The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/01/15
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my
friend. Great to have you there. Just a great, great hour from Chris.
That was amazing.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We`ve got news coming up a little later on this hour on bridgegate, on
the guilty pleas and the new criminal indictments announced in the New
Jersey bridge scandal. That is still to come.
Of course, we have been throughout the day watching the incredible
events unfold today in Baltimore. Yes, we`ve been watching this story all
week. No one expected what was going to happen today, right?
If you have been watching – especially not just this story about what
happened to Freddie Gray and to the police officers who have been charged
in his death, if you have been watching with the nation and the world, as
we`ve seen so many cases of police-involved killings, then you definitely
did not expect this day to come. Nobody really did.
The current national outrage over police use of force began in earnest
late last summer with the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Michael Brown, 18 years old and unarmed when he died on the street in
Ferguson in August 2014, last August. After Michael Brown`s death,
Ferguson saw weeks of protests, some of them very intense.
But local officials asked people to let the process play out. The
justice process, wait for a grand jury to decide whether or not the officer
who shot Michael Brown would be charged for Michael Brown`s killing. That
police dragged on for weeks and for months, until finally in November,
three months after Michael Brown was dead and buried, with the city of
Ferguson and the St. Louis region on edge about what that grand jury would
decide, people hoping and believing at that time that at least the release
of information about the decision would be handled in such a way that would
give people fair warning and time to prepare, and time to brace themselves.
In the end, the way it happened in that case, was that the St. Louis
County prosecutor made his announcement at night with no warning. That
prosecutor ambled up to the microphone, long after nightfall with a couple
hundred protesters already gathered outside, he gave a rambling, abrasive,
at times bizarre, stem-winder of a long, meandering press conference, in
which he suggested some of the witnesses simply lied to the grand jury.
He had been talking for ten minutes already that night before he
finally came to the point about what he was there to announce. And what
the grand jury had decided.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS PROSECUTOR: They determined that no
probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There would be no charges in the police killing of Michael
In Ferguson, Missouri, that night, the crowd outside erupted in
disbelief and rage and grief. Michael Brown`s mother was there that night,
out in the street, out among the hastily gathered protesters as the news
was announced in the dark of night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn`t care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They still don`t care!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don`t care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re never going to care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it ain`t their kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They do not care. They`re never going to care.
In Ferguson, Missouri, the prosecutor announced that decision not to
press charges until it goo and dark outside. And what happened next was
that Ferguson burned. The protests turned violent. Local businesses
burned to the ground. That was Ferguson, Missouri, just a few months ago.
Today in Baltimore, Maryland, night and day. We are not yet three
weeks out from the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, after he
suffered a spinal injury while he was in police custody.
Freddie Gray arrested on April 12th. He died on April 19th. Freddie
Gray was buried on Monday, when the riot broke out following the funeral
when the kids were released from school. The city of Baltimore has been
under a state of emergency and on a nighttime curfew ever since then. That
curfew will be in place again tonight, starting at 10:00 p.m., going from
10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Since that rioting and looting on Monday, the city of Baltimore has
mostly kept a peaceful vigil, right? Mostly watching for the process to
play out, while continuing the demonstrations in a peaceful way.
Yesterday in Baltimore, police announced that they had finished their
part of the investigation into Freddie Gray`s death. They finished early.
They finished a day ahead of schedule. They said they sent the report on
to a local prosecutor for her to make a decision about whether to press
charges in the death of Freddie Gray.
The prosecutor is Marilyn Mosby. She`s been on the job in Baltimore
for just four months. Her job is an elected position.
Marilyn Mosby is a Boston native. Both of her parents, as well as her
grandfather and other members of her family in multiple generations have
been police officers. She worked in U.S. attorney offices in Boston and
Washington, D.C. She joined the Baltimore prosecutors` office in 2005,
worked her way up through the ranks in that office. She left at one point
and worked in the private sector for some time.
But, then last year, at the ripe old age of 34, she decided to try to
come back into the local prosecutor`s office, but this time, at the very
highest level. She is a Democrat. She ran against the Democratic
incumbent last year. He outspent her 3:1 in the primary, but she won.
And in Baltimore, that means when you win the Democratic primary, you
win the general election. And when she took office this year, she became
the youngest chief prosecutor of any major city in the country right now.
And then this morning in broad daylight, at 10:30 a.m., Baltimore
prosecutor Marilyn Mosby made her announcement that Freddie Gray`s death
was a homicide, and that the half dozen officers involved in his death
would be charged criminally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY STATE`S ATTORNEY: The findings of our
comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the
medical examiner`s determination that Mr. Gray`s death was a homicide,
which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause
to file criminal charges.
The manner of death deemed a homicide by the Maryland state medical
examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while
Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seat belt in the custody of the Baltimore
Police Department wagon.
To those that are angry, hurt or have their own experiences of
injustice at the hands of police officers, I urge you to channel the energy
peacefully, as we prosecute this case. I`ve heard your calls for “no
justice, no peace”. However, your peace is sincerely needed, as I work to
deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.
To the rank and file officers of the Baltimore City Police Department,
please know that these accusations of these six officers are not an
indictment on the entire force.
I come from five generations of law enforcement. My father was an
officer. My mother was an officer, several of my aunts and uncles. My
recently departed and beloved grandfather was one of the founding members
of the first black police organization in Massachusetts.
I can tell you that the actions of these officers will not and should
not in any way damage the important working relationships between police
and prosecutors, as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in
Baltimore. Thank you for your courage, commitment and sacrifice for the
betterment of our communities.
Last but certainly not least, to the youth of this city, I will seek
justice on your behalf. This is a moment, this is your moment. Let`s
ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop
structure and systemic changes for generations to come. You`re at the
forefront of this cause. As young people, our time is now.
CROWD: That`s right!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “As young people, our time is now.” Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby
again herself just 35 years old. She took office just in January when she
was 34 years old. And now, she`s running what might be the most high-
profile criminal prosecution in the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having a great time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re celebrating for Freddie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fighting for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re celebrating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finally cops are seeing justice. Hopefully it`s
followed all the way through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel good. We got our chance, man. This has
been waiting for years. Finally got a chance.
This is the only one. We going to – you ain`t got to worry about
nothing, looting or nothing. That`s all we wanted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I do feel a lot better, a lot more at
ease. The only thing is, though, I`m not going to get too happy, because
you just are saying it`s an indictment. It`s not a full prosecution. I
honestly think they`re just doing it to quiet us down some so we won`t go
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is going to be in shock therapy tonight,
to see the mug shots of police officers on television, when all this week,
the young people of Baltimore have been called thugs. For them to feel
some level of validation, that they got America`s attention, because had
they not marched, it would just have been somebody else on the street as a
statistic. So, we`re appreciative and march for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The six officers charged today in Freddie Gray`s death are
facing charges that range from misconduct in office to assault to
manslaughter to second degree murder with a depraved heart, which is a
poetic way of saying callous disregard for life.
The officers facing the most serious charges is second degree murder
charges is looking at over 60 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
All six officers reportedly turned themselves in today. In the last few
minutes, we have learned that all six posted bail today. If they`re not
out now, they will probably be out soon.
The Baltimore police union published an open letter to Marilyn Mosby,
to the elected prosecutor, today, asking that she appoint an independent
prosecutor to handle this case rather than handling it herself. The police
union says that she has personal and professional conflicts in this case,
including a professional association with Freddie Gray`s family attorney.
The family`s attorney Billy Murphy who you saw on this program last
night, he has mentored young lawyers for decades now. That may become an
issue in this case. The police union says they see it as an issue.
Marilyn Mosby, the prosecutor, says she does not see it as an issue.
The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, she spoke today
about the visceral shock of hearing police officers charged with such
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: I was sickened and
heartbroken by the statement of charges that we heard today, because no one
in our city is above the law. Justice must apply to all of us, equally.
We know that the vast majority of the men and the women in the Baltimore
City Police Department serve our city with pride, with courage, with honor,
and with distinction.
But to those of you who wish to engage in brutality, misconduct,
racism and corruption – let me be clear – there is no place in the
Baltimore City Police Department for you.
There will be justice for Mr. Gray. There will be justice for his
family. And there will be justice for the people of Baltimore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mayor of Baltimore speaking today.
We also heard from representatives of Freddie Gray`s family today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD SHIPLEY, FREDDIE GRAY`S STEPFATHER: We are satisfied with
today`s charges. These charges are an important step in getting justice
for Freddie. And we ask that whoever comes to our city – a city that we
love, a city that we live in – come in peace. Remember, without justice,
there is no peace. But let us have peace and the pursuit of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Freddie Gray`s stepfather speaking today. Peace in the
pursuit of justice.
Let`s go now to MSNBC national correspondent, Joy Reid, who is in
Baltimore, earning more than her fair keep this week.
Joy, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us where you are and
who you`re with and what`s going on.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rachel.
Well, we are here. We found a great family, as you can see. Onnecko
and Burchell (ph) and their adorable 3 and 5-year-olds, and brother-in-law
helping out with shoulders to keep the 5-year-old, keep him aloft for a
And we were talking earlier about this family who actually have talked
to their children, even at their young and adorable age, about the issues
that are involved in cases like the one we`re talking about with Freddie
So, I`m going to start with Onnecko. You were surprised, you said, by
the officers being charged.
ONNECKO TRACEY, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: I was surprised. I was very
surprised that it came down and that it came down today. So, yes, I was
REID: And, Burchell, even though your children are very young, you
were saying you actually talked to them about the issues that are involved
in policing. The issues we`ve seen with the Black Lives Matter movement.
What do you say to a 5-year-old about the issues we`re seeing in this
BURCHELL TRACEY, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: Well, at this age, we just tell
them what`s right and wrong, that the police are no better than us regular
citizens. We let them know that it`s important for them to be held
accountable, like we are, like they are, at this young age.
REID: Yes, and going forward, what will you tell them about today?
We can hear – Rachel, I don`t know if you can hear the honking, but
it`s been honking and waving pretty much all day. It`s a very jubilant
crowd. This is the biggest crowd we`ve seen in any of the days that I`ve
been down here in the last four days – a very happy crowd, a very
restrained police presence. And just more cars and more people and more
little children, people with kids, out here. So, it`s a very light hearted
What will you tell your children about this? This isn`t obviously a
block party. It`s a serious issue. But people really feel like they`ve
accomplished something, right?
ONNECKO TRACEY: Absolutely. It is a serious issue. They have seen
what happened from the beginning of the riot to today.
So, it`s very important for us to have explained to them and for them
to see today, because they also saw the riot itself. They were a part of
that. It`s important for them to see that that`s what could happen.
And that when there are emotions involved, how things could go, it`s
important for them to see the other side of that, too. So, it`s important
for them to see how we as people come together and that this is what it is,
and what it can be.
BURCHELL TRACEY: Goes from a riot to a true protest. Goes from a
riot to a protest, right.
REID: And this is your city. How do you think Baltimore will change
after this? When we`re all gone, when this media presence goes away, how
will Baltimore change or how should it change?
ONNECKO TRACEY: I think people have seen – have been able to come
together in ways that we have, you know, maybe not shown as much as we have
before. So, you know, I think there is a lot to come. I think there`s a
lot to come. We`ve seen a lot, and there`s more to come. So –
REID: Yes, indeed. Well, this is one family that is here. It`s
almost curfew time. Do you live far away? Are you guys heading home?
ONNECKO TRACEY: We`re not extremely far away but not right here.
REID: OK, we don`t keep you. It`s past bedtime for the little guys.
We don`t want to keep you very long.
So, Rachel, I mean, I think this gives you a sense of just how much
conversation that there has been, around all the issues that are involved,
even before Freddie Gray, from up until now. So, a lot of conversation
happening out here. You can see lots of signs. Some of the students from
Frederick Douglass are here.
And I think really the message in today, Rachel, is this community did
come together. There is a sense of togetherness. There`s a sense of
unity, there`s a sense jubilation. But everyone is cautious in their
optimism that we`ve spoken with. They want to see the process through.
They know it`s just the beginning, but I think it is a start. You
definitely see Baltimore turn a positive corner.
MADDOW: Joy Reid, amazing report. Thank you so much. And please
thank everybody for sticking out and being with us as curfew closes in. I
really appreciate it. Thank you.
The sign there being held by the high school student, in case you
couldn`t see it because we had the Chyron there. It said “Frederick
Douglass students are not thugs.”
So, you know, we`re looking at 45 minutes until the next curfew. But
that report from Joy, I think, is report, because she`s talking about not
only the newly large crowds out again, but also the diversity of the
crowds, including people bringing their kids and it being a light hearted
People do still have to clear the streets, legally speaking, within
the next 45 minutes. But we`re going to be checking back in to see how
that unfolds over the course of the next hour in what has been a remarkable
and very, very surprising day in Baltimore.
Lots more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: With less than an hour left before curfew tonight, and as we
saw with Joy Reid, large, happy crowds out in the streets of Baltimore
tonight. We`re going to have more ahead this hour from Baltimore.
Also coming up this hour, huge developments today in a story we`ve
covered extensively. I think we were the first to cover in the national
media. But there was a guilty plea today in New Jersey, and two other
criminal indictments filed over the shutdown of lanes leading on to the
busiest bridge in the world.
It has been an incredible news day. When it rains news, it pours
Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK, this is a person you probably do not recognize. She is a
good politician. She is well-known and well-liked where she`s from. But
she does not have a big national profile. And you probably have never
heard of her, because her one big foray into big time politics was being
the sacrificial lamb who ran for governor of New Jersey two years ago,
against incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie.
There really was no chance that Barbara Bono was ever going to become
the governor of New Jersey by running against Chris Christie in 2013. I
mean, he was probably going to win reelection, no matter who he ran
But when he failed to have a household name challenger, it was clear
that Chris Christie was going to win by big double digits even if he didn`t
try at all. But Governor Chris Christie in 2013 had his eyes on a more
distant and more difficult prize. And so, he really did try. He ran hard
in his reelection campaign.
Basically, so he could use it as a running start for the real race
further down the line, which is going to be him running for president in
As a New Jersey Republican governor, Governor Chris Christie had
always known that he would never have the enthusiastic support from the
conservative Republican base nationwide. His case to them for why he
should be the Republican Party`s presidential nominee could never be the he
was the most pure, most conservative candidate who the base loves. No, his
case for why the Republican Party should nominate him for president was
always going to be the prospect of his winnability, right?
The Chris Christie for president strategy was always going to be to
convince donors and voters and the whole persuadable Republican Party that
even if he wasn`t a perfect conservative hardliner, that`s OK because he
would be unbeatable in a general election. That was going to be his pitch.
And so, his re-election effort in 2013, it was really important to
creating that impression around his presidential candidacy. And for that
reason, he didn`t just want to beat – who was her name again? – Barbara
Bono, he wanted to basically win by acclamation, right? He wants all the
votes. He wanted it like Kazakhstan votes. He wanted a 97 percent. He
wanted to run up the score.
And specifically in order to do that, he needed to make sure he had a
lot of crossover appeal. So, it was central to his strategy, that his
campaign seek and get tons of endorsements from Democratic politicians
around New Jersey, not just Republicans, Democrats, too – key to his whole
strategy, both for that election and also for the next election to come.
But that effort to target Democrats, to pressure Democratic officials
into supporting him, and apparently to punish those who didn`t, that is
what has led to one of the weirdest political scandals of our age.
We posted online today the very first segment we ever did about this
story. It was back in December of 2013. It was the first time I think
anybody in national media had ever done a TV news story about it. But it
was this little weird scandal in New Jersey, where it appeared someone
intentionally caused a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge, on the
busiest bridge in the world.
And we didn`t know how big this scandal would become at the time.
There was a lot of criticism of us at the time for covering who was just a
traffic jam, or trying to make a federal case out of what was an exercise
in local politics.
Turns out though, it really was a federal case. It was a criminal
act. I can say that definitively because today, we got the first
indictments and the first guilty plea in what has been a year and a half
long saga that started with the traffic jam on the George Washington
The traffic jam was September 2013, four days that September. Two of
the three local access lanes on to the George Washington Bridge was shut
down, caused a traffic nightmare in the little town in New Jersey called
Fort Lee. Fort Lee is the town that the George Washington Bridge backs up
onto in New Jersey. And for those four days, the town of Fort Lee was
essentially paralyzed with traffic.
The questions about why that traffic jam happened started in the local
press in New Jersey and some of the New York press, including the local
reporters from “The Wall Street Journal”. And it was clear from the start
that something sort of fishy had been going on.
This was not a traffic jam that happened for organic reasons. The
local officials in Fort Lee, including the mayor, Mayor Mark Sokolich, they
had no advance warning that the lane closures were going to happen.
Executives at the agency that run the bridge seemed caught off guard about
It was strange from the beginning. And when we covered it at the
beginning, it was a big open question as to why this traffic nightmare had
been apparently purposefully visited upon this poor, beleaguered little
town in New Jersey, without any warning.
So, the investigation into what happened started with the local press.
It soon moved to the New Jersey state legislature, which is trying to get
to the bottom of this whole thing. It was the legislature that turned up
what ultimately proved to be the smoking gun, that it was a deliberate and
Smoking gun was an e-mail from Chris Christie`s deputy chief of staff,
a woman named Bridget Kelly, an email from her to a Chris Christie
appointee at the agency that runs the bridge. It was n e-mail, in which
Bridget Kelly directed David Wildstein to unleash traffic chaos. Chris
Christie`s deputy chief of staff writing in that email, quote, “Time for
some traffic problems in Fort Lee”. And then the Chris Christie appointee
David Wildstein responded, “Got it.”
And what indeed was soon unleashed was traffic Armageddon on the
George Washington Bridge. A planned and orchestrated traffic began that
paralyzed little Fort Lee, New Jersey for four days, before somebody
stopped it when they figured out what was happening.
Well, today, the recipient of the “time for some traffic problems” e-
mail, David Wildstein, pled guilty in federal court to conspiring to
orchestrate that traffic jam, along with Chris Christie`s deputy chief of
staff, and another Chris Christie appointee named Bill Baroni. David
Wildstein told a federal judge today that the three of them plotted to
purposefully cause that traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in
order to, quote, “punish the mayor of Fort Lee, Democrat Mark Sokolich, for
not endorsing Chris Christie in his reelection bid” that year.
And they purposely waited until the first day of school in New Jersey
in order to maximize the traffic congestion in Fort Lee and, thus, the
punishment of Mayor Sokolich.
The guilty plea by David Wildstein today was announced by the U.S.
attorney in New Jersey, Paul Fishman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL FISHMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NEW JERSEY: Bill Baroni, Bridget
Kelly and David Wildstein, each were government employees and public
servants acting under code of law. People in those kinds of positions have
an obligation to use government resources, our resources, for proper
government purposes. The indictment alleges, and Wildstein admitted, that
these three defendants did something else entirely. They agreed to and did
use the resources of the Port Authority, public resources, to carry out a
vendetta and exact political retribution against an official who would not
endorse the candidate of their choice.
MAYOR MARK SOKOLICH (D), FORT LEE, NJ: It was a jolt, it was punch in
the gut to me, to hear an individual plead guilty and subject themselves to
a potential jail term for conducting himself in an intentional way to get
to me. You want to get me, get me. But two things – two things, don`t,
do not involve the people in Fort Lee who I have sworn my life to protect
and to make sure that – that I`ve sworn to make sure the quality of their
lives is the highest it can be and their health, safety and welfare is
always preserved, because at the end of the day, that`s my most important
responsibility as the mayor of this town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mark Sokolich,
reacting to the guilty plea of David Wildstein today, and the indictment of
two other former Chris Christie administration officials. David Wildstein
pled guilty on two federal counts today. He is due to the sentenced in
August, although he is cooperating with federal prosecutors. And so, the
U.S. attorney in New Jersey warned us today that we shouldn`t expect David
Wildstein to get too much prison time.
The other two people charged today are not cooperating with
prosecutors and they both say they`re not guilty of the crimes they`re now
both formally accused.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BALDASSARE, ATTORNEY FOR BILL BARONI: Bill Baroni is innocent
of the charges brought against him by federal prosecutors. The accusations
are false. When all the facts come to light, Bill will be fully
BRIDGET KELLY, FORMER CHRISTIE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: With regard to
the charges that have been brought against me, let me make something very
clear: I am not guilty of these charges. I never ordered or conspired with
David Wildstein to close or realign lanes at the bridge for any reason,
much less for retribution. I look forward to publicly sharing the truth
about what occurred regarding this issue with the jury and allow them, not
some self-interested parties, to determine what really happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The jury, you say?
Bridget Kelly herself and lawyers for Bill Baroni saying today that
each of them is not guilty. They both look forward to defending themselves
at trial and explaining things to the jury. And, yes, the thing that means
for all of us following this is there`s going to be a trial in front of a
And that means crucially that David Wildstein who is cooperating with
prosecutors is not done talking about what he knows. And that is
potentially trouble for the man all of these individuals worked for,
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Watch this moment from today`s press conference with David Wildstein`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Was Governor Chris Christie involved, Counselor? Was
Governor Christie involved?
ALAN ZEGAS, ATTORNEY FOR DAVID WILDSTEIN: I had made a statement on
behalf of Mr. Wildstein in January of 2013 that Mr. Chris Christie knew of
the lane closures while they were occurring, and evidence exists to
establish that. That is as much – that is as much as I can say and as
much as I will say at this time. Thank you.
(END VIDEOI CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, really?
David Wildstein has long contented that Governor Chris Christie knew
after the lane closures at the time they happened. There are pictures of
David Wildstein and Chris Christie together when the lane closures
happened. But today, David Wildstein has not produced any evidence that
Chris Christie knew, even though he has it.
And Chris Christie, including today, all along contended he`s done
nothing wrong and he knew nothing about the scheme.
Now, though, David Wildstein says he has the evidence that Chris
Christie knew about it and he is eager to testify. And now, we know that
there is likely to be a trial now, at which David Wildstein will finally
get to testify. And if he has got that evidence, presumably that will be
his opportunity to share it.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is running for president. Right
now, he hasn`t declared but he`s very obviously running for president.
Today, he was busy running for president in Virginia.
Can he actually make a run for president while this is going on?
Maybe. Yes, because weirdly enough, this year, Chris Christie has company.
Rick Perry, one of the other potential Republican candidates for
president this year, Rick Perry himself is currently under indictment for
allegedly abusing the powers of his office while he was governor of Texas.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is running for president, while his
own gubernatorial campaign from back home is facing questions about illegal
coordination with super PACs, and a pair of his former AIDS have very
recently been sentenced to prison.
And then there`s Rand Paul, who has inherited an entire presidential
campaign staff from his dad, while a number of key players from that
campaign are now waiting to hear if they`re going to be indicted as a
result of that campaign`s old lingering bribery scandal from 2012.
So, maybe this is the watershed year, when federal criminal
indictments and corruption trials and your staffers going to prison for
stuff they did on your behalf doesn`t affect a politician`s chances at
running a presidential nomination. Maybe that`s this year. Maybe we`re
finally breaking through. But Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is now
officially part of that test.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK. So, just a few moments ago, right after I said thanks
and see you later to MSNBC national Joy Reid, just moments ago, as soon as
I said bye, Joy, she was able to get this interview with Congressman Elijah
Cummings. Congressman Cummings has been, honestly, a model of shoe
leather, on the ground, personal leadership this week. He represents
Baltimore, eh has been out on the streets every night since Monday,
personally helping to keep the peace.
And Joy, just a moment ago, found him and asked him if he thinks that
Congress has any role to try to help the situation here. Watch what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: The Congress has got a lot of
roles. All of us have a lot of roles to play, because this has really to
be a wakeup call and it`s talked about a lot. We have to realize that a
lot of people are hurting.
And money is being (INAUDIBLE) in this austerity mode in Washington,
in our capital, Annapolis, and money is not being put into the cities like
it should be, and pulling out from the middle class and people trying to
get from the lower class up into the middle class, it makes it almost
impossible for them to get there. People want jobs. They want job
training, you know? So, all of those things, we need to be doing on the
By the way, I say at least 81 members of the Congress over the last
three or four days have come to me and said, you know, I`m worried about
that happening in my city. I`m worried about that happening.
Let me say this: I am proud of Baltimore. I am proud. I don`t know -
- I have not seen anybody arrested here. There probably was.
For the last three nights, it`s been very peaceful. Right. And we
are showing America how to do it.
And we mourn the death of our brother. We really do. Freddie Gray,
we mourn his death. But in his death, they`re now talking about him all
over the world. Sadly, the sad and tragic death led to all of this. And
just the way he was treated may cause others not to be treated that way,
REID: All right. Thank you, Congressman. Appreciate it.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Elijah Cummings speaking with MSNBC`s Joy Reid,
just a moment ago. Honestly, he has been a model of leadership. Should
this happen in other cities from here on out, members of Congress, whoever
they are, will look to what Elijah Cummings did on the streets every night
this week as the platonic form, right, the best way to show leadership when
your show leadership when your community needs you.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENE RYAN, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE PRES.: We are disappointed in
the apparent rush to judgment, given the fact the investigation into this
matter has not been concluded. Our officers, like every other American
citizen, are entitled to due process. We will continue to support them
throughout this judicial process, which we believe will result in a finding
MICHAEL DAVEY, ATTORNEY: These officers did nothing wrong. As all of
the facts surrounding this case come out in the appropriate forum, the
officers` lack of wrong doing will be made abundantly clear. We believe
that the actions taken today by the state`s attorney are an egregious rush
to judgment, and we have grave concerns about the fairness, integrity of
the prosecution of our officers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: These officers did nothing wrong. That was the police union
president in Baltimore, the president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of
Police, as well as the attorney who is representing this police lieutenant,
Brian Rice, charged today with involuntary manslaughter, secondary assault
and misconduct in officer.
Lieutenant Rice along with the five other officers indicted in
Baltimore today were told as of tonight, they have posted bond. In terms
of what`s going on in the streets in Baltimore tonight, after what was
mostly a celebratory day, as many people in the streets today celebrated
the announced indictments of these six officers, right now, as we head into
the last quarter hour before the curfew will be imposed, we`re hold there
are about several hundred people still out around the area of North and
Pennsylvania in West Baltimore. But again, the city heads to the start of
a fourth night of the curfew.
Joining us now is Tessa Hill-Aston. She`s president of the Baltimore
chapter of the NAACP.
Ms. Hill-Aston, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I
appreciate your time.
TESSA HILL-ASTON, NAACP BALTIMORE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Can I ask your reaction today, broadly speaking, to this
announcement, that the six officers will be charged?
HILL-ASTON: Well, I think it`s a good thing. One of the things that
has happened here in Baltimore for years is that there are about four men
that have died over if past five years, that there`s been no indictments of
any officers in the past. And that`s why so many people in the community
are outraged, because there`s never been anybody brought to justice. And
the people are dead and there`s never been court action.
Regardless of what happens in the future, right now today, officers
were indicted and people will see that there is something moving to go to
court. So, whatever happens after today happens in court. But at least
officers were indicted like any other citizen who does something wrong.
MADDOW: And, obviously, you know, this is an indictment, this is not
a conviction. They`re innocent until proven guilty.
I was struck, though, by the aggressiveness of the Fraternal Order
Police response. They`re not only critical of the indictments, which you
would expect, but they said this prosecutor is improperly involved in the
case. That it should be a special prosecutor bringing these, and that
she`s too conflicted on the issue to properly prosecute this matter.
How do you feel about that charge?
HILL-ASTON: Well, I think it`s a terrible thing to say because she`s
new and has only been in office a few months. She won the election. And
this is one of the first big cases for her to do this. So, there`s nothing
to judge on the fact she`s doing anything improper.
She did the indictment after reviewing the case. That`s her
profession. She has a staff of qualified lawyers to assist her. So, I
think she did the right thing. That`s what the citizens want. The right
thing to happen, when officers take down a person, somebody dies, they need
the same judgment that we would do if it was a normal citizen.
So, I think she handled it very well and let the court process work.
And that`s what should happen. The citizens of Baltimore and over the
whole United States are pleased with that.
MADDOW: Ms. Hill-Aston, one of the reasons I was looking forward to
talking to you tonight is because I`ve seen footage and I`ve read reporting
this week and I`ve seen clips of you being out there in the middle of the
fray, trying to keep the peace, trying to get people to channel their anger
and interest in protesting into constructive, non-violent, non-
confrontational means that don`t get more people arrested and hurt.
Has it been a challenging week for you? I`ve seen you do that good
work in the streets. I imagine it must be both heartening and also really
HILL-ASTON: It is challenging because people`s emotions are running
high. When you`re in the street with this many people, everybody`s
personality is different. You think you can calm down somebody and talk to
them, and some people don`t want to hear it.
I`ve been fortunate. I`ve been out every night. I was in the
neighborhood and down here in front of city hall, where they`ve been having
And two nights ago, there were 100, 150 young people from Gilmore
Homes, where Freddie Gray lived. And I knew some of them. And I think the
police were stepping to them very aggressively.
I stepped between them and the police and I asked them to please go
home. I hugged them, kissed them, and they listened to me. I reached out
to the leaders with the bull horns and said, go home. Keep chanting, keep
doing what you`re doing, but don`t step towards the police. We don`t want
you to get in trouble.
And they listened to me, and they chanted and then walked several
miles back to their community. And I`m very thankful that I was standing
there and that I was staying with them always to do what they`re doing. I
don`t want anybody else to get locked up or hurt.
MADDOW: Leadership is not a theoretical thing. It`s very, very a
granule, in your face, right there on the ground action.
Tessa Hill-Aston, thank you for your leadership this week. Thank you
for talking to us tonight. Good luck, ma`am.
HILL-ASTON: Thank you very much. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
It has been amazing to see Baltimore leadership on the ground, work
out the way it has. We`re watching some of it right now. Less than 15
minutes ahead of Baltimore`s curfew.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the people of
Baltimore want more than anything else anything else is the truth. That`s
what people around the country expect. And to the extent that it`s
appropriate, this administration will help local officials get to the
bottom of exactly what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, we are closing in on the start of the fourth night of
curfew, 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., a fourth night in a state of emergency for
the city of Baltimore.
Today is also, though, May 1st, May Day. May Day is historically a
day when people protest in favor of labor rights. But May Day is always
been broader than that. It`s always been a day of marching for social
And this year, May Day just happens to dovetail perfectly with this
rising crescendo of protests around the country, protests about police
violence, and criminal justice and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.
Today is May Day, in the midst of what happened, this remarkable day
of news in Baltimore. Today`s May Day brought us big protests in Seattle,
where protesters made their way to the federal court house in Seattle.
Also, the San Francisco Bay Area, in Oakland, where protests included
longshoremen marching side by side with Black Lives Matter protesters.
They made their way to city hall.
In Chicago, people were out in pretty big numbers in the streets of
Chicago today, for May 1st.
New York City, hundreds of people gathered in Union Square today. Two
nights ago in New York, more than 140 protesters were arrested by the NYPD.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio having a little bit of a hard time explaining
those huge arrest numbers in New York and how things have gone elsewhere in
In downtown Portland today, people carried signs that said “don`t
shoot” and Black Lives Matter.
In Durham, North Carolina, people gathered outside police headquarters
Minneapolis, Minnesota, it`s had a few big protests this week. Today,
hundreds of Minneapolis High School students walked out of school and
joined a larger protest. Hands up don`t shoot.
Big numbers of people out in the street protesting for May Day today,
not just for labor like always happens, but today in particular against
police brutality – many in honor of Freddie Gray.
And so tonight, on May Day, these protests are happening all over the
country, a lot of them still under way.
In Baltimore, again, we`re nearing the imposition of a citywide curfew
for a fourth straight night. A lot of people out in the streets tonight
more than there were the last couple of nights. It has been a very
positive vibe. We`re hearing today because of the indictments of those
officers being announced by the state`s attorney. But we are coming up on
five minutes till the curfew.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So just a few minutes tonight for our curfew in Baltimore.
But as far as we can tell, it`s beginning on a very different note than
what we`ve been seeing all week, angry calls for justice, transforming for
some into celebrations today. Many protesters welcoming the news that six
Baltimore police officers will face trial. They will face criminal charges
in the death of Freddie Gray.
MSNBC correspondent Craig Melvin is in Baltimore right now with
Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.
Craig, thank you.
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, good evening to you.
Councilman Nick Mosby here.
Nick, you`ve been out every night. First of all, this crowd compared
to previous crowds.
NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: It appears to be less the
folks in this community than folks from outside the community.
MELVIN: Professional –
MOSBY: Yes, you know, folks that –
MADDOW: We just lost that feed.
Where you can see Craig and the councilman there. That councilman,
incidentally, I should tell you, is the husband of Marilyn Mosby who is the
prosecutor who decided to bring charges against the police today. I`m
sorry that we lost that feed.
We are about less than two minutes away now from the imposition of the
curfew. You hear them calling for people to get out of the streets.
They`ve also asked media to move to a specific media staging area so that
the media itself cannot have the impact on – the media themselves will not
keep people out in the streets by virtue of the fact that they`re out there
with cameras and lights and attracting attention.
As you can see, national guardsmen and women and also significant
contingent of Baltimore police supplemented by police from other
surrounding communities and states making a pretty big show of at least
taking up space right now in the streets of Baltimore, particularly in West
Baltimore, around those intersections where people have congregated in the
largest numbers over these last few days of protests.
Since they imposed the curfew, remember the big night of violence and
looting and arson was Monday night. The first sight of the curfew was
Tuesday. We`ve had Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights so far of the
curfew. There have been a few minor skirmishes around the imposition of
But so far, we have not seen significant clashes and people have
mostly been obeying the curfew and going home. It remains to be seen if
that will happen again tonight.
But again, as we`ve heard all day, the mood in the city has been among
the protesters largely celebratory, that these police officers will be
facing trial. They are innocent until proven guilty, but the fact that
there have been criminal indictments has given a lot of people hope that
there would be some sort of accountability for Mr. Gray`s death.
That does it for us tonight, but our live coverage from Baltimore
continues now with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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