The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/22/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: “We never want to offend anyone with the
products we offer.” They will be taking them out of circulation. “We have
a process in place to help lead to the right decisions” so that, too. Stay
tuned. There`s going to be a lot more where that came from.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: This has been an unbelievable day of
MADDOW: Absolutely incredible. Like anytime you start talking about
something, by the time you get to the end of a sentence, it`s changed.
Amazing, amazing show tonight, Chris. Well done.
HAYES: Thanks. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
As I say, there is a ton going on in the news tonight, a ton. We`ve
got a big show for you, including a lot of breaking news as far as we can
For starters, though, please direct your attention to the highlighted
squares on our chart of Republican presidential contenders. We have news
tonight about the Donald Trump and Bobby Jindal and also Carly Fiorina at
last under the delightfully arbitrary rules of the FOX News hosted first
Republican primary debate. It has seemed to be true that Donald Trump
would qualify to appear on the debate stage at the first Republican debate
in August and Carly Fiorina would not qualify for that debate.
FOX News is apparently only going to take the top 10 candidates in
national polling. Mr. Trump was clinging to tenth place in the national
polls. And Carly Fiorina was on the wrong side of the cutoff. She was
coming in at roughly 11th place before now.
But in a new NBC poll out today, Carly Fiorina has sent Donald Trump
to the kids table, at least in this one new national poll. Carly Fiorina
now stands in tenth place in national polling, with a whopping 2 percent of
Republicans supporting her. And Donald Trump has 1 percent. So, he`s
This is just one poll. There`s no way to tell if this is going to
hold but these are your current top ten Republican contenders according to
the NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll that`s out today. We have here one
surgeon, three first-term senators, we have one arguably failed and
definitely fired executive of a really big tech company in California, and
we also have five people who are current or former governors of U.S. states
So, if you`re looking for what type of candidate is really dominating
the Republican race right now, it`s the governors. Former Florida governor
Jeb Bush of Florida leading by five points in this new NBC/”Wall Street
Journal” poll. Current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker comes in second.
Overall, five of the top ten Republicans in the current polling, five
of the top ten are governors. They may not have been commander in chief of
a nation, but they have been in charge of a state. The thinking goes that
people will be able to extrapolate from that.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said just the other day, if you want
to run for president, you should go home and try to run a state first.
Take that, Ted Cruz.
Presidents, of course, come from all kinds of jobs. But the
governors` mansions of our nation do seem to produce a lot of them.
Governorships tend to be a fairly frequent incubator for presidents or at
least for presidential ambitions. That seems to be true heading into this
election as much or more so than it has been for any other recent
It was also true heading into the last presidential election in 2012.
Republicans, of course, ended up running the former governor of
Massachusetts as their presidential nominee in 2012. But ahead of that
election, at the time that everybody was starting to jump in to the
Republican race, Republicans really did think very seriously about this guy
instead, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Long one of the great
powers in the national Republican Party, governor of Mississippi, head of
the Republican Governors Association, a legendary rain maker, just
unparalleled Republican fund-raiser, unbelievably popular within the party
among other high level Republicans, chairman, of course, of the Republican
National Committee at one point.
But in the lead up to 2012, Haley Barbour seemed like for all the
world he could be something really big, he could be something epic.
That was the question in the conservative “Weekly Standard” magazine
in December 2010. Quote, “All year, Haley Barbour has been deflecting
questions about his presidential ambitions.” President Barbour?
I mean, at the time it made sense. Haley Barbour had cultivated one
of the great beltway power careers. He knew every Republican at every
level in Republican politics. When he went home to Mississippi, he played
on the national stage as the rebuilder of that hurricane-devastated
And with the Republicans looking for someone to challenge President
Obama in 2012, President Barbour seemed as likely an idea as anyone. So,
the “Weekly Standard” ran this more than glowing profile of Haley Barbour.
Not just reveling in his high standing in the party and his power and his
political experience, but in effect trying to reintroduce Haley Barbour to
conservatives nationwide, basically giving the conservative fairytale of
the Haley Barbour life story. They called it “The Boy From Yazoo City.”
In Haley Barbour`s hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi, the schools
there didn`t integrate until 1970. But when the schools did integrate in
Yazoo City, they did so in relative peace, at least compared with the rest
So, the magazine asked Haley Barbour in this profile, why that was.
And this is what he said in response. He said, quote, “Because the
business community wouldn`t stand for it. You heard of the Citizens
Councils? Up north, they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it
was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City, they passed a
resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get
their beep run out of town. If you had a job, you would lose it. If you
had a store, they`d see nobody shopped there. We didn`t have a problem
with the Klan in Yazoo City.”
No problem where he came from, Haley Barbour said. The Citizens
Councils took care of it. By Citizens Councils, what Haley Barbour meant
were the groups that we also call the White Citizens Councils. The White
Citizens Councils were founded after Brown v. Board, after the Supreme
Court ordered the end of separate but equal in 1954, the end of segregation
in this country in 1954. That`s why they were founded, in response to
Brown v. Board.
The following year, right after that ruling, in 1955, the Citizens
Council published the first ever issue of their newspaper. A clarion call
for racial law in America. The Citizens Council`s aim, quote, “is to
preserve separation of the races against the assaults from the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People”.
Quote, “There`s a rainbow of hope in the dark integration sky.
Citizens Councils have sprung up to prevent this tragedy from being visited
on the schools now and in the future. We will exhaust every legal resource
available in resisting the attempt of a Marxist conscious Supreme Court to
bring about mongrelization of the white race by judicial ruling.”
Citizens Council also had this pamphlet summing up their reason for
existence. Quote, “The Citizens Council is the South`s answer to the
mongrelizers. We will not be integrated. We are proud of our white blood
and our white heritage.”
Our white blood, our white heritage for a world of mongrelizers, a
rainbow of segregated hope.
When Haley Barbour thinking about running for president in 2010, when
in that context he praised the old Citizens Councils, that is what he was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SAM ENGELHARDT, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY: I am Alabama`s Sam Engelhardt,
also executive secretary of the Citizens Council of Alabama. We are
dedicated to the preservation of segregation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will segregate the buses. And if necessary, I
shall arrest every agent of the federal government who attempts to conspire
to put across integration of the races.
W.J. SIMMONS, CITIZENS COUNCIL FORUM: The entire Negro movement in
the United States was identified with the movement for Africa nationalism
in Africa. This is a development of extreme significance, I think, because
it opens up the possibility for non-white domination of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What direction is your movement going into, and
what do you see in the future?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a political organization based on racial
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A third party?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A third party based on race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you would lead it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The white race.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Based on race, based on the white race, Citizens Councils.
There were white citizens councils across the old Confederacy – many
towns, many states. In Haley Barbour`s hometown of Yazoo City,
Mississippi. The white council there ruled by fear. They left a vivid
record of it.
In the 1950s when some local people petitioned for the schools around
Yazoo City to be integrated, the white Citizens Council took out an ad, a
full-page ad in the town`s newspaper listing the signers by name. The
Citizens Council posted those names all over town, which manifestly
terrified the people who dared to sign that petition as it was intended to
“The Afro American” newspaper reported this from the time, quote,
“Many signers have been penalized by loss of employment. Under this
pressure, some have removed their names from the petition. J.H. Wright, a
plumbing contractor listed above, lost two construction jobs, was refused
plumbing supplies by a wholesale house and his grocer told him a loaf of
bread would now cost him $1. He plans to move elsewhere.”
People who were in favor of integrating the schools in Yazoo City had
to flee from Yazoo City because of that nice Citizens Council which Haley
Barbour praised for keeping the peace in his town in the civil rights era.
They ran for their lives from the White Citizens Council.
So, when Haley Barbour described a peaceful past and historic record
showed something far more horrifying, when he lionized the Citizens
Councils and they turned out to be really easily shown as really
vituperatively racist, Haley Barbour didn`t seem so presidential anymore.
I mean, in the end, his full quote from that “Weekly Standard” glowing
profile ended up being his overall summing up what it was like to grow up
smack-dab in the middle of the civil rights revolution to desegregate his
city and his state. He told the “Weekly Standard” when he thought back on
that time, quote, “I just don`t remember it being that bad.”
And so, no, we never got a President Haley Barbour. We never got a
Haley Barbour for president campaign. His 2012 campaign hopes did not
survive must past his fond memories of the segregated South and his praise
for the White Citizens Councils of the time.
But by the time that happened to Haley Barbour, the White Citizens
Councils had gone through sort of a reincarnation. They became the Council
of Conservative Citizens.
And despite their history, despite where they came from, despite who
they still were in all but name, some politicians have just found over time
that they couldn`t keep away from them. Yes, that`s because some
politicians are just flat out obvious racists, right?
Former KKK grand wizard and Louisiana legislator David Duke, he spoke
at a fund-raiser for the South Carolina Council for Conservative citizens
in 1995, but, yes, he`s David Duke.
But then there`s Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia, he addressed the
Citizens Council in 1998. After “The Washington Post” pointed out that Bob
Barr has been hobnobbing with white supremacists, the congressman responded
that he hadn`t actually known it was that kind of group.
In 1998, the Citizens Council finally got banned from CPAC, from the
Conservative Political Action Conference on the blunt grounds that CPAC
found that, quote, “they are racists.” And the White Citizens Council
excuse me, the Conservatives Citizens Council got band from CPAC in 1998.
But Senator Trent Lott by that point, Senator Trent Lott of
Mississippi by then had been hanging out with Citizens Council for years.
Senator Lott He got his picture taken with the Citizens Council guys in a
private meeting in his office the year before they got banned by other
conservatives from CPAC for being racist.
In 1999, Democrats in Congress tried to shame Republicans by forcing
them to take a vote condemning the Council of Conservative Citizens. That
vote failed but some of the work of trying to embarrass Republicans about
supporting this group was done.
I mean, conservative politicians have managed to get themselves
embarrassed over and over and over again by associating themselves with
this barely reconstituted, segregationist, racist white supremacist group.
It`s not like this group is trying to hide anything, right? It`s not
like they`re reconstructed and now they`re trying to make it look nice. I
mean, this is from their statement of principles. Look. Look at this.
Quote, “We believe the United States is a European country and that
Americans are part of the European people. We oppose all efforts to mix
the races of mankind to promote non-white races over the European-American
people and to force the integration of the races.”
I mean, that is what crawled out of the carcass of the group that
Haley Barbour praised when he was going to run for president but then it
didn`t work out. That`s the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Over this weekend, we learned that the shooter in Charleston, South
Carolina, last week got his ideas from this Council of Conservative
Citizens. He credited them directly with inspiring his attempts to start a
race war with this mass murder in a Charleston church. This group that had
always been racist, that had always been part of the worst, out of the
stick, barbaric impulses in the modern history of our nation now in its new
form has those same ideas all over the blood of nine African-Americans in a
church in the city of Charleston.
And while the group insists today that they do not support violence,
they have also since the shootings stood up for the ideas that the shooter
says filled his head. They stood up for the content of his message. So,
not for what he did but, yes, for why he says he did it.
So, that was one thing we learned this week. While the nation and
the city of Charleston mourned those nine murder victims, we learned that
the council of conservative citizens was part of this story.
Another thing we learned is that Republican politicians including
some who are running for president now have been taking money, a lot of
money, from that racist group.
Jon Swaine of “The Guardian” newspaper reporting this weekend that
the group`s leader has given ten of thousands of dollars of campaign
contributions in support of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Rick Santorum and
Scott Walker and Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton
and on and on and on.
And most of them reacted to that news today, reacted to that reported
link to the inspiration for the Charleston massacre, right? Most of these
politicians reacted to that news today like they had just been handed a
live cottonmouth snake. One by one, they have started giving the money
back or giving the money to charity in many cases giving the money to a
charity benefiting the families of the victims in Charleston.
In addition to what you see here, we can also tell you tonight that
Steve King, Iowa Congressman Steve King, tells us he`s sending back what he
got to Charleston and so is Louie Gohmert. And according to “The
Washington Post,” so are Jeff Flake and Tom Cotton.
As we hear back from more people who have taken donations from the
Council of Conservative Citizens, we`ll let you know. But we can tell you
clearly that where Republicans have stood by and for and in some cases with
this racist group in the very recent past, after those murders in that
Charleston church, now as of today, they`re not standing by that group
anymore, after decades, right?
I mean that group was founded right after Brown v. Board. Everybody
knew who they were. And over and over and over again, for decades,
conservative politicians still allied themselves with that group. Even
though everybody knew who they were, they had never hidden their light
under a bushel. They`ve been an overtly racist group with ties to the
terror that was the backlash against the civil rights movement in this
They were the vanguard of the defense of segregation in this country.
And for decades conservative politicians have still associated themselves
with this group. Sometimes, they get a little icky about it but it
Today, it seems to have stopped. Sometimes, it takes a lot of time
to get these things right, right? Sometimes you grab the hot handle with
your bare hand more than once. But when you finally drop that thing, turns
out it lands with a tremendous clatter and we are at that profound place
right now, tonight in our country on the Conservative Citizens Council, nay
the White Citizens Council on the Confederate flag, and a lot of other
things that felt like they would never ever be gone from even our modern
politics, right now our politics are making a fascinating and a very hard
And the rest of that story is when we come back.
MADDOW: So, as I mentioned with Chris at the top of the show there
has been a bunch of breaking news tonight. There is some new breaking news
tonight on the issue of the Confederate flag flying in the American South.
But this new breaking news actually does not involve the state of South
Carolina, it involves another southern state and a surprise coming out of
that state tonight. That story is coming up. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, it`s not like it has been there forever. It`s been
there since 1962. I mean, not 1862 when the Confederacy existed, right,
and was raging war on the United States. It has not been there since 1862.
They put it up in 1962. In the early 1960s, they put up the Confederate
flag in South Carolina flying over the capitol dome during the civil rights
movement of the 1960s.
And because of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, it was put up
and basically – politically it is clear from the context of the time, it
was put up as a symbol of resistance to desegregation in the early 1960s as
South Carolina and the rest of the Deep South burned and marched and lit up
with gunfire and bombings and beatings and intimidation and rage in that
catalyzing and epic fight that we had as country to try to desegregate the
South Carolina state government made a decision to put up the
Confederate flag over its state capitol in 1962 basically as a way of
saying that their state would not desegregate.
But then after the civil rights era, after the segregation issue was
settled, at least in polite company and the civil rights side supposedly
won, South Carolina didn`t take down the flag, they left it up over the
capitol dome. For a very long time that was awkward and difficult for all
the obvious reasons.
And South Carolina was not alone in the South in flying that flag,
but the fight there has been particularly loud and hard fought and
particularly tenacious in large part because the Confederate flag has been
great politics for conservative politicians who have used that issue and
that symbol to court white voters in South Carolina by supporting the
Confederate flag, by supporting symbols of the old Confederacy.
This weekend, part of the outpouring of grief over the massacre of
African-American churchgoers in Charleston last week, part of the effort to
grieve those victims and express a collective anguish about that crime, a
collective revulsion for what happened at the Mother Emanuel church, part
of that this weekend in a fairly impromptu way spilled over out of the
formal vigils and church services into this gathering on a bridge in
downtown Charleston, this big beautiful modern bridge which is called the
Arthur Ravenel Bridge.
This is Arthur Ravenel. He was a Republican Senate senator from
South Carolina. His name is on that bridge. He is celebrated in South
Carolina for his political career.
And Arthur Ravenel`s political career is best remembered for his
impassioned defense of the Confederate flag continuing to fly at the state
capitol in South Carolina.
See this picture there? See in the background, see a strange looking
background for him at this rally? What that is actually a massive
Confederate flag several stories tall that has been laid out on the steps
of the statehouse, to serve as a backdrop for him leading this rally in
favor of the Confederate flag in January of 2007.
It`s easier to see in color. Look. Oh, right, that`s the guy who
the bridge is named after.
And at the time this picture was taken, at the time the Senator
Ravenel was leading this pro-Confederate rally in South Carolina, he was
not just ginning up support for the flag and symbols of the Confederacy, he
was reaping the political rewards for doing so. I mean, if you`re a
conservative politician in South Carolina all of these years, it has really
helped to be a staunch defender of the Confederate flag and it flying at
the state capitol.
Two years before this rally in 1998, South Carolina voted out an
incumbent Republican governor named David Beasley after Governor Beasley
said that he wanted to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol
grounds. After he said that, he lost his seat. They threw him out of
office over that.
In 1994, the state legislature tried to get rid of the Confederate
flag over the capitol. It failed. In 1995 they tried again, it failed.
In 1998, they tried again, it failed. The following year, in 1998, that
effort to get rid of that flag claimed the incumbent Republican governor.
I mean, it had been bad politics. It has been bad politics for white
conservative politicians to be against the Confederate flag in that state.
It has been good politics for conservative politicians to be for the
Confederate flag. And that dynamic has been bolstered by the fact that
South Carolina has this peculiar national political position as one of the
early voting presidential states.
South Carolina first in the South, right? It`s Iowa, New Hampshire,
So, after that Republican governor got turfed out in South Carolina
in 1998, as the NAACP was coordinating a big economic boycott of South
Carolina over them flying that Confederate flag, as State Senator Arthur
Ravenel was holding his rally in front of the 100-foot tall Confederate
flag on the steps of the state capitol, in the year 2000, George W. Bush
and John McCain were battling it out in South Carolina to try to win the
Republican nomination for president. And so, they very knowingly strolled
right up to this Rubicon, right?
Would supporting the Confederate flag remain just a political asset
for South Carolina conservatives or would it become a national conservative
John McCain in a lemming and hawing way sort of tried to refuse to
say what he thought on the issue but at the same time, he played to the
issues politics when he was asked about South Carolina`s Confederate flag,
he made sure to reference his own role in opposing the Martin Luther King
holiday being recognized in Arizona. He then went on to say the issue of
the Confederate flag was a state`s right issue for South Carolina. Who is
he to tell South Carolina they ought to take that Confederate flag down?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If I were a south Carolinian I would
make a choice. In Arizona, we had a big fight over the Martin Luther King
holiday. I didn`t like it when people came in and told us what to do in
Arizona when – about the Martin Luther King holiday.
KATIE COURIC, NBC TODAY You`ve weighed in on other state issues in
MCCAIN: On this issue I have not weighed in. This issue is not
going to be helped by me weighing in on it.
COURIC: You said in the past when you were asked about it on
“Nightline”, if you were president what would you say, and you claimed that
Bill Clinton had not told the people of South Carolina what to do. But
yesterday in Boston, President Clinton said he thought the flag should be
taken down. Given that –
MCCAIN: I understand that he would say that and I appreciate that.
My view is that I think that the people of South Carolina are best
qualified to make the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John McCain speaking in January 2000 in the midst of that
mighty battle for the presidential nomination, particularly the South
Carolina primary coming up in the Republican presidential nominating race.
He was fighting it out with George W. Bush for that nomination,
particularly to try to win that primary.
George W. Bush took basically the same line as John McCain on the
issue. Who am I to tell South Carolina they ought to take that Confederate
But because George W. Bush, we forget now, was a very, very good
politician, although he took the same line as John McCain did, he sounded
way better when he did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MODERATOR: As an American citizen, do you have a
visceral reaction to seeing the Confederate flag?
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As an American citizen,
I trust the people of South Carolina to make the decision for South
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Cheers, cheers. For no one telling South Carolina to take
down that Confederate flag.
Not long after he lost the South Carolina primary to George W. Bush,
then he dropped out of the race, and South Carolina ultimately decided to
take the Confederate flag off the state capitol dome and move it instead to
what is frankly a more prominent place at a Confederate memorial, right on
the state capitol grounds in front of the state house, right on a main drag
that you drive through in downtown Columbia. Right after all that, John
McCain, after he lost – after South Carolina moved the flag to a different
part of the state capitol grounds, John McCain said he shouldn`t have did
what he did there. He said he was ashamed of himself for how he tried to
play that issue in South Carolina. He basically said he was pandering for
votes and he didn`t really believe that South Carolina should keep flying
that flag but he didn`t feel comfortable saying so during the campaign.
Once George W. Bush had served his two terms as president and John
McCain was once again running to try to win the Republican Party`s
presidential nomination, his rivals in 2008 primaries used John McCain`s
contrition on the Confederate flag, him going soft on the Confederate flag,
they used it against him in the 2008 presidential race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You don`t like people
from outside the state coming and telling you how you ought to raise your
kids. You don`t like people from outside the state coming down and telling
you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and
told us what to do with our flag, we would tell them where to put the pole.
That`s what we`d do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mike Huckabee running for president in 2008 saying South
Carolina should vote for him and not John McCain because he would never
criticize the Confederate flag flying at that state capitol. Not like
some. That was 2008.
Now, after the Charleston massacre, after the confessed shooter
posted his start a race war screed online and posted all those myriad
photos of himself with the Confederate flag, after all those years in South
Carolina fighting about the Confederate flag being flown at the state
house, all those years of conservative politicians in the state and
politicians from around the country supporting the Confederate flag in
order to get white people in South Carolina to vote for them, after all of
these years, this massacre finally started to crack the dam. And you could
see it start to break with old Mike Huckabee himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABEE: For those of us running for president, everyone is being
baited with this question as if somehow that has anything to do whatsoever
with running for president. And my position is, it most certainly does
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Says the man who last time he ran for president ran in South
Carolina on not just supporting the Confederate flag flying at the capitol
but also suggesting what people could do with the flagpole if they
disagreed. Now, he finds the subject inappropriate for comment by a
See, you can see the dam breaking on this issue, in the person of old
Mike Huckabee trying once again to find political advantage on this issue
but now he doesn`t know where to find it.
You can see the dam breaking when other flags – the other flags on
the state capitol grounds in South Carolina, the American flag, the South
Carolina flag, they were lowered to half staff in the wake of the
Charleston massacre last week while that Confederate battle flag stayed at
full staff on the capitol grounds. Maybe that`s when the dam actually
started to break.
But after 50 years of not just fighting about that flag but
conservative politicians statewide and nationwide banking on the
conservative flag in order to – on the Confederate flag in order to get
votes from white people who like it in South Carolina, after decades of
that finally today, the dam broke.
One of the politicians who was there when that happened joins us
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Fifteen years ago, after much
contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way to
move the flag from atop the capitol dome. Today, we are here in a moment
of unity in our state, without ill will, to say, it`s time to move the flag
from the capitol grounds.
We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The
fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that
we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move
it from the capitol grounds. It is, after all, a capitol that belongs to
all of us.
July 4th is just around the corner. Soon, we will once again
celebrate birth of our nation and of our freedoms. It will be fitting that
our state capitol will soon fly the flags of our country and of our state
and no others.
God bless, God bless the people of the great state of South Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley coming out today for the
first time in her career, first time in her life, in saying that the
Confederate battle flag has to come down from the grounds of the state
capitol in South Carolina.
Excuse me. This is the first – this is second time I`ve ever
sneezed live on television. Pardon me.
Look at who else was there with Nikki Haley, though, when she made
the announcement. On the right side of your screen there, you can see that
she`s got both of the state`s U.S. senators. Immediately to her left, so
just to the right of her on the screen, you see U.S. Senator Tim Scott and
then to his left, further to the right of your screen, you see Lindsey
Graham, U.S. senator, candidate for president this year. Neither of them
have ever previously criticized the Confederate flag but today both of them
came out and said it should come down at the state capitol in South
Behind them, you can also see former governor of South Carolina, Mark
Sanford, who is now a congressman from the state. Next to him is the mayor
of Charleston, Joseph Riley. The chairman of the National Republican
Party, Reince Priebus, was also there at the announcement, he`s a little
hard to see. But he`s about two rows behind the governor.
On the left side of your screen, you see Congressman Jim Clyburn.
And next to him is the top Democrat in the South Carolina state
legislature, Representative Todd Rutherford, who joins us now.
Representative Rutherford, thank you so much for your time tonight,
sir. It`s really good to have you here.
STATE REP. TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thanks for having
MADDOW: Let me ask you about your feelings about what happened today
in your state. Did you ever think this would happen and how do you feel
about having been part of this today?
RUTHERFORD: No, I don`t think anybody ever saw this coming, at least
not now, at least not this soon. But I hate that it happened on the eve of
this tragedy and I hate the tragedy is what made this happen.
You know, the governor, we applaud her efforts. We know that it
wouldn`t happen without her. We applaud all these conservatives and their
sea change in deciding something that has been hateful for years now, all
of a sudden, they see it as hateful and want to take it down.
MADDOW: You know, one of the things that I wondered today is if
there have been conservatives, if there have been Republicans sort of
operating behind the scenes who have been maybe pushing for this to happen
in a long way and if this is an opportunity, or if you really feel like
this was spontaneous, that this was just something that was going to be
inevitable simply because of the shock to the state for what happened last
RUTHERFORD: You know, we will certainly take it however we can get
it. However, when you see Reince Priebus there, it certainly gives you the
indication that maybe this was – they were tired of the Republican
presidential candidates dancing around nine people getting killed over this
hateful symbol and whether it ought to come down. Every single time they
had to answer a question, every single candidate that answered it stumbled
over it and simply looked silly on a national stage, rather than saying the
flag is a hateful symbol and should have come down a long time ago.
MADDOW: In the past in South Carolina, there have been obviously big
fights about this issue. There have previously been very high level
efforts to try to get the flag down at the state capitol. Do – is it
clear to you that it will work this time? What actually has to happen in
order for this to really come down?
RUTHERFORD: You know, it is clear to me that this time it is going
to work. I met with House leaders over the past several days and it`s
clear that in the House at least, we`re going to have the votes to change
the agreement, which is the agreement that we`re operating under right now
and bring a bill to the forefront that will take the flag down.
Once that bill gets to the Senate, there are one or two people that
could hold it up, but I don`t know that they will have enough votes to stop
it all together. So, for the first time literally, in my 44 years, it`s
clear that this flag is going to come down.
MADDOW: Do you think that there will be not so much a backlash but
do you think there will be a dug-in effort to defend it? Obviously, this
seems like more of a consensus issue that`s it ever been, but presumably,
there will be forces in South Carolina that fight to keep it up there.
RUTHERFORD: There absolutely will be forces that fight to keep it up
there. This has been used as a symbol to divide South Carolina for, again,
since 1962, as you stated earlier.
In 2007, I put in a bill to take the flag down. It didn`t even get a
hearing. But I think right now, a lot of those power brokers, a lot of
people in that state house that`s behind me have decided that Senator
Pinckney who is our colleague, has been our colleague for over 20 years and
most peaceful man in that whole body, he was killed for simply being black
and that enough is enough. And that flag needs to go.
MADDOW: South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford, the top
Democrat in the South Carolina legislature – sir, thanks for your time
tonight. I know this has been a heck of a day. Thank you for being here.
RUTHERFORD: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Thank you. And we do actually still have some new news
tonight on the status the of the Confederate flag in another southern
state. We have that along with a lot of other news.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, this is what the great state as Mississippi has flown as
its state flag since 1894, more than a century. Mississippi doesn`t have a
separate stand alone Confederate flag flying at its state capitol.
Mississippi just put the Confederate flag inside the other one. It`s part
of their official state flag.
In 2001, Mississippi voters were asked if they wanted to replace that
Confederate symbol with something less controversial. Mississippi voters
decided overwhelmingly that, no, they would rather keep their flag as is.
Look at that margin.
Tonight, however, it seems that the tide might be changing in
Mississippi because tonight, Mississippi`s House speaker who is a
Republican says this, quote, “As a Christian, as a Christian, I believe our
state`s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We
need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi`s flag.”
“The Jackson Clarion Ledger” says this is the first time in
Mississippi Republican has called forgetting the rebel flag out of the
Also tonight, Walmart has announced that it stores will no longer
carry merchandise that includes the Confederate symbol. Quote, “We never
want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We`ve taken steps
to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment,
whether in our store or on our Web site. We have a process in place to
lead us to the right decisions. Still at times, items make their way into
our assortment improperly. This is one of those instances.”
So, groundbreaking news tonight from Mississippi and from Walmart of
More to come, for sure. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Our long national nightmare of raisin tyranny is over. It`s
true. This morning, the Supreme Court struck down federal raisin
regulations that had been in place since the New Deal.
Also, there was a patent case involving this Spider-Man web blaster
toy where you shoot webs out of your wrists like Spidy does. The patent
holder lost in this case, but Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who is a
comics fan, made not one, not two, not three, but I think four different
Spider-Man jokes in her ruling today. She`s previously referenced Dr.
Seuss and also the Tommy Tutone song “867-5309” in Supreme Court rulings.
So, the Spider-Man thing should not have been a surprise but still
awesome to see things like this, patents endow their holders with certain
super powers but only for a limited time. So, yay for Spider-Man. Yay for
having an awesome comics nerd Supreme Court justice.
Here`s the thing I want to know though – the court usually issues
its rulings in June. This is June. Usually, they issue their rulings on
OK. It`s Monday today. It`s already June 20-something, 22nd, right?
They`ve got seven more rulings to hand down. They already expanded their
ruling days to not just Mondays but also Thursdays. And then today, they
said they`re also going to issue rulings this week on Friday.
Why are they doing that? Does that mean anything? What does it
mean, if anything, particularly about the giant cases their about to rule
on, on Obamacare and lethal injection, and same-sex marriage.
The other thing I want to know about is this – is it not spooky that
so much of the country is basically already assuming how the same-sex
marriage case in particular is going to go? “The New York Times” just ran
this glowing profile, Justice Anthony Kennedy today, tracing the origins of
his support for gay rights to previous times in his life. Nice piece.
This is the kind of thing you might expect to run though after Justice
Kennedy had cast the deciding swing vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
I mean, this is from the piece today: If as many analysts expect, the
court does extend same-sex marriage rights nationwide, Justice Kennedy will
get much of the credit.
It`s like “The Times” thought, we know they`re going to legalize it.
Let`s just run this piece about how it happened now before it actually
You know, they might not rule that way. And a sense of inevitability
can be a powerful thing and can also be a dangerous thing. The reason this
case is being decided by the Supreme Court in the first place is that the
seemingly inevitable, unstoppable march toward nationwide legal gay
marriage was, in fact, stopped when an appeals court ruled last fall that
some state marriage bans were legal.
I mean, it was all inevitable until one day it was not. The Supreme
Court really could rule against gay marriage or the justices could split
the difference somehow, or the court could, yes, legalize gay marriage
nationwide. We should know Thursday or Friday or maybe Monday?
But we really do not know right now. Are the expectations here
getting way out ahead of the actual case? And how are they going to get
all of these rulings out before the end of the month?
Let`s ask someone who knows these things. Dahlia Lithwick is senior
editor and legal correspondent at “Slate”.
Dahlia, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE: I don`t know these things.
MADDOW: No, come on. You know – but at least you know what we
MADDOW: Is it weird that they`ve got this many left with this sort
of time that they`re doing rulings Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays? This does
always happen, or just feels like a surprise?
LITHWICK: Yes, it always happens and they start the week, you think
it`s going to be Monday, then it`s Monday and Thursday, then it`s Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday.
This is what`s done. We`re thinking they`re going to be done by
Tuesday, a week from tomorrow, but they`ve gone into July before.
MADDOW: There`s no hard and fast rule about what they do, and it
doesn`t say anything about what`s happening now in terms of the judges
finishing up their rulings, in terms of how they`re negotiating, in terms
of how they`re going to go. No inclination?
LITHWICK: I think the inclination is that they`re writing a lot of
opinions and concurrence and dissents and there`s just a lot of writing and
rewriting and drafting going on. That`s what happens. That`s why the big,
big case – I used to think they just did it for drama, they just held the
biggies until the end. But it`s just because there`s an enormous amount of
writing to be done.
MADDOW: In terms of the expectations around the same sex marriage
case, I feel like – the reason I use that word “dangerous” is because I
feel like there`s an expectation particularly among people particularly who
passionately support gay rights, who passionately support marriage
equality, there has become a de facto expectation that the ruling is going
to be a great day. I say that`s dangerous because I feel like people are
in for a real fall if that turns out to be either a mixed decision or
Do you feel the expectations are warranted based on the case?
LITHWICK: I do. I think that it`s already hard to get past the fact
that Anthony Kennedy who you just kind of observed is the guy. He`s
written the three landmark gay rights decisions. These are the
cornerstones of our current legal regime when we look at gay rights. It`s
hard to imagine that a guy who writes so poignantly about dignity and
families` expectations of dignity in marriage who asked about dignity in
oral argument a lot –
LITHWICK: – that he`s going to turn his back on this. It`s just
hard to see it.
And so, I think there is some basis for thinking that this is going
to go the way people want it to go on the left side of the aisle.
The other thing, Rachel, and this is important, people are lobbying
the court. There`s a little bit of, you know, well-placed op-eds in “The
Wall Street Journal” and “The New York Times” that are attempting to say
history, history, history. This really matters.
MADDOW: Right. Especially if you guys are pushing it right to the
last minute – it`s a last-minute opportunity to influence you. Will you
come back and explain when it happens?
LITHWICK: I will.
MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent at
“Slate” magazine – thank you so much.
LITHWICK: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead, please do stay with us.
MADDOW: So, there is some more news to report out of South Carolina.
It actually involves the funeral that`s going to be held later this week
for the pastor of the Mother Emanuel AME Church, and frankly, the almost
unbelievable circumstances that will lead up to that funeral that sort of
take place on Friday. It`s kind of hard to believe after what we`ve
discussed in this hour and what has happened in today`s news, but we`ve got
that update on the funeral in just a moment. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One last thing to note tonight. This is something that is
mind-bending to me.
You know that the pastor of the church who was killed in the
Charleston massacre at Mother Emanuel Church last week, you know that in
addition to being the pastor of that historic church, Clementa Pinckney was
also a well-respected South Carolina state senator.
He was first elected to the statehouse when he was only 23 years old,
making him the youngest person ever elected to the state legislature in
South Carolina. He was then elected to the state Senate four years later,
and he has served there in the state Senate for the past 15 years.
Last week when Clementa Pinckney was killed in his church, his fellow
state senators draped his desk in black and wept over him at the state
Well, now, today, they have announced that there will be public
viewings of his body before he is buried on Friday. There`s going to be a
viewing at his own church, at the Mother Emanuel Church. There`ll be a
viewing of a second AME church in Charleston as well, and then there will
be a viewing at the state house. He will lie in state at the rotunda of
the state houses in Columbia.
And that is an honor and a beautiful thing for a long-time and
beloved state legislator. But in South Carolina that means people coming
to see his body and mourn him and pay their respects will have to walk past
the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds in order to do so. And
that is amazing in any circumstance. But given the circumstances of his
murder and the murder of his parishioners, it is almost impossible to
imagine those two things happening at the same time, him lying in the
rotunda and the freaking Confederate flag flying outside.
But that is what made happened in South Carolina this afternoon all
the more stunning. South Carolina led by its Republican governor now
moving to take that Confederate flag down at state capitol grounds. Now,
there is this suddenly important logistical question about when they will
do did and whether that Confederate flag will be down in time for Senator
Pinckney to lie there in state on Thursday.
You should also know that when the actual funeral is held for the
senator on Friday, Vice President Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama and
President Obama will all be there in the funeral in person. And now we
know that the eulogy for Senator Pinckney will be given by President Obama
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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