THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
August 15, 2014
Guest: Tony Plohetski, Anthony Gray
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Amazing stuff,
again. Get thee to an umbrella. But amazing stuff, man. Well done.
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Thank you very much. Thanks.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We have some new reporting ahead this hour on the situation in
Ferguson. And we`re going to be keeping an eye on the protests that you
could see unfolding over Chris`s shoulder there. Unfolding there yet again
tonight, after what really was an explosive day of news in Ferguson,
I should also tell you, we`re going to be joined live by the attorney
for Michael Brown`s family in just a few minutes. That`s coming up live in
just a couple of minutes.
But before we get to that, we do have some late-breaking news tonight
out of Texas. A grand jury in Austin, Texas, tonight has indicted Texas
Republican Governor Rick Perry. He`s charged with two felony counts of
abuse of power. The technical charges are abuse of official capacity and
also coercion of a public servant. If convicted of these felonies,
Governor Perry faces a maximum prison term of 10 years for the coercion
charge, and a range of five years to 99 years for the other felony charge.
Now, these charges center on Rick Perry`s public efforts to remove
from office a Democratic elected state official in Texas. That Democrat is
named Rosemary Lehmberg. You see her on the right screen side of your
She`s the district attorney for Travis County, Texas. That`s where
the state capital of Austin is located. Of course, Texas is a red state,
but Austin and Travis County, that`s a blue dot in the middle of red state
Texas. Those places lean Democratic, both the county and Austin itself.
And that actually ends up being potentially a really important part
of this story, because when you are the district attorney of Travis County,
as Rosemary Lehmberg is, you`re not just the D.A. for that one county.
Travis County is where the state capital is, and the D.A. for Travis
County, therefore, is also responsible for the behavior of government
officials in the state capitol.
The Travis County D.A.`s office includes the state`s public integrity
unit which investigates ethics allegations against Texas county officials.
So, as Travis county D.A., Rosemary Lehmberg`s job, in addition to being
the district attorney like they have in every other county, in addition to
that, her job is also to investigate all ethics complaints against Texas
state officials. Remember, she`s a Democrat.
Last year, Rosemary Lehmberg, herself got into some personal trouble
with the law. She was driving through Austin on a Friday night when a
fellow motorist called police to report that somebody was driving
erratically. Eventually, police tracked Rosemary Lehmberg down. She was
parked in a church parking lot. She failed a field sobriety test, she had
an open bottle of vodka in the car with her, refused to take a breathalyzer
test, and she ultimately was arrested that night on DUI charges, it was a
Rosemary Lehmberg spent the night in jail that night and it did not
go well. She was videotaped kicking her cell door, shouting at the
officers on duty that night. She eventually was put into a restraint chair
at the jail.
After that incident, Governor Rick Perry was among those who called
on Rosemary Lehmberg to resign her job. To resign her office as Travis
County district attorney.
But Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down. She served about 20 days
in jail, which is a long sentence for a first offense DUI, but she served
her time, she apologized, and she stayed in office. That, apparently, was
not good enough for Governor Rick Perry.
And this is where we take the turn toward tonight`s felony indictment
of Governor Perry. Last summer, the "Austin American-Statesman" newspaper
reported that Texas state officials were warning Rosemary Lehmberg that if
she did not resign as D.A., Governor Perry was going to strip the public
integrity unit of its funding. He was going to veto funding for that unit
in her office unless Ms. Lehmberg stepped down.
And the reaction in Texas was that, OK, yes, some of this is about
Rosemary Lehmberg`s drunk driving thing, but some of it felt more like some
Texas is a red state, but that public integrity office for all state
officials is in the office of a district attorney elected by a Democratic
county. And Texas Republicans have long hated that. They have tried many
times in the past to defund that office, to get this public integrity
office with this Democratic D.A. off their back.
Texas Republicans never succeeded before at defunding that office,
but then, the D.A. who runs that office -- well, she got herself this DUI.
Opportunity strikes. And so, Rick Perry made his demand that she resign.
It should be noted that if she had resigned, Rick Perry would have been
allowed to point her replacement.
If she didn`t resign, he said he would defund that office, that
office that Republicans had been trying to defund anyway. Well, Rosemary
Lehmberg refused to step down in the face of that threat. And Rick Perry
did follow through on his threat. He vetoed $7 million in funding for that
And Rick Perry, as governor, does have the power to veto funding
measures passed by the state legislature. But a group in Texas called
Texans for Public Justice, they filed an ethics complaint against Governor
Perry when he did that. They were accusing him of trying to coerce a
public official to resign by using the threat of withholding state funds.
He plainly was doing that. They just alleged that it was illegal.
This past August, a Texas judge appointed a special prosecutor to
look into those charges against Governor Perry to see if his actions were
illegal. That special prosecutor impaneled a grand jury in Austin. That
grand jury met with Rick Perry`s chief of staff and his legislative
counsel. That grand jury has met repeatedly over the last few months, and
then tonight, surprise, they handed down a felony indictment, a two-count
felony indictment against Governor Rick Perry of Texas -- two felony counts
that accuse Governor Perry of abusing his powers as governor of Texas.
Just a short time ago tonight, this soft-spoken special prosecutor in
this case announced the indictment to the public. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MCCRUM, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: The grand jury today returned a
two-count indictment against James Richard Rick Perry. Count one of the
indictment charges him with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree
felony. And count two of the indictment charges him with coercion of a
public servant, a third degree felony.
REPORTER: Where specifically does this go from here? What`s the
process, what`s the timetable?
MCCRUM: Next week we`re going to set up a time for Governor Perry to
come before court, to be arraigned, and given notice of his constitutional
rights, and give notice of the charges against him in the statutory
penalties that he`s facing. That date has not been set yet. It will be
set probably Monday some time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Rick Perry has been Texas governor since the year 2000. He
was elevated from the lieutenant governor when George W. Bush was first
elected president, and Rick Perry has held the office of governor ever
since. He`s been governor for 14 straight years.
But Governor Perry is due to leave office this upcoming January,
whereupon he`d been widely expected to run for president. Although he`s
still Texas governor, Rick Perry has been more frequently been in the news
in Iowa these days, than he has been in his home state.
But for context here, consider this -- when Virginia Republican
Governor Bob McDonnell, when he was charged with his felonies, he was
charged with 14 felony counts of corruption earlier this year, that was
less of a surprise than these Rick Perry indictments were. It was more
clear that the McDonnell indictment was coming.
But in the case of Governor Bob McDonnell, prosecutors actually
decided to wait until bob McDonnell was out of office before they charged
him. Yes, they charged him less than two weeks after he left office as
governor, but, still, the fact that they waited until he was no longer
governor did spare the state of Virginia the sort of incremental dignity of
having a former governor indicted on felonies instead of the man currently
in charge. It also spared Virginia the humiliation of having to decide if
it would be OK to keep their governor in his job while he was under felony
indictment or if they would have to force him out. They didn`t have to
make that decision, they didn`t have to worry about that in Virginia,
because prosecutors waited to indict Bob McDonnell until he was just out of
Didn`t go down that way in Texas, though. Today, in Rick Perry`s
case, prosecutors decided to not spare Texas that same humiliation. Rick
Perry is still the serving governor of the state of Texas. And so what
The Texas Democratic Party is also -- excuse me, has already released
a statement calling for Governor Perry to step down, to resign as Texas
governor because of these felony charges today.
Late tonight, Governor Perry`s office released a statement about the
indictment. "The veto in question," it says, "was made in accordance with
the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.
We will continue to aggressively defend the governor` lawful and
constitutional action and believe we will ultimately prevail."
Of course, it remains to be seen how likely Governor Perry is to be
convicted of these two felony charges, but can he stay in office while he
is under indictment? What does this do to the rest of Texas politics
around him in the meantime?
And, I mean -- I don`t mean to be too petty about this, but does this
for sure mean we`re not all going to get to experience the untrammeled joy
of Rick Perry running for president again?
Joining us now is Tony Plohetski. He`s an investigative reporter for
"The Austin American-Statesmen" and has been covering this story since day
Mr. Plohetski, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate it.
TONY PLOHETSKI, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: Yes, good to see you,
MADDOW: So, you`ve covered this from day one and intensively. I
have to ask you if I screwed anything up in my summary there. Did I get
PLOHETSKI: No, that was actually a really good summary of the events
that have really transpired over the past year and few months, you know,
beginning with Rosemary Lehmberg`s DUI arrest in April 2013, and then, of
course, culminating today.
MADDOW: Can you tell from your reporting, some sense of how solid
the case is against the governor? I mean, was this indictment a foregone
conclusion or does the fact that this indictment come down mean that
prosecutors are very confident that they`re going to be able to get a
conviction here? How tight this case?
PLOHETSKI: You know, let me just tell you, this was a real bombshell
to a lot of people in Austin`s legal community. I had been talking to
attorneys, prosecutors, defense attorneys here in Travis County for several
weeks, leading up to today`s indictment. And virtually no one thought that
there would be an indictment in this case.
PLOHETSKI: The only signal that there might be an indictment was an
interview I actually conducted several months ago in April with Michael
McCrum, the special prosecutor in this case. At that point, he did say
that he is deeply concerned about the governor`s actions. But beyond that,
that was the only signal that the governor might ultimately be indicted, as
he was today.
MADDOW: So, the governor`s office response, I would say, broadly
Texas Republicans response has been to try to cast it as a political
prosecution, trying to criminalize normal political behavior, some sort of
witch hunt against the governor.
In terms of Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor here, is he seen
as a partisan figure? Does he have a Democratic partisan past that`s been
part of the case that Republicans have made against this investigation from
PLOHETSKI: Well, of course, he would say no. He would say he`s
worked on both sides of the aisle. He`s a former U.S. attorney, assistant
U.S. attorney. He worked under both the Bush administration, he was up to
become a U.S. attorney for a district in Texas under the Barack Obama
administration, but then pulled his name from the running.
So he would say, you know, he was no strong political affiliations
MADDOW: OK. Do you think that Governor Perry is definitely going to
sort of proceed business as usual, stay in office while fighting these
charges, continue to essentially downplay them the way he has thus far,
even though he`s now been indicted?
PLOHETSKI: Under the law, he certainly can stay in office. And I
think most people will anticipate he will stay in office and continue doing
his job as governor.
MADDOW: In terms of the landscape of Texas politics around him, but
also the possibility of him running for president again, he seemed, you
know, he spent so much time in Iowa, that alone makes him seen like he
definitely wants to run again. Do you have any sense of what this is going
to do to the Texas governor`s race to succeed him, Texas politics more
broadly around him, or the possibility of him running for president?
PLOHETSKI: You know, I think most Republicans will tell you, listen,
this is a trumped up charge against a governor of the state of Texas, you
know? And, that moving forward, he will continue to fight these charges
and ultimately be acquitted. That is at least his position.
His position is, listen, yes, I vetoed the money, but I used my
constitutional right as governor of the state of Texas to do so. And that
is his position.
But then you have others, including, apparently, this grand jury, who
say, wait, not so fast. Yes, you may have constitutional veto authority,
but you can`t attach a threat to that veto authority.
MADDOW: Exactly. You may have the constitutional right to vote, for
example, you don`t have the constitutional right to sell your vote. Your
action itself is not necessarily independently evaluated from its motives
in a case like this, at least that`s the allegations.
This is a fascinating story. Thanks for helping us understand it,
Tony. I really appreciate it.
PLOHETSKI: You bet. Good to see you.
MADDOW: Thank you. You, too.
Tony Plohetski is an investigative reporter for "The Austin American-
Statesman," and "The Austin American-Statesmen" have done so much of the
important work in terms of reporting this out for the nation and, Tony,
specifically. It`s a big deal.
Again, the breaking news tonight that Texas Governor Rick Perry has
been indicted by an Austin grand jury. It`s two felony counts, including
one that carries a potential prison term of up to 99 years in prison.
We`ll keep you posted as we learn more. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is a live shot of protests underway right now, tonight
in Ferguson, Missouri. Nobody quite knows how things are going to proceed
over the evening hours tonight in Ferguson, but as you can see, it is
raining there and there are still tons of people out in the streets, both
in their cars and also just on the sidewalks and in the streets. And there
might have been tons of people turning out tonight in Ferguson, regardless
of what happened today in that city, but what did happen today in that city
is pretty stunning. What the local police decided to do in the middle of
this powder keg in Ferguson, Missouri, today, it really was just stunning
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, MO. POLICE CHIEF: Captain Johnson and I
just spoke about our communication breakdown and we -- I talked to Chief
Belmar about this. We talked to the command post out there, but I did not
personally call him. I should have done that. I`m still in the county
being in charge mode.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m still in the county being in charge mode. That`s the
local police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, saying that he`s still in the
county being in charge mode. He still what he means is, reporting to St.
Louis County, still in that mode, even though the county is no longer in
charge of what`s going on in Ferguson. And that`s really important,
because the county was in charge and we know what happened. They were in
charge of four days of violent armored militarized police tactics that
turned Ferguson, Missouri into this.
What the county did when they were in charge horrified the whole
country, it earned vocal criticism from editorial boards across the
country, from politicians of both parties, up to and including the
president of the United States. When St. Louis County was in charge in
Ferguson, this was their response to the protests of a community concerned
about police excessive use of force.
Yes, surprisingly, these kinds of tactics did not cool down local
concerns about mostly white police using too much force against citizens in
a mostly black town. And so, because this is what they did when they were
in charge, the county is no longer in charge in Ferguson. The county was
taken out of command in policing the protests in Ferguson yesterday by
Missouri`s Governor Jay Nixon.
And the results of that change in command was a remarkable U-turn, a
total turnaround in the policing of the protests. The state highway patrol
took command, under Captain Ronald Johnson, who you see here. He ordered
officers to take off their SWAT gear, to get out of their armored vehicles,
to stop taking up sniper positions and armored turrets and pointing guns at
Captain Johnson and his senior officers, they walked with protesters,
as the protesters marched in Ferguson yesterday. Captain Johnson himself
walked the length of last night`s giant protest in Ferguson, speaking with
protesters throughout, occasionally getting an earful, but being there, no
armor, no helmet, treating people like human beings, protecting their right
to protests, pledging to continue to do that and to listen.
There were no roadblocks last night in Ferguson, no 911 calls, no
tear gas, no arrests. And that`s true even though more people appeared to
have turned out to protest last night than in any previous night since the
The initial crisis in Ferguson was the police shooting this past
weekend of that unarmed 18-year-old, Mike Brown. That crisis was created
by that police shooting. Police behavior then also created the following
crisis, which was the war zone style incompetent, extreme use of force
police rioting, right? That secondary crisis took a major turn for the
better in the last 24 hours, because somebody else was put in charge, and
the county was taken out of charge, because of their failure.
But there is still -- well, that`s the subsequent crisis. Right,
there is still the original problem, the police killing this teenager this
past weekend. And today, the potential peaceful and constructive
resolution of that crisis, that went, frankly, completely off the rails,
because, apparently, the local police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, is not
making the adjustment. He said, he`s still in the county being in charge
It`s clear that the local police chief is not recognizing that there
is any problem with how things have been in Ferguson, or that there is any
expectation now that things will start to be handled better. Because
today, even after last night`s breakthrough on the streets, today, it was
just a disaster in terms of the prospects for a constructive resolution of
this police shooting case.
Today began with that local police chief, Ferguson police chief, Tom
Jackson, holding a big highly anticipated press event that turned out to be
a little bit bizarre. Chief Jackson announced this as a press event, but
then announced at the start that he would not be taking any questions from
the press. He said he wanted to present all of his information, and then
give everyone time to digest it. That was his words. And then he promised
he would answer questions about it later.
What he presented for digestion was this: surveillance footage taken
from inside a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri, shows two young men
walking in. They apparently steal a pack of cigars and in the course of
doing that, one of the young men has a shoving, kind of violent
confrontation with an employee at the store.
The Ferguson police chief, without warning, released this video today
and explained that Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot and killed by a
member of his police department, was the suspect in the surveillance. That
Michael Brown was suspected of what the police chief called a strong arm
robbery, that happened shortly before Mr. Brown was shot and killed by a
Ferguson police officer.
Now, to be clear, nobody has confirmed that the young man in that
surveillance video is, in fact, Michael Brown, but Ferguson police today
said they think that it`s him.
Now, everybody expected that the huge news out of that press event
this morning was going to be the naming of the officer who shot and killed
Mike Brown. And they did name that officer. It`s Officer Darren Wilson.
But they also, with very little context as to why they were releasing
it, released this convenience store video. They gave no chance for
reporters to ask questions this morning, they dropped this bomb into the
story and said, they`d answer questions later. They also released this
police incident report from that alleged robbery, captured in that
surveillance video, right, they said Michael Brown was a suspect in. They
released that incident report from the convenience store incident, but
released the no incident report from the shooting in which Michael Brown
was killed. So, that was how the Ferguson police department began the day
today, surprises all around.
Around that same time, though, this morning, Captain Ronald Johnson,
he was, again, out in the streets. He went down to the QuikTrip
convenience store, which has become sort of the epicenter of the protests.
He again met on the street, man to man, one on one with protesters. He not
only met with them, he actually told a group of protesters there that he
wanted to personally escort them to a press conference, so that members of
the community and not just the media could get their questions answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: I don`t think that
we should just have a press conference and not have anybody, the activists,
the leaders down here. So I came down here today. I can`t take the whole
crowd, but I am going to take a select group. The governor is going to be
there. And that way, we can answer questions that the crowd has. It`s my
hope that gentleman like this, and some other leaders within this group
will be able to ask questions that are reflective of the group here,
because they`ve been here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The governor is going to be there, so you guys should come
Captain Johnson followed through on that. He did bring members of
the community, people protesting in the streets, to that press conference,
so they could get their questions answered. And at that press conference,
there was this dramatic moment when the journalists really wanted Captain
Johnson to speak into the microphone, so they could record him for the
press. But the people he had invited to that press conference couldn`t
hear him, when he was speaking into the press` microphones. And then this
is how that went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I`ll stand here, but if the crowd can`t hear me, then I`m
going to step out there, and they can tell you what I say. Because I`m
here to make sure they hear what I`m talking about. I`m going to step out
MEDIA: Oh, you`re killing us!
Take the mic with you.
JOHNSON: Stop for a minute. The people of our community need to
hear what I`m saying. They`ve got questions and I invited them here. This
isn`t about Ron Johnson, this isn`t about the highway patrol, this isn`t
about St. Louis County, St. Louis City. It is about the people that live
in our community.
When this day is over, a lot of people will be gone. The people
behind you will be here, and I`ll be here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Captain Johnson emphatically making the point that he`s
there for the people of the community, not for the people in the media, you
know, not us who are watching this unfold from thousands of miles away.
He`s for the people who live there, who aren`t going to leave when the
media scrum there is over.
But there was another amazing moment at that press conference today,
when Captain Johnson was asked about that surprise surveillance video that
was released earlier today by the Ferguson police chief. The one Ferguson
police say shows Michael Brown committing a crime. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I have not seen the video. I was watching the news this
morning when I heard that it came out, so I have not seen that. So it
would be hard for me to comment on that. I really can`t tell you what it
is, because I saw it on the news this morning along with everybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the guy in charge. He did not know the Ferguson
police were going to be releasing that video, which might potentially have
an impact on how people feel in Ferguson. He heard about it by watching
So, that was weird. But things got even weird today from that point
on, because by this point in the day, which is 2:00 p.m. Central Time at
this point, the Ferguson police had announced their second press
conference. The local police had announced their second press conference,
the one where the chief was finally going to answer everyone`s questions,
now that they`d had time to digest. Except in their case, they sent out a
statement to the media, asking reporters not to tell any non-reporters
about this big press conference. What they called a Q&A with the Ferguson
chief of police.
Quote, "Please use discretion in the dissemination of this
information, as we want it to be an opportunity for the chief to address
the media only without the distractions of large crowds." Those large
crowds of real people, very, very distracting. They always want to talk
about the stuff that you are so grossly mishandling, such a distraction.
It was at the second press conference that the Ferguson police chief
addressed what he called a breakdown in communication, where he says he
forgot to tell the guy in charge, he forgot to tell Captain Johnson that he
was going to drop this bombshell on the community today in the form of that
surveillance video. He said, he thought he was still dealing with his old
bosses over at county, the way they used to do it.
And at that second press conference today, Ferguson police chief Tom
Jackson, he went on to give a series of frankly confusing and contradictory
statements about why he released that surveillance video today. Why he
released that video today at the same time as he released the name of the
officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.
At first, he explained that he had to release the surveillance
footage, because journalists had forced him too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: We got a lot of freedom of information requests for this
tape and at some point, it was just determined that we had to release it.
We didn`t have good cause, absent any other reason to not release it. What
I did was release the videotape to you, because I had to. I`ve been
sitting on it. But too many people put in a flag for request for that
thing and I had to release it.
REPORTER: Why would you release the video of the robbery? What`s
the explanation for the timing of it?
JACKSON: Because you asked for it? You asked for it. I held for it
as long as I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So many journalists were clamoring for that surveillance
video from a nearby convenience store that they had to release it and it
had to be on the same day they named the policeman who shot and killed
OK, natural next question, was Michael Brown`s alleged crime at all
relevant to the fact that he was shot and killed on the street? Did the
officer who shot and kill him stop Mike Brown because he knew Mr. Brown was
a suspect in a robbery that had just happened?
According to the police chief at this afternoon`s press conference,
nope, there was no connection between those two events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: The initial contact between the officer and Mr. Brown was
not related to the robbery.
REPORTER: 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.
REPORTER: He did not know --
REPORTER: It had nothing to do with the stop?
JACKSON: It had nothing to do with the stop.
REPORTER: Why did he stop Michael Brown?
JACKSON: Because they were walking down the middle of the street
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chief Jackson then went on to call the officer named in the
Michael Brown shooting a quiet man and a gentle man.
But about an hour after he made it clear in that presser that the
alleged robbery that they released the tape of, right, the alleged robbery
and the shooting of Michael Brown, after he made clear that those two
things were totally unrelated, Chief Jackson then told the local newspaper,
told the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch", that actually, the officer who killed
Mike Brown, quote, "saw cigars in Michael Brown`s hands and realized he
might be the robber."
So, the stopping of Mike Brown by that officer and the shooting of
Mike Brown by that officer were related to the surveillance video
convenience store? They were?
Chief Jackson tried to clarify his comments again this evening. He
told NBC News that the officer saw the cigars in Michael Brown`s hand,
quote, "at some point during the encounter." We do not know at what point,
we do not know if it was before or after Mike Brown had already been shot
Mike Brown`s family and his attorney held their own press conference
today, in which they said that the release of this surveillance video, the
release of this video of Mr. Brown being an alleged suspect in a crime was
an tempt to assassinate his character after his death. And they told
reporters that no one had contacted them from the Ferguson Police
Department to let them know that these surveillance videos and allegations
against their son would be made public today. They learned about it on the
Michael Brown`s family called for people to continue to protest
peacefully today and tonight. They asked that protests remain calm and
peaceful. The state highway patrol will be in charge of policing these
protests tonight, as they were last night, when they succeeded in
accomplishing that remarkable turnaround at those protests, with no arrests
and no injuries.
The local officials here were relieved of managing the policing of
protests in reaction to Michael Brown`s death because they badly mishandled
that job. They made the situation worse and not better. Maybe it is time
for them also to be relieved of managing the information about this case
too, because all throughout the day today, very highly sensitive
information, very potentially explosive information was issued in a
contradictory and confusing way and presented in an incredibly inflammatory
way by a police chief who just frankly cannot seem to keep his story
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Captain, does the release of the officer`s name
and also the security footage showing the suspect possibly involved in a
strong-armed robbery change the dynamics, any new challenges from that?
JOHNSON: I think the release of the name is what was requested by
the community and they`ve gotten it. I have not seen the video. I was
watching the news this morning when I heard that it came out, so I have not
seen that. So it would be hard for me to comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would he release on the same day as the
officer`s name? It seems to be coordinated.
JOHNSON: I can`t -- that may have been a question to ask Chief
Jackson this morning.
REPORTER: Why would you release the video of the robbery? What`s
the explanation for the timing of it?
JACKSON: Because you asked for it. You asked for it. I held it for
as long as I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those are two faces of law enforcement in Ferguson,
Missouri, right now. Ferguson police apparently not notifying other law
enforcement today before releasing to the press surveillance video that
they say shows a strong arm robbery in a convenience store, a robbery in
which they say 18-year-old Michael Brown was apparently a suspect.
Ferguson police department, without warning, put out that video
surveillance today. They also revealed the name of the officer who fatally
shot Michael Brown at the same time. The Ferguson police initially said
the video of that alleged robbery and the shooting of Michael Brown were
totally unrelated incidents. The officer who shot Mr. Brown did not know
that he was a suspect in that robbery when Mr. Brown was killed.
Then, later, the police chief changed that story and said maybe the
officer did know that Mr. Brown had cigars on him at the time and knew they
came from that robbery, maybe. It`s been a day of surprises, unwelcome
surprises, and changing stories from the Ferguson police department, at a
very sensitive moment in Ferguson, Missouri.
Joining us now is Anthony Gray. He`s an attorney for Michael Brown`s
Mr. Gray, I know this is an incredibly difficult time for you and a
busy one. Thank you for being with us.
ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL BROWN`S FAMILY: Thank you so
much, Rachel, for having me.
MADDOW: I have to ask, when you and the Brown family first knew
about the existence of this video from the convenience store, did you know
it existed? Did you have any idea that it was going to be released?
GRAY: I had some idea that there was some video out there that
depicted the images of Michael Brown Jr. I didn`t know where it was from.
Actually, we thought it was video footage from the QuikTrip that was burned
down right around the corner from the shooting.
And then we learned it`s not video from that particular location. So
I saw it for the first time as the world witnessed it on nationwide TV
after the chief made a strategic decision to release it.
MADDOW: What is your reaction as an attorney for the Brown family
and what also is the Brown family`s reaction to this having been released.
Clearly, one of the surprises today was that the police chief in Ferguson
apparently decided to release this without ever notifying other law
enforcement, let alone you, that this was coming.
GRAY: Well, they were surprised. I mean, they haven`t even had a
chance to digest what happened on that Saturday afternoon in broad
daylight, to their child. They haven`t had a chance to plan the funeral.
They haven`t had a chance to make some of the essential living
arrangements, but now, they have to contend with yet another attack on
their child, on top of what they were already dealing with.
So you can imagine the initial grief being compounded right now by
the strategic release of this information.
MADDOW: Do you think the release of this video is an effort to muddy
the water around the shooting itself? To color, essentially, the narrative
that the police are explaining to the public about what happened there,
even as they`re not releasing, say the incident report from the shooting
GRAY: Rachel, what other explanation is there? What other
explanation is there to release a video that has absolutely nothing to do
with the moments right before Michael Brown Jr. was gunned down in broad
daylight? What does it have to do with anything?
MADDOW: In terms of what -- how this has moved forward, one of the
things that has been hard to get a handle on from a distance, at least, is
the number of eyewitnesses to the shooting of Mr. Brown. Initially, there
did not appear to be many eyewitness accounts.
Now some people have come forward and have been speaking out. Do you
know how many eyewitnesses there are and whether they have been involved in
the formal investigation?
GRAY: I do not know the exact number of eyewitnesses. You just have
to keep in mind that all of this happened on a Saturday afternoon in broad
I would imagine there are witnesses out there that probably don`t
realize that they are critical. They probably feel that what they have, as
eyewitness testimony, has already been told to authorities, and don`t
necessarily consider themselves essential.
So, I don`t know the number, I don`t know how many people have come
out, and I know they have picked and prodded apart the various different
versions of events, because they`re seen at different angles.
So -- but everybody`s consistent with one fact. I just want to point
this out, that moments before Michael Brown Jr. was shot by this police
officer, he had his hands in the air, as a universal sign of surrender.
And that`s the time that pretty much everybody`s consistent with that
MADDOW: Over the past six days, so much has happened. There`s been
so much turmoil and upset, and now we finally have the name of the officer
who apparently shot Mr. Brown. Now, we also have this controversial video
released, showing the convenience store incident. What do you think, what
does the family think should be the focus going forward? We can have those
protests happening behind you. We know there`s still a lot of anger on the
GRAY: The family has asked me to make sure that I convey to
everybody listening, do not get agitated or provoked by this effort to
assassinate the character of Michael Brown Jr. Sometimes, where somebody
is aggravating and agitating people, they lash out. And they lash back.
This family is asking that you don`t take the bait, don`t fall for
the banana in the tailpipe, remain peaceful, remain organized, and do not
resort to any type of violence whatsoever as a result of what people feel
is an intentional attack, by law enforcement, against the community.
And sometimes people have a tendency to respond with equal force, and
we`re asking that you do not do that. That you remain calm and remain
MADDOW: Anthony Gray, an attorney for Michael Brown`s family --
thank you so much for your time tonight, sir. I know there`s a lot of
pressure on you for your time.
GRAY: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Thank you. I appreciate it.
All right. Much more ahead. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Here`s something to keep an eye on in the news for very late
tonight. Late tonight, midnight Eastern, polls are going to close in the
teeniest, tiniest, tiniest, smallest, little teeny, teeniest smallest,
tiniest election that has ever been held to elect who is likely to be a
United States senator. Two precincts on the big island of Hawaii were
unable to vote in the Democratic primary for Senate last weekend because of
tropical storms. Those two precincts are in an area called Puna, which is
still very, very hard hit. A lot of residents don`t have power and don`t
have water and there`s trees down everywhere.
But there`s about 8,300 registered voters in those two precincts who
have not yet voted and who are now going to be asked to vote, after
everybody else has voted, to decide between the two Democratic candidates
for United States Senate in Hawaii -- the serving senator, Brian Schatz,
and a very strong challenger, Colleen Hanabusa. There`s only about 1,600
votes difference between them heading into not a recount, but this teeny,
tiny, little mini election that`s being held tonight to try to decide that
Democrats are very dominant in Hawaii, whoever wins this primary
tonight is likely to be the next U.S. senator, but this election tonight in
Puna, Hawaii, again, where polls close at midnight, is likely to be the
smallest election ever held to define the fate of a United States Senate
seat from an American state.
Watch that tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So the late-breaking political bombshell tonight is the news
that Texas Republican governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick
Perry has been indicted tonight by a grand jury in Texas. Two felony
charges related to abuse of power. The special prosecutor in that case
says he expects to work out details on Monday about when Governor Perry
will have to come into the courthouse in Austin for his arraignment and to
get his mug shot taken and to get his fingerprints taken. That news broke
at about 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.
But Rick Perry is not the only Republican governor with presidential
hopes and gray hair to now be facing multiple felony criminal charges.
Today in court in Richmond, Virginia, the judge hearing the Virginia
Governor Bob McDonnell felony corruption trial made an important ruling.
That judge had been asked by Mr. McDonnell`s defense counsel today to
dismiss all the corruption charges, throw the Bob McDonnell case out of
court, the judge heard those arguments but refused, and that means the
trial is going to go forward.
And we`re at a key moment. The prosecution in the Bob McDonnell
corruption case has now finished making its case. And so, something to
watch for on Monday is that Monday`s the day that the defense of the former
governor is going to take up its side of the case. And this is a really
high stakes thing. Bob McDonnell and his wife are facing decades, possibly
life in prison for these 14 felonies they`re charged with.
And from the opening statements at the start of the trial, we have
had a little bit of a preview as to what their defense is going to be. We
know that somewhat bizarrely it seems like the defense on the McDonnell
side is likely to believe that Mr. McDonnell and Mrs. McDonnell had a
terrible marriage, and so, therefore, they couldn`t have been conspiring
They also appeared to be planning to argue that all of the worst
evidence of corruption is actually attributable to Mrs. McDonnell. And
since she`s not an elected official, she`s not a public official,
therefore, her actions technically can`t be corrupt. So, we`ll get to see
them mount that defense starting on Monday.
But if you don`t like that defense, which we think is what we`re
going to get starting on Monday, the other defense that Bob McDonnell`s
allies are mounting for him has started not in the courtroom but outside
the courtroom at a place called the 700 Club.
Pat Robertson, televangelist Pat Robertson is a dear supporter of Bob
McDonnell. Pat Robertson has been a campaign donor for him. Bob McDonnell
has been a trustee of Pat Robertson`s university, which is where Bob
McDonnell did his master thesis as an adult student,. That`s where he
wrote his master`s thesis where he argued that government policy should
favor married couples over cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators.
So, Bob McDonnell has long ties to televangelist Pat Robertson.
And the beyond the courtroom political defense now being mounted for
Bob McDonnell by Pat Robertson is not that the McDonnell`s had a bad
marriage or that he didn`t actually get all those gifts and cash and the
awesome loaner Ferrari from the wealthy businessman with the magic tobacco
pills that he (INAUDIBLE).
Now, the televangelist defense of McDonnell, coming directly from Pat
Robertson now is that the case against Bob McDonnell is a secret Obama
plot, it`s a secret Obama plot in which a fantastically Attorney General
Eric Holder tried to derail Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign.
You know how they say you can`t make this stuff up? Turns out Pat
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: Bob was candidate for vice president,
without question. And he would have been on the short list of Mitt Romney,
the vice president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON: Eric Holder is the guy --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attorney general.
ROBERTSON: He`s behind all this stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, because he, as the chief -- the attorney
general to make the decision, this is -- if you looked at the facts
objectively and say this is a political prosecution.
ROBERTSON: One more reason why this administration is just
destroying this nation and is destroying its own credibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Bob McDonnell is just another way that President Obama
is destroying the nation.
I realize that televangelism is not necessary hue close to the
historical record, but this defense honestly doesn`t even make sense as a
conspiracy theory. I mean, Mitt Romney had already picked Paul Ryan to be
his running mate in August of 2012. "The Washington Post" didn`t report
the first allegations about Bob McDonnell`s corruption until the following
year, until March 2013.
For Pat Robertson`s theory to work, Eric Holder would have to climb
atop planet earth, get to the equator I guess, he`d have to run backwards
so fast that he could reverse time, like the flying Superman did. Except
Holder would be more like (INAUDIBLE) keep running until he spun the planet
back through time, from the moment the McDonnell scandal broke back seven
months before Mitt Romney had not picked Paul Ryan yet, and then Mitt
Romney could pick Bob McDonnell instead the way God intended, if only Eric
Holder had not messed it up seven months after the fact.
I do not know exactly how Pat Robertson intends to bend the space
time continuum in his mighty televangelist hands for the defense of Bob
McDonnell, but I will admit to being ready to make the popcorn and wait
patiently for the miracle to happen. The prosecution has rested. The
defense of Bob McDonnell in court starts on Monday.
MADDOW: This is the sixth straight night of protests in Ferguson,
Missouri. This is a live shot right now. After a police officer shot and
killed 18-year-old Michael Brown this past weekend, Mr. Brown`s family
today calling for people to continue to protest.
But family`s attorney, Vincent Gray telling us tonight the family
asked them to convey to everyone tonight: do not get agitated or provoked.
Remain peaceful, remain organized and do not resort to any type of violence
whatsoever, as a result of what people feel is an intentional attack by law
enforcement against the community. He said, sometimes people have a
tendency to respond with equal force. We`re asking you do not do that,
that you remain calm and remain peaceful.
Those words tonight from Vincent Gray on this show. Attorney for the
Brown family, speaking tonight asking us to convey those words to everybody
in Ferguson as a sixth straight night of protests continue there on this
rainy sixth night.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday. Thanks
for being with us.
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