THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
August 13, 2014
Guest: Wesley Lowery, Brad Woodhouse, Lizz Brown
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Good evening, Chris. That
was amazing. I actually think we`re going to be speaking with another
journalist who was just arrested in the same -- what appears to be sweep in
Ferguson coming up in just a couple of minutes here. Thanks, Chris Hayes.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. There is a lot going
on in the news right now. There`s a lot going on in domestic news right
As I mentioned to Chris, we`re going to have the latest in a live report
from Ferguson, Missouri, in just a moment. We`re hoping to be speaking
with another journalist who appears to have been arrested for at this point
unknown reasons by the local police in the middle of protests there. The
upset and the protests continue in Ferguson tonight over the police
shooting of an un-armed teenager in that city this weekend. What`s
happening tonight includes, apparently just a massive, massive over the top
apparent police response to demonstrations tonight. And we have some
pretty incredible footage and again, some live interviews from there,
that`s coming up in just a moment.
Some of that stuff we`re still getting fed in and we`re still producing,
the White House today also sent up some signal flares suggesting that
President Obama may be about to take a really controversial, really big
step. As they say, the president plans to return early to Washington from
his vacation, that`s a big deal with the White House. There`s a lot going
on right now, we`re going to be talking about all of that tonight.
But meanwhile, as all of those stories and also frankly as Robin Williams`
tragic death earlier this week, all of these stories are keeping the whole
country very much focused right now on domestic matters. Meanwhile, as a
nation, we have appeared to have just started a major U.S. military
engagement. This all started on June 16th, with this notice to Congress
that President Obama was sending 275 U.S. troops back into Iraq. In this
notice he said he was sending those troops there to support and protect
U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.
That was June 16th, 275 troops, 10 days after that, June 26th, another
notification, 300 more U.S. troops. These ones to work with Iraqi forces
fighting Sunni militants in that country. That was June 26th. Then four
days after that another notice to Congress. The president sending 200
further troops. And this time that additional deployment also including
American aircraft getting sent back into Iraq. That was June 30th. Three
separate notices. And then it happened again.
August 8th, another notice to Congress, it was this past Friday. More U.S.
troops going into Iraq. But this time, in the president`s notice to
Congress, there was no number of troops specified. That notification was
on Friday, again it did not give a number for how many more troops the
president was sending back to Iraq. But the White House told us today that
the additional 130 U.S. marines and special operations troops that were
sent to northern Iraq yesterday, those 130 troops make up at least part of
what the president meant in that Friday letter to Congress, the one that
had no numbers.
The National Security Council gave us the statement about this today, we`re
going to put it up on our website tonight if you want to read their full
statement about the number of troops that the president meant and the fact
that these ones that arrived in Northern Iraq yesterday were included in
that number. And now how many more American troops are going to be sent
back into Iraq under that most recent notice? We have no idea. Again, the
president`s notification did not give a number, we know it`s at least 130
because that`s what`s there now. But apparently, there`s no ceiling.
And the overall clarity that we`ve got now is that the trajectory is still
pointing up here. I mean, as of today the Pentagon says, the U.S. military
aircraft supporting this news mission in Iraq are no longer going to be
just flying missions off an American aircraft carrier parked in the Persian
Gulf. The USS George H.W. Bush as of today, the U.S. aircraft they say are
also based on land in Iraq, they`re now based at an air field in Northern
Iraq. Taken all together, we`ve now got nearly 1,000 U.S. troops serving
in Iraq again. But this administration has taken great pains to say that
this rapid and apparently open ended escalating redeployment of U.S. troops
back into Iraq, they have taken great pains to say this will not be a boots
on the ground operation.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave marines at Camp Pendleton that exact
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is not a combat boots on the
ground operation. We`re not going to have that kind of operation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday, that was
yesterday, though. And apparently today, it`s a U.S. combat boots on the
ground kind of operation. The Pentagon confirming tonight through an
anonymous U.S. defense official that a team of fewer than 20 U.S. military
personnel did hit the ground today in Iraq, at Mount Sinjar, where
civilian refugees have been trapped for almost a week now by ISIS` militant
In addition to helping Iraqi forces that are supposed to be helping those
militant and in addition to direct U.S. air strikes against those militant
fighters, U.S. troops have also in recent days begun dropping food and
water and supplies to those trapped civilians. Have you seen any of the
footage of those drops? The footage of them dealing with civilians on this
mountain. And what they`ve been doing from these helicopters? These are
not just being done by the U.S. It`s the U.S. but it`s also being done by
Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well.
But have you seen the footage? The footage is amazing. I mean, you can
see. Look out the window, you can see the poor people on the ground
scrambling to try to get these supplies that are being dropped from the
helicopters. When these aircrafts have landed they have also been swamped
by these people trying desperately to get onboard the aircraft so that they
can get out, to try to kids out, to try to get elderly people out, to get
out people who are not going to survive unless they can get off that
This is a firsthand report from correspondent John Irvine of ITV News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN IRVINE, ITV NEWS SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After giving
them food, the crew picked out a handful of people to take off this
mountain. These were hard choices. Eventually it was too much for the
pilot who changed his mind. He would not leave any of them behind and so
they all rushed on board. Sadly, the first takeoff attempt failed. We
were too heavy. Five have to get off. The young man were the obvious
choice. An older man said a stoic farewell to his family and went down the
ramp. The weight difference was just enough.
To the relief of all on board, we took to the air. This was a life saving
flight for these people, and their emotions were all too plain to see.
They had survived more than a week on a baron lofty island hunted by bigots
who want to wipe them out. The pilot a hero, came back to check his
handiwork on his last mercy mission on a long day. This helicopter has the
capacity for 15 passengers. I counted more than 50 on board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yesterday an Iraqi pilot was killed when too many people climbed
aboard the chopper that he was piloting and it crashed. This was the
incident in which the famous "New York Times" correspondent Alissa Rubin
was hurt. You may have heard about this yesterday. She was on that
chopper along with a New York Times photographer, along with some other
journalists, including a Time Magazine photographer who took these images
from the crash site.
And what they were doing there, that was intended to be an air relief
effort for these refugees. Obviously, when that aircraft crashed what you
have now is literally a boots on the ground effort. Right? I mean, air
campaigns have a way of not becoming just air campaigns. Whether it`s the
support forces needed to keep aircraft flying safely, or it`s the
consequences on the aircraft can`t fly safely. And there`s some sort of
crash or some sort of unforeseen circumstance.
I mean, even bombing campaigns, but especially relief efforts that you
attempt to mount from the air, they have a way of sometimes and somehow
ending up on the ground. Well, the United States has announced today that
the military has now moved tilt rotor Osprey aircraft to a Northern Iraqi
air base. Osprey are massive vehicles. They can take-off and land
vertically like a helicopter but rotors can tilt so the air -- the aircraft
can essentially fly like a plane before it tilts its rotors back again to
ISIS militants on the ground in Iraq and Syria are not thought to have the
kind of firepower that could shoot down F-18s or other fighter aircraft
like these ones taking off from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush today
in the Persian Gulf. But that militant group is thought to have the kind
of firepower conceivably to at least try to shoot down helicopters. So at
least try to target them. The British have announced they`re sending some
massive Chinook helicopters to the -- in Northern Iraq. We learned today
that we are also sending ospreys. It is still not a combat operation.
But in the event that the awful event that one of those aircraft goes down,
is it still not a combat operation? The territory around where this relief
operation is going to happen is not controlled by the Iraqi government.
It`s controlled by those ISIS militants. And with U.S. Special Forces and
marines on the ground already today. The White House says, it is expecting
recommendations from that team that`s on the ground today, about how best
to handle the problems of those civilians trapped by ISIS. The first word
by those groups today were that there would not as many refugees on that
mountain as they expected. And so maybe that`s good news and this ends
But the White House did say today, that maybe the recommendations from this
group, maybe the recommendations from these on the ground U.S. forces in
Iraq will be that the president should order U.S. ground troops there. The
U.S. ground troops to clear the way for some sort of safe passage by land
for those thousands of trapped civilians. In two months we have gone from
zero to 1,000 troops to a new U.S. joint air base in Iraq. To boots on the
ground already today. And the prospect of more to come. And who knows how
much further this is going to go?
I mean, this redeployment to Iraq has all happened in exactly 59 days, and
that ends up being really important. Fifty nine days ago, is when
President Obama first sent the June 16th notification to Congress that 275
troops were going back to Iraq. And that was 59 days ago. That was the
first notification. And by now, we are now back in a big way. That today
got a lot bigger and that the White House is signaling they get a lot
bigger still. There was no number on the last notification. Is this
overall redeployment to Iraq a good idea?
Is this a slippery slope? We are already sliding down -- Iraq war. I
mean, if this is a humanitarian mission to protect those refugees from the
ISIS militant group and if this is a mission to protect the U.S. personnel
and assets and interest from this ISIS militant group, how do we know when
that mission has been achieved? What does the U.S. have to do to ISIS?
How much do they have to be degraded or hurt before this mission is over?
How long is this going to last, how much is it going to take? How many
boots are going to be on the ground, how do we know that it`s over?
That last notification that the president sent to Congress did not include
a number for how many troops he was sending, and the day after he sent that
notification was the day the president said, quote, "I don`t think we`re
going to solve this problem in weeks. I think this is going to take some
time." How much time? For what mission -- at how much risk and how will
we know when it`s supposed to be over. So far, there`s a lot going on in
the world, I recognize it. But this is being treated as a matter of
international news. Right? The sort of matter of foreign interest that
Americans might be interested in but might not.
But we have male started what amounts to a major U.S. major military
operation in a country where we just ended a major war. And there`s a law
in our own country that says that we`re not just supposed to wonder about
the wisdom of this, Congress is supposed to ask those questions, debate
them formally and then vote. Congress is supposed to make a decision about
this. Congress is. And the president said that notification to Congress
that he was sending those first U.S. troops back into Iraq 59 days ago.
The notification is a letter, addressed to the speaker of the house, and to
the president pro-term of the Senate. Starting on June 15th, they`re
sending 275 armed forces personnel they`re deploying to Iraq, blah, blah,
blah. But then look at the bottom, I am providing this report as part of
my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the war
powers resolution. Public law 93-148. The war powers resolution says that
the constitution constrains the president from waging a war, waging a
military operation on his own say so.
Article I section 8 of the constitution says decisions about war and peace
are decisions that are made by the Congress not the president. And so, the
war powers resolution makes clear that yes the president can act with
lackerty (ph). The president can respond to events around the world, he
has the prerogative to send U.S. forces abroad to engage in military
operations on his own say so for a limited period of time. He can do that
on his own say so as long as he notifies Congress when he was doing it, and
then those forces cannot stay there doing that military operation for more
than 60 days, at the end of 60 days, they don`t get to stay there anymore.
Unless congress votes that they can.
U.S. troops are required by law to be withdrawn from hostilities within 60
days unless Congress acts to approve them being there. That 60 days runs
out tomorrow in Iraq. And it`s not like what the president has asked for
in Iraq is stay and contain. Right? Since that initial notification to
Congress 59 days ago, about 275 troops, the president sent another
contingent of troops and then another contingent of troops and then another
open ended no number given contingent of troops that today included them
putting boots on the ground and setting up an air base in Northern Iraq.
One senator democrat Tim Kaine of Virginia sent the White House a letter
yesterday saying, I think Congress ought to vote on this. Congress needs
to authorize this sort of thing, we ought to vote on it. But it`s one
thing to send that letter to the White House, Congress actually has to do
it. Congress is on vacation. Congress is making no move at all in that
direction. Sixty days for the first authorization runs out tomorrow. And
what is starting to look like America`s new war in Iraq. America`s new war
in Iraq is now getting to the ground troops phase as of today. So far, no
debate, certainly no vote, no authorization. It`s just quietly happening
in Iraq, quietly escalating, it`s happening again, we`re back there, it`s
And nobody expects that this Congress is capable of having a good debate
about this issue. Nobody expects that this Congress is capable of having a
good debate about anything. But if we are now back to up to 1,000
Americans serving in Iraq again. And we have just set up another new air
base there and we have boots on the ground there. Even a bad debate about
that is better than just pretending this is not happening, and this is some
other country`s problem.
This is a decision for the U.S. Congress to make, not just something for
them to complain about or crow about or write op-eds about or ignore. They
are actually supposed to vote on whether or not this happens. Right now it
is happening without them. Whether you think this mission is a good idea
or not, it is on constitutional auto pilot right now. Which is an insult
and in some ways a betrayal of the 1,000 Americans who right now are
risking their necks over there for us again.
MADDOW: Big news day, we have a lot more ahead. Including the very latest
on the tumultuous reaction to the Ferguson Missouri shooting. Including a
massive and militarized police response. Look at this militarized police
vehicles in the streets and look at what those cops are wearing.
We`re going to talk live with one of the reporters who was just arrested
and detained this evening by police in Ferguson. That`s next.
MADDOW: This is Maria Chappelle-Nadal, she`s a state senator in the great
state of Missouri. She`s running up for re-election, so far she`s
unopposed, she has no opponent in the democratic primary this month, and
she so far has no opponent in the general election. But Senator Chappelle-
Nadal has been out on the streets in her constituency a lot lately. Here
for example, she is in-front of a local police station on Sunday night,
with a couple of local kids, she tweeted from a protest that same night.
Because State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal represents the town of
Ferguson, Missouri where police shot and killed an unarmed teenager on
Saturday. Eighteen year old Michael Brown was one of Maria Chappelle-
Nadal`s constituents. And it`s important to know who she is, because you
will not see Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal in this next clip, but you will
hear her voice. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL, MISSOURI: I wanted to know if I`m going
to be gassed against like I was on Monday night. And I was peaceful.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I know, I know, I know.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Again, we couldn`t get out. And we were peacefully
sitting. I just want to know if I`m going to be gassed again.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I hope not.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: I really hope not either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And I`m your state senator?
That was the chief of police in Ferguson, Missouri today. Taking questions
from reporters and elected officials and citizens, at a press conference,
people ask for instance why the department needed to bring out armored
vehicles, handed down from the U.S. military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What`s the need for a mine-resistant vehicle?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: People are using bombs now. Pipe bombs, so forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There`s been no indication of bombs at any of these protests, even
though there definitely has been some looting, and some violence and things
definitely have been rowdy at some of these events, there have been no
bombings reported. So, we`re not sure what the chief is referring to
there, or if he`s just referring to the possibility of bombings in general.
People today also asked whether the body of Michael Brown has been released
to the family. The chief said the body had been released and that the
Police Department was working with the NAACP to try to set-up a meeting
between the police and the family.
People asked whether the Police Department has video of the shooting, the
chief said they do not. We`ve seen some speculation this week that there
may be dash cam footage of the shooting. The police chief though explained
today that the department has received a grant for a few cameras this year,
but they have not yet installed them. And nothing like that was in
operation on the scene on Saturday. But what people asked about several
times, the question that kept coming up over and over again in different
forms was this.
City and police officials in Ferguson today issued a statement saying that
they mourned the loss of Michael Brown`s life, but they also said that
people upset about it, should limit their protests to daylight hours.
Quote, "We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or protest do
so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner, we`ve
further ask all of those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disburse
well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and
the safety of our community." Whatever officials in Ferguson Missouri
meant by that notice, the message does not seem to have come through very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: First, why the curfew?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There`s not a curfew.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There`s not a curfew?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don`t know where that came from.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Protesting --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`d like the protesting to end at dark, just because
it`s as you probably know, it`s just been unsafe after dark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, today protests began in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri
within just the last couple of hours. We started to get these images back
from the town, pretty remarkable images. There are girls out dancing in
the street, one of the protests calling for justice for Michael Brown.
Christine Conetta from the Huffington Post tweeted this out today. This is
part of the protest today and the one side, you have broad daylight, you
have protesters, some of them holding signs, some of them listening to
Gospel music, other dancing, others chanting, the people united will never
But on the other side, this was the police turnout. The police in full
riot gear, full S.W.A.T. gear, enormous armed vehicle, reporters on the
scene say police had guns, including from the top of the vehicle as you see
there, trained directly on the crowd. Not pointed up, like you might do
just for deterrence, but actually pointed at the protesters, it`s not clear
what about this daylight protest caused police to call out the infantry or
something that looks like a striker brigade combat team for this event.
But the news tonight is still ruling in from Ferguson. It is not yet all
One report from the scene today said that state senator Maria Chappelle-
Nadal had actually herself been arrested at the protest. The state senator
herself tweeted back a cheerful response moments later, no, she had not
been arrested. She said, "No, I wasn`t arrested, I`m on the street." She
tweeted back cheerfully she was still there.
But reporter Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, he did got picked up by
police, and then ultimately released, he did an interview just this past
hour with Chris Hayes, he said, the S.W.A.T. force invaded the McDonald`s
where he was trying to send out a report and charge his phone. He was
there along with Wesley Lowery from the Washington Post. Mr. Lowery
tweeted that "Officers decided we weren`t leaving McDonald`s quickly enough
and we shouldn`t have been taping them." He tweeted from the scene that
officers slammed him into a soda machine, because he was confused about
which door they wanted him to walk out of. Wesley Lowery from the
Washington Post was then detained and then he released, he said there were
no charges filed against him, and he says there will be no police report.
He writes, quote, "The chief thought he was doing you a favor." The police
officer told him about being released. This is day four of the conflict in
Ferguson. Missouri since Michael Brown was killed by a police officer
there. And thus far, it does not feel like the conflict is getting better.
From the scenes in the street up to and including the armored vehicle with
a cop on top with his gun trained at peaceful protesters in broad daylight
today, up to and including that today, it feels like this is getting worse.
Joining us now is Wesley Lowery, he`s a reporter of the Washington Post, he
was detained tonight by a police, just released while he was there covering
the situation in Ferguson. Mr. Lowery, Wesley, thanks very much for
joining us. I appreciate you calling in.
WESLEY LOWERY, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Of course, no problem.
MADDOW: Can you tell us the circumstances of why you were arrested and
then why you were released?
LOWERY: Of course, I don`t want to say too much other than what I`ve put
out on twitter already. (INAUDIBLE) But I will put this out here, is that
we were working with McDonald`s, for those who aren`t here in Ferguson,
it`s about two blocks away from ground zero, from the gas station that was
burned down to where these protests has been going on. So, essentially
it`s been the media center. They have outlets and internet. So, a lot of
reporters have been dropping in there to charge up and grab food, that type
At some point as this happening, protests were going on, armed officers,
some kind of normally dressed, others in more of this riot and S.W.A.T.
gear initially saying, you all should leave, you should get out of here,
and eventually, someone was saying, can you say what`s going on? Are you
closing the McDonald`s, eventually they said, well, we can ensure your
safety, if you stay, we`re not going to answer your 911 calls.
After that, they came back a few minutes away and then now they decided
they were going to forcibly remove us, as I tried to pack up my bag, I
pulled out my phone and the video record, which an officer took exception
to and told me to stop videotaping. I did not, which I think angered him.
And then as I was packing my bag and videotaping with one hand, he was
angry I was not moving fast enough or whatnot, I put my backpack on and was
trying to walk out, in the corner I can see Ryan having some type of
As I turned around the corner, I was trying to ask him, well, my car is
parked here, where am I going to be able to move my car? Can I get out?
They didn`t want to answer that question. They directed me towards the one
door. Where I encountered another officer who tries to direct me towards
another door. I said, officers, where would you like me to go? As I
turned to follow their instructions, my bag flipped of off of my shoulder.
I said, officer, I`m going to need my -- just my bag, give me one second,
one officer said, let`s take him. They slammed me to the soda machine,
grabbed my bag, grabbed my phone, and put me in temporary restrain. And
took us outside. Moments later, I saw Ryan being led out --
MADDOW: Did you identify yourself as press to these officers?
LOWERY: My Washington Post credentials were on my neck.
MADDOW: And were you hurt when they hit you into the soda machine?
LOWERY: Not in any real way. I mean, I certainly think that by my
standards I call it assault, I have been out here all week and seen people
really get hurt, so I don`t want to say that, I was not hurt.
MADDOW: In terms of what you have seen both in the circumstances in which
you were arrested and also what you were reporting on before then, is it
your sense that the -- what looks to be a military style police response is
getting more agro over time or is this just what it looked like all week
and this is fairly static?
LOWERY: I arrived on Monday afternoon, and this is exactly what it`s
looked like since I arrived.
MADDOW: OK. In terms of you feeling like you didn`t know how to avoid
arrest in this circumstance, do you think that has been the case with other
protesters and other people who have been arrested and detained by police
in these circumstances? I mean, what`s striking about your account and
Ryan`s is that it seems like you certainly weren`t trying to get arrested.
You were trying to do your jobs, but police gave you no way to avoid being
LOWERY: I think that is accurate. You know, listen, I went to Ohio
University, which for a long time was the top party school in the country.
We had these street fests that would turn into sometimes into riots. That
was a lot of riots, police. I was covering that in Ohio State where I
covered crime scenes in Boston and Los Angeles and D.C. I`ve been at these
such scenarios and I don`t take pride in the fact that I`ve never been
arrested. I was never looking to get arrested.
But I tell -- I have to say I`ve been in a lot of scenarios with very
heavily armed, police officers have been in a lot of scenarios where
journalists could get arrested. I don`t believe mine that I did anything
that matters have been taken into custody. And I think we`re also both
(INAUDIBLE) to try to avoid being taken into custody, this frankly. I
would rather be out on the street right now talking to protesters trying to
tell this story and no disrespect to you, but not sitting here talking on
the phone about me.
MADDOW: Wesley Lowery, report ever with the "Washington Post," detained
tonight in Ferguson, Missouri, in this very intense police environment.
Wesley, I`m glad you are alright. Thanks for your time tonight. Thanks
for taking time. Get back out there.
All right. More ahead on this still unfolding situation in Ferguson
tonight. We have some new tape just fed in. We`ll be right back. Stay
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN J. REILLY, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Evidently, I was not moving quickly
enough for their effort them to like. And at which point I was given a
countdown. I was told I had, you know, 45 seconds, 30 seconds to pack up
all my stuff and leave. I was then -- when I -- basically, he then
arrested me. You know, this is -- it was just a terrible experience. My,
you know, the worst part was, he slams my head against the glass purposely
on the way out of the McDonald`s and sarcastically apologized for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was reporter Ryan J. Reilly from the "Huffington Post"
speaking to Chris Hayes just a few minutes ago. Mr. Reilly was arrested
and released tonight, along with "Washington Post" reporter Wesley Lowery,
who we just spoke to on this program. They were both sort of manhandled a
bit while arrested. Neither said they were hurt. But neither of them was
seeking to get arrested, neither one of them was protesting. They were
both arrested while covering the protest tonight in Ferguson, Missouri.
Joining us now is Lizz Brown. She is an attorney and columnist for the
"St. Louis American."
Ms. Brown, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your time
LIZZ BROWN, ATTORNEY/COLUMNIST, ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, the police in Ferguson today asked for protests to only happen
during daylight. From the outside, it doesn`t seem like the temperature is
dropping, the authorities are really defusing anything. What`s your sense
of how things are right now.
BROWN: My sense is that -- well, if we start with talking about just that
direction, that protesters are not supposed to assemble after dark. It`s
kind of baffling. It is a direction that I think that will lead to more
problems. And it`s baffling because how do the police officers explain
themselves in terms of -- what, you can`t do your job at night? Police
officers can`t work at night?
And then if you put it in an historical context, this is an area, this is a
part of the country that at one time had places called sundown towns. And
what sundown towns were a place where African-Americans could not be after
So there`s a historical context to this, and an illogical anti-constitution
component to this as well. We have a right to free assembly, all of these
actions together. So all of these components together can only lead to
more problems with people and the police.
MADDOW: Where do you think this goes? Where do you think this ends?
Obviously, we are going to have some developments in the case, there will
have to be a decision by the prosecuting attorney at one level, about
whether or not there will be charges brought in the killing of this young
man. There is probably going to be more information released of some kind
about the actual incident. We will probably hear more from eyewitnesses
and more of the police side in terms of what they say happened at this
event. That stuff will happen on a factual basis. That stuff will trickle
But what do you think is going to happen in the community and between the
police particularly when we see these continuing four days of stand-offs
now between people on the street and cops in armored vehicles?
BROWN: Well, when the police continue to give directions that leave people
no option, I think there`s going to be continued problems within the
community. We have -- I mean, the possibility of making certain that
someone is going to be indicted on this, people are looking for that. And
they`re looking to the county prosecuting attorney`s office. The challenge
with the county prosecuting attorney`s office from the community`s
perspective is, the county`s prosecuting attorney`s office needs to be
examined the same way that the Ferguson police department would.
The Ferguson department has 53 police officers, three African-American.
The county prosecuting attorney`s office also reflects similar numbers. So
what faith or what faith can the community have in a determination coming
from the prosecutes attorney`s office that there will be a fair examination
and a factual examination and an honest examination of what happened with
the killing of mike Brown?
MADDOW: Are there issues beyond specifically the numerical diversity in
the prosecutor`s office that have led to concerns in the community about
whether or not this prosecutor can be counted on to bring justice in a
racially charged case like this?
BROWN: From my own experience, like you said, I`m an attorney, and one of
the first jobs I applied for was prosecuting attorney in the county --
prosecuting attorney`s office. And when I applied, they were interested in
me, and they wanted to hire me. But they said to me, now, Lizz, if we give
you this job, you have to understand that there may -- you may hear people
using the n word, are you OK with that? So that gives you kind of the
sense of the atmosphere of that office.
So should we have -- can we have faith in that? It remains to be seen.
And you also can look at the history of the prosecuting attorney`s office
in terms of the African-Americans they allow to serve on the journey. This
office, under (INAUDIBLE), under Bob McCullough has been challenged legally
again and again with the strikes they use to keep African-Americans from
serving on the journey in order that the prosecuting attorney gets a
conviction. That`s their practice. That`s what buzz west taught Bob
McCullough and that office. So what can we expect? I think it`s
MADDOW: Lizz Brown, columnist for the St. Louis American providing some
very disturbing and helpful context in understanding this. Thanks very
much for being with us. Nice to have you here.
BROWN: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right, lots ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This was the scene earlier tonight as reporters staked out a
birthday party on the island of Martha`s Vineyard where President Obama
spent in part of his vacation tonight. President Obama was supposed to be
on vacation until the end of next week, but the White House has now
announced somewhat cryptically that he is going to be coming back to D.C.
early, at least for a day. Why is that? That`s next.
MADDOW: President Obama of course is on vacation this week, but given the
state of the world. This has turned out to be more of a working vacation
than true time off. Take Monday, for example, the president was
technically on vacation, but he came out at around 5:00 Monday afternoon to
deliver a formal statement about the latest developments in Iraq. Earlier
in the day, he had a briefing with his national security adviser Susan
Rice, about a range of topics including Gaza. That morning the president
held a phone call with the Italian prime minister to discuss the Ebola
outbreak. Also then a phone call with the president of Ukraine to discuss
concerns about the potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Obama
has been able to conduct all of this really high level business from the
confines of his rented Martha`s Vineyard vacation home.
But even though his vacation goes until next Sunday, the 24th of August.
The White House has announced now, that President Obama is going to be
leaving Martha`s Vineyard early. He is leaving this Sunday the 17th to
return to the White House.
And it`s a mystery at this point as to why the president is returning to
Washington in the middle of his vacation. They`re not saying why. I mean,
Congress is out of town, so it`s not like there`s any pending legislation
they`re trying to get through that they`ll have to sign. It is not like
Congress has bothering to authorize all these troops we just sent to Iraq
The Supreme Court has ended its current session so there is no Supreme
Court decisions were awaiting. The president has been able to do all this
high level national security stuff from vacation. So why does he have to
come back to D.C.?
In the news industry, one of the things that often happens is that someone
gets a tip or hears a rumor that some big thing is about to happen or some
big political decision is about to be made. In different news outlets have
different sources in different places. And sometimes when you try to
report out that tip, sources in the government with direct knowledge about
that rumored thing, they`ll essentially try to waive you off of it, right?
They will say, no. This thing you`re hearing is not right.
Even if they`re not willing to tell you that On the Record, they`ll
essentially nudge you away from something, alright? If they feel like
you`re barking up the wrong tree. Now, that potentially is a way to trick
the media out of covering a real story. But when it`s not a trick, it can
be a real indication that the rumors are wrong.
And the same principle applies in reverse. The same principle applies when
the rumors are not wrong. Sources go out of their way to knock, waive you
off of what you`ll be hearing, they won`t confirm this thing you heard.
But they also won`t scream bloody murder about how wrong it is. And that`s
not On the Record reporting. But in this business, that is often the
indication you are looking for that you in fact are on the right track.
Well, right now, the country and the political world have been waiting to
see what President Obama is going to do on immigration, right? The White
House has said, the president will announced by the end of the summer, what
he intends to do to change the immigration system on his own by executive
action without Congress.
And this is one of those cases where the scuttlebutt that he`s going to do
something really big, something really dramatic on this issue. Those
rumors are not being met with hair on fire denials and aggressive waving
off by people who might in the position to know.
In fact, quite the opposite. Immigration advocates have been pushing
President Obama to go big, right? They`re looking for him to defer
deportation for millions of immigrants, to basically shut down the
deportation system for anybody who doesn`t have criminal involvement.
The Republican response to that prospect has been to argue not that they
don`t want to President Obama to make that sort of policy change.
Republicans have argued that he can`t make that sort of change. They said
it would be illegal if he even tried.
House speaker John Boehner has said if President Obama took that sort of
executive action, quote, "he will be sealing the deal on his legacy of
And while those two sides battle it out publicly, the go big side and that
would be illegal side, Democratic groups that are close to the White House
now seem to be quietly greasing the skids to prepare America for the
possibility the White House really is about to do something big.
"The Huffington Post" Sam Stein reporting today that the highly connected
Democratic research from American bridge appears to have just laid the
ground work for President Obama to take major action. They released 20-
page memo explaining what that kind of action would mean, defending the
president`s right to do it. They debunk the conservative argument that
this president has taken more executive action than his predecessors, he
hasn`t. He report lays out all the times his immediate predecessors,
Republican presidents and Democratic presidents have themselves used
executive actions specifically on immigration. Like in 1987, when Ronald
Reagan eased deportation for 200,000 people from Nicaragua or in 1990 when
George H. W. Bush ease deportation for Chinese students.
The memo from American Bridge lays out Republican and democratic presidents
on their own have taken executive action to change the immigration system,
to defer deportation for undocumented immigrants who are already here. The
same thing president Obama is reportedly now considering and that pro-
immigrant groups are encouraging him to do on a very large scale.
This has the feel of Democrats laying the ground work for something big
that`s about to happen and it happens at the same time the president is
about to jet back to Washington for something they won`t say what in the
middle of his summer vacation. What`s going on here and who knows about
Joining us is somebody who might. Brad Woodhouse, president of the well
connected Democratic super PAC American Bridge which just released that
report supporting the idea of President Obama taking big-time action here.
And Mr. Woodhouse is the former communication director for the DNC. Thanks
for being here, Brad. Nice to see you.
BRAD WOODHOUSE, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BRIDGE: Thank you so much for having
MADDOW: Is it fair for me to describe you as well connected, as being on
the same wavelength as the White House on this?
WOODHOUSE: Well, I think so. I mean, look, the president sent these
signals. I mean, it`s pretty obvious that, especially in the aftermath of
this fiasco of John Boehner and the Republican House leaving town, unable
to do their own border package. Then he comes to the podium and says the
president may have to take his open action. And then they pass a bill to
basically deport everyone indiscriminately. And then left the president as
the president said no choice.
Now, John Boehner said, unprecedented lawlessness. And you know, we`re an
organization that really dives into research and facts, and we`re like,
wait a minute, that doesn`t sound right. I mean, some of us were alive
when Ronald Reagan took action on immigration executive action, when George
H. W. Bush, when George W. Bush did it.
So we went about this. It turned out to be not hard, but yes, we are
trying to lay the ground work. We want to provide this president, the
White House, Democrats, immigration groups, what they need to make the
case. Because what they`ve said about this president and executive action
is wrong. Not to mention the fact that their position on immigration is
wrong and is hurting them in the party.
MADDOW: Are you, as an organization, advocating that the president do that
or do you think that President Obama is about to do that and therefore,
you`re trying to sort of texture the ground ahead of him so that it lands
in a more advantageous way?
WOODHOUSE: Well, I think there`s a little bit of both. I mean, we as an
organization, you know, do support immigration reform. I think Democrats
nearly across the board support action. Congress, we believe, should take
action. I think we`ve all believed that. But it`s clear this Congress
I mean, John Boehner is literally strangled by the tea party. You know,
John Boehner and Reince Priebus, again, this cycling Congress saying, you
know, we didn`t do something to reach out Latinos. They shoved Latinos
farther and farther away from the Republicans party. They have created a
perfect storm where the president can come in not only do the right thing,
but a really smart political thing. And in fact, I think it`s going to set
the Republicans back quite a bit politically with this community and it`s
going to be a real problem going into 2016.
MADDOW: It`s going to be fascinating to see how big the president does
decide to go if he`s going to do this. They said we would hear by the end
of the summer.
WOODHOUSE: Getting close.
MADDOW: Exactly. President of American Bridge super PAC, thanks very much
for being with us. I appreciate it.
WOODHOUSE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We got more ahead tonight, actually on the situation
tonight, the ongoing situation tonight in Ferguson, Missouri.
Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So we have more breaking news tonight from Ferguson, Missouri,
where police today responded to a peaceful daytime protest in full riot
gear and S.W.A.T. gear with an armored vehicle with the roof mounted
gunner. That apparently was handed down from the military police in
Ferguson, Missouri. Of course, they have been protesting a police shooting
of an unarmed 18-year-old this weekend.
Within the last hour, MSNBC has spoken with two reporters who were not
protesting but who were arrested in Ferguson while reporting on the protest
this tonight. Ryan J. Reilly from the "Huffington Post" and Wesley Lowery
from "the Washington Post." We have spoken both of them in the past hour.
Those reporters are post detained and roughed up a little, but then
And then moments ago, police began firing tear gas into another protesting
crowd in Ferguson. This picture comes from Christina Coleman, a reporter
at NBC`s local affiliate, KFDK. Our reporter John Swayne from "the
Guardian" sends this picture. He says police are telling people they must
leave immediately, that what`s going on right now in Ferguson is quote "no
longer a peaceful protest."
We`re on day four in Ferguson and from the clouds of tear gas, this does
not seem to be ratcheting down.
That does it for us tonight, but there`s much more now on the situation in
Ferguson tonight from "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, one of those reporters who just
got hit with teargas is going to join us right away.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
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