million.
He didn`t even bother to put his Dallas house on the market until election
night was already over and the results were tied up in the Bush v. Gore
Ultimately, Dick Cheney`s house was bought by a Republican Party donor
and everybody went on to forget about the Cheney residency scandal. We
instead absorbed the fact, regardless of how he got the job, Dick Cheney
being vice president was the closest that true radicalism had been to the
office of the presidency of the United States since Eugene V. Debs ran for
president from prison and came in third. That was a different kind of
But now, that whole issue is all coming rushing back, because today
mini-me Cheney, today Dick Cheney`s daughter, Liz, his ideological clone,
the daughter so close to him that she wrote her father`s memoirs and no one
thought it was word, Liz Cheney today announced that she, too, has ma a
convenient change of business address in order to pursue the family
business of getting into positions of political power that no one ever
wanted them to run for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY`S DAUGHTER: By a federal government grown far
beyond anything, the pioneers of our great state could ever have imagined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Our -- our great state, did you say? What state would that
Ah, the state of Cheney. Where who cares where you actually live.
Liz Cheney today announcing that she will try to unseat Republican
Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming even though she`s never lived in Wyoming.
She`s from D.C. You know, it worked for dad when he was in Dallas. Why
There have been rumors for a while in Wyoming that Liz Cheney might
try to pull something like this off. The local paper in Cody, Wyoming,
"The Cody Enterprise" just last week editorialized that she seemed nice
enough, they sure liked her dad, but, really, it was ridiculous she would
run for any office in Wyoming. "Liz Cheney, the former State Department
official and ongoing FOX News commentator, increasingly is looking like she
plans to run for that seat even though Senator Mike Enzi seeks re-election
for the fourth term. If she does, it will be the end of her in Wyoming
"A California group this summer is promoting her GOP candidacy," says
the Cody newspaper. "That`s going over with Wyoming people like a lead
balloon and only serves to remind folks that Cheney is a Wyomingite in
address only. Until last year she had never lived in the state."
The paper continued, "We don`t like the term `carpetbagger` but has a
place in politics for those who move here and promptly presume to represent
us in high office. She`s from D.C., lives here a few years and wants us to
pay for her to move back to D.C. Not going to happen," end quote.
For his part, the Republican senator who Liz Cheney says she is going
to challenge for his job, he says that she had told him explicitly if he
was going to run for re-election, she would not run against him. Speaking
to reporters today, Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi said, "Obviously, that was
not correct." Asked a follow-up question about his relationship with Liz
Cheney, the senator said, "Well, I thought we were friends."
Friends with a Cheney. Right. When there`s a position of power at
stake, friends with a Cheney, right?
MADDOW: The word you are looking for here is "shameless".
MADDOW: You know, there is something in politics that is worse than
just losing the argument. And that is when your side of the argument
starts to sound like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you learn about breeding, you learn that you
cannot breed Secretariat to a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby.
You guys have incredible DNA, and don`t forget it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The arguments against immigration reform have now arrived at
the point where the Republican side is talking about donkey DNA. Hold on.
There`s more from that.
MADDOW: The federal courthouse outside of Boston does not have
cameras in it. If it did, it might have been a real rival to the Zimmerman
trial for being the epicenter of a media universe this past week. Because
simultaneously in the Boston federal courthouse, we`ve had the ongoing
trial of Whitey Bulger, which the missing for 16 years Boston mob boss
criminal mastermind is now found and in custody and charged with killing 19
people in a reign of terror that captivated and enthralled and terrified
Boston for decades.
And in the trial, he`s facing his former fellow gangsters and still
trying to convince them all he`s not a rat for the FBI and never was. So,
in that trial, we have days like Whitey Bulger screaming "F you" at other
gangsters on the witness stand and the gangsters are screaming it back at
him with the federal marshals having to intervene physically between the
witnesses and the defendant in the courtroom.
And people are confessing to their culpability for decades-old
murders, apologizing to the victims` family members in front of them.
People are weeping in the courtroom.
On Thursday of this week, the prosecution`s key witness against Whitey
Bulger is his former closest partner who is expected now to testify against
him. He`s a guy called the rifleman and he`s going to take the stand.
And, and at the same time, at the same courthouse, this past week,
there was also another totally spell binding thing happening in that same
courthouse. Again, where there are no cameras, but there at least is a
sketch artist. And where a phalanx of federal, state and local law
enforcement put on a major display of military-style force to bring the
surviving Boston bombing suspect into the courtroom where he ultimately
pled not guilty to 30 charges, including use of a weapon of mass
destruction to kill. The charges could not get him the death penalty under
Massachusetts law, but they could very well get him the death penalty under
federal law, and he`s being federally charged.
While all that happens, though, there remain, as mysteries on the
edges of this story, a gruesome horror movie of an unsolved triple murder
and equally mysterious totally unexplained FBI killing, and these persist
as mysteries on the edges of these other cases and frankly, they getting
weirder and worse every day.
It starts in Waltham, Massachusetts, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
It was September 11th, 2011. Three young men, two of whom were athletes --
one a martial arts fighter, one a personal trainer, big, fit, strong young
guys. They ended up murdered in particularly gruesome fashion on a quiet
dead end street.
Waltham is a suburb of Boston. And there is no place in the world
where crimes like this are common, but particularly in this place, it is a
very strange thing to have happened.
These are the three young men who died. They were found with their
throat slit in three different rooms of a single apartment in this house in
Waltham. Reportedly, they were all found in the same position -- their
bodies all facing down. Their heads all turned and tilted the same
direction, to the exact same angle. Their throats slit and their bodies
strewn with drugs. There was marijuana all over them.
One of the young men who was killed is reported to have been a
smalltime pot dealer, but there were the three dead bodies covered in loose
marijuana. There was also $5,000 in cash found in the apartment. It was
left there. And the killers escaped.
When Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two Tsarnaev brothers, was
named as a suspect in the Boston bombings and later killed in an explosives
and bullet-laden confrontation with police, this cold case Waltham triple
murder got back into the news because it turns out that Tamerlan Tsarnaev
was friends with one of the men who was killed.
They were about the same age. They worked out at the same gym. They
were both fighters and reportedly very close friends.
Is it possible there was more than just a coincidental connection
between these two crimes? Between the Boston bombing and this unsolved
triple murder? Could Tamerlan Tsarnaev been the perpetrator of both of
these crimes two years apart?
Those questions are why the Waltham case ended up back in the news
after the marathon bombing. After Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed and the
younger Tsarnaev brother was taken into custody, FBI agents and
Massachusetts state police officers went to central Florida to interview
another friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in relation to -- well, we don`t know.
Presumably in relation to the Boston bombing investigation, right?
Presumably the investigation into the Boston marathon bombing continues now
even to look into whether or not the Tsarnaev brothers are connected to
anybody else in this country who should be seen as potentially culpable for
So, the questioning of this guy in Orlando could have been about the
Boston bombing. But could it have also been about those Waltham murders?
Does that explain why Massachusetts state police officers were there along
with those FBI agents in that apartment in Orlando, Florida, when the man
who they were questioning ended up dead?
Ibragim Todashev was 27 years old. No sources, anonymous or
otherwise, have ever suggested he had any connection to the marathon
bombing whatsoever, other than the fact he had a personal friendship with
Tamerlan Tsarnaev some years earlier when he lived in Boston.
But the FBI and apparently the Massachusetts state police kept
questioning him over and over and over again anyway. What were they
questioning him about?
And it was the fifth interview they had done with him when they were
in his apartment on May 22nd -- they were hours into the interview. There
was nobody else there as far as we know besides Mr. Todashev and at least
three law enforcement officers. But they ended up killing him, ended up
shooting him and killing him.
We don`t know officially how many times they shot him, although his
family released photos supposedly taken of his body at the morgue which
appears to show his body shot six times in the torso and once in the back
of the head.
Why did they shoot this guy seven times?
When you look at all the different anonymous law enforcement leaks
about why they shot this guy, the list of things leaked to the press
anonymously by law enforcement about why they had to shoot this guy seven
times, including a the back of the head, the list honestly is nonsense. He
had a knife, say three law enforcement sources.
Oh, and then two of those sources say, no, no, no, he did not have a
knife. So the third one still says he has a knife? Well, I don`t know.
Nobody ever clarified that.
Somebody else, some other law enforcement sources say he had a blade,
a blade that`s different than a knife? No, wait a minute. Another law
enforcement source says, no, no, no, he did not have a blade. So, it`s no
knife and no blade.
Did he have something else? Oh, he had a pole. He had a pole or
maybe it was a broom stick. No, no, he had a ceremonial sword.
No, he did not have a ceremonial sword. Well, there might have been a
ceremonial sword somewhere but he didn`t have it anywhere near him during
the questioning. OK, then, why are we even talking about this sword then?
Or maybe he pushed a table or maybe he threw a chair. Are you guys
sure now? Is that why you shot him? You want to settle on one self-
exculpatory here, or do you want to stick to six or seven stories that
can`t all possibly be true?
Each of those turns in the story where the material fact of what this
guy supposedly had is represented in a totally new and different way, when
only law enforcement was in the room with him and nobody else can testify
to it, each new turn in the story is reported as the thing this kid
definitely had in his hand or did to provoke getting shot seven times.
All of these conflicting stories cannot all be true. The only thing
they have in common is that they all excuse the killing by law enforcement,
in about seven different inconsistent ways that cannot all possibly co-
No other authorities are investigating this shooting. There`s no
local Florida police investigation of this shooting. The FBI is looking
into itself on this one.
Charlie Savidge reporting in "The New York Times" last month the
internal shooting review process that the FBI is conducting about itself
and its behavior here is a process that over the last 20 years has reviewed
more than 150 shootings and in zero of those 150 cases had the internal
review process found that the FBI did anything wrong.
Well, we`re supposed to believe that this time, this internal review
process means that we`ll all get the straight story soon. Just be patient.
Florida authorities say they`re waiting for the FBI`s review of itself
to cough up its fore gone conclusion -- I mean, its conclusion. The FBI
says they`re making no public comments about the case until they finish
this very important internal review. They`re also forbidding any other
officials from releasing any other agency`s information about this case.
Florida medical examiner`s office saying today the FBI is blocking
them from releasing Todashev`s autopsy report, even though the medical
examiner says the report is ready for release.
In terms of any other kind of oversight -- well, there`s congress, the
FBI has now written a letter to the house homeland security committee
telling the committee that the FBI, quote, "will not be responding to all
of the committee`s request for information."
See, ongoing investigations. You know how it is. So even Congress,
now, we`re not telling you.
Now, though, even things are getting even weirder than they have been.
And in some ways they`re getting worse. "The Boston Globe" reporting that
after killing Ibrahim Todashev, federal authorities have now arrested his
roommate from that Florida apartment where he was killed. They have put
her in jail on immigration violations. She will reportedly stay in jail
until she is deported back to Russia.
"The Boston Globe" describing her as a potential witness to the murder
of Ibrahim Todashev, one of the witnesses who`s not an FBI agent or other
official. "The Globe" noting the immigration court which makes the
decision about deporting her and the FBI, which killed her roommate that
she might have been a witness to, both the court and FBI fall under the
purview of the Department of Justice which could be a conflict of interest.
Right now, the plan is this potential witness will remain in jail
until she`s deported and when she`s deported she`ll be brought to the
airport by law enforcement authorities. In other words, if you want to
talk to her about what she may have witnessed -- good luck with that. Try
tracking her down in Russia. And she conceivably is the only witness.
Meanwhile, anonymous law enforcement sources have not only tried to
continue to try the killing of Todashev through media leaks. They`ve also
continued to sell that gruesome murder mystery in Waltham, Massachusetts,
as something that`s all tied. It`s totally solved. And they`ve tried to
sell that by leaking that information unanimously as well.
Last week, "The New York Times" front paged a really weird story about
this whole mess. It was a weird story not necessarily just because of the
details of the story, but because the way they reported it. Ever since
Ibrahim Todashev was killed, in addition to leaking about the weapons that
he may or may have not had and his supposed actions just before being shot,
ever since they killed him, law enforcement officials have also been
leaking to the media that Ibrahim Todashev was a villain, that he basically
confessed that both he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conveniently is also dead,
they were the ones who committed that gruesome murder in Waltham in 2011.
And last week, "The New York Times`" story on the front page bought
that anonymously sourced theory and in fact reported it as if the paper had
checked it out and knew it to be true somehow. "The New York Times"
writing that Ibrahim Todashev definitely did implicate himself and Tamerlan
Tsarnaev in those Waltham murders.
Quote, "An FBI agent investigating the bombings interviewed Mr.
Todashev about Mr. Tsarnaev in his Orlando, Florida, apartment in May and
he began to provide information about the Waltham case," says the FBI.
"The nature of Mr. Todashev`s sudden admission and shooting have left some
close to the victims skeptical about the official account of what
Why would they be skeptical? We`re being told he definitely
One point they said he had a knife, too. And then they said he
The FBI has never released any proof publicly that there was any
confession prior to the Todashev killing. But now, "The New York Times"
says, hey, surprise, that grisly case has been solved in which case, big
news, front page, and a weird form of justice for those three guys who were
killed in Waltham, who are now having implied to their loved ones who are
mourning their loss, having implied to them through anonymous law
enforcement leaks that apparently are not part of a real investigation or a
real trial, that their three loved ones were conveniently killed by a
couple of dead guys and so case closed.
James Comey just went through his confirmation hearings process to be
the new director of the FBI. There were zero questions for him throughout
the process about who shot Ibrahim Todashev and who has been leaking and
continues to leak these self-contradictory but always self-exculpatory lies
about him thus far that we`re still being told to believe.
This is a farce. I don`t know why this isn`t a bigger national story,
but this is an absolute farce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Investigators with bags of evidence removing them from a
Waltham, Massachusetts, apartment which is now a crime scene. Three men
were found stabbed to death inside the second floor unit Monday afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does look like the assailants and the decedents
did know each other. We have no evidence of a break in the apartment, and
we have other indicia that the decedents and the assailants were known to
REPORTER: Twenty-four hours later, state and local police were
looking for clues and a motive, although the killings are thought to be
drug-related. All the victims were reportedly covered in blood and
marijuana. Their names have still not been released.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We now know the names of the three young men who were killed
that day. In the nearly two years since they were killed, we`re no closer
to know who killed Brendan Mess, Erik, Weissmann and Raphael Teken -- or
The only new news we do have is in the form of anonymous law
enforcement leaks to the media that say the killers are two men who are now
also dead. One of them, the elder Boston bombing suspect, Tamerlan
Tsarnaev, and the other, a man named Ibragim Todashev who was killed by the
FBI in Florida last month in circumstances no one will explain on the
Joining us now is Susan Zalkind. She was a close friend one of the
Waltham victims, Erik Weissmann. Ms. Zalkind is also a freelance
journalist who`s been doing her on investigation of this story.
Susan Zalkind, thank you so much for being with us.
SUSAN ZALKIND, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: You have said you think local authorities did not do right by
this investigation in Waltham. You highlighted the fact, for example, they
didn`t essentially set up a tip line and call for public information.
Why do you think that`s important?
ZALKIND: Well, when the murders happened, everyone was scared. We
were scared and people didn`t know where to turn to give information if
they had it. They didn`t know if they had any information if it was
useful, and they were incredibly emotional. They needed -- investigators
needed to reach out a hand and let them know that they were there and they
were going to be taking in more information on this case.
MADDOW: Am I right that it seems like when people who are close to
any of these young men who are killed, or in Waltham, were in any way
connected to the killing or where it happened, I`ve seen it repeatedly
asserted that police just didn`t talk to everybody who was close to these
ZALKIND: That`s correct, Rachel. I actually talked to someone who
was spoken to by Waltham detectives. None of Weissmann`s friends I`ve been
able to reach out to have been approached by state police.
But I spoke to someone who spoke to Erik on the evening of September
11th, 2011, who actually provided the name of one of Erik`s best friends,
just because it might be a useful person to talk to if they`re looking for
information leading up to the murder. And that person was never contacted
and eventually confirmed from a police source that detectives did, in fact,
have that name available to them and they weren`t interested in -- they
weren`t curious. They weren`t looking at the details.
MADDOW: When this happened, though, I mean, Boston is a big city and
big horrible crime happens in big cities everywhere. But this triple
murder in Waltham, it was out of character, out of keeping, huge news
story, wasn`t it?
ZALKIND: It was really weird. I was actually working as a news
writer at a TV station at the time. And I was looking at this murder case
before I knew my friend was a victim because it was so bizarre. I had done
some freelance writing for Waltham publication and it was weird.
ZALKIND: It was weird.
MADDOW: It was very definitively described as a drug-related murder
at the time.
ZALKIND: The drugs found on the bodies of the victims. So, drugs
were related to their murder.
I had talked to my colleagues who are also at the time, but yes, there
is a possibility that this potentially was a --
MADDOW: A drug robbery sort of gone wrong?
ZALKIND: It`s just strictly drug related crime, but it was clear to
me that there was a strong potential that investigators` handling of this
case should have looked into that there was other factors involved. The
murders were too weird, and too gruesome. And there was no forced entry.
And there was a lot of other factors that showed me that this was a
possibility and that someone handling this case should have been looking
into that possibility.
MADDOW: With the -- in the -- the reason that this story came back to
national attention was because of the connection to Tamerlan Tsarnaev and
the Boston bombings.
Since Ibrahim Todashev was killed, it has been sewed up in the press.
The national press has been sold the story that Ibrahim Todashev confessed.
It was him and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, case closed, both the perpetrators are
dead. And it is over.
I am critical of the way the national press has picked this up because
I feel they bought this hook, line and sinker as an anonymous tip from law
enforcement sources that have told things -- things about this case that
haven`t turned out to be true in the past.
Just wondered your reaction is to seeing it maintained that way in the
ZALKIND: I have nothing but questions in so far as this case goes and
all the factors relating to this case goes. And knowing one of the
victims, having those questions unanswered, it`s really painful.
MADDOW: Susan Zalkind, freelance journalist who`s been investigating
on her own the murder of a good friend, Erik Weissmann -- Ms. Zalkind,
thank you very much for being here tonight. I appreciate it.
ZALKIND: Thank you for having me. Thank you for looking into the
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This generation has
seen new immigrants. There was a time when people were worried, what are
the Irish going to do? And now everybody accepts that the Irish has
strengthened America. There were times when people were concerned about
Asians, and the Chinese, who had been brought here from the railroads, and
now there is a recognition that obviously Asian-Americans are incredible
contributors to the wealth and prosperity of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, President Obama did multiple interviews with major
Spanish language media news outlets, mostly he focused on immigration
And the White House is being very overt about the strategy here.
They`re making it clear that, yes, they say they want immigration reform to
But should the immigration reform fail, it seems increasingly possible
given what`s going on in the House under Republican control, if immigration
does fail, the White House wants everybody in the country to know that
President Obama did everything possible to try to get it passed.
But while the president made his case to the Spanish language news
media today, it should also be noted that the Spanish language news media
itself has been piling on the Republicans, and piling on John Boehner in
particular for being against the immigration bill.
Take Jorge Ramos, who see you in your screen here -- the very
prominent national news anchor from Univision. He told Greg Sargent of
"The Washington Post," "Like it or not, the Hispanic media perceives that
approving or rejecting the immigration reform is in the hands of John
Boehner. When you listen to local radio stations and even national media,
most of us are concentrated on John Boehner. We don`t even have a problem
pronouncing his name," he said.
"The question is who is responsible for failure? So far the answer is
Then, in Mr. Ramos` column yesterday, titled "House to Lose the White
House in 2016," he writes, quote, "In spite of everything, the Republicans
appeal to the instincts of the more anti-extremists. They will lose the
White House in 2016, and it will take many more years to get the
forgiveness of Latinos."
On Twitter, he wrote, "Pete Williams, Joe Arpaio, Tom Tancredo, Jan
Brewer, and Speaker Boehner. Does Speaker Boehner really want to be the
new Joe Arpaio for the Hispanic community?"
You know, the Beltway media does not necessarily care or notice when
something big happens in the Hispanic media. But this is a big enough deal
that everybody should be noticing. I mean, does John Boehner listen to the
analysis from important Hispanic news media leaders? Right? Does he
listen to this analysis that Republicans are making a horribly stupid
political move, listening to leading voices in the Hispanic community who
are telling him that?
Or does he listen to the advice that he`s getting from his own side,
telling him that immigration reform is a terrible idea and he shouldn`t do
Well, yesterday on Capitol Hill there was an anti-immigration reform
rally, attended by the highest profile anti-immigration reform Republicans
-- Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Iowa Congressman
A reporter from "The Nation" magazine was there, and says she was
standing directly in front of Senator Sessions as he was walking through
the crowd shaking hands when this happened on stage at the rally at the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From those incredible bloodlines of Thomas
Jefferson and George Washington, and John Smith. And all of these great
Americans, Martin Luther King. These great Americans who built this
country. You came from them.
And the unique thing from being from that part of the world, when you
learn about breeding, is you learn that you cannot breed Secretariat to a
donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby. You guys have incredible DNA,
and don`t forget it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See, America, we can`t have immigration reform because donkey
DNA can`t inter-breed with us.
John Boehner has a choice, the side that includes Rand Paul voting
against immigration reform, holding on to his Southern Avenger staffer,
holding on to his mask who says Americans are not wrong for deploring
Mexicans in America, because we really have to protect our white majority -
- that guy and the donkey DNA guy, right, John Boehner can choose that
side. Or he can listen to the leading Latino voices in the country who say
that if house Republicans kill this bill it is essentially over for
Tough decision, right, Mr. Speaker.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Thanks for being with us tonight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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