The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/19/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Also joining us now, it is true, I didn`t cut
Lee Fang`s mike, but we do have a big exclusive story coming up on
tonight`s show that is out of Colorado. It`s a big story, I have to admit
that it is a little bit of an upsetting story. It started out with what
looked to be just like a crime story out of Colorado but ended up being
much, much more than that, and we`ve got that exclusive coming up ahead
But we`re going to start tonight with President Obama. President Obama
gave a round of interviews to local news stations around the country
tonight including this one to NBC`s station in San Diego, which is KNSD.
San Diego, a heavily military town, and reporter Mark Mullen asked
President Obama tonight if he as president had a message for American
troops about the potential use of American military force in response to
Russia`s recent actions in taking over parts of Ukraine.
Watch how President Obama responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MULLEN, REPORTER, KNSD SAN DIEGO: Message to troops about whether the
use of force militarily in Ukraine is possible?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to be
getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. Russia right now is
violating international law and the sovereignty of another country. You
know, might doesn`t make right. And you know we are going to continue to
ratchet up the pressure on Russia as it continues down its current course.
But I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge that, you know, for us,
to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and wouldn`t be good
for Ukraine either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama tonight telling NBC 7 in San Diego, that there
will be no U.S. military excursion in Ukraine, but he said that the U.S.
will, in his words, continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia. As
Russia continues down its current course.
Here is one of the manifestations of Russia`s current course tonight. Can
you tell the difference between these two maps? It is a very subtle
difference. The hint is that these are both maps of Russia, the map on the
left is what Russia looked like before yesterday. The map on the right is
what Russia says it now ought to look on maps as of today. The “Where is
Waldo?” difference between these two maps is of course right over there on
the edge, Crimea.
The map on the right is what Russia looks like if you take at face value
Russia`s assertions that Crimea is now basically part of Russia. It is the
annexation by Russia of this little piece of Ukrainian land that has now
turned into a full blown international crisis. It is also in the very
short term and in a very small sense turned into a headache for map makers.
Map makers who aren`t necessarily trying to make a political point, they`re
just trying to make accurate maps.
At one point today the good folks at Wikipedia changed their map of Russia
to include that little bit of Crimea. Then they changed their map back
again today. Now they`ve made Crimea its own neon green-ish color, which
means that it is a territory in dispute.
National Geographic, which does a lot of things including making really
excellent maps, the National Geographic said today that as far as they`re
concerned, once the Russian parliament votes to official absorb Crimea,
which is a vote that`s basically imminent and also inevitable, the National
Geographic says that vote in Russia will settle the matter for them when it
comes to maps.
National Geographic`s editorial directorial said today, quote, “We map the
world as it is, not as people would like it to be.” Which might remind you
of Donald Rumsfeld, but there`s no connection.
The world as it is today means basically the surrender of Crimea to Russia.
As “The New York Times” reported late this afternoon, quote, “Bowing to the
reality of the Russian military occupation of the Crimea, the Ukrainian
government says today that it has drawn up plans to evacuate all of its
military personnel and their families.”
So that`s roughly 25,000 people. Ukrainian service members stationed in
Crimea and their families, the Ukrainian government announcing today that
it would relocate all those 25,000 people to mainland Ukraine.
You might remember when we spoke with NBC`s Richard Engel live from eastern
Ukraine last night, he said that that issue of those remaining Ukrainian
service members in Crimea, inside a place that no longer considers itself
to be part of Ukraine, Richard suggested live with us last night, that that
could potentially be the next major flashpoint for setting off a shooting
war in the region.
He suggested that the fate of those Ukrainian service members still stuck
in Crimea was a crucial matter and a very time sensitive matter, and it was
this afternoon when the Ukrainian government says yes, they have to go.
The evacuation of those service members and their family should begin. The
“Times” posted this photo today of Ukrainian naval officers carrying their
suitcases and clothes out of their own headquarters in Crimea as masked
Russian forces stood by.
That there is something of a crisis about the fate of these service members
and whether or not they`re going to have safe passage out of Crimea, that
there is a bit of a crisis about this 25,000 or so people, it`s not really
the way it was supposed to go. A few days ago the Ukrainian government
said it had struck a deal, basically a truce with the Russian Defense
Ministry, specifically about Ukrainian bases and the personnel that – that
are serving there. The Russians said they would allow those bases to
receive supplies and most importantly the Russians promised not to provoke
any sort of confrontation over those military bases.
The Russians promised that the Ukrainians serving on those bases
essentially would be left in peace, at least through the end of this week.
The truce was supposed to last until Friday, March 21st, but Russia has
totally violated that deal. As we saw yesterday, Russian forces started
storming the Ukrainian bases that they said they would leave alone under
the terms of the truce. A lieutenant in the Ukrainian army were shot and
killed yesterday, another Ukrainian captain was seriously injured.
According to Ukrainian officials, the attackers in those killings were
dressed in the uniforms of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,
though they were not wearing any official insignia. Those shootings, that
violation of the truce, that happened yesterday. Today pro-Russia militia
men and also Russian Armed Forces stormed into Ukraine`s naval headquarters
in Crimea and they detained the commander of the Ukrainian Navy.
We`ve got video of the head of Russia`s Black Sea Fleet walking past a pro-
Russian crowd today into Ukraine`s Navy headquarters. We also saw pro-
Russian forces taking down Ukrainian insignia from the walls of that naval
This wasn`t supposed to happen, right? It was supposed to have been a deal
that those bases would be safe, the personnel on those bases would be safe
until at least the end of this week, those bases would be left alone. The
Russians did not hold up their end of that deal. So much for that deal, so
much for that promise.
Vladimir Putin has also promised that his expansionist adventure in that
region will stop with Crimea. He has promised that he has no plans to
invade or try to take over any other parts of Ukraine.
Do you believe that promise from him?
NBC News is reporting tonight that according to senior U.S. military
officials Russia has now amassed thousands of troops in the border, along
the border that Russia shares with the eastern part of Ukraine proper.
This is not the border with Crimea, this is the border with eastern
According to one senior American military official, quote, “It`s like the
Russian troops are on a hair trigger.” Quoting NBC News tonight, “Crimea
is accessible only by air or sea, U.S. officials speculate that at some
point the Russians may decide to seize a slice of eastern Ukraine by
military force in order to provide a land bridge directly from Russia to
NBC`s Richard Engel who again is in eastern Ukraine, he tweeted these
pictures today, showing pro-Russian militias refusing to allow Ukrainian
troops to re-supply their own military base in eastern Ukraine. This is a
picture of those militia milling around outside and blocking access to a
Again, this is not in Crimea, this is not where Russia has supposedly
already taken over. This is a new place, this is eastern Ukraine. This is
the part of a country that Vladimir Putin has said he has zero interest in
and that he`s not planning on taking.
President Obama says this is not going to be an American shooting war
against Russia over the issue of Ukraine. President Obama also said
essentially that what Russia is doing is unacceptable.
Secretary of State John Kerry has also been very explicit about that, he
said yesterday that it is, in his word, a hard-line for the U.S. if Putin
pushes further into eastern Ukraine.
If it is a hard-line for this administration, if this administration says
that is absolutely unacceptable and the administration is very clear that
we are not using military force, we are not going to go to war over
Ukraine, then what is the American government going to do while the
president has already put financial sanctions and travel bans on some
Russian officials and some pro-Russian Ukrainian officials.
He`s left himself the room to ramp up those sanctions by quite a bit,
theoretically he has infinite room to ramp those up further, to make those
sanctions tougher and to also broaden the sanctions, not only to more
individuals but beyond individual people in order to target the Russian
economy as a whole.
Is that process now in motion? If Russia is expanding tonight its reach
into eastern Ukraine, how will this administration fight them on that and
how will they lead an international effort to fight them on that? How will
the American Congress want to fight back against that?
This may not be a shooting war, but this is starting to look like a war
that is everything but a shooting war. What does that mean that we are
going to do next? What are our options?
Hold that thought. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Message to troops about whether use of force militarily
in Ukraine is possible?
OBAMA: We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in
Ukraine. I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge that, you know, for
us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and it wouldn`t be
good for Ukraine either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy. He`s a Democrat of
Connecticut. He`s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and
he`s chairman of the European Affairs Subcommittee.
Senator Murphy, thank you very much for being with us tonight, I appreciate
your time, sir.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Sure. Thank you.
MADDOW: President Obama is being very clear and very blunt that there will
not and there will be never be American military – an American military
excursion in Ukraine on this issue. Do you agree with President Obama and
his decision to be so blunt about that?
MURPHY: Yes – no, he`s right, it wouldn`t be good for the United States.
It wouldn`t be good for Ukraine ultimately. That doesn`t mean there isn`t
an effort that is worthwhile to try to work to staff up the Ukrainian
military in the long run. They certainly are dramatically underfunded.
And that really should be our long-term effort. But right now, we`ve got
to pursue a diplomatic path, and we ultimately have to make this really
hurt for Russia.
They marched into Crimea because they simply didn`t believe that there
would be a price to pay from the United States and Europe, and there`s
still a chance that we can make them think differently if we move beyond
these sanctions on individuals, move to real sanctions on the Russian
economy in the coming days and weeks.
MADDOW: What kind of price to pay do you think might be meaningful
American leverage? How severe would the sanctions have to be? Where do
you think they should be targeted and does the president have power to do
that sort of thing on his own or does that require Congress action?
MURPHY: Well, I think we`re going to move in Congress on the sanctions
bill that will give him broad authority, but you saw 50,000 Russians out on
the streets this last weekend and if you exact some real pain on the
Russian economy, that does mean sanctioning the oil companies, cutting off
the supplies into Europe, freezing the assets of banks and stopping
European companies from doing business with Russian banks, then you will
start to see a free fall of the Russian economy.
It will create enormous unrest inside Russia. That will make Putin think
differently. But that of course requires Europe to work with us and right
now there is a question as to whether Europe is willing to go through a
little bit of pain on their own, because when you cut off gas to Germany,
that will cost them some money. When you take Russian money out of the
real estate economy in London, that will cost them some money. If we do
that together, then Putin`s got a problem on his hands and he is going to
certainly forestall plans to move into eastern Ukraine and may deal on the
issue of Crimea.
MADDOW: That issue about the Russian banks specifically, I`m just going to
press you on that a little bit. I think we`ve seen with the experience of
sanctions on Iran, that when Iranian banks were sanctioned, when they
essentially could not function in the international economy any more, and
Iranian banking became a single – a single nation experience, that
cratered to the Iranian economy more than anything else that had been done
with them on sanctions and it happened very fast and there was unrest in
Iran because of it.
It was an incredibly effective pressure point. It`s just a really severe
form of sanctions. What do you think President Obama would have to do to
be able to rally the world to do that? Obviously it can`t be a unilateral
decision, it has to be an international decision, it took a long time to
get people around to the idea that that should happen for Iran. Is this
diplomatically in the realm of the possible?
MURPHY: I think it is, in part because there is a real sense of
nervousness along the eastern edge of NATO today. You know, five years
ago, it was kind of preposterous to think that Russia would move on
Ukraine. Well, five years from now, who knows where his sights will be
especially if he gets away with this. And why it ultimately will work is
that what Putin really is worried about is the kind of unrest that we saw
on the streets of Kiev, leading to Yanukovych fleeing the country.
He`s worried that that is going to happen in Moscow, and so he`s got to
shut down this kind of democracy on his border in a former Soviet Republic
as quickly as possible. And so if you see this kind of economic unrest
then very quickly Putin may think differently about this. This is the last
thing he wants to see, is his regime and his administration go the same way
MADDOW: Very briefly, in terms of that timing, we have seen President
Putin move very, very quickly. NBC News is reporting tonight that the
numbers of troops – the numbers of Russian troops massed very near the
border with eastern Ukraine is pretty a breathtakingly large number of
troops and it`s a well balanced set of troops in terms of what – the way
they are equipped if they did want to roll across that border in large
If President Putin did something in very short order, he`s obviously moving
for quickly than sanctions can move. Is there some immediate response that
do you think the United States should meet out at that point or do you
think that it`s just one foot in front of the other in terms of lining up
sanctions that really is our best response?.
MURPHY: Well, I think there`s nonlethal assistance we can give the
Ukrainian military so when they`re forward-deployed on the border with
Russia that they have the ability to stand. When we heard in Kiev when I
was there this last weekend was that Ukrainians in that section of the
country are going to fight, and so Russia is going to have blood on their
hands, unlike what we`re seeing in Crimea right now.
All of that will start to change the world calculus on this issue, and also
I think change the mood in Moscow, so the United States may not be able to
diplomatically change this situation before Putin moves, but a movement
into the eastern Ukraine has consequences in and of itself that will change
how the world reacts and change the problem, I think, that Putin will have
on his hand with respect to public support inside his own country.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a member of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thank you for your time tonight, sir.
This fast-moving story.
MURPHY: All right.
MADDOW: It`s really invaluable to have you here. Thanks.
MURPHY: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We will be right back. We`ve got a story tonight, an
exclusive out of Colorado, which again I will tell you is a little bit of
an upsetting story. But it`s an important one and a big one, and that
story is coming up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: A federal grand jury in North Carolina convened today for a second
day of criminal investigations into Duke Energy`s massive coal ash spill
into the Dan River on Super Bowl Sunday. While that was happening today in
court state officials today also released results from their latest water
tests of the Dan River. More than six weeks after that spill which quoted
the river in a toxic sludge within 70 miles long.
The most recent checks of the river show levels of aluminum downstream from
the spill that still exceed water safety standards.
Today in Charlotte, North Carolina, there were protests over the
possibility that Duke Energy is going to make its own customers pay for the
cleanup of the state`s coal ash ponds. Duke has threatened to do that to
its customers even though those coal ash ponds are not exactly their
customers` responsibility, they`re their own.
Well, that`s the news from North Carolina dumping the third largest coal
ash spill in history into its rivers today. But now apparently the state
of Kentucky also wants in on that act and that story is ahead. Stay with
MADDOW: In 2006 a graduate student at the University of Colorado, a
graduate student studying linguistics got into some legal trouble, some
very serious legal trouble. His name was Homaidan al-Turki. And at his
house where he lived with his wife and his children in a rural Colorado
while he was being a grad student at the University of Colorado, he had a
housekeeper, a young woman from Indonesia.
And in this criminal case he was accused of keeping her basically as a
slave in that home for more than four years. He was also accused of
sexually assaulting her.
Well, in 2006 despite his claims that he was innocent, despite his claims
that the charges against him were motivated by bias because he is a Muslim
and because he is from Saudi Arabia, the grad student, Mr. al-Turki, was
convicted on state charges. He was convicted of theft, extortion and
unlawful sexual contact by use of force. He`s now serving what amounts to
an unusually flexible sentence, his sentence is eight years to life. A
sentence that he started serving at this Colorado prison in 2006.
His home country of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly advocated for his
interests. Saudi Arabia put up $400,000 for his bail during the trial.
This YouTube video from 2010 which asks President Obama to pardon Mr. al-
Turki, it has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube. The U.S.
ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Bush administration even asked the
attorney general from the state of Colorado to travel to Saudi Arabia to
discuss the case with the Saudi royal family including the king, King
The Colorado attorney general`s deputy explained to reporters at the time,
quote, “The U.S. ambassador over there and the State Department felt there
was enough of a concern to send over a representative of Colorado to
explain to them our judicial system.”
Colorado`s then attorney general, John Suthers, made that trip to Saudi
Arabia in 2006. It was paid for by the federal government and he went
there to explain that grad student`s conviction and his sentence in
The Bush administration got the complaints about the case from the Saudis
and the royal family were alarming enough to ask that attorney general to
go over there and do that.
Well, about a year ago, Homaidan al-Turki made a formal request to please
go home to Saudi Arabia. He asked the Colorado Department of Corrections
if they would please allow him to be deported so he could serve the
remainder of his sentence in his home country. It was a request that the
Saudi Arabian government supported but Colorado said no. Specifically the
head of the Colorado prison system Tom Clements said no. He received and
reviewed that request from Mr. al-Turki that he should move home to Saudi
Arabia, he received that request, and then on March 11th of last year, Tom
Clements wrote him a letter explaining that the transfer request was
That happened on March 11th. That was a Monday. The following weekend, on
March 17th, there was a mysterious murder in Colorado. This was NBC
coverage from local Channel 9 at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He was delivering pizza when police believe he was
murdered, They say 27-year-old Nathan Leone from Commerce City was shot.
There are multiple crime scene in this case. Leone`s car was found near
East 50th Avenue in Forest Street in Denver. His body turned up miles away
in Golden off South Runy Road.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Leone`s family members say someone had called from
a pay phone at this Sapp Brother`s gas station near 270 and 49th Avenue.
Told Domino`s to deliver a pizza to 50th and Forest, a deserted corner in
an industrial part of Denver. Police later found his body 18 miles away in
Golden. Family members tell 9 News he was shot in the chest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People find anything suspicious yesterday at all,
period, end of it, in that area, in any of those areas, you need to call
the police immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Family says Leone worked two jobs, worked hard,
long hours and leaves behind a wife and three daughters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was absolutely amazing, and I can`t express how –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was an amazing human being.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amazing and caring, and – wonderful, what a good
father and husband he was to my sister. So please help us find who did
this to my brother-in-law, so we can have justice, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nathan Leone was married, he`s a father of three, he worked two
jobs, he worked days as a library assistant for IBM in Boulder and he
worked nights for Domino`s delivering pizzas to make extra money for his
family. And as heartbreaking as that murder was, that young dad, right –
the details of his murder, though, were just inexplicable at the time. Why
kill him? Lure him out into the middle of nowhere, the moving of his body.
Ultimately what emerged is that what was likely to have been the crucial
explanatory detail for why he was killed was something that was taken from
him once he was killed. Something that turned up four days later two
states away, but not before someone else was murdered as well.
That young father, Nathan Leone, was killed on a Sunday, Sunday, March
17th. Two days after that, Tuesday, March 19th at 8:47 p.m. local time, a
woman in the town of Monument, Colorado, called 911. The woman was
distraught. She told the 911 dispatcher that someone had rang the doorbell
at her home, her husband answered the door, and whoever was standing at the
door, having just rung the doorbell, shot her husband in the chest. Her
husband died on the scene. He died in his wife`s arms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A female party saying her husband has been shot in the
chest at this address.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not conscious, not breathing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody rang the doorbell, the husband answered and
was shot. Unknown if the suspect is still on scene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Suspect was not still on the scene. A dark boxy shaped two-door
sedan had reportedly been seen running on the street around the time of the
shooting but with nobody in it. By the time authorities showed up in
response to the shooting, the car was gone.
The man who opened his door and was shot that night in Monument, Colorado,
was Tom Clements, who was the head of the Colorado Department of
Corrections. Tom Clements, the Colorado prisons chief, was killed on
Tuesday, March 19th of last year, so he was killed exactly a year ago
today. And for two days after his killing, it was absolutely baffling and
frightening. And it was possible, of course, that this was just a random
killing, maybe it was a personal matter of some kind.
But his job as the head of the prisons in the state and the fact that he
was killed on his doorstep by someone who did nothing on the scene other
than killed him – other than kill him, it frankly made it feel like an
assassination. And assassinations of public officials in this country are
rare. Yes, we have had our share including some very high-profile ones but
I think I said at the time when we were covering this murder, when it first
happened that being a public servant in the United States takes the kind of
bravery that we usually associate with having the courage of your
We don`t usually expect that being a public official in this country is
something that requires actual physical bravery. But this appeared to be
an assassination. Tom Clements was killed March 19th, a year ago today.
Two days after he was killed, that boxy shaped dark two-door sedan that had
been seen idling on Tom Clements` street the night of the shooting, that
same car turned up two states over and 500 miles away in Texas.
This footage we`re going to show you is not bloody, but you may find it to
be upsetting. The car was a black Cadillac Deville. Around 11:00 a.m.
Central Time in Texas, a county sheriff`s deputy tried to pull that car
over for a traffic stop. The driver of the car pulled over and then he
opened fire on the deputy. He shot the deputy in the chest and in the
shoulder and in the forehead.
Deputy James Boyd survived miraculously, although he was seriously injured.
He now has a titanium plate in his head. He told the “Denver Post” this
week that even though he was reinstated as a deputy a year later, he is not
sure he`s going to be able to continue in this line of work. It is a
miracle he survived.
After that driver shot Deputy Boyd, he sped off, he led police through
Texas on a chase that weaved in out of traffic at more than 100 miles an
hour. Ultimately the driver of that Cadillac Deville crashed that car into
an 18-wheeler, even after crashing the car the driver got himself out of
the vehicle and went down still shooting at police. Police returned fire,
they shot the driver, he died of his injuries later in a nearby hospital.
The shooter`s name was Evan Ebel. He had been released three months
earlier from the Colorado State Prison System. He had been released direct
from solitary confinement on to the street. He had cut off his ankle
monitoring bracelet a week before but his parole officer apparently didn`t
notice or didn`t get around to issuing an arrest warrant for him cutting
off the bracelet in – until the day before Evan Ebel was killed in that
shootout in Texas.
And that was the day after Evan Ebel had killed the chief of the Colorado
Department of Corrections while standing at his front door. When they
searched Evan Ebel`s car in Texas, they found weapons, they found
ammunition, they found what ballistics tests later showed to be the gun
that was used to kill Tom Clements. And that gun that was used to kill Tom
Clements was the same gun that was used to kill that young father two days
before, Nathan Leone.
Two days before Tom Clements in that case that otherwise made absolutely no
sense, it was the same gun. It was the same guy. They also found in Evan
Ebel`s car a Domino`s Pizza delivery uniform, presumably the one that
belonged to Mr. Leone, which was not found with his body.
And so there is the connection between those two crimes, right? It is
presumed that the man who worked for Domino`s was killed at least in part,
amazingly, to get that uniform and then that uniform may have been used as
part of a ruse to get Tom Clements to open the door of his home in Monument
when the doorbell rang, to open the door of his home to someone he did not
That all happened exactly a year ago today and it was baffling and it was
upsetting. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper made the emotional
announcement that his Cabinet member Tom Clements had been killed.
Hundreds of people turned up for his memorial service.
The family of Nathan Leone pleaded with the public for anybody to help
provide any information.
For Tom Clements, the Department of Corrections, honored him. You know,
and of course it was basically in the immediate aftermath if that shootout
in Texas that authorities knew who had pulled the trigger on both Tom
Clements and Nathan Leone, right? They knew that this was this man, Evan
Ebel, who died in that shootout.
But very clearly that was not the end of it. Because Evan Ebel was also
known to be the member – to be a member of a prison gang, a white
supremacist Colorado prison gang called the 211 Crew.
Did he kill the head of the corrections department and Nathan Leone on his
own? Or did he do it on orders from someone?
In August, the “Denver Post” reported that a source with direct access to
sealed court documents in the case and with direct knowledge of the
investigation had told the paper that after Evan Ebel was paroled, after he
was let out last January, his cell phone records showed that he was in
frequent contact with members of the gang, members of the 211 crew. Quote,
“Authorities believe gang members gave him money to buy a car, got him his
license plate for that car and helped him arrange the theft and murder in
which Evan Ebel shot Nathan Leone and stole the Domino`s uniform.”
Quote, “After killing Tom Clements on March 19th, Ebel drove to Colorado
Springs and stayed at a safe house arranged by gang members,” the source
said, investigators believe. And when Evan Ebel was heading for Texas two
days later, quote, “Investigators have concluded that he was driving to the
home of a paroled 211 crew member who lived south of Dallas.
The “Denver Post” also reports that Evan Ebel made 23 calls in 24 hours to
other members of the gang including the hours immediately before and
immediately after he shot and killed Tom Clements, so the authorities have
been incredibly tight lipped about what happened here. Tom Clements` widow
released a statement today saying that investigators have given her no
information about her husband`s killing that she did not know already in
the first 48 hours after his death. And it has been a year.
But if the “Denver Post” reporting is correct, then there`s not much
question that this assassination wasn`t just the work of one man, that gang
members at least helped plan the initial theft of that Domino`s uniform,
that they provided the hiding place for him, that they provided the
vehicle, that they provided constant advice and direction. They had given
him a place outside Colorado to flee to, which is what he was trying to do
when he basically, accidentally got caught and then killed in Texas.
Here`s the thing, though. The Domino`s uniform and the gun that killed
Nathan Leone and Tom Clements, those were not the only things that were
found in Evan Ebel`s car when it crashed in Texas. The evidence recovery
log of items that were transferred from Evan Ebel`s car when it crashed
that day included, quote, “miscellaneous bomb making materials, black
powder, a document with apparent bomb making instructions, also a roll of
duct tape and zip ties.”
He had already killed two people at this point, the first one presumably as
a means toward killing the second one. In which case, what was the bomb
for? What was next? Who was he going after with the bomb? Who was he
going to tie up with the zip ties?
Well, what else was found there was a hit list, which on the occasion of
the one-year anniversary of these crimes now, the “Denver Post`s” Kirk
Mitchell is newly reporting details of. One year after this apparent
assassination in Colorado a government official now tells the “Denver Post”
that more than 20 public officials were on a hit list that was found with
Evan Ebel when he was killed in Texas.
And one federal official who says he was named on that hit list said he
never in his life had anything to do with Evan Ebel. Quote, “My name was
one of the names on the list. I didn`t know Evan Ebel and I had no contact
with Evan Ebel.”
So it would make no sense for Evan Ebel to be going after that person. To
be listing this public official on a hit list. He had no personal
connection to him. So why did that official end up on this hit list?
We don`t know, of course. But the official who says he`s on the hit list,
who says he had nothing to do with Evan Ebel, he did tell the “Denver
Post,” that although he never crossed paths with Evan Ebel or his case in
the Colorado Department of Corrections, he did have some involvement with
Homaidan al-Turki. That Saudi grad student who was convicted in the state
of Colorado and sentenced to hard time in the state of Colorado, who
vigorously contested his innocence, who has sought repeatedly through the
highest channels to try to get moved home to Saudi Arabia to serve out the
rest of his sentence there.
He is the prisoner who was told personally by Tom Clements the week before
Tom Clements got murdered that his request to go home to Saudi Arabia was
One of the people who says he is on this hit list who is a federal official
says he did have an involvement in that case. The “Denver Post” says that
the FBI has been investigating any financial transactions between that
prisoner, between Mr. al-Turki and this gang, this 211 Crew.
Mr. al-Turki has denied any involvement in Tom Clements` murder, his lawyer
has called any speculation to the contrary outrageous and, you know,
rightly so. Mr. al-Turki is only circumstantially linked to these murders.
But that`s all. It`s only circumstantial and it could very well be a
coincidence of timing, but where did that hit list come from? And if there
are more than 20 people, more than 20 public officials on that hit list,
some of whom had no conceivable connection to the killer, then who put
those names on the hit list for him.
And if Evan Ebel assassinated a high-ranking official in this country and
then was interrupted in the midst of trying to kill more than 20 other
public officials that were also on that list, and if he was doing so on
orders from someone else, who is the someone else? Why is it that the only
person prosecuted in this case, thus far, a year later, is the young woman
who was the apparent patsy in this case, who made the straw purchase for
him to get his gun?
No one is guilty until they are proven to be guilty. But in this case, it
is approaching the level of inconceivable, that no one is guilty except
Evan Ebel. As of tonight it has been one year, and the anger from Tom
Clements` widow is both palpable and at this point very, very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA CLEMENTS, WIDOW OF TOM CLEMENTS: I`m angry that it`s a year later and
we don`t know any more about why than we did 12 months ago. It`s
incredibly frustrating. I think 48 hours after Tom was murdered, we heard
that the individual who came to our home and committed that murder was
caught and was – and now it`s a year later and that`s still all the
conclusive information that we have.
I think we know the who, we know the individual, and so we know at least
one aspect. But we do not know why. We don`t know who participated with
him, we don`t know who financed him, we don`t know who supported him in his
It is very difficult for me to believe that he planned and orchestrated and
financed this act himself. I heard that he had a list of individuals and
that Tom was on that list. And I am so grateful that he wasn`t able to
carry out, you know, any of the rest of the names on the list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: More in fact. There are more than 20 public officials on that hit
list. Who wrote that hit list? Who was working with Evan Ebel? Why has
there been no information from the authorities. Why did these murders
happen? Were more people in danger? Are more people in danger?
The story unfolded very quickly a year ago between the two murders in the
roadside shootout in Texas. But since then the widow of Colorado Prisons
chief, Tom Clements, as you just saw, says she has learned basically
nothing new, nothing from investigators. Why is that and how does that
make sense one year later?
More on that just ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLEMENTS: I`m angry that it`s a year later and we don`t know any more
about why than we did 12 months ago. It`s incredibly frustrating. I think
48 hours after Tom was murdered, we heard that the individual who came to
our home and committed that murder was caught and was – and now it`s a
year later, and that`s still all the conclusive information that we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A year ago today the commissioner of Colorado State Department of
Corrections was shot to death at his own front door at home. Authorities
believe that killing was carried out by a former Colorado prisoner named
Evan Ebel. He was shot two days later killed in a shootout with law
enforcement in Texas. But a year later the “Denver Post” is now reporting
that a hit list found in the case includes more than 20 officials, at least
some of whom had no connection to that killer at all.
A year on from these murders, what is going on with this investigation and
is the anger, the palpable anger of Tom Clements` widow as justified as it
Joining us now is Kirk Mitchell, reporter for the “Denver Post.”
Mr. Mitchell, thank you very much for helping us understand this case.
KIRK MITCHELL, REPORTER, DENVER POST: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: From your reporting, we learned – we have learned everything from
the press in this case. We`ve learned almost nothing from public officials
who said nothing basically about the case since it initially broke open,
but from your reporting does it appear to you that they think that –
investigators think that Evan Ebel didn`t act alone here?
MITCHELL: There`s strong indications that that`s the way they`re going and
that`s what they believe. In fact they have filed arrest warrant
affidavits, search warrant affidavits, in which they have indicated a
theory of what happened.
Ben Davis is the founder of the 211 Crew, the white supremacist gang, and
he and Evan Ebel were at the same prison in Sterling, Colorado, the
Sterling Correctional Facility. While they were there a threat was made to
Evan Ebel that somebody for whatever reason wanted to get him and – so
there were violent threats against him. Ben Davis stepped in for him and
After he did so, though, he made it clear to Evan Ebel that he would have
something – he would need to do something for him. There was – in prison
it`s always this for that. Nothing is free. And when Ben Davis, the
leader of the 211 Crew steps in for you, he`s going to expect you to stand
up for him as well.
MADDOW: Is there any reason to believe that the 211 Crew as an entity, or
Mr. Davis, who is sort of the head of that prison gang, would have, for his
own reasons or for the gang`s own reasons, drawn up the kind of hit list
that you`ve described in the “Denver Post” with more than 20 officials on
it, some of whom it seems aren`t connected at least specifically to Evan
MITCHELL: This prison gang has, through various means, transferred hit
lists for as long as Ben Davis has been operating. He`s actually serving
more than a life sentence for conspiracies in the past in which he targeted
other inmates, staff members and it follows the same pattern, beside names
of – they`ll send code. And beside the names of intended hits, they`ll
put 187, which is police code for a murder.
And the 211 Crew itself is the name – 211 is the police code for robbery.
And it`s this prison gang`s forte to rob not a bank but other prisoners in
prison. Very violent gang. They have a long history of assaulting other
people and very frequently with a mission of a racist group.
MADDOW: Kirk, can I ask you if the investigation, the explicit
investigation being conducted by a number of different law enforcement
agencies on this is expected to make further public statements about what`s
going on? I mean, it`s very striking when your paper today aired that
interview including that video interview with Tom Clements` widow saying
how frustrated she is to have learned basically everything she`s learned
about this case from the press and not from investigators at all.
Do you expect that they will become a little more explanatory with the
public and the victims` families about the status of their investigation?
MITCHELL: Not until the investigation is complete. They – today it`s not
unusual that police will not release details of their investigation, their
findings. They strongly believe that that would impede the investigation
and it may tip people off that they should be hiding or avoiding
authorities and what they`re looking at.
So it`s not unusual, and I`ve been assured by the El Paso County Sheriff`s
Office, that when they reach a point in time when they know one way or the
other, they`re going to let us know. It could be through an indictment of
other players in the conspiracy or it could be an announcement that we
believe that Evan Ebel was the lone shooter.
MADDOW: Kirk Mitchell, a crime reporter for the “Denver Post” who`s
reporting on this story. It`s just been riveting.
Kirk, thank you for helping us understand it. I really appreciate it, man.
MITCHELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Louisville Gas and Electric`s largest coal fired power plant sits
along the banks of the Ohio River in Kentucky. Over the last year
(INAUDIBLE) has basically been spying on that power plant because they say
the plant has been dumping fluid out of its coal ash ponds into the mighty-
mighty Ohio River. And it`s not doing it just like when it floods or once
or twice a month but basically constantly.
Here`s the Mill Creek station on Google Earth. If you zoom in on the coal
ash pond there you can see something at least rushing from the coal ash
pond into the Ohio River. The Ohio River incidentally provides more than
three million Americans with their drinking water.
Google Earth didn`t just happen to catch this power plant in a bad moment,
the Sierra Club`s organizer in western Kentucky says he hit up – he set up
a hidden camera in a tree. Technically it was in Indiana, across from the
dumpsite, but he used that hidden camera to photograph the coal ash being
dumped into the Ohio River. And according to the Sierra Club this is
happening every day and it has been for years.
As a result of this hidden camera findings the Sierra Club is set to file a
civil lawsuit citing violations of the Clean Water Act.
We reached out to the Louisville Gas and Electric and they had no comment
on this matter because it`s pending litigation but they did direct us to a
statement from the state of Kentucky. The statement reads as follows. The
discharge reflected in these photos contained in these stories today is a
legally permitted discharge. While the permit describes the direct
discharge into the Ohio River as occasional, the permit requirements do not
respect the frequency of the discharge. Consequently there is no
violation. They say it`s within these guys` permits to occasionally
discharge into the Ohio River. The power plant has decided that occasional
is every day. And you know what? Why is an everyday an occasion?
Everyday can`t feel special if you call it an occasion. That`s how they`ve
defined their own permit. Occasional discharge means every day discharge
and the state of Kentucky is giving them the big thumbs up. Amazing.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD.
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