'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, September 4th, 2014
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 4, 2014
Guest: Rosalind Helderman, Claire
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for having me last hour. I really
appreciate it, man.
HAYES: Oh, that was fun.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The first governor of Virginia was Patrick Henry, as in "give me
liberty or give me death" Patrick Henry. The second governor of Virginia
was Thomas Jefferson, as in dude who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
That Thomas Jefferson.
They were the first and second governors of Virginia. Tough act to
follow, right? Virginia governor since 1813 have all lived in this
historic executive mansion in downtown Richmond, Virginia, the state
capital. This is the oldest continually operated governor`s mansion in the
whole United States.
Being the governor of any state is a heady responsibility. Being the
governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia brings with it even a little more
gravitas and intimidation than your usual states.
Before today, Republican Bob McDonnell was the first ever Virginia
governor to be indicted for things he allegedly did while in office. Then
today, this afternoon, he became not just the first Virginia governor to
ever be indicted, he also became the first one ever convicted, in his case,
on 11 counts of corruption. He was convicted of defrauding the people of
Virginia of their right to the honest services of a governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standby. This is the verdict. Lorenzo, this is
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have just learned that both Bob and Maureen
McDonnell have been found guilty on count 1.
Their defense that there could not have been conspiracy, that this
marriage was broken, that the McDonnells weren`t even talking to one
another. But jurors have clearly with this verdict rejected that argument.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s pretty much a clean sweep for the
prosecution. Bob McDonnell found guilty on just about all of the 14 counts
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doubt a historic moment in the
Commonwealth of Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is live television, folks, and this is
history. Never before in the Commonwealth of Virginia has a governor been
convicted of a crime until right now.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: All local news coverage of today`s verdict in Virginia.
This is how Bob McDonnell ran for governor of Virginia. This was his
campaign vehicle when he ran. It`s an R.V. You can see it`s got a vinyl
wrap paint job there showing him and his wife and all of their five kids.
Bob McDonnell ran as a family values conservative. He finished up his
political ads by flagging on screen the McDonnell family. The McDonnell
family, to make the case that his family was basically the bottom line and
maybe the most important reason to vote for him.
And at his home base, on places like the "700 Club" televangelist TV
show, Bob McDonnell explained how his family values agenda was going to
change the state with him in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, 700 CLUB: The defense of marriage, constitutional
amendment for Virginia?
BOB MCDONNELL (R), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: It is, 19 out of 19
states that have had it on the ballot have passed it so far. We think this
is vitally important in Virginia, from the Garden of Eden, to 2006, with
believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But because of some
social trends out there and some court decisions, marriage is under attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bob McDonnell, the politician who saved marriage in Virginia.
Vote for marriage. Vote for Bob.
That interview on the "700 Club", that took place when Bob McDonnell
was attorney general of Virginia before he had started running for
But his whole political origin, how he got his start in politics, and
how he leapt from the state assembly to attorney general to governor to
vice presidential prospect, right, this was basically his trajectory was
that he was the guy from the "700 Club." He was the family values guy who
went to televangelist Pat Robertson`s college as an adult student.
When Bob McDonnell wanted to leave his old life behind and get a start
in conservative Republican politics, he went to Pat Robertson`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Tell me about what Regent did to prepare you for this or
did it do anything?
MCDONNELL: It was a great four years. It gave me the insight into
what our Founders believed about government and about their view of the
Constitution that I`ve been carrying forth on the job today. It gave me a
great understanding of the limited role of government and the important
roles of the church and the family and the other institutions in society,
and what happens if government tries to take on those roles and can often
make a mess.
But also, it gave me the real importance of being a Christian elected
official that it`s not just what you say, but it`s also the style of how
you say it and acting in a degree of civility and trying to build bridges
to get things done without compromising principle and adopting those
principles, I learned at Regent has made me effective both in the general
assembly and now as attorney general. I`m grateful for my training here.
ROBERTSON: I`m glad. How come you chose region? You went to Notre
MCDONNELL: Well, I saw this guy named Pat Robertson on the "700 Club"
talking about a fine university on Virginia Beach. And being a native
Virginian, I thought, what a great place to learn the foundational
principles of our country in a Christian atmosphere and then to be able to
use that to serve the public. I thought, what a great place to train.
So, it was a great decision, and the principles I`ve learned here have
taken me forward in my public life.
ROBERTSON: We`re thrilled you did. It`s premature to talk about the
future, but you like the job, it might be something else down the road.
MCDONNELL: There are opportunities, but, you know, the best thing I
can do is be the best attorney general that I can be. If I do that, the
Lord will open up other doors for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Lord and Pat Robertson, in part, did open up other doors
for Bob McDonnell and his family values crusading conservative career. It
ascended from there.
I mean, as a state legislator, he had been a crusading antiabortion
activist. He sponsored or co-sponsored 35 different antiabortion bills.
As attorney general, he authored that anti-gay marriage constitutional
amendment and he got it put on the ballot. As a candidate for governor, he
had a little hitch when "The Washington Post" reported on the thesis that
he`d written as an adult student at Pat Robertson`s university because that
thesis explained his view that public policy should be designed to punish
cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators -- in favor of straight married
But he overcame that hitch when that was reported and he did win
election as governor of Virginia in 2009. Once he was elected, in no time,
he used his new authority as governor to rescind the state`s hiring
protections for gay people. He overtly changed state policy to remove
protections that previously were in place that said you couldn`t be fired
for being gay. Bob McDonnell got elected government and immediately moved
to change that policy to overtly say, yes, you can be fired for being gay
The legislature then started moving forward on some of the governor`s
other pet issues including legislation that he had sponsored as a
legislator that would require Virginia women to have a medically
unnecessary, state-mandated intra-vaginal ultrasound exam at the order of
the state, if they wanted to have an abortion in the state of Virginia.
This was somewhat of a national uproar about the forced ultrasound bill in
Governor McDonnell was asked about it over and over again. He earned
himself the nickname, "governor ultrasound" with this legislation.
Eventually, he did sign the forced ultrasound legislation in Virginia, but
he said, in the end, it didn`t have to be a forced vaginal ultrasound. It
just had to be a forced ultrasound of some kind.
And then after that, he and his attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli,
moved forward with their plan for new state regulations to close almost all
of the abortion clinics in the state of Virginia.
Bob McDonnell in Virginia was the family values governor from the "700
Club" and he governed as the family values governor from the "700 Club."
After graduating from Pat Robertson`s school with his anti-fornicators,
pro-marriage thesis, he served on the board of trustees at the Pat
Robertson school for eight years thereafter.
The last job Bob McDonnell is on record as having, as recently of this
year, is as a visiting professor at Liberty University. Liberty University
is the other televangelist university in Virginia other than the Pat
Robertson one. Liberty is the one that Bob McDonnell works at now. That`s
the one that was founded by Jerry Falwell.
Now that Bob McDonnell has been convicted on corruption charges and
looking at decades in prison, potentially, there`s all this coverage today
about the decline and fall of Bob McDonnell as a national politician and
there has been a decline and fall of Bob McDonnell as a national
politician. But that`s not the only thing going on here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDONNELL: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Good evening. I`m Bob McDonnell. Eleven days ago, I was honored to
be sworn in as the 71st governor of Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is a remarkable fall. I mean, the same guy got tapped to
give the national State of the Union response, as he just said there, 11
days after the start of his term as governor. The same guy 10 days after
the end of his term as governor got indicted on 14 felony counts.
It`s a remarkable fall from a national perspective, including the very
near-miss of Mitt Romney considering him as his vice presidential running
mate just two years ago now.
But that square jawed, good hair, looks like a reasonable guy appeal
that made the national Republican Party pick out Bob McDonnell as the one
they wanted to show off as an appealing Republican leader who seemed like a
good new face for the Republican Party, what that always ignored and what I
think some cases being ignored today in reaction to the verdict, what that
doesn`t tell you is really who he was and how he got himself into a
position of power in the first place -- not in the national press, not in
national politics, but in Virginia specifically.
And who he was and how he became governor really was through the
televangelist hard-core social conservative family values power structure
in which he promised that he would be the man to save marriage in Virginia.
That his personal family values would become the public policy of the state
of Virginia. He would remake the state`s Christian morality in the image
of his own Christian family and his own Christian marriage.
That is how Bob McDonnell became Bob McDonnell. That`s how national
Republicans even ever got his phone number. That`s how he rose to power in
Virginia. That`s who he was.
And then when we got the first revelations about this businessman
being the one who paid for the catering at his daughter`s wedding, when Bob
McDonnell said he`d paid for the catering, then it turned out it wasn`t
just the catering at the wedding, it was $50,000, $70,000, $120,000 in
loans. It was tens of thousands of dollars of clothes and shoes and golf
clubs and golf bags and long trips to vacation homes and the white Ferrari
and engraved Rolex and all the rest of it. When it came time for Bob
McDonnell to mount a defense to federal charges that he sold his office for
that cash and gifts and trips and luxuries which he took for himself and
his family in exchange for official acts to help the man who paid him, when
it came time to mount a defense, then what became the most salient and
fundamental thing to know about this case and this corruption and not just
the human failing at the center of it, but the national American politics
that explain it in the first place, the most important thing to know about
what happened here is that governor ultrasound, the governor from the "700
Club", decided when he got faced with these charges that the way he was
going to fight these charges, the way he was going to save his own skin,
was to leave his wife.
The governor`s defense to these charges was built almost entirely on
attacking his wife. He tried to blame her for taking the bribes. He
called defense witnesses who referred to his wife as crazy and mentally ill
and in one case as a nut bag.
He told the jury that he was lonely because his wife actually loved
another man and not him. She loved the man who gave them all these things
and all this cash and that adulterous crush is what brought all of this
horrible prosecution down on the godly good governor in the first place.
He was so good. She`s the one who did it.
And then he really did leave her. He testified, he let slip early on
in his first day of testifying in his own defense, that he wasn`t even
living with his wife anymore. That once the trial started, he had moved in
with his priest.
And so, yes, governor family values did have a wife who, like him, was
on trial for more than a dozen felony counts and was facing decades in
prison. But he left her during the trial, so he could focus on his own
defense. He left her alone, at what presumably was the worst time of her
life so he could serve up a defense for the nation to feast on that blamed
it all on her and derided her publicly as crazy and incompetent.
And maybe he only faked leaving her and faked his public humiliation
of her for legal effect. Maybe it was real, who knows?
But despite all those years of how he became who he is, that whole
awe-inspiring political ascendance based on family values piety and the
lectures to Virginia residents about their bad relationships, and bad
living arrangements, and the infinite superiority of Bob`s own family
values. Yes, Virginia, when you got Bob McDonnell, this really is what you
One last thing to show you. In January, "The Washington Post"
reported this, "McDonnell rejected plea deal to face one felony, spare wife
any charges and avoid trial."
In the course of the federal investigation into Bob McDonnell`s
corruption in the governor`s mansion, prosecutors at one point offered him
a chance to spare his wife, and mostly to spare himself. They proposed
that the governor plead guilty to just one fraud charge and it was a fraud
charge that had nothing to do with corruption in office. If he did that,
his wife would avoid all charges altogether.
Quote, "The governor rejected the offer." And instead, he and his
wife were put up on 14 felony charges. And today, they were convicted on
He was not convicted of lying to banks about some of the loans. She
was not convicted in conjunction with some of the golf junk that he took
and with one of the loans.
But other than that, they got nailed on everything. Sentencing is
January 6th. They could each do something like 30 years in prison.
After the verdict was read, there`s no indication that Governor
McDonnell spoke to his wife or even turned to her. He did openly weep in
court. He told reporters on his way out of the courthouse, "My trust
belongs in the Lord". He didn`t mention anything about his wife, or his
marriage, or yours.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead on today`s guilty verdict in the
Bob McDonnell corruption trial. The reporter who broke this story wide
open in the first place is here next.
And for the interview tonight, Senator Claire McCaskill is going to be
joining us live. We`ll be right back.
BURNETT: Buy your local paper. Subscribe to your local paper. Get
it delivered to you at home or pay online to read it at their Web site. Go
on, go on, go on, do it, go on.
If we don`t pay money to support the jobs of people who report the
news where you live, then those people will lose their jobs.
Look at these headlines. It`s happening in local news markets all
over the country, including today. And when the people whose job it is to
report the news where you live, when they lose those jobs, that means the
news where you live doesn`t get reported anymore.
And the news, itself, doesn`t stop happening. There will still be
crime and accidents and disasters and births and deaths, and sports games,
and elections, and corruptions and scandals, but who will report them?
The firing of local reporters, the waning of real local news outlets,
it is terrible news for us as a country and us as a democracy. And it`s
the best news of all for powerful people news of all for powerful people
who are doing shady stuff who don`t want to get caught for it or called out
These are all reports about Bob McDonnell and alleged corruption
before these reports literally became a federal case. A "Washington Post"
reporter got assigned to cover local Virginia politics and cultivated
sources and reported it out and she followed leads and, yes, she brought
home a whale of a story.
I should say papers in Virginia like the "Richmond Times Dispatch"
also did great work on the McDonnell story. They deserve shout-out as
well. But "The Washington Post`s" local coverage deserves a whale of a
We think of "The Washington Post" as a national paper, but they are a
local paper for the Washington region. And if it weren`t for dogged local
beat reporters working every day at papers like that, to cover stories like
this, before they become big-time, then most stories like this would never
Subscribe to your local paper. If you already do, start giving gift
subscriptions to your friends. They`ll feel so guilty when they expire,
they`ll sign up to keep them going themselves. Trust me, I do it all the
Pay to get behind the pay wall. Seriously, it`s your civic duty.
Joining us now is Rosalind Helderman. She`s now a political
investigations reporter for "The Washington Post."
Ms. Helderman, thanks very much for being here. I really appreciate
ROSALIND HELDERMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So, the first thing I wanted to know when I knew we got you
to come on the show tonight was whether you were surprised by the verdict
today. I will tell you, I was a little surprised by the verdict because I
felt like the defense sort of seemed more cogent than the prosecution in
terms of the storytelling of this case. I was surprised.
HELDERMAN: You know, you can never predict what a jury is going to
do. I frankly would not have been surprised with virtually any outcome in
this case, especially because there was some fairly tricky legal issues
involved. Had a lot of people predict to me in the last couple days that
they would be convicted. I had many more people predicted they would be
So, I guess, there was a little bit of surprise especially to the
severity, just so many counts. This was not a compromise verdict of any
MADDOW: What was the scene like in the courtroom and at the
courthouse when the verdicts were read out?
HELDERMAN: It was really an incredible scene. People who have
watched a lot of trial said that they had seen nothing ever before like
this. It was just so emotional in the courtroom. It was absolutely
packed, both with reporters and with a lot of supporters of the governor, a
lot of family.
And as soon as they started reading the verdicts, the governor started
crying. His wife started crying. His children started crying.
One of his daughters was crying very, very audibly, sort of between
each charge. She would sort of cry out. It was really extremely hard to
MADDOW: In legal terms, Ros, is there anything about the way this was
decided that you think should tell us what to expect in terms of the
sentencing phase? Obviously, the thing -- one of the things that`s really
stark here is just exactly how much time the governor and his wife could be
facing if they go for maximalist sentencing here. Is there any way to
extrapolate from the way it was decided to know how sentencing might go?
HELDERMAN: Well, we know who things. First of all, though on paper
they`re facing decades in prison, they`re certainly not going to get that.
Neither of them has ever been accused of a crime before. The governor
served in the military, which helps.
You know, they`re looking at years. They`re not looking at decades.
On the other hand, the judge in this case, who will be in charge of
the sentencing, was very tough -- tough particularly to the defense
throughout the case. And I don`t think that we should expect them to be on
the low end of any range.
MADDOW: In terms of what happens next here, obviously the governor`s
defense counsel said that they`re going to appeal and so that means
throughout the appeal, this will be a live case. But there has been this
very, very dramatic conviction today, and it`s a landmark moment in
Virginia, a governor has never been indicted before, let alone convicted.
Do you think this will shock the Virginia political system more than
they were shocked by the indictment? There`s been no substantial ethics
reform at all in Virginia since the charges were first worried about and
then brought. Is there a sense that this verdict today could actually jar
loose more action than has already happened?
HELDERMAN: You know, it may. We`ll have to see.
They did pass some reform in the last session. Many people including
the current governor have said they don`t think that they went far enough.
Will this be sort of a shock to the system? It could. I mean,
certainly I think they would like to see their laws sort of provide better
guidelines to make sure that no one runs afoul federal authorities who are
clearly now watching more carefully than they were before. We`ll have to
see about that.
MADDOW: Ros, I have one last question that is personal and don`t have
to answer it if you don`t want to. But as a person who was bylining this
before this was a story, the person who really made this a story in terms
of the press knowing what was going on -- do you have any sort of lessons
learned or advice to offer in terms of how we should be approaching stories
like this and reporting like this as a country?
HELDERMAN: You know, I guess I would just say for reporters, dig,
keep digging, and, you know, if it feels like a story, keep following it.
It probably is.
MADDOW: Rosalind Helderman, political investigations reporter for
"The Washington Post" -- straightforward as always. That`s been the beauty
of your work all this time. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
HELDERMAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
That is amazing work. Rosalind Helderman there from the very
beginning of this story. Impossible to imagine what the trajectory of this
would have been without her reporting.
All right. So much more ahead, including many, many other things that
happened on a very jam-packed news day today.
And Senator Claire McCaskill is going to be here in studio.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Honestly, this is one of those days in the news that`s like
15 days in the news all rolled up into one. For the show, we held our news
meeting at midday today to talk about what`s going on in the world, what
we`re going to do for the show tonight.
Then, from the time that meeting started over the course of just the
next couple of hours, we got the news that Joan Rivers had passed away.
The news that the Justice Department was launching a civil rights
investigation into the police in Ferguson, Missouri.
We learned the news that the Bob McDonnell trial had ended and the
jury had reached their verdict.
We learned the news that gay marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin
had been overthrown in a sweeping federal court ruling.
We learned that Republicans in Kansas state government were stepping
in to block last night`s bombshell news that the Democrat in the U.S.
Senate race in Kansas was dropping out. Kansas Republican election
officials not letting the guy drop out. So, his name will stay on the
ballot even though he doesn`t want it there and that means Kansas`
Republican incumbent senator will face two opponents in November instead of
one and that, of course, makes it more likely that Republican Senator Pat
Roberts will be able to hold on to that seat instead of being beaten by the
independent candidate who is trouncing him in the polls.
Republicans in Kansas state government today moved to block that from
happening. And that all happened in the space of about 2 1/2 hours today.
And there`s yet more show. We`ll get to all of this. But I have to
tell you, we`ve got Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill here for the
We were first to report here last night that Senator McCaskill,
herself, played an integral part in the Democrats` decision last night in
Kansas to have their candidate drop out of that Senate race. So, we`ll get
her reaction tonight to Republicans trying to force the Democrat to stay in
Senator McCaskill was also right in the middle of the response to the
killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last month. She`s holding
hearings next week on the militarization of our police after that military
equipment and those military tactics that we saw on the streets in
So, all this to say, it`s been a heck of a day. There`s a lot still
to come, including Claire McCaskill, next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: New York City`s police department is the largest one in the
country, 35,000 NYPD officers on that force. Today, that department
announced they`re testing out a program to equip their officers with body
Right now, just a small number of officers on the force will be
wearing the cameras, recording their interactions with the public, but the
hope is that soon the entire force, tens of thousands of officers, will all
be wearing cameras whenever they`re on duty.
Last week, you might remember the Denver police announcing their plans
to equip all their officers with body cams. They even released this funny
PSA-type video showing Denver`s mayor wearing body cam glasses, asking
citizens what they think about the program starting up in that city.
Denver says they want to acquire about 800 cameras for their officers by
the end of next year.
In Ferguson, Missouri, officers on that city`s police force have also
started wearing body cameras that were donated to them recently. The
Ferguson police department has been given 50 body cameras. The chief there
says the officers are receptive to the cameras so far.
And all of this, this quick movement across the country on this issue
seems to be emanating from Ferguson, Missouri, as its epicenter. It was in
response to the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, by a
Ferguson police officer last month, but the country`s attention suddenly
focused on police use of force and police response to upset over their use
Those protests in Ferguson riveted the country. They also gave rise
to some very concrete and specific calls for change.
This is one of very popular petitions on the White House "We the
People" Web site right now. It`s a petition for what they`re calling a
Mike Brown law. Currently has more than 150,000 signatures, that`s way
more than you need for the White House to respond to your petition.
And what this petition calls for is a federal law that would require
all state, county, and local police officers to wear body cameras. Quote,
"The law shall be made in an effort not only to deter police misconduct,
but to remove all question from normally questionable police encounters."
The senior senator from the great state of Missouri, Senator Claire
McCaskill, has come out in support of that kind of a federal law regarding
police use of body cameras. In the wake of Michael Brown`s shooting death
in Ferguson, Senator McCaskill said no local police department should
receive any federal funds unless their officers are required to wear body
cams, at the height of the tensions in Ferguson, with those daily protests,
those daily confrontations, when the local police response to the public
outcry about Michael Brown`s death sometimes looked more like a poorly
planned military invasion than any sort of precision policing.
Senator McCaskill went to Ferguson, she showed up and talked to people
on the ground there. She said she was there because as a senator from
Missouri, she works for those protesters. They are her boss.
She said she was there to make sure they had the space and safety and
respect that they deserved as law-abiding citizens to make their voices
heard and to protest peacefully in the streets.
During the visit to Ferguson, Senator McCaskill also said the
militarized response from the local police force was counterproductive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I think that last night the
militarization of the response became more of the problem than any
solution. I think it escalated the situation. It didn`t de-escalate the
situation. And so, my goal has been to try to move out some of the
military responses that they have been embracing and see if we can`t get
back to good, solid police work that keeps the protesters safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The day after the Senate comes back in session next week,
Senator Claire McCaskill is going to be chairing a hearing on the
militarization of local policing. She says she`s going to be looking into
federal programs that give away Defense Department equipment meant for war
zones basically as hand-me-downs to local American police departments all
across the country.
The Senate is back in session on Monday. Senator McCaskill`s hearing
is scheduled for Tuesday. Today, when the Department of Justice announced
their new investigation into the whole Ferguson Police Department and
potentially neighboring police departments in St. Louis County, Senator
McCaskill weighed in there as well, calling the Justice Department
investigation a step in the right direction.
As a federal elected official who represents the state of Missouri,
and who has been both present there in Ferguson and weighing in on what
should happen nationally in response to Ferguson, Senator Claire McCaskill
has become the living embodiment of how the story of that killing of a
teenager in that one Missouri town and the police response to that killing
has become a national story with implications for all of us in the whole
Joining us now for the interview tonight is Missouri Senator Claire
Senator, thank you for being here.
MCCASKILL: It`s great to be here.
MADDOW: You welcome the Justice Department investigation today. Is
that because you think there is a clear problem in St. Louis county and in
Ferguson that needs federal intervention to fix? Or is it something else?
MCCASKILL: Well, there`s a lack of trust right now. There is a
palpable amount of cynicism in the Ferguson community about their police
And there`s also a belief that the federal government -- because
historically the federal government has been the tip of the spear for many
civil rights actions in our country. A lot of the reforms that we`re proud
of this country didn`t start at the state and local level. It was the
enforcement by the federal government.
So, I think the federal government taking a really thorough look at
policing practices, any patterns or plans that they have used that would
indicate unfair treatment of some of their citizens, is just really
important for catharsis in the community for them to begin to gain trust
again in what is really an important part of our country and that is belief
in the rule of law, that it`s fair.
MADDOW: You`re a former prosecutor. You`ve worked with law
enforcement for a lot of your career.
When you think about the way that local police are going to respond to
something like that, do you have empathy for their resistance, feeling
defensive about having outsiders coming in and telling them that they`re
doing it wrong? How do you think it`s going to be received locally? We`ve
obviously seen overt signs from the local community that they`re welcoming
it. Do you expect there will be some resistance?
MCCASKILL: Well, I do think there has been some lessons learned. If
you look at Ferguson adopting the body cams so quickly, they didn`t fight
that. And frankly, body cams not only protect citizens from an overreach
by police departments, they also protect police officers --
MCCASKILL: -- because people may capture the end of a police
altercation on camera and not capture the beginning of it which might give
it a whole other tone.
So, and also the county police department today agreed to a
cooperative investigation with the Justice Department, asking the Justice
Department to give them advice and analysis of their responses and they, of
course, were the police department that I believe got carried away on
Tuesday and Wednesday night which then ultimately led to an escalation,
which ultimately led to some bad guys coming into the community when things
really got complicated through the weekend.
So, I really think that Ferguson and the county police department have
been pretty good about saying, come take a look at us and let`s see if we
are doing things wrong, which is positive.
MADDOW: In terms of the other policy response that you`re very much
involved in, other than the Justice Department, you`re convening this
hearing on the militarization issues. If police -- it seems like this is
the sort of thing that`s very popular. I mean, anecdotally, it seems
popular. I can imagine across some of the spectrum, ideologically in
Congress, there may be support from that from a lot of different kinds of
But if police around the country decide that they really, really want
their MRAPs and they really want their sound cannons and AR-15s and all of
this stuff, are you sort of prepared to fight with law enforcement about
this? If you feel like as a policy matter, it`s better for these
militarized tactics and pieces of equipment to be denied to police officers
who want them?
MCCASKILL: I think it -- we`ve got to look at, first of all, it`s not
just one program, it`s three programs. And there`s never really been the
oversight on these programs, Rachel, that we should have. They are
duplicating one another. In some instances, I believe we`re going to be
able to show that the Defense Department is giving them equipment that`s
expensive to maintain. And either Department of Homeland Security or
Department of Justice is giving them the money to maintain it.
The question is, how often is this equipment even being utilized?
MCCASKILL: And how much money is being wasted maintaining equipment
that sits in a shed somewhere and has never really ever been used in any
So, it`s about when is this equipment being used? How effective is it
when it`s been used? Is it really needed? And frankly, if we`re going to
prioritize helping local police departments with federal dollars, maybe we
should start with the body cams.
MCCASKILL: And before they get anything else, we do the body cams and
we certainly make sure that if any of this equipment is ever going to be
deployed in a domestic setting, there is adequate training and adequate
thought process as to whether or not it is going to help a problem or hurt
I don`t want to de-arm police departments, but what we saw in Ferguson
was not what we want in the United States of America. I think all of us
were bothered by those images and I`m determined to do something about
MADDOW: I think the body cams issue, when you see so many different
types of police departments and different types of states and cities and
departments of different sizes all moving in that direction, at least being
willing to try it, it shows the widespread acceptance of that as a
potential next step. Would you mind staying for just a moment?
MADDOW: I have another couple things to ask you about, in particular
this game-changing news out of Kansas which might determine which party
controls the Senate next year. No big deal.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Last night on the show, we brought you late breaking news
about the United States Senate and about the Republican Party`s hope and
expectation that they`re going to take over the Senate in the elections
In Kansas, the incumbent senator, Pat Roberts, is a Republican, he`s
up for re-election. Pat Roberts had a tough primary against a Tea Party
guy, but he survived it. National Republicans after that primary thought
Senator Roberts` seat in Kansas was basically a safe one, one they could
preemptively put in their win column as they tried to find six other seats
to try to take over the Senate for the last two years of the Obama
Part of the reason Kansas looked safe for Republicans is because it`s
freaking Kansas. They`re so red they voted for Mitt Romney by 22 points,
in 2012. They`re so red, Kansas hasn`t sent a Democrat to the Senate since
But more immediately, this year, incumbent Republican Senator Pat
Roberts has had this great luxury this year of running against two people
at once, two people splitting the vote against him -- with a popular and
well-financed independent taking as much of the vote as the Democratic
candidate was. Republican Pat Roberts was going to cruise to re-election
simply by virtue of this three-way race.
With that kind of a landscape for November, Pat Roberts reportedly
hadn`t even been campaigning in Kansas recently. And that`s why it was a
bombshell last night when the Democrat in that race announced he was
Democrat Chad Taylor sent a letter to Kansas secretary of state asking
that his name be taken off the ballot. He told the press he was
terminating his campaign. Him being off the ballot would, of course, clear
the way for a two-way race between pat Roberts and the independent
candidate, a guy named Greg Orman whose polling showed could very well win
that seat if he had a head to head matchup with Pat Roberts.
And, yes, Greg Orman is an independent, but him winning would flip
that Senate seat from red to not red. And that small change in Kansas
could seriously complicate Republican hopes for winning control of the
Senate in November.
And that`s how we left it last night, with Democrat Chad Taylor
quitting the race, greatly increasing the chance that Republican Senator
Pat Roberts would get turfed out in November. That`s how we got the news
last night -- Democrat Chad Taylor quitting.
Today`s news, Kansas state Republicans won`t let him quit. Today, the
Kansas secretary of state stepped in to stop this thing in its tracks.
I should mention that the Kansas secretary of state, Republican Chris
Kobach, has endorsed Pat Roberts for Senate, but he didn`t take that as a
reason to recuse himself from this decision. Instead, Mr. Kobach ruled
personally today that the Democratic candidate who is trying to drop out
didn`t write his letter to drop out in exactly the right way.
And so, the guy has to stay on the ballot whether he likes it or not.
The Republican secretary of state said so. The Democrat Chad Taylor says
he will appeal.
That means that the part of this fight that`s contained in Kansas
continues in Kansas. But because of the national implications of this
fight, this is also a national story. Last night on our show, MSNBC`s
Kasie Hunt broke the news that the Democrat in this fight, Chad Taylor,
made the decision to drop out last night in Kansas, partly at the urging of
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is not from Kansas. She`s from
Joining us again is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
Senator, thank you.
MADDOW: Did you talk to Chad Taylor about dropping out of the race?
MCCASKILL: I actually visited with Chad Taylor, and he`s a great guy.
He was wrestling with the decision, and, you know, we had a great far-
I don`t think it`s probably a good idea for me to go into the details
of our conversation, but he was wrestling with a tough decision, and I felt
I think he made up his mind, and frankly, he did it in consultation
with the secretary of state`s office.
MCCASKILL: He asked them, what do I need to do to do this correctly?
He showed them the letter. These are the people that work for the
Secretary of State Kobach. Is this enough? They said yes, this is what
you have to do and it was, in fact, the secretary of state`s employees who
guided him as to the language that was necessary in his resignation.
So, the fact that this secretary of state is on Pat Roberts` steering
committee, it does appear that somebody is trying to put their finger on
the scales, which is unfortunate, because this is a man who had a very
tough decision to make. He made it himself. No one made it for him.
There wasn`t some grand plan, and I was happy to visit with him about it.
MADDOW: What should happen now that the Kansas Republican secretary
of state has made this decision? I mean, what we`ve seen the national
Republicans do today is got rid of the existing Pat Roberts` campaign,
they`re sending in their own national pros to run his campaign because now
they realized they may have a real problem on their hands.
What do you think should happen in response to this ruling from the
secretary of state`s office?
MCCASKILL: Well, Kansas is my neighbor, and I know these folks, kind
of. I`ve got to think it`s probably not a good idea to have a senator who
lives in Washington to have operatives come in from Washington to try to
save his campaign.
You would think there could be some Kansas people that pat Roberts
might know that could help him as opposed to an operative from Washington,
D.C. I think his campaign manager said the day after the primary that he
was going home to D.C. to rest a few days -- probably not really sensitive
to the fact that what the people of Kansas want is somebody who -- and,
frankly, Kansas has a great big independent streak. I mean, people don`t
know. There are some progressive tendencies in Kansas. For example, they
are one of the first states I believe to pass the ERA.
MCCASKILL: They were an abolitionist state. They elected Nancy
Landing Kassebaum to the U.S. Senate when women were not getting elected to
the Senate. By the way, she was a terrific senator, independent, fair
minded, and that`s the kind of Republican that Kansans are comfortable
But Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts have gone so far to the right, I
think a lot of the moderate Republicans are no longer happy with the brand
of the Republican Party has there.
MADDOW: So, Kansas is next door to Missouri. I will give you that.
You are not from Kansas. You are from Missouri.
MCCASKILL: And I`m not a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks.
MADDOW: I understand.
MCCASKILL: But I`m trying to understand the state.
MADDOW: I feel that from here.
But did I miss some sort of Sherman-esque statement from you about
never running for president? I mean, is there any -- obviously you`re
involved not only in Missouri issues, not only in federal issues, you`re
interested in what`s going on with the Democratic more broadly and the
Senate more broadly. Why shouldn`t I be asking you if you`re running for
MCCASKILL: You know, it`s just kind of an awkward, awful question.
MADDOW: If I were you, I would be running, as the most --
MADDOW: -- as the most centrist senator in the state, the way you`ve
run in Missouri, the issues you`ve been interested in, the way you`ve
stepped into stuff you didn`t have to get involved in, because you thought
leadership was needed there. America is definitely ready for a woman
nominee. If I were, I`d be running. Why aren`t you running?
MCCASKILL: I don`t know. Sometimes people think me stepping in is
more like a bull in a china shop maybe. I don`t know.
MADDOW: We`re not a china shop. We`re America.
MCCASKILL: I`m passionate and I do -- I`m not afraid of a fight where
I think it needs to be taken. But I also know what the process is, and
besides that, I`m all in for the first woman president, Hillary Rodham
Clinton. So I want to be supporting her every way I know how. I think
she`ll be a terrific president, and I can`t wait to say "Madam President"
MADDOW: She`s not declared she`s running. If she doesn`t declare,
would you consider running?
MCCASKILL: Probably not. I think I`ve seen up close what those
things look like, and I think I can do a lot of good in other ways to serve
the state I love and the country I love.
But I think it`s a hypothetical we won`t have to talk about, because
if somebody wants to betcha on whether or not Hillary Clinton is a
candidate for president, I`d take the bet.
MADDOW: All right. Well, that`s fair. I can see how uncomfortable
this makes you.
I will tell you, if I had to pick one Democrat who I thought could
definitely win a race for president, it would be you. That`s in part
because you`re considerably more conservative than I am. But I think you
could win if you ever want to run. Anyway, I just leave it there.
MCCASKILL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you, Senator Claire McCaskill. I appreciate it.
MCCASKILL: Great to be here.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: As if there hasn`t been enough news today, a federal judge in
Houston today ruled that BP, the oil company, had been grossly negligent in
the Deepwater Horizon spill, that the spill resulted from BP`s own actions.
Today we got a sense of what the per barrel fine could be in this case, and
the answer is a lot bigger than BP wanted.
This federal judge today again ruled that BP was grossly negligent.
That means the fine for each barrel spilled could be quadruple what BP was
hoping to pay.
BP is now facing a penalty of up $18 billion, that`s billion with a B.
And even for an oil company, that is a ton of money. It can be hard to
think in terms of billions, but the potential fine here is enough to wipe
out most of BP`s profits for 2013, you could think of it that way. Or you
could consider this -- when a company is facing a fine or legal judgment,
investors tend to feel relief when they find out how much the company is
going to have to pay, because at least the damage is done, there`s
certainty, the stock tends to go up when the fine comes out.
But that`s not what happened to BP today. This is what happened to
their stock today. It fell off the cliff when they got the news of this
potential $18 billion fine.
The Deepwater Horizon case is a long, long way from being finished.
BP intends to appeal this court ruling today. But this finding today does
signal that the decisions of giant oil companies sometimes have giant
financial consequences. Giant consequences, not just for the world they
operate in but for their own very, very fat wallet. What a news day today!
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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