August 15, 2014
Guest: Todd Johnson, Sherrilyn Ifill, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Joseph Haynes
Davis, Nick Gillespie, James Moore
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: The robbery and the tape.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.
Leading off tonight, there have been big developments out of Ferguson,
Missouri, today. This morning, police finally released the name of the
officer who shot an unarmed teenager to death last Saturday. Darren Wilson
is a six-year veteran of the force with no history of disciplinary action
against him, according to the chief of the force.
At the same time today, police also released information about what
they say Michael Brown was up to in the minutes before he was shot. Police
made public this video of a robbery at a nearby store. They saying the man
in the video was probably Michael Brown. It appears to show a
confrontation between Brown and the store clerk.
According to a police report, Brown allegedly tried to leave the store
with several packs of mini-cigars without paying, but was confronted by the
clerk. The police report says Brown then grabbed the employee`s shirt and
pushed him back into a display rack.
This morning, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson laid out a timeline
of events from that day that led many to conclude that the officer who shot
Brown was responding to a description of the suspect in that robbery. But
this afternoon, Jackson said the officer wasn`t even aware of the robbery.
Listen to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Did he know that he was a suspect in a case, or did he not
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE CHIEF: No, he didn`t. He was
QUESTION: It had nothing to do with the stop?
JACKSON: It had nothing to do with the stop.
QUESTION: Then why release the video?
QUESTION: At this point -- at this point -- at this point, why did he
stop Michael Brown?
JACKSON: Because they were walking down the middle of the street,
blocking traffic. That was it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And then just moments ago, another turn in the story. The
Ferguson police told NBC News the officer who did the shooting saw Mike
Brown with the stolen cigars and thought Brown might be a suspect in the
robbery. The Brown family today blasted the Ferguson police force for what
they called a strategy of blaming the victim.
Todd Johnson is a reporter for TheGrio and he joins us now from
Ferguson. So Todd, thanks for being with us. And there`s a lot of
confusing and really almost baffling information coming out here from the
police department in Ferguson. I want to just try to make sense of this
first to understand exactly where we are.
This morning, they put out this video. Their clear implication is
there`s some connection here. This afternoon, the chief of police gives
this press conference. He`s asked several times at the press conference if
the officer was responding to the robbery, and he says, No, this was about
-- this was about getting him out of the street and not blocking traffic.
And then, apparently, after that press conference, we`re now finding
out that the chief is now telling people, Well, wait, the officer saw
cigars and made a connection. Is that the story -- the official story of
the police now?
TODD JOHNSON, THEGRIO: Steve, I`m confused just listening to you
recap what`s happened today, so you can just imagine what the residents
here in Ferguson are feeling. And all of -- everything that you`re
describing did happen, from one story to the next story to a little
modification of the same story. People are confused and still unsettled as
to why they still don`t know what actually happened when Michael Brown
OK, so he was encountered in the middle of the street, and then
perhaps the officer did see the mini-cigars, and then it clicked and dawned
on that officer that perhaps Mike Brown was a suspect. But again, the
crucial piece of information that everyone here and all over this community
want to know is, OK, so then what happened next? What led to the use of
this deadly force, because all of the residents that I`ve talked to surely
understand that a pack of mini-cigars or whatever it is that allegedly Mike
Brown took from that store is not worth his life.
So today`s events did nothing to build trust or to change feelings
that residents have in this community about the police department. And
that`s as problematic as you can imagine, especially in a day and time
where the police department are trying to do the exact opposite -- build
trust, build community relations. Today is an example of how not to do
KORNACKI: Well, it just -- it just seems -- it seems awfully fishy to
me. At this press conference, as we say, the chief is asked over and over
again about, you know, Does the video that you put out this morning have
anything to do with the stop? And he says -- - he repeatedly says at the
this press conference, No, the officer was just dealing with -- you know,
basically just jaywalking.
And now it just strikes me as so odd that he wouldn`t -- it would only
take after the press conference for him to come out and say, Well,
actually, there was another reason and that he actually was responding to
the robbery? It just -- it seems very fishy, like somebody, you know, got
his ear after that press conference and said, No, this is not the official
JOHNSON: This might be bit extreme, but it might be time for the
chief of police of Ferguson to just kind of stop talking, or at least get
everything together before he gives press conferences because, again, the
people that I`ve talked to today just aren`t buying these altering changes
-- these altering of events. You know, every few hours, there`s a new
So you can imagine in the morning, when everyone was anticipating that
the officer`s name was going to be released, that there was at least going
to be comfort that the police department and the investigations were going
as planned and that we were going to be closer -- for the residents here in
Ferguson as a community to be closer to the knowledge that they want to
know and the information they want.
But certainly, now, with towards the end of the day and into the
demonstrations that will continue into the night, it gives no one any
solace that these stories have changed throughout the day. And people want
to know why the videos were released in the first place. Why were the
stills released of Mike Brown in a convenience store minutes before he died
released, if the chief of police doesn`t even know if they`re related to
how he died or why he was stopped?
So that again builds into this mistrust of the Ferguson residents into
the police department. So it didn`t help anyone today for the information
to come out the way it did.
KORNACKI: And the other -- the other information that`s missing here,
obviously, when you look at this police report and the information that was
put out today, it mainly pertains to this robbery, to the cigars. There`s
no real information there about the shooting itself.
And again, correct me if I`m wrong here. My impression has always
been that it`s a standard thing in police forces just about anywhere, when
a weapon is used, when you discharge a weapon for any reason, you as the
officer have to file some kind of report. I don`t know. Maybe that`s not
the case in Missouri. Maybe that`s not the case in Ferguson.
But are there other -- should there be other pieces of information,
pieces of paperwork that were filed here by this officer, by the police
department that are being withheld that we should have access to right now?
JOHNSON: Perhaps in the oncoming days there will be, Steve. But
another part of it that is -- that is bizarre to a lot of people is the
justification for why the police chief released the video -- surveillance
video of the store of what is allegedly Mike Brown in the first place.
He said the reason he did it, even though it wasn`t related to why he
was shot and why he was stopped, is because the media asked for it, to
which members -- several members of the media looked at each other and
asked, Didn`t we ask for information about the shooting? I don`t think
anyone -- a lot of people didn`t even know that a robbery had occurred.
So for the police chief to kind of put it on the media and say that
that was the reason that surveillance video and stills were released also
left a lot of people in the media confused. So we have confused members of
the media, we have confused members of Ferguson and people who distrust the
police department. You can see why this situation is being pieced together
the way it is and why no one really has any idea what`s going on.
KORNACKI: All right, well, thank you, Todd Johnson out there in
Ferguson. Appreciate that.
And Sherrilyn Ifill is the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
She joins us tonight from Baltimore. Sherrilyn, thank you for the time.
And I`m just curious what you make of this latest twist. As Todd is
just saying there, at that press conference this afternoon, the chief is
saying two things pretty clearly. He`s saying, one, that the stop had
nothing to do with the robbery, that the officer didn`t even -- wasn`t even
aware of that, and two, that the only reason the video was released was
because the media was asking for it.
Then as soon as that press conference ends, apparently, the chief is
saying, Oh, no. Actually, the officer knew about the robbery, saw the
cigars and made the connection. So he seems to then be justifying putting
the video out.
I`m really getting -- (INAUDIBLE) fishy in the last interview, but it
really seems fishy to me. I`m just curious what you make of it.
SHERRILYN IFILL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Well, I have to tell you I
am not at all confused. I mean, I think we`re at a critical moment right
now. Look at what happened today. We have been clamoring for information
about the shooting. We`ve been asking for the identity of the officer.
We`ve been asking for the incident report.
And we learned that there was going to be an announcement today, and
the thrust of that announcement was the name of the officer, without any
identifying information, and an incident report and still photos of the
robbery that happened at the store. We actually learned really nothing
more today about the shooting than we knew yesterday, except we know the
name of the officer. We still haven`t seen that incident report. I am so
pleased that my colleagues at the ACLU have filed suit seeking that
This is a distraction, and it`s the kind of distraction that,
unfortunately, the American public falls for too much. This is the moment
in which Mike Brown is being put on trial. His character is being put on
trial. And the subtext here is, you know are, Did he deserve it? Should
you trust this person? We are being invited to suggest his life has less
value because he was a knucklehead that day in the store robbing those
This is like asking whether, you know, Eric Garner in New York, in
fact, was illegally selling loose cigarettes. The penalty for selling
loose cigarettes illegally or fro stealing cigars from a convenience store
cannot be being gunned down on the streets of Ferguson or choked to death
on the streets of Staten Island, New York.
And this is the time when those of us who are activists, the media in
particular, and the American public has to stay focused on what`s important
here and not become distracted by this effort to turn it into a story about
who Mike Brown was.
We need to know who is Darren Wilson. Where is he? What is his
history in the department? What does his statement say in the incident
report? How does he describe the encounter?
Hearing the police chief come back, as you`ve said, after the press
conference and say, Oh, he saw the cigars in the hand -- why don`t you just
show us the document in which Officer Wilson describes what he saw, what he
encountered, what he did, and why he did it? It`s an outrage that we are
here today and that they came out purporting to give us information, and
have given us no information -- verifiable information about the shooting.
We`ve got to stay focused at this moment. This issue is not about
Mike Brown`s character. This is about the conduct of the Ferguson Police
Department. And honestly, since we first learned about this incident, they
have made either mistakes or very deliberate efforts to distract us from
the important issue here.
KORNACKI: What is it going to take to get that incident report you`re
talking about, that actually describes this shooting and the police
version? What is it going to take for that to see the light of day?
IFILL: I`m afraid it`s going to take the litigation that`s been
filed, and it shouldn`t. This should be -- this is -- this is public
information. The same way that the incident report of the robbery is
public information that we`re entitled to receive, is the same way that the
incident report of the shooting is public information that we`re entitled
This is the kind of disrespect that has produced the anger in the
community. It is -- it is ignoring what is the proper procedure to make
sure that this community is informed. And that`s why I think -- I applaud
the parents today, the mom and the family of Mike Brown, for saying, Remain
peaceful. Stay focused, because I think this is a moment when, if we
become distracted, we will not get the information we need to see to it
that justice is done in this case.
KORNACKI: All right, thank you, Sherrilyn Ifill from the NAACP.
And with us now from Ferguson is U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.
He`s a Democrat from Missouri. Congressman, appreciate the time.
You`re in the community, so let me just ask you this to start. I
mean, the story today during the day about last night was, finally a break,
finally, you know, peaceful protests and calm was sort of restored. In the
wake of what`s happened today with this video, with the police being all
over the map in terms of their explanation for that, what are you
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Well, I think the crowd is going
to, obviously, be larger than it was last evening. And it`s a peaceful
crowd. Black, white, brown individuals are gathering here peacefully.
But I can tell you this. What the police chief did today put on
display monumental incompetency or a very elaborate conspiracy that people
here believe to be what the police department will do.
There are witnesses with whom I have had contact today who will not
even speak to the police department here -- they`re -- one of them, I
think, met with the FBI a short time ago and one will meet with the FBI
tomorrow -- because they are not in any way comfortable in having contact
with the police here. They think that they are about cover-up. They
believe that they are incompetent. And there is nothing that anybody can
show me, tell me that would suggest anything otherwise.
Let us assume that Michael Brown stole some cigars. Nobody has even
provided any information that that even happened, but let`s assume that.
Then the issue is proportionality. Why would a police officer then become
the police, the judge, the jury and the executioner for some cigars?
And I think that the police chief is trying to, I think, get us moving
in one direction and then bring us back and try to create confusion and
hope that in a while, that the media will leave and that the crowds will
get smaller. That`s not going to happen. There will be a church service
tonight on the other side of town, where people are going to start talking
KORNACKI: Well, how...
CLEAVER: Let me just say it is extremely difficult to talk about
reconciliation when the police chief is stirring the pot more than any
demonstrator could ever do.
KORNACKI: You talk about witnesses who are afraid to talk to this --
to come forward to talk to this police department, all this sort of chaos
today and the statements that have come from the police. Just looking at
this investigation and going forward, are you confident this investigation
is going to be able to get to the truth of this?
CLEAVER: If the police department of this town conducts the
investigation, nobody is going to believe it. There is not a teacup full
of trust by the community of the police department.
CLEAVER: There is nobody who believes that it was...
KORNACKI: As I understand it, the county police right now are
responsible for -- the county is investigating this, and then also the
Justice Department`s come in to look for potential civil rights violations.
With those two investigations in place, do you think we will get
satisfactory answers on this?
CLEAVER: I do believe that the Justice Department and the FBI will
conduct a thorough and fair investigation. And I hope that the police
here, the police chief, will never come through and give any information
that concludes one way or another on the investigation. He has no
CLEAVER: ... in his own -- in his own town. One other thing.
KORNACKI: Quickly, yes.
CLEAVER: Police officers are not required to live here, and that`s a
problem. They can live anywhere. So if this community is not good enough
for them to live in, it`s not good enough for them to police in.
KORNACKI: Yes, that`s a theme we`ve been hearing a lot about, a
police force that represents the community. Thank you, Congressman Emanuel
Cleaver. Appreciate that.
KORNACKI: Coming up, the convenience store video. At first, people
were asking why did the police wait so long to release it. Then when the
police said that the officer who shot Brown didn`t know about the robbery,
the question became why release it at all?
Also, debate on the right. Conservatives in this country have always
backed the police, always supported tough law and order tactics, but the
military-style response in Ferguson has libertarians concerned about
whether this is another sign of the state overreaching.
Plus, late-breaking political news tonight. Texas governor Rick
Perry, who is seriously considering another run for the White House, has
been indicted for abuse of power. We`ll get the details on that later in
And finally, "Let Me Finish" today with life after death in Hawaii.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: New polling on the 2016 presidential race, and Hillary
Clinton`s lead over her Republican rivals is shrinking. Let`s check the
According to a new McClatchy Marist poll, Clinton leads Kentucky
senator Rand Paul by 6 points. It`s Clinton 48, Paul 42. Four months ago,
her lead was 14 points. Against Chris Christie, Clinton again leads by 6,
47 to 41. In April, her lead was 11. And against Jeb Bush, Clinton is up
by 7 points, 48 to 41. And that lead was 16 back in April.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Welcome back.
As we touched on a few minutes ago, new details in the events that led
up to that fatal confrontation between Michael Brown and the police are
raising new questions tonight. This morning, Missouri -- Ferguson,
Missouri, police released a videotape which they say shows Michael Brown
strong-arming a grocery clerk and stealing a pack of cigars.
At the same time, they released the name of the officer who killed the
When discussing the release of the video at his press conference this
morning, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson led many to believe that the
officer in question confronted Brown, believing that he was a suspect in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, MISSOURI, POLICE CHIEF: At 11:51, there was
a 911 call from a convenience store nearby -- not this one.
At 11:52, dispatch gave a description of a robbery suspect over the
radio. A further description, more detail was given over the radio, and
stated that the officer was walking toward -- or the suspect was walking
Our officer encountered Michael Brown on Canfield Drive. At 12:04, a
second officer arrived on the scene immediately following the shooting.
And at 12:05, a supervisor was dispatched -- dispatched to the scene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Then Police Chief Jackson held another press conference
this afternoon, but this time he said the contact between Brown and the
police was not related to the robbery of cigars at a convenience store
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You`re telling us that when the officer stopped Michael
Brown the first time, he was not aware that Brown was a suspect in a
JACKSON: No, he was just coming off of a sick case, which is why the
ambulance was there so quickly, but, yes...
QUESTION: This is critical. You`re saying -- what are you saying,
Chief? Did he know that he was a suspect in a case or did he not know?
JACKSON: No, he didn`t. He was walking...
QUESTION: So that had nothing to do with the stop?
JACKSON: It had nothing to do with the stop.
QUESTION: At this point -- at this point, why did he stop Michael
JACKSON: Because they were walking down the middle of the street,
blocking traffic. That was it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And then, as we said earlier, late today, the police said
that, yes, the officer involved saw cigars in Brown`s hands and did connect
it to the robbery.
For more on this new information, we are joined by Jonathan Capehart,
who is an opinion writer with "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC
contributor, and Joseph Haynes Davis is a criminal defense attorney.
So, Jonathan, we are no clearer, I think, right now in terms of --
from the police`s standpoint, what their official explanation for why they
released this video is, because at this press conference this afternoon,
the chief -- you saw the press is incredulous there. And then they
basically asked him, why did you release it?
And he turns to them and he says, because -- because you were asking
for it. Then, probably an hour after that press conference, he`s out there
saying -- the police are out there saying, well, there is a connection
here. So, we still don`t have are a clear answer from them.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
What`s been on display -- what`s been on display here is just sheer
incompetence. Maybe I have lived in big cities too long, where I`m used to
the order of things, where something like -- that happened in Ferguson
happened and then the police are -- the demand is for the police to come
forward with the name of -- the name of the police officer involved, the
incident report, the ballistic report, and also the autopsy.
And I think that`s what a lot of people were expecting today, in
addition to the name of the police officer. And, instead, what we got was
the release of a report of a robbery and video and stills -- video camera
stills of a robbery that no one knew anything about, and then five hours
later come to find out that there`s really no connection between the two of
them at all.
I mean, the -- all of the good work that the Missouri Highway Patrol
Captain Ron Johnson did last night in terms of quelling the tension and the
anger in the community was completely obliterated this morning and then
again later this afternoon.
KORNACKI: Well, Joseph, from a legal standpoint, let me look at the
question of this tape with you. So, we do have the police saying that the
stop itself is not related to the robbery, is not related to the cigars.
The stop itself isn`t.
At tent press conference, obviously, the chief leaves it there. Then
later, he says, well, at some point during the stop, the officer saw cigars
and made a connection. Based on what you have heard from the police, in a
court of law, would this tape even be admissible? Do we know?
JOSEPH HAYNES DAVIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And thank you for
having me on. We dropped off. So, I guess you brought it back to me.
But it looks like -- I mean, listen, based on what I have seen through
the media and so forth, that tape probably is not admissible, simply
because it is unrelated to the shooting, or the alleged shooting, which it
was -- everybody knows it was -- there at the incident.
One of the things that I have been writing about, not to change the
subject totally, has been this presumption of correctness by the police,
and this presumption of the legitimacy of the monopoly of lethal deadly
force by the police against the general public here in the United States,
but in particular in the black community.
That`s a big problem. It`s not limited to the black community,
because here in Florida, you have it from time to time in different
counties where you do not have a predominant presence of black Americans.
But this whole monopoly on the presumed legitimacy -- I should say,
legitimacy of lethal deadly force against the citizens of the United States
of America is very, very problematic.
DAVIS: And -- and -- and let me say one more thing.
The issue here is the transparency that apparently is not -- has not
been set forth by the Ferguson police with this investigation. When
government is not transparent with the citizens, we have got problems.
KORNACKI: Well, so what -- Jonathan, what do you think -- what do you
think the motive here is?
I mean, obviously, the -- the family has come out and basically said
they are trying to, you know, assassinate his character from beyond the
grave. But is that aimed at -- is this a strategy, you think, that is
aimed at the court of public opinion? Is it aimed at shaping the media
coverage, or is this about looking at potential jurors even and trying to
change the way they look at this?
CAPEHART: Look, I wish I could give the Ferguson Police Department
that much credit to be that strategic.
I mean, if anything, they are trying to protect their police officer
and their own -- and their own operation. Unfortunately, what we are
seeing is a level of incompetence that has the entire nation agape and
wondering, what the hell is happening?
The other problem here, Steve, is that we are dealing with a lot of
different jurisdictions having a piece of this pie. We are all yelling at
-- or I`m yelling at the Ferguson chief of police, the Ferguson chief --
the Ferguson Police Department.
But we also have the Saint Louis County Police Department...
DAVIS: Thank you.
CAPEHART: .. . that was also involved in this.
And one thing I want to bring up, in the report that Chief Jackson
released earlier today, where they were talking about the convenience store
robbery, the police officer involved in the police -- I`m sorry -- in the
convenience store robbery, when he wrote up his report, he said he was able
to corroborate that that was indeed Michael Brown by reading Ferguson
Police Department report 2014-12391 and Saint Louis County Police
Department report 2014-43984.
Those are the two reports the public needs to see.
KORNACKI: Hasn`t been able to see.
DAVIS: Absolutely. Absolutely.
DAVIS: Absolutely. Transparency is key.
KORNACKI: ... information that has been put out there today.
But, anyway, we have got to run. Thank you to Joseph -- Jason --
Joseph Haynes Davis -- excuse me -- and Jonathan Capehart. Appreciate
CAPEHART: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: And up next, we will go back to the streets of Ferguson,
Missouri, and MSNBC`s Chris Hayes, who is there.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We are going to go back now to my NBC colleague and host of "ALL IN,"
Chris Hayes, who is on the ground for us in Ferguson, Missouri.
Chris, thanks for taking a few minutes.
And I guess I just wanted to ask you, you know, you have watched this
from afar here in New York. And you have been on the ground now for the
past day or two. I`m just curious. Now that you have been out there and
you have seen it firsthand, what do you think that we as viewers watching
this from afar are not getting? What can we not see through our TVs that
we should know about?
CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES": That`s a great --
that`s a great question.
One is, I think people in Ferguson, black and white, across the sort
of spectrum, feel frustrated with the image of Ferguson, frankly, Ferguson,
Missouri, a place that no one in the country knew about outside of the
Saint Louis metro area a week ago. Now they associate it with essentially
unrest, police violence, local incompetence, SWAT teams and tear gas.
So, there is some frustration with that. And I was with a young man
today that`s going to be on my show, where we were setting up to take a
shot outside Ferguson Market, which is the convenience store, of course,
where that footage was released from today. It had a phalanx of cops
outside it. There was a bunch of camera crews.
And we were going to set up and do it there because I was thinking as
a television producer that that was the best shot. And he said, hey, could
we go like two minutes away from here to just where people live in
And you could see that it`s just the sound of the cicadas and
barbecues. So, there is -- there is that aspect of it. The other aspect I
think people aren`t getting is, there is a kind of "Game of Thrones"
behind-the-scenes struggle for authority between many different complex
lines of municipal governance.
There is the Ferguson police, relatively small. There is Saint Louis
County police. There is Saint Louis County prosecutor`s office. There is
the Saint Louis City municipal folks who have been sharing some cops over
here. There is the governor`s office. And Northern County, Northern Saint
Louis county has all these different municipalities with very sort of
The Saint Louis County cops are involved in patrolling a lot of them.
And so there is a lot of kind of old simmering tensions around who decides
what and battle for control from a governmental sense here politically as
the demographics have shifted in North County over the last 20 or 30 years.
KORNACKI: We heard -- earlier in the show, we had a guest on who said
that all of the good that was achieved in the last day or two by Ron
Johnson coming in and taking charge from a law enforcement standpoint, that
all of the good that was accomplished by that had been wiped away by what
we have seen, the sort of craziness from the police today in all these
conflicting statements coming out of them.
To what degree is that true? Are you feeling that on over the ground?
HAYES: Yes. It -- definitely, that goodwill dissipated. There was a
kind of thickness of tension in the air throughout the day.
Even just going to that Ferguson Market a few hours after the footage
had been released, I was there when about 12 police officers, a mix of
state Highway Patrol and Saint Louis County cops, came out and formed a
cordon in front of it. It was pretty clear the owners of the Ferguson
Market had called the cops, fearful after that video got out.
Of course, the Q.T. that I`m standing right in front of was burned
down on that first night. So, there -- there was -- there is a lot of
anger and there`s a lot of here we go again, and this is what they are
going to do after they killed him. They are going to assassinate his
character. There`s a lot of frustration.
I will say this. Captain Ron Johnson is out here tonight. He was
walking around. There are police officers on the scene here who are
talking to people. And the one thing I have seen over the last two days,
as I have been here, are conversations happening between members of law
enforcement and protesters just on the corner quietly, sometimes kind of
heated actually back and forth.
But those conversations couldn`t happen 36 and 48 hours ago behind
tear gas, gas masks and SWAT uniforms and at the point of a gun.
HAYES: So, there is something different in the dynamic. Does that
mean that people are less angry now? No, people are furious about what
went down with that convenience store footage, particularly at that second
press conference, when the captain comes out -- the police chief, Jackson,
comes out and said, oh, no, no, that had nothing to do with him getting
HAYES: Why do you think that?
KORNACKI: All right, thank you, Chris Hayes.
And Chris will be anchoring "ALL THIN" live from Ferguson beginning at
the top of the hour. Stay tuned for that.
And coming up, the surprising reaction from some conservatives to what
we have seen in Ferguson. Even they say law enforcement has gone too far.
HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
What you have in Ferguson, Missouri, is a dangerous mix of racial
tension and police aggression, combined with an unsteady and unpredictable
flow of information. It is in this environment of uncertainty and chaos
that we have seen many politicians avoid the hot-blooded issues of race and
class that are at the center of this storm.
Yesterday, President Obama addressed the situation by urging calm,
peace and calm, a message that`s been widely echoed by elected officials
across both aisles.
But here is where things get interesting, because one of the loudest
voices in support of the black community and against the police is a
Republican. The Republican Party has historically sided with police. They
used to call it the party of law and order. They like to call themselves
that. This is also a party that`s 90 percent white and has consistently
alienated large portions of the black community.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul wants to run this party. But, yesterday,
he delivered a blistering op-ed in "TIME" magazine which has caught the eye
of every major newspaper across the country, because he didn`t just wade
into the racial issue. He dove head first, saying: "If I had been told to
get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct
possibility that I might have smarted off. But I wouldn`t have expected to
be shot. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it
is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is
particularly targeting them."
So, what exactly is going on here?
Gene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The
Washington Post". Nick Gillespie is a journalist with the libertarian Web
Well, that`s a good question. What is going on here, Gene? I mean,
we say in the opening, you think of, you know, the Republican Party, the
party of Nixon, the party of law and order, the party of, you know, the
police are always right.
What do you make of Rand Paul in this particular moment? We know he
has libertarian tendencies. But in this particular moment, choosing to
weigh in like this?
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I think he`s
being opportunistic. But I`m not using that in a pejorative sense. A
politician who`s not opportunistic doesn`t get very far.
And I think he identified an issue in which and a moment in which his
own views coincide with the views of many African-Americans, many liberals.
And he seized on that, to highlight that, and he feels it`s an opportunity
and he`s taking it.
KORNACKI: So, Nick, within the Republican universe, sort of on the
right, I`m curious how this goes over. As we say, it was always -- just
the go-to campaign device for Republicans is always to attack the Democrats
as the criminal coddlers, ones who don`t respect the police enough. So,
this is the kind of thing they used to go after Democrats for.
How is this being received on the right?
NICK GILLESPIE, REASON.COM: Well, you know, it`s interesting, because
Rand Paul is setting up a different constellation of concerns. He was
basically the only guy in the Senate who is really head out there on
privacy issues, which really resonated with young voters, especially, in a
way that nobody was expecting. And it was to the shame of the Democrats,
with the exception of Ron Wyden, not of them talk during his filibuster.
And I think -- you know, what Rand Paul is -- he`s threading a
different needle here. And most interestingly to me on Twitter today, you
saw a lot of conservatives, including people at groups like Hot Air and
whatnot, who were responding to Rand Paul and the militarization of police
issue. I think a lot of conservatives are slipping into libertarian
territory, because they see the use of force and the overuse of force as
kind of emblematic of what they dislike about government more and more.
KORNACKI: Have you seen -- I`m curious, too, because I`m sure you
have been watching Rand Paul. I mean, we`ve all been watching him closely,
you`re probably watching particularly closely. You`re, you know, a
libertarian publication there. Have you seen Rand Paul over the last year
or two? He embarked on the national tour, one of these listening tours,
talking to a lot of black audiences. There was a speech at Howard
University, we all remember from last year. It`s more than that though.
Have you seen specific changes in issues he`s chosen to address and
positions he`s taken over the last year or two that you can say are a
result of this?
GILLESPIE: Yes. Well, I mean, I think -- you know, he`s been
emphasizing things like school of choice and sentencing reform in a big
way. He`s also talking about marijuana legalization or rather marijuana
prohibition at the federal level. He has explicitly said the drug war is
hurting minority communities more than other communities. And I think his
growing sensitivity to that and he`s also using it to talk about the way in
which government power gets abuse at all levels and that has disparate
KORNACKI: Well, there are some people who are skeptical about this
and here`s why some of them might be. During his campaign for the Senate
back in 2010, Paul said he was against parts of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, including the key part of the law that forced private institutions
like restaurants and hotels to serve blacks.
Here`s Paul during the interview with "The Louisville Courier-Journal"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I like the Civil Rights Act in the
sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains. And I`m all in
favor of that.
REPORTER: But --
PAUL: You had to ask me the "but". I don`t like the idea of telling
private business owners. I abhor racism. I think it`s a bad business
decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same
time, I do believe in private ownership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, Gene, ask Rand Paul about that comment then and what
he`s saying now, and he`ll get offended at the idea there is a difference
between who he was and what he was saying in 2010 and who he is and what
he`s saying now. But watching him, have you noticed any changes in Rand
Paul the last couple of years?
ROBINSON: Well, if you ask him about that particular quote, I think
he`ll say, "It wasn`t me. That was some other guy. That was my evil
He`s pretty much flatly disowned that set of views about the Civil
Rights Act. And I think he will stick to this revised position as he
contemplates or launches his presidential bid. I mean, you know, there is
a calibration clearly going on. He`s going to face questions about changes
and shifts in positions that were once more pure libertarian and now are
shading into sort of what a lot of people call real world territory.
KORNACKI: Well -- also, I think he`s stressing the idea of the
Republican Party if it`s going forward. He told me in an interview I had
with him in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago that Republican Party has
to be the party of live and let live.
That`s a radically different message than social conservativism that I
think he believes in but recognizes the governing strategy, you`ve got to
kick things like drug legalization and gay rights down to the state level
and get them out of Washington. And that`s he`s going to face a lot of
criticism, mostly from the right, on that. But I think it will make him
seem more interesting to the mass of independents.
KORNACKI: Yes, is he -- I mean, Nick, I guess my question, Nick, is
he getting into a danger zone here? I mean, there`d been --
KORNACKI: -- a lot of Republicans who`ve talked about, you know, want
to move the party a little bit. But he`s really trying to take some steps
GILLESPIE: This is a guy who has taken on the military industrial
complex, you know? He`s not an isolationist. But he says, you know what,
we shouldn`t be bombing all of these countries.
He stood up to Obama when Obama was going to start bombing Syria
without congressional authorization. And he asked for, you know, the
president to ask for authorization for Libya.
He`s already, you know, kind of neck deep in a lot of deep Republican
currents. But it`s exactly those things because he`s a true fiscal
conservative that I think he can really say this and change the party.
And I think, if nothing else, I don`t care if a Republican wins or a
Democrat. I`m a small L libertarian. But I think he`s going to make for a
much more interesting political discourse about the role and the size,
scope and spending of government.
KORNACKI: -- looking forward to these debates in 2016, putting him on
the stage with Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, whoever, let`s see what happens.
Anyway, but thank you to Gene Robinson, Nick Gillespie. Really
And up next, the corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell. The prosecution has made its case. Now, it`s the defense`s
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: One of the most dramatic political stories in the country
is unfolding in a Virginia courtroom. Former Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell who many Republicans had hoped would be heading to the White
House is fighting to stay out of jail. Yesterday, the prosecution rested.
Today, the judge denied a request from the defense to dismiss that
case. That means that on Monday, the soap opera defense begins. The
former governor expected to take the stand and expose the personal details
of a troubled marriage.
When we come back, the breaking story out of Texas tonight where
Governor Rick Perry has been indicted on two counts of abuse of power.
KORNACKI: Breaking political news out of Texas now, where Governor
Rick Perry has been indicted for abuse of power and coercion of a public
servant. Indictment lists two felony counts for vetoing millions of
dollars in funding for state public corruption prosecutors.
Last year, Perry threatened to veto the funding if the district
attorney of Travis County, it`s the county around Austin, didn`t resign.
That D.A. had been convicted for driving while intoxicated, and it`s her
office that runs the state`s integrity unit.
Jim Moore has been reporting and consulting on Texas politics since
the 1970s. His new book is called "Adios Mofo; Why Rick Perry Will Make
America Miss George W. Bush."
So, Jim, thank you for joining us.
If you could just quickly explain the basics of this. You have a
prosecutor whose office is funded by the state, and the prosecutor gets a
DUI, is drunk, and will not resign, so Rick Perry zeros out the funding for
her office. Where`s the crime here?
JIM MOORE, "ADIOS MOFO" AUTHOR: Well, number one, under Texas law,
it`s an abuse of office and a form of coercion, to take money away that the
legislature has appropriated in order to get someone to do something. So,
that`s his main problem. But the political rationale behind this for Perry
was the fact that her office maintains something called the Public
Integrity Unit, and it investigates the legislature.
It has the only authority in the state of Texas to investigate ethics
and potential crimes in the legislature, and it has historically been run
by a Democrat, as Miss Lindbergh was. So -- and still is.
And so, the governor wanted her out of the way. He would have gotten
to a point of replacement. He would have obviously been a Republican. And
so, he decided to use his office in a way that he could coerce her to get
KORNACKI: Well, I`m just -- and I understand -- I want to get to the
strictly legal part of this in a second.
But from -- you know, from a sort of public relations standpoint, the
court of public opinion, I`m hearing a defense here that might resonate
with a lot of voters down in Texas, where you have the woman who was in
charge of the Public Integrity Unit for the state of Texas gets a DUI. And
I`ve seen the details on this case. I mean, is recklessly drunk. It`s a
matter of public record -- will not resign her office.
And Rick Perry could say, hey, I was just doing what I could to get
her off that office. I imagine court of public opinion, he might have some
MOORE: Well, fair enough, Steve. But the further part of this case
is that the penalties she suffered was very drastic for a first-time
offender, 45 days in jail, which she served. And the other piece of this
that tends to resonate with the public is the fact that Perry is trying to
circumvent being investigated by anyone, including a Republican in charge,
who`s unlikely to investigate him.
And let`s be clear. I mean, it`s not the first time a public official
in Texas has been arrested for driving while intoxicated. And we`ve got a
long record in this state of forgiving people and recollecting them to
office. And she went into rehab, and she`s announced that she`s not going
to run for re-election. So, it seemed, on Perry`s part, a kind of power
But to your point also, it has not really affected him politically in
the state, because it`s a case that`s mostly been followed by political
KORNACKI: Yes, no. I think it`s (INAUDIBLE) by surprise myself.
Perry`s office put out this statement just moments ago, "The veto in
question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every
governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively
defend the governor`s lawful and constitutional action and believe we will
So, Jim, he`s saying he does have the right to veto that funding he`s
asserting there. But can you speak to the charges against him here. If he
were to be found guilty of this, what would that mean?
MOORE: Well, it means it`s not good. The abuse of office part is a
felony that carries five to 99 years. The coercion part is two to 10
years, if he is found guilty.
But the part of this that hasn`t surfaced, and I think is the
strongest part of the case. And I`ve heard this around the courthouse and
in political stories in Texas, that there is some indication that the
governor, after she refused, tried to cut a deal with her and to get her
another job, and to suggest that perhaps if she would step aside and allow
him to have control of that office and that budget, that he would find of
place. And that becomes a kind of inducement that makes it look like it`s
more than simply an act of vetoing the funding, but it`s a coercion and
it`s a bribe to get her out of office, and it`s not just the act of a
governor doing his job and exercising a line item veto.
But even if it is, Steve, even if that`s all it is, that is an abuse
of office under Texas law, and that`s why he`s subject to these
KORNACKI: And very quickly, do you -- I mean, we have a brief
statement from them tonight. Do you expect we`ll be hearing from Governor
Perry soon, himself?
MOORE: I think he`s going to stay quiet on this. So, I think it
would be bad for him to step forward. And as everybody knows, in politics,
when you`re explaining, you`re losing. He`s not going to do that.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, geez, all year, we`ve been talking about
indictments, governors, Republicans, 2016, everyone talks about Chris
Christie, Rick Perry ends up being the indicted governor, at least for
Thank you, James Moore, for joining us. Appreciate that.
We`ll be right back after this.
KORNACKI: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Chris
Matthews will be back on Monday.
And right now, Chris Hayes anchors "ALL IN" from Ferguson, Missouri.
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