'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 19, 2015
Guest: Patrick Swanton, Paul Hammel
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Awesome
conversation. That was great.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: The clips are just incredible, just amazing. Anyway, well
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We`ve got a big show tonight. We have lots ahead in this coming
hour. It`s one of those shows with a sort of a ten-pound show fit into a
But if you know anybody who works in the beltway media, tonight might
be the night to ask them to go out for after-work drinks, and that is
because your friend in the beltway media today is likely to be in a good
mood. And people who are in a good mood are likely to pick up the tab and
more fun to be around.
The whole Beltway press corps today is over the moon! Because
Hillary Clinton spoke to them. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
announced that she was -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when --
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she was starting her
campaign for president.
She said she would take sort of less traveled path to trying to win
the nomination. Yes, she would start in Iowa and New Hampshire, just like
they all do, but she would do small-scale events, many of them in small
towns, meeting with small groups of voters in mostly informal settings.
They described the way she was going to run her campaign at least initially
as a listening tour.
And that strategy does seem to have already paid dividends in terms
of issues and policies and what the candidates want to be talking about.
Hillary Clinton said what she has found surprising was how often people
brought up the issue of drug abuse and people needing access to good drug
treatment and worries in towns large and small about drug overdoses and the
rising tide of heroin and opioid addiction.
So, at least the way Secretary Clinton and her campaign described it,
because she heard so much concern about that from regular people who she
wasn`t expecting to talk to her about that, because she kept coming across
that in lots and lots of conversations, she has decided to start talking
about those issues as matters of policy on the campaign trail. She brought
it up last month in New Hampshire. She brought it up as part of a speech
she gave on criminal justice reform, during the riots in Baltimore.
Now this week, she has brought it up in Iowa. The campaign had
scheduled an event for her at the home of one of the first gay couples that
ever got married in Iowa. And on paper, you would think that whole event
would be about, you know, civil rights and gay civil rights and contrasts
between her position and all the Republicans` position on the issue of
marriage equality. Maybe they`d be talking about the Supreme Court at a
But based on the logistics of that event, you`d think you`d know what
she would be talking about. But she also ended up talking about drug use
and access to drug treatment and mental health and other related issues
that have come up to her on her listening tour.
She said today, quote, "When I started running, when I started
thinking about this campaign, I didn`t believe I would be standing in your
living room talking about the drug abuse problem, the mental health
problem, the suicide problem, but I`m now convinced I have to talk about
it. I have to do everything I can in this campaign to raise it to end the
stigma against talking about it.
So, it`s interesting. If they really are running Secretary Clinton`s
campaign as a listening tour, that is leading her as a candidate to talk
about stuff that the Beltway doesn`t necessarily talk about or care about,
but that really does matter to regular people who are getting these chances
to talk to Hillary Clinton at these small events, where sometimes the press
are allowed to show that the event is happening.
Every once in a while, the press can overhear some of the
conversation or they get treated to remarks at the close of the event or
something, but mostly the press is boxed out. The press is left, you know,
literally running around after her and not getting any official comment as
they chase her around Iowa and New Hampshire. So, the reason they`re all
so happy is Hillary Clinton today spoke with reporters on purpose in a
deliberate question and answer kind of way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, are you all ready?
Tell me something I don`t know.
Nick, bring some order. Bring some order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don`t we start with Nancy?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why don`t we start -- she started with Nancy. I don`t know
who Nancy is. She started with Nancy.
Secretary Clinton today taking questions on a lot of different
topics, questions on whether the donations made to the Clinton Foundation
while she was secretary of state represent some sort of conflict of
interest. She took questions about her e-mails when she was secretary of
state. She said she would like to have all of those to be released as soon
as possible, but she said it`s in the State Department`s hands now. She
couldn`t control when they come out.
She took a question about being a rich person and whether that meant
that she as a rich person could credibly campaign on middle class issues.
Secretary Clinton also took a reporter`s question on the issue of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Secretary Clinton, given the situation in Iraq, do you
think that we`re better off without Saddam Hussein in power?
CLINTON: Look, I know that there have been a lot of questions about
Iraq posed to candidates over the last weeks. I`ve made it clear that I
made a mistake plain and simple.
And I`ve written about it in my book. I`ve talked about it in the
You know, what we now see is a very different and very dangerous
situation. The United States is doing what it can but ultimately this has
to be a struggle that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are
determined to win for themselves. And we can provide support but they`re
going to have to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Secretary Clinton on the record with reporters today about
her vote to authorize the Iraq war and what she thinks about the Iraq
situation now. I mean, all the Republicans candidates are also now having
to talk about the Iraq war whenever they have to take questions from
reporters. We`re going to have more on that later on the show tonight and
also on tomorrow night`s show.
But the Clinton campaign and the candidate herself going on the
record with reporters honestly about anything right now is it self
newsworthy in terms of the way she is campaigning for the presidency. She
is mostly doing small group events with no reporters involved invited to
ask questions. So, this itself was newsworthy.
And Hillary Clinton today also made one other really interesting
announcement about her campaign because so far, she has been focused on the
two first states, Iowa and New Hampshire. But the campaign announced today
that she is also about to take a swing to the important swing state of
Florida. So, that all sort of makes sense, right? You know, thinking
ahead about locking up the nomination, ha-ha-ha, and also to compete in the
fall. Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida sort of makes sense as an itinerary.
But then they also announced today that right after she is going
Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, the next place she`s going is -- Texas.
What? It`s weird, right? It`s a strange choice.
And here`s the great thing -- the Hillary Clinton campaign announcing
today that she`s going to take this Texas trip. They said her Texas trip
is going to be June 3rd and 4th, and that means that Hillary Clinton is
planning her somewhat inexplicable presidential trip to deep red Texas on
the same day that Texas` former Governor Rick Perry is going to be
announcing in Texas that he is running for president. He is announcing his
run during Hillary Clinton`s Texas visit. Oh my God! I hope they don`t
end up wearing the same thing.
If Rick Perry does what he is expected to do on June 4th, if he
announces that he`s running for president, he will make history as the
first person to ever pursue a major party nomination for president while
also being under criminal indictment. And that, if nothing else, sets him
apart from the very, very, very large field of candidates and likely
candidates who are vying for the Republican nomination this year.
We have created this had initial sort of billboard, this initial
tableau of the 22 mainstream Republican candidates or likely candidates for
the nomination. So far, we`ve only been able to drop two people off this
list. So find Rick Snyder on this page. Look closely at Rick Snyder,
because in three, two, one -- poof. There goes Rick Snyder.
Now see if you can find John Bolton. Hint, mustache. Because here
goes John Bolton -- three, two, one, poof. That`s it. Those are the only
two we`ve been able to get rid of before today.
Today, we are able to go out on a limb to poof one more tiny
Republican head off this assemblage of candidates and likely candidates.
Today, we get to poof Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
Late last night, the chair of the Indiana state Republican Party
posted a message online saying that Mike Pence next month is going to
announce at an Indiana state Republican fund-raiser that instead of running
for president in 2016, he`s going to run for re-election as Indiana
governor. So, I do reserve the right to un-poof him and put him back if it
turns out that the Indiana state Republican Party chairman is lying or he`s
been misled in some way. But if that state party chairman is right and
Mike Pence is going to be running for re-election as governor, that means
he is no longer running for president.
And so, our 20 candidates on the Republican side become 19. So,
let`s just do it, let`s say good-bye to Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
Three, two, one -- poof. Bye.
I love how long the cloud lingers. That`s my favorite thing. I can
still smell him.
As a matter of American politics, though, Mike Pence getting out of
the presidential race and saying he`s going to run for reelection as
governor instead of running for president. It actually makes him maybe
even more interesting as a political figure because there`s a real question
as to whether or not Mike Pence is going to be able to get re-elected in
I mean, it`s weird. He has been a Republican Party darling forever.
Once he announced that he wanted to be governor of Indiana, he basically
didn`t even have to campaign for it. He just got it. Indiana is a deep,
deep, deep red state. And Mike Pence has always been a very popular
But right now, prospects of his re-election look iffy in his home
state, because his reputation is (INAUDIBLE).
"The Indianapolis Star" newspaper today greeted the news that Mike
Pence is going to run for re-election with a rather brutal opinion column.
Here`s the lead, "The big personnel news involving Hoosiers this week is
that David Letterman is retiring and Governor Mike Pence wants another four
years on the job. Be honest. Who among us wouldn`t prefer to see that
Citing homemade "dump Mike Pence" signs and Mike Pence must go signs
that have apparently been popping up recently in Indianapolis front yards.
"Indy Star" columnist Matthew Tully continues, quote, "The problem with
Governor Pence running for a second term is that it is still unclear why he
ran for a first term. If he thought it was a stepping stone to higher
office -- well, he certainly stepped in something."
What "The Star" is referring to there I think mostly is this:
Governor Mike Pence making himself and the state of Indiana nationally
famous and not in a good way earlier this year when he signed into law a
bill that would make it effectively legal for Indiana businesses to
discriminate against and refuse to serve people because they are gay. The
prospect of Indiana becoming the "we don`t serve gays here" state led to a
national uproar and boycott threats from across the country and in some
cases, across the world, and businesses large and small threatening to yank
themselves out of the state and refuse to do business or allow travel
And that backlash shook Indiana and shook Mike Pence so visibly, it
sometimes seemed he might just seize up and fall over. Governor Pence
eventually signed into law revisions that somehow softened the law but
really the damage was done. Mike Pence`s poll numbers is one measure, fell
off a cliff. One Indiana pollster saying the drop in Mike Pence`s approval
ratings after the whole RPRA thing was, quote, "historic". In the 20 years
that this pollster said his firm has been publishing poll data, quote, "an
Indiana governor has never experienced this kind of survey decline in this
short a time frame."
So, now, he is not only not running for president. He`s running for
re-election as someone who is way more vulnerable than anybody thought a
guy like Mike Pence ever could be in his home state.
And it turns out that a politician like Bobby Jindal looks at that
wave crashing over Mike Pence and his political career and decides that he,
Bobby Jindal, would like to be the guy who figures out how to surf that
wave. When Mike Pence was crumbling in public and Indiana was
hemorrhaging, convention bookings and business of all kinds, as that state
was earmarking an emergency $2 million appropriation to pay an out-of-state
PR firm to try to rescue Indiana`s newly terrible reputation from what Mike
Pence had done to it with the discrimination bill, in the middle of that
political disaster, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal surveyed the Mike Pence
situation in Indiana and said, yes, I`ll have what he`s having and let`s
make it a double.
In the middle of all that, Bobby Jindal wrote this op-ed in "The New
York Times", supporting what Mike Pence had done in the first place and
condemning him for having weakened the bill under pressure. Bobby Jindal
has since put together this campaign ad which at one point shows him
standing in the church nodding sort of his head yes, also talking to more
or less enthusiastic audiences about how important it is for businesses to
be able to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
Well, today in the Louisiana legislature, their Louisiana state
version of the Mike Pence bill actually failed -- failed in committee. And
there have been a lot of opposition from some of the biggest business
interests in the state of Louisiana, including big companies like Dow
Chemical. Maybe that was part of the reason the discrimination bill failed
today in the Louisiana legislature.
But for whatever reason Louisiana`s version of the it`s OK to
discriminate against gay people bill, it died today in their legislature.
And then within two hours of that bill dying in the legislature,
heroic anti-gay Governor Bobby Jindal swooped in like Superman and said
that he would enact that policy for the state anyway by means of an
executive order, this afternoon out of the blue.
So, I mean, Mike Pence actually got to share the blame with his
legislature, with the Republicans in the Indiana state legislature, when
they economically blew up their own state and made themselves into a
national and international pariah, right, at least he got to share blame
with the legislature.
Bobby Jindal`s legislature refused to do that. Refused to go along
and so now, today, this afternoon, in a surprise move, he has done it
alone, by Bobby Jindal executive order. And you know what? Maybe he has
nothing to lose. Yes, Mike Pence`s numbers went off the cliff when he did
something half as aggressively anti-gay is what Bobby Jindal just did.
But Bobby Jindal`s numbers are already down in Mike Pence territory
anyway. The proportion of Louisiana voters who think that Governor Bobby
Jindal is doing an excellent job as governor stands at 4.6 percent. His
overall approval rating is so bad right now in his home state that Governor
Jindal actually has a lower approval rating among Louisiana voters than
President Obama does. Now whatever you think about Bobby Jindal or
President Obama just for context here, President Obama lost Louisiana by 17
points in the last election but Louisiana voters like him a lot more than
they like their own governor right now.
And now, their own Governor Bobby Jindal has done something that has
been in the approval rating torpedo for politicians even more skilled than
himself. We will see how this pretty radical surprise action by Governor
Jindal tonight in Louisiana affects him with his home state voters. Who
But if you are not running for re-election, Bobby Jindal is not going
to run again in Louisiana. Just like, you know, if you`re not doing that,
if you are going to give up on your home state and instead run for
president rather than trying to get your home state to elect you again,
does it really matter if your home state hates you?
If your case to your party nationwide and your case to your whole
country is that so far you have been a governor and on the basis of that
experience as a governor you think you are ready to be president, does it
affect your viability as a presidential candidate if the people you served
as governor now hate your guts and think you`ve been doing a terrible job?
Politically, it is kind of an open question. Mitt Romney ran for
president after being governor of Massachusetts. He ran for president in
part by telling the rest of the country and in particular Republicans
around the country how much he freaking hated Massachusetts. And,
therefore, he was able to wear his own home state voters` hatred of him as
kind of a badge of honor.
He ran Massachusetts and then while he was still governor pivoted to
telling the country how terrible it was to have to live and work in
Massachusetts because Massachusetts was such a terrible state. Vote for
me, Iowa. The last group of people who voted for me hate my guts now and I
hate them back. Those jerks.
But it seems weird but Romney won the nomination with that argument.
It kind of worked for him. So, maybe it doesn`t matter. If you`re not
running for re-election at home, you instead want to run for president,
maybe it doesn`t matter.
But deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply unpopular home state
governors like Bobby Jindal and also Chris Christie are about to test that
political hypothesis in a big way this year.
I mean, a lot is happening in politics right now. Even just today, a
lot is happening on the campaign trail, the 2016 campaign trail, but even
with everything that`s going on, I have to say, what we are about to show
you is by far the greatest thing that has happened at least in the last 24
hours on the campaign trail, maybe in as long as a week.
Well, Ben Carson did have his front teeth fall out. But still, this
is like a hall of fame politician moment. The context here is New Jersey.
Last month, the Quinnipiac polling firm polled on Chris Christie`s approval
rating in New Jersey.
Quinnipiac doesn`t poll everywhere. They poll in nine states,
Florida, Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, New Jersey.
But they did this poll on Chris Christie`s approval rating among New
Jersey voters and what they found is Chris Christie, out of all the states
they poll, Chris Christie is definitely the governor who was more hated by
his own constituents than any other governor. Nobody has poll numbers as
bad as he does within his home state.
And so, you would think that is awkward if you want to run for
president on the basis of what a great job you`ve done as governor in your
home state. It`s awkward if your home state thinks you`ve done a terrible
job -- unless you have a secret decoder ring that explains how your
seemingly terrible numbers are actually excellent numbers if you only look
at them the right way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The polls in New Jersey right now say by
a 65 percent to 29 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not
make a good president. Now, they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: They want me to stay. A lot of
those people in the 65 percent want me to stay, and I`ve heard that from
lots of people at town hall meetings. Don`t leave to run for president
because we want you to stay.
KELLY: But they say you would not make a good president.
CHRISTIE: No, I think people hear the question they want to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, no, no, we know exactly what question people heard.
It`s not a hypothetical.
There`s a specific question they were asked. Do you think Chris
Christie would make a good president? The answer from an overwhelming
number of New Jersey voters is -- no, Chris Christie would not make a good
Now, in Chris Christie`s mind, is that somehow secretly a good number
because people only think he would be a bad president because they love him
as governor so much? No, no. There`s no conceivable way that something
like that could explain these terrible numbers.
In the same poll, New Jersey voters were asked, is your governor,
Chris Christie, trustworthy and honest? A majority of New Jersey voters
say, no. They were asked.
Has your governor, Chris Christie, done a good job handling the state
budget? A majority of New Jersey voters say, no.
They were asked, has your Governor, Chris Christie, done a good job
handling the state`s economy? A majority of voters say, no.
This is a particularly nice one. Does your governor, Chris Christie,
care about the needs of New Jersey voters? A majority of New Jersey voters
say this guy, seriously, forget about it.
Chris Christie is despised in his home state, hated by his own
constituents as governor, believed by them to not only be disinterested in
them as people but unsuited for the job of president of the United States.
So, Governor Chris Christie and Governor Bobby Jindal and a few
others of these guys are going to give us a good test this year as to
whether or not being hated by the people who know you best is as
insurmountable of a political hurdle as it would seem.
As we await the results of that test, though, in the meantime we do
have now forever for prosperity the thing people will use forever as a
device for calibrating the machine that measures exactly how much
fantastical self-regard it takes to do something like run for president.
This will forever be the end of the number line in terms of how much these
guys have to like this themselves in the face of undeniable data that
unequivocally shows them why they shouldn`t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: The polls in New Jersey right now say by a 65 percent to 29
percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not make a good
president. Now, they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we trust them?
CHRISTIE: They want me to stay. A lot of those people in the 65
percent want me to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, it turns out there has been a big oil spill on the coast
near Santa Barbara, California, tonight. We`ve got the latest on that,
including some very worrying pictures from the scene that we`re just
getting in. We`ve got that news ahead. Again, an oil spill apparently, an
oil pipeline spill in California tonight on the coast.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: There are lots of ways to tow a car. There`s the hook and
chain tow truck. There`s the trucks that use a T-bar to lift up two of
your wheels. Those kinds of trucks have the added benefit when they are
not towing cars of reminding you to go to church because when they are at
rest and not towing something, they look like trucks hoisting a giant
There`s also the highfalutin flat bed style two tracks that your
wreck or ticketed automobile can get towed in comfort and in style.
When it comes to towing not a car but a motorcycle, it turns out the
trick is you can tow a lot of them at once as long as you do it very
carefully. You can tow a lot of them at once even if a lot of them are big
and freaking expensive giant American bikes.
These are scenes from the parking lot of that Waco, Texas, restaurant
this week that had a massive biker gang shoot-out on Sunday leaving nine
people dead and 18 more people injured. Over 100 motorcycles were left in
the parking lot after that mass killing and the mass arrests that followed.
And so now, in the wake of that biker gang blood bath, just one of
the things local law enforcement is having to deal with is towing away 135
high-end motorcycles that belong to multiple violent biker gangs.
They`ve actually had to put SWAT teams as escorts with the tow
trucks, escorting the tow trucks and protecting them while they`re towing
away these expensive Harleys.
Investigators at the crime scene have been protected by police
snipers who have been stationed on the roof of the restaurant over watching
the crime scene. They`ve also had snipers and SWAT teams stationed at
highway overpasses nearby. They were still there today on overwatch while
investigators work the scene.
Now, this crime in Waco itself is a big enough deal for law
enforcement to handle, right? But they are also now are dealing with the
logistics of having 170 biker gang members taken into custody all at once.
Everyone was arrested on Sunday.
They originally were brought to the Waco convention center and then
move to the jail. They were still arraigning people today, as many as 50
people arraigned today after a justice of the peace went to the jail to do
the arraignments rather than trying to arrange getting all of those people
into court one by one.
At one point in the process, they apparently decided that what they
should do is set a blanket bail for all of the suspects rather than going
through each case one by one. They set that bail at $1 million each. That
has the knock-on effect of simplifying things a little bit for local
authorities because there`s not a single bail bondsman in Waco who will do
a million dollar bond.
So, unless you happen to have a million dollars cash on you and
you`re also an outlaw biker, you can`t really get help. There`s no real
way that you can get out of jail on a million dollars bond. So, that
leaves all of the suspects there in jail.
Before that policy was set, though, they let three out on lesser
bonds, less than $1 million, bail amounts they were able to post. Today
after they set the million dollar blanket one for everyone, those bonds for
these three guys were revoked. They put out an arrest warrant for these
three who had been released. They have been rearrested today and tonight.
In terms of those killed in the blood bath, police identified all of
the nine people who were killed. Preliminary autopsy results were released
for all of the nine victims. They died of gunshot wounds, 18 people were
also wounded in had this fight on Sunday, people wounded badly enough to be
hospitalized. Gunshot wounds and stab wounds.
In terms of thinking about this police challenge, think about it this
-- one of the things they have to think about now is about those 11 people
who were shot or stabbed and hurt badly enough to have to go to the
hospital but have since been released from the hospital.
Now one of the things the police have to think about whether those 11
people should be arrested now, too, along with the other 170 people that
they have in jail, now that those people are well enough to be out of the
There`s also the matter of funeral plans for the nine people who
died. Police say they will be keeping an eye on the funerals in the days
ahead as well in case the funerals themselves end up being an occasion for
more revenge killing or attacks by rival gangs. Cancel the overtime,
A lot of the national coverage of Waco has focused a lot on why this
happened, what might have set it off, what the territorial disputes might
be between the rival gangs and that will be interesting to find out. But
there is a more proximate and are more pressing question for the people who
are dealing with this not just as a news story but as their daily work
And the question they`re dealing with as they investigate what
happened and try to cope with having all these folks in custody, they also
have to worry now as to whether or not this thing is actually even over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. PATRICK SWANTON, WACO, TX POLICE DEPARTMENT: I will tell you
that in the gang world and in the biker world, that violence usually
condones more violence. Is this over? Most likely not.
There has been enough tragedy and there`s been enough bloodshed in
Waco, Texas. We would appreciate there not being any more.
Are we asking for cooperation from known criminal bike gangs?
Absolutely we are. We are asking them to stand down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sergeant Patrick Swanton out of Waco Police Department
speaking earlier today in Waco. His police department is both coping with
the aftermath of this massacre and also worried that they might still be in
the middle of an ongoing very dangerous thing.
Joining us now is Sergeant Patrick Swanton with the Waco Police
Sergeant, I know you`re very busy. I appreciate you taking the time
to be here tonight.
SWANTON: Yes, ma`am. Thank you for having us.
MADDOW: Those three people who were released earlier today and then
had their bond revoked, am I right to say that they`ve all three been
rearrested, all been brought back into custody now?
SWANTON: Yes, ma`am, that`s correct. The last one, the third, Mr.
King, was taken into custody about an hour ago. It`s my understanding he
turned himself in to an Austin area jail.
MADDOW: I realize that you as law enforcement have a strategic
interest in not glorifying these gangs, not hyping them. I know there`s
been an effort to not talk about these gangs by name. One of the things,
though, I find fascinating is there were so many shots fired, this was such
a big fight, with but it seems like no bystanders were hurt. It seems
almost remarkable no police officers were hurt or even killed in this
Can you say that all of those who were killed were gang members who
were involved in this conflict?
SWANTON: Yes, we can tell you that the nine individuals that are
confirmed deceased, they were all wearing colors, which is their insignia
showing they are in a biker gang.
MADDOW: Were they from a number of different gangs or just one or
SWANTON: Yes, ma`am, that`s correct, they were from at least five
known gangs -- five different, separate -- different, separate gangs. We
know that there were two majorities, if you will, of gang members and then
there were branch-offs or small factions.
MADDOW: In terms of the suspects you`ve got in custody, this
remarkably large number of people in custody on potentially very serious
charges, you said today at one of your press briefings that some of these
suspects in custody aren`t cooperating with investigators or they`re lying
about who they are, making this as difficult as possible. Can you explain
what you meant by that, how that`s going?
SWANTON: Yes, obviously, typically people commit murder and are
involved in gang activity -- they are not always honest and especially with
police officers. So obviously we have to do some very serious
investigation to determine if what they tell us are truths, half-truths, or
no truth whatsoever.
MADDOW: Are there people who you still don`t have clear
identification for, but you do have in custody?
SWANTON: No. It`s my understanding that every one of the
individuals we have processed and booked into the county jail have all been
identified. Obviously, the McLennan County Jail has a huge resource
available to them as far as staff and being able to process those
We do what we call two-finger lookups. We can check through
fingerprints. We have the full capabilities of state and federal agencies
that have assisted us in identifying individuals as well.
MADDOW: Can you tell, sir, if this is going to lead to another round
of bloodshed among gangs? Do you have intelligence, access to information,
are you getting intelligence from the suspects in custody that tell you if
this was a flare-up of the kind we`re not going to see again, or if this is
actually going to be the start of something?
SWANTON: You know, the unfortunate side of this, had history often
repeats itself. And what we know in the past is typically when biker gangs
or criminal gangs have a turf war or a blood war or a fight, it usually is
preceded by another event somewhere.
That`s why we said earlier -- we were asking, we`re appealing to them
to stand down. We`re asking them not to have any additional further
violence. Will they ever get along? No. But we`ve seen enough bloodshed
here. We`re asking for no more and hopefully we`ll get their cooperation
MADDOW: Sergeant Patrick Swanton with the Waco Police Department --
I know how hard you`re working there right now, sir. Thank you for taking
the time to talk with us tonight. Good luck.
SWANTON: Yes, ma`am. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ve got lots more ahead tonight, including that
breaking news I was just talking about from this California oil spill.
We`ve got images from that spill just coming in and we`ve got that next.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So here is breaking news out of California tonight and it is
ugly. This is Refugio Beach, California, this evening. That giant splotch
that you see spreading across the water is oil.
The U.S. Coast Guard saying an oil pipeline has ruptured Refugio
Beach this afternoon, created this spill that stretched down four miles of
the California coast. Refugio Beach is about 20 miles southwest of Santa
Barbara. It`s about 120 miles up the coast from Los Angeles.
I think you can see here, this is where the oil pipeline apparently
burst. It didn`t burst in the water, it burst up on the land, but it
appears the spill, the oil, traveled down under a highway and ultimately
into the water, into the ocean. Authorities say the pipeline leaked today
for about three hours. It was reportedly stopped by about 3:00 local time,
which should be 6:00 Eastern Time.
This is the pipeline operated by Plains All America pipeline.
There`s no word yet on how much oil spilled or, more importantly, what type
of oil has spilled into the ocean here. Refugio Beach is a state park. I
should mention that its camp site is fully booked for Memorial Day weekend
this weekend. I guess that might not happen.
We`re watching the situation, the size of the spill, and now, efforts
to contain it. We`ll let you know as we learn more.
MADDOW: So, we`ve got a very unusual political story ahead. It is a
big and remarkable vote that is about to happen in one of the reddest of
all the reddest states of all. The vote is going to happen tomorrow, we
think. It`s going to make major national news when it happens.
And we`ve got a live report from there next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Somewhere in the world right now, in the fervent wishes of
the governor of Nebraska, a batch of drugs is about to make its way from
India to Lincoln, Nebraska, because Nebraska is out of lethal injection
drugs for killing prisoners and you really just can`t buy lethal injection
drugs in our country anymore.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts therefore dialed up a pharmaceutical
company he found in India and placed an order, a $54,000 -- $54,400 order.
It was $51,000 for the drugs themselves and $3,400 for shipping and
handling. And that`s, of course, because the drugs are coming all the way
The governor`s office told us tonight they are hoping to get that
first shipment of drugs from India in mid-June. If this works, if it turns
out that states can order execution drugs from India they can`t otherwise
get in this country, Nebraska will have figured out how to get around the
nationwide shortage that is putting execution by lethal injection out of
reach for death penalty states across the country and even for the federal
government. The FDA has also told us this week they are looking into what
Nebraska is trying to do bringing in these drugs from India.
But while Nebraska`s governor is waiting for his shipment from India
and the FDA is checking it out, wondering if it`s legal, Nebraska lawmakers
seem poised to take things in a wildly different direction. This is a
remarkable thing that is about to happen.
The Nebraska legislature is technically a non-person legislature, but
it is a very conservative state and it`s a very heavily Republican group of
legislatures in Nebraska. But for whatever reason, though, by huge margins
in this session in Nebraska, those legislators have voted repeatedly to
abolish the death penalty in that state.
The Republican governor of the state wants to keep the death penalty.
After all, he`s working himself to try to get Nebraska a new death penalty
drugs even if he has to get them by means that will probably be found
illegal down the road. But even as the governor is doing that, Nebraska`s
conservative legislature is voting so strongly to abolish the death penalty
that it looks like they will have enough votes to override his veto of the
repeal if it comes to that.
They`ve taken two of the three votes they need to do this are
already. We have just learned that the third and final vote is scheduled
for tomorrow. But that means that the lethal injection drugs and the bill
abolishing the need for the lethal injection drugs are both on their way to
Governor Rickett`s desk and it looks like the bill might get there first in
Nebraska. Amazing, right?
Joining us now to help us understand is Paul Hammel. He`s Lincoln
bureau chief for "The Omaha World Herald" newspaper.
Mr. Hammel, thanks for being with us tonight. Thanks for your time.
PAUL HAMMEL, THE OMAHA WORLD HERALD: Yes, thank you for having me.
It`s an interesting time in Nebraska.
MADDOW: Do you think this repeal bill is going to pass?
HAMMEL: I think it`s got the best chance it`s ever had to pass.
There`s still a lot that could happen and the governor has been putting
kind of a last-minute full full-court press on the issue. He said he would
veto the bill, but so far the bill has passed with 30 votes. We have 49
senators in our one-house legislature and it takes 30 votes to override a
So, so far they have enough votes to override a governor`s veto.
Now, he`s trying to pick off a vote or two here. As you mentioned in a
dramatic and well-timed move last week the governor announced, wait a
second, I`ve got some drugs coming to restore the with ability to carry out
a lethal injection.
That happened last week. That happened right before second-round
debate. I think there was one senator kind of wavering. So, we`ll see. I
mean, funny things can happen, you know, we have to advance it to the
governor and if he vetoes it like they promise and they`ll override the
veto. So, they have two more votes yet to go.
MADDOW: Is this getting a ton of attention in the state? And is it
clear what public opinion is on this matter or is this kind of happening in
legislative space and nobody knows what people are gong to think about it
until it`s done?
HAMMEL: Well, we`ve got a senator here, Senator Ernie Chambers, who
has made repealing the death penalty his goal over 40 years in the
legislature for long -- for many years, he was the only African-American
senator here. So he sees it as a penalty that`s handed out unequally,
So I mean, he`s been pushing it every year since he`s been here. Two
years ago, there were enough votes to advance the bill, but not enough to
defeat the veto. This year, it`s been kind of a surprise. It`s a brand
new legislature, supposedly a more conservative legislature. And it came
out 8-0 from a committee. That`s the first time it ever happened.
And lo and behold, when they got to the vote, 30 votes. I think it
may have caught the governor, our attorney general, who is pro death
penalty, by surprise. So, it`s really some interesting dynamics going on
MADDOW: It`s fascinating. And watching -- I mean, we expect this
vote will happen tomorrow. We`ll watch to see what happens, but this is an
unexpected and fascinating process to watch.
Paul Hammel, Lincoln bureau chief for the "Omaha World Herald,"
thanks for helping us understand it. Thanks for your reporting.
All right. Still ahead, why you just got a big public apology. Oh.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Just checking back in on this breaking news we`ve been
covering in terms of this oil spill in southern California. This spill at
Refugio Beach, it`s an oil pipeline that ruptured and it leaked for about
three hours today. This is about 20 miles from Santa Barbara.
The latest thing we`re told is this is about a four-mile slick on the
coast. And the direction it`s moving, it`s moving south towards El Capitan
State Beach in Southern California.
This is a big spill, as we say, it`s about four miles wide. The
response is under way right now, but we`ll keep an eye on it over the
course of the night.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hey, look! You just got a full page apology from the power
company. Duke Energy put these full page apology ads in North Carolina`s
biggest newspapers yesterday and in "USA Today" and in "The Wall Street
What Duke is apologizing for is having spilled nearly 40,000 tons of
toxic coal ash into North Carolina`s Dan River last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA LISENBY: Can you get out a sample? I can try. He just asked
us to move.
LISENBY: Go ahead. All right. Let`s go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We got this new video a couple days ago of Duke Energy`s
disastrous coal ash spill last year. The people you see taking samples
from the spill are Waterkeepers. These folks who watch dog the lakes and
the rivers. They turned over to federal prosecutors this video that they
took and also the results of their sampling in that river during the spill.
Well, last week, the federal case about the spill wrapped up and so
now we can see that evidence, too. We could see what federal investigators
got to see. In that federal case, Duke Energy pled guilty nine times. The
company agreed to pay $102 million fine, which is the largest criminal fine
in North Carolina history.
So, Duke`s coal ash spill was a crime. Duke pled guilty. But ever
since that spill, one central question has been whether the state
government of North Carolina itself was in some way criminally involved.
North Carolina`s governor, Pat McCrory, spent 28 years working at Duke
Energy before he went into politics.
As the new governor of North Carolina, he and his state government
stepped in three times to stop, effectively, to big foot lawsuits against
Duke. Environmentalists sued to force Duke to cleanup their coal ash pits
around the state, but the McCrory administration stepped in over and over
again to basically block those lawsuits in North Carolina.
Now, next door in South Carolina, the coal ash problem there did not
play out the same way. Next door, they didn`t have a former Duke Energy
executive as governor. And in South Carolina, the state didn`t intervene
when environmentalists brought their lawsuits.
So now, in South Carolina, literally this past week, you can see Duke
Energy trucking away coal ash as part of a voluntary out of court
In South Carolina, they got a Duke cleanup that started last week.
In North Carolina, though, the state intervened to stop the lawsuits. What
they got in North Carolina was a disaster and then it was the feds who
stepped in and now that disaster has Duke Energy apologizing in the papers
and paying the biggest criminal fine in North Carolina history.
And what does that mean for the state government? And when that case
got settled, it appeared maybe Duke`s admission of guilt and this big fine
would be the end of it. Maybe Duke would take all the blame and the
McCrory administration would skip away. That was how it looked.
But check this out -- the lawyer for Duke Energy now says federal
prosecutors are still investigating and they`re investigating the state
government`s role in all this. Duke`s lawyer says the federal criminal
probe is ongoing and duke is helping the prosecutors as part of their plea
So, maybe Governor McCrory and his state government are not off the
hook at all.
Tonight, the question of whether North Carolina regulators broke the
law in the run-up to this coal ash calamity appears to be very much alive.
Prosecutors wouldn`t talk about that part of the investigation last week in
the local press in North Carolina. They wouldn`t respond to us about it.
But Duke Energy officials confirmed to us that they are helping
federal prosecutors. North Carolina regulators told us that they are
continue to go cooperate. And for the record, I cannot wait to learn more
about what is happening in this story. The Duke Energy coal ash thing in
North Carolina remains very, very, very interesting and alive as an
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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