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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 06/22/15

Guests: Marc Maron, James Clyburn, Tom Davis

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s not the measure of whether racism still exist or not. HAYES: President Obama goes into the garage and sets the news media into a tizzy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States using the "N" word. HAYES: Tonight, WTF`s Marc Maron on his unguarded conversation with the president about race. OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of. HAYES: Listening to naysayers. MARC MARON, WTF: I ran the country from my couch for a couple years. (LAUGHTER) OBAMA: A lot of people do. Yes. I hear from them all the time. HAYES: And governing without fear. OBAMA: It`s sort of like an athlete. You might slow down a little bit, you might not jump as high as you used to. MARON: Right. OBAM: But I know what I`m doing and I`m fearless. MARON: For real. You`re not pretending to be fearless. OBAMA: Not pretending to be fearless, right? MARON: Right. HAYES: Then, why South Carolina Republicans are finally joining the movement to take down the Confederate flag. GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It`s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds. HAYES: And knowing what we now know about the motives of the Charleston killer, how can you call it anything but a political act of domestic terror? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on what I know so far, I don`t see it as a political act. HAYES: ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It is the interview everyone is talking about today, and it happened in a California garage -- an hour long conversation between a comedian and the president of the United States. This was where President Obama sat down with Marc Maron, host of the "WTF" podcast on Friday, Maron`s garage, which needed to be cluttered and checked by Secret Service prior to the president`s arrival, and while location was a first as far as presidential interviews go, or at least the record would indicate, the discussion was largely a serious one, thoughtful and meditative. The president offering a window into a less guarded version of himself, touching on a whole variety of subjects, from race relations to gun control, to his achievements in office. But it was the president`s candor on racism in America just days after nine African-Americans were gunned down by an avowed white supremacist in a South Carolina church that is grabbing headlines today. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow and that`s still part of our DNA that`s passed on. We`re not cured of it. MARON: Racism. OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of. MARON: Clearly. OBAMA: And it`s not just a matter of it not being polite to say (AUDIO DELETED) in public. That`s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It`s not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have -- societies don`t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: Joining me now the man who sat down with the president, Marc Maron, host of the podcast "WTF" with Marc Maron. Marc, first of all, it`s a fantastic interview. So, very well done, and a hard assignment given how many interviews he gives to get something new out of him. In that moment, did you -- did that register to you that moment that has become a little bit of a brouhaha today? MARON: Well, yes, I heard it. I heard the sentence. I don`t know that I was like, ooh, but I did -- I did register it. I -- it was -- it wasn`t so much that it was shocking. I found it very candid and very raw. And like I sensed certainly after the events of last Wednesday that there was a tenor beneath the conversation we had of real anger and stuff. But I thought the example he was making was -- was powerful. It didn`t register as, oh, my God, the president just said that. HAYES: Right. MARON: But -- but I felt it. HAYES: You know, in some ways it strikes me this is an object lesson in precisely why it could be so hard to get politicians to speak candidly is because here he is in this context in which he sits down for an hour, it`s -- he talks about a variety of subjects and, of course, you know, this becomes a headline which is precisely the thing they`re trying to avoid when they become these robotic automatons that us as interviewers hate to go up against but then we create the conditions under which that is produced. MARON: Well, yes, it feels very predatory to me in the sense that they don`t -- it`s not thoughtful. Everyone is champing at the bit to get the bite that makes people, you know, the most irritated or aggravated or confrontational, to get people to sort of tune in to what they`re doing. I mean, the context of the conversation was very broad. The point he was trying to make in saying that word was succinct and part of a longer discussion of race and for them to get hung up on that is exactly what he`s talking about, you know, later in the interview which he examines sort of why the echo chamber creates an environment where no real political conversation can happen. HAYES: Yes. He talks at one point about -- you guys have this really fascinating exchange about how much you can kind of get along with a person before you talk about politics and then how much immediately entering politics into a conversation becomes this kind of polarizing ax of division, which I thought was a really interesting exchange. And also he explains why he comes on a podcast like yours, because he thinks that outside of the context of politics, there`s a kind of chance you might get at a hearing that you`re not going to get in a political context. MARON: Well, I also think that`s the power of the medium of the podcast is that there`s an intimacy there that enabled me to have a one-on- one conversation with the president, with no cameras around, and it was just me looking at him and him looking at me. And even though some of the things we talked about were things that he`s talked about in other venues, that for the listener, it`s a very candid and a very intimate experience and it`s hard to hide, you know, in that medium. And when we were talking about that specifically, I just had an experience like that, you know, in Cleveland where I had done a show and in the theater right beside mine in the complex that I was doing the show, Dennis Miller and O`Reilly were there doing their shtick, and I sat down in front of my hotel with like a guy who is probably 10, 15 years older than me, maybe 20 years older than me. He was having a cigarette, and I was just talking to him and he said he had just seen that show. And instead of volunteering any sort of political point of view that I may have had, I just engaged him in conversation and we had sort of a beautiful conversation about his time in Vietnam and his feelings about the world, and it would not have happened if I had made any sort of statement about what I felt about O`Reilly or what I felt about politics. So I think that intimacy is available when you listen to a podcast. People can really hear for themselves personally the message, which I think what the president was saying is that, you know, people should engage somehow with politics. Not be so cynical, no matter what side you`re on, to sort of realize that it is part of our civic duty as Americans to engage in our process. HAYES: He also said -- it`s funny. That one of the most interesting and I thought novel things he said in the entire podcast comes right after the moment that people are talking about today which is he had this very succinct description of policing that I thought was really interesting. Take a listen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: Cops have a really tough job. MARON: Yep. OBAMA: And part of the reason cops have a tough job, particularly in big cities, is that there are communities that are poor, are systematically locked out of opportunity, that suffer from legacies of discrimination that have been built up over generations, and we send cops in there basically to say, keep those folks from making too much trouble. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: I thought that was a remarkably honest and bracing explanation of what`s going on when we talk about policing. MARON: Well, you know, in hearing it again, it speaks to the isolation and the maintenance of ghettoization. And it was -- he is very - - the way he chose his words and where the conversation went -- look, I think both of us going into this before the events of last Wednesday in Charleston, that the idea was to have a little lighter conversation. But I think that, you know, that created a tone in bringing that up because it was necessary to talk about. And I think he was -- there`s an honesty to the way he sees the world and also an undercurrent of a little bit of frustration in how, you know, he has been put in a position to not quite deal with things as effectively as he might have wanted to. HAYES: Yes. And he had this moment where, I mean, we all saw after the background check bill failed, he had that incredible Rose Garden press conference with some of the family members of survivors of gun violence, particularly Sandy Hook, where his disgust was very clear. But he was quite pointed on talking about that in the conversation. I want to play that clip, as well. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: Right after Sandy Hook, Newtown, when 20 6-year-olds were gunned down and Congress literally does nothing, yes, that made -- that -- that`s the closest I came to feeling disgusted. I was pretty disgusted. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: What did you come away, Marc, from this? Obviously, you`re dealing with someone who is arguably one of the most famous people in the world and one of the most covered and interviewed and talked to and there`s in some ways not a single moment of the guy`s life that hasn`t been picked over. Was there something as someone sitting across from him in the garage struck you that hadn`t struck you before? MARON: Well, I certainly didn`t know what to expect, Chris. I had my own ideas of the -- you know, of a president. But I was hoping, because of what I do in that garage, in general, is talk to a human being. And I really wanted to get a sense that I was connecting with a human being. And you know as well as I do anyone with a public narrative and I know what you`re saying is true, that there`s very little he hasn`t spoken to publicly, it`s going to be difficult to get them away from that narrative, but it is possible for them to take that narrative to a different place or refrain things or actually have candid moments. But the fact that he walked into that garage and I felt him land, I felt him place himself in the environment. He started actually saying things that were in the environment. It was almost an exercise in I`m going to get present for this. And I felt the presence of him. And I felt a human presence. And I felt it very connected with my conversation. HAYES: Yes. MARON: So that was really the most stunning thing for me is that I really felt like I was talking to just a guy in a lot of ways, a guy who has the job of president. And that was -- it was humbling for me, and it was an incredible honor in a lot of ways. HAYES: Well, you did -- you did a remarkable job. It`s a fantastic interview. Everyone should go download it, WTF, of course, stands for "Why The Face". Marc Maron, host of the WTF podcast, go check that out. Listen to the whole thing. I think in some ways the most surprising and revealing interview the president has given in a very long time. Thanks for joining me, Marc. I really appreciate it. MARON: Wow, thanks a lot, Chris. Good talking to you. HAYES: All right. If you are one of the few people in America who haven`t heard the WTF interview with Obama, head over to Download it now. Or you can also head over to ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES Facebook page to check out the behind-the-scenes look at how it all came together. Next, President Obama wasn`t just uttering a word that is taboo. He is making a very important point about racism in America. Michael Eric Dyson will be here. Plus, the huge Supreme Court decisions that could come down any day now. And coming up, Republican governor of South Carolina says it`s time to take down the Confederate flag. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Last weekend, "Fox and Friends" co-host Peter Hegseth hit a man with an ax on live television. And by "hit a man with an ax", I don`t mean metaphorically. Hegseth was teasing a segment on timber sports, missed the target, and hit a guy standing in the distance. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) HAYES: The person hit with the ax is Jeff Prosperie (ph), a member of West Point`s marching band. The televised portion didn`t actually show the ax hitting Prosperie. The video came with his Facebook page where a few days later he wrote this, "I was hit by an ax while performing a drum solo live on national TV. Words I never imagined saying. I`m thankful to God that the double-sided blade only hit broadside on the outer elbow with significant impact and a couple of cuts fell along my wrist. It could have been much worse or fatal." I`ve got to say, I`ve had some dicey experiences on live television, sometimes out in the field where things didn`t go well. But I can say this, I`ve never hit a guy with an ax on live television. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: In his wide-ranging discussion with comedian Marc Maron, President Obama made that the point that just because some forms of explicit racism are inappropriate in polite society, he doesn`t mean that implicit much more fundamental racial equities have been addressed. To drive this point home, the president mentioned a word that has a long history of being explicitly racist. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) OBAMA: And it`s not just a matter of it not being polite to say (AUDIO DELETED) in public. That`s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It`s not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have -- societies don`t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior. (END AUDIO CLIP) HAYES: As an example of the powerful social taboo we have on explicit enunciations of racism, consider this, former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell his basketball team last year after he was caught on tape telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to his games. But somehow managed to hold on to the team in 2009 after agreeing to pay a record $2.725 million to the Justice Department to settle allegations that he discriminated against African-Americans, among others, at apartment buildings he controls in Los Angeles. By narrowly focusing on the president`s mention of the "N" word, the media seems to be doing exactly what Obama said, that`s paying more attention to overt racism rather than the kind of racism that lies just beneath the surface. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s the president of the United States saying the "N" word. He doesn`t just "N" word. He actually uses the word. So today people are going to be talking, Bret, about whether or not it is appropriate or for the president to use the "N" word and whether or not it`s beneath the dignity of his office. BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: He is the prerogative, I guess, to say those things when talking about racism from his personal knowledge and it has a unique perspective, obviously, as the first African-American president. But I think it will raise some eyebrows, and you will probably have the White House respond. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: In fact, it turned out that Bret was exactly right. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would acknowledge that the -- that the president`s -- that the way that the president designed his argument in this scenario is more provocative. And I don`t think there`s anybody here that is surprised that this is something that`s getting a little bit more attention. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: As to the question whether the president allowing that word to trip off his tongue is, quote, "beneath the dignity of his office," I guess it depends if the president is mentioning the word, as President Obama was, to make a larger point about racism, or using the word to be explicitly racist as other previous presidents have done in private conversations. Joining me now, Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown University and MSNBC political analyst. Michael, it really does strike me that the reaction is the president knew what he was doing and did it precisely for this reason, which is to kind of blow up a little bit the imbalance we have towards the way we patrol explicit taboos on this subject and all of the implicit structural stuff that`s going on. MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly right. He was, I think, quite ingenious, clever to be sure, about exploiting those boundaries by drawing attention to them. The very point that he was trying to make is that the elimination of that word does not eliminate the realities to which it refers. When white racists, bigots, and terrorists were destroying black life, property, and other communities, they used that word. They didn`t say the "N" word, they called black people that term. So, what Obama forced America to do is to come to grips with the ugliness of it, the gritty, utter, irresolved, unresolved antipathy that the word conjures. HAYES: Yes. DYSON: The word conjures that because it refers to something very real. And you`re absolutely right. The contrast between the implicit and the explicit here, he just blew that whole thing up and now he`s forcing us to have that conversation. HAYES: You know, I was reminded of an experience I had when I was in the White House, I think it was in 2012, if I`m not mistaken. I was in the West Wing, the Oval Office, and the president had chosen a painting, which is the Norman Rockwell painting, "The Problem We All Live With," which is a painting that has that word sprawled across it. DYSON: Right. HAYES: I remember thinking -- it didn`t get a ton of press. Wow, the president of the United States has said to everyone who is going to come in and out of the office of the most powerful man in the world, you`re going to look at this photo of the reality of where this country has been and what is sort of underlying the surface. And it was a similar kind of moment of like, let`s all take a second to remember what we`re looking at here. DYSON: Well, right. It`s the Edgar Allen Poe`s "Purloined Letter" hidden in plain sight. So, the reality is the signifiers of race are everywhere. Once we put on the goggles and begin to see with different eyes through a different lens, we begin to see race in ways we haven`t seen before. When the most powerful man in the world uses a term that has been used against him, that has been -- HAYES: Thousands of times every day. DYSON: Oh, my God. I mean, against this man that all of a sudden they don`t find that the problem. The press doesn`t point to, oh, my God, look at the obscene amount, the very velocity that comes at him daily through the kind of calumny and assault and all kinds of outrageous things said about him. But, no, his very use of the term to suggest that this is something that black people are referred to and that is not only inappropriate but that when it is -- when it is excised from your vocabulary, you still have to deal with the consequences of it, that becomes the bete noire, that becomes the focus and it only re-enforces his point a thousand times over. We`re obsessed with the "N" word but not the people to whom it refers and not the conditions that make that word especially ugly. HAYES: I took a little tour through YouTube today. It was a tour of presidents formally used -- previous presidents using the word, the White House states. And there`s quite a lot of exemplars. I mean, even when they`re not on tape we know that Truman used it and LBJ is on tape and Richard Nixon. DYSON: Oh, yes. HAYES: It`s a little -- it`s pretty shocking to go back and listen to it just come out of LBJ`s mouth, for instance, when he was talking about the Civil Rights Act, about to pass the Civil Rights Act and just dropping it, not as mentioning it, I mean, using it like straight up using it, talking about whether they`re going to get the Civil Rights Act passed. DYSON: Exactly right. I mean, the reality is, is that Obama is the president who then puts it in kind of scare quotes to suggest that this word is a very complicated one, but LBJ, Andrew Johnson and a bunch of others were using it straightforwardly without any signification other than hatred and vile disrepute for black people. HAYES: Michael Eric Dyson, thank you. DYSON: Thank you. HAYES: Coming up, the debate over whether the Charleston massacre was an act of terrorism and why it matters. And it is down to the wire for the Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage and Obamacare. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Today, we were treated to be hilarious and bizarre tradition of the running of the interns. This morning, the ritual was on full display. It`s a tried and true one. As the Supreme Court nears the end of its term with a whole bunch of blockbuster cases undecided. The tradition borne of the Supreme Court`s reluctance to broadcast their decisions, features media employees running out physical paper decisions from inside the court to news correspondents standing outside. And as a noble job usually left to interns clad in D.C. style business attire and often running shoes. Well, today, those diligent sprinters were out. They probably didn`t get the action they were hoping for as none of them had the privilege yet of delivering one of this year`s most highly anticipated decisions into the hands of a network reporter. They will likely have that chance sometime in the next week when the court is scheduled to deliver some genuinely foundation shifting rulings. The court will rule on whether or not same-sex couples in this country have a constitutional right to get married and whether or not to strike down a key part of the Obamacare decision that could cost millions of people across the country their health insurance. We are down to the wire for those major decisions. They will start coming down this Thursday at 10:00 a.m. and will continue on Friday and Monday as well -- although we don`t know when any of them will come down. So, stay tuned and watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Five days after nine African-Americans lost their lives in Charleston, and we do not yet know whether the attack that took their lives will be treated as terrorism. And last Friday, FBI director James Comey confused the issue telling reporters when asked that based on what he knew at that point he did not believe the massacre in Charleston`s Emanuel AME church was terrorism. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: I wouldn`t because of the way we define terrorism under the law. Terrorism is an act of violence done or threatened to -- in order to try to influence a public body or the citizenry, so it`s more of a political act. Again, based on what I know so far I don`t see it as a political act. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Shat same day, however, the Department of Justice said that it`s looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism. Those two seemingly contradictory statements came the day after one friend of the shooter told ABC News, the 21-year-old had spoken about starting a race war. And over this past weekend, another bombshell, Twitter sleuth who paid $49 for a reverse domain search uncovered a website called The site was registered on February 9th under Dylann Roof`s name and to his mother`s home address. Sources have told NBC News the FBI believes the website does indeed belong to the shooter. It featured dozens of pictures of the gunman, now charged with nine counts of murder, one of him burning an American flag, one crouched down holding a gun and Confederate flag, another of him standing in front of a Confederate history museum and the rambling screed on the site, while not particularly polished, was explicitly political. It reads in part, "I have no choice. I`m not in the position to alone go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to whites in the country. We have no Skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world. I guess that has to be me." If there was ever any shred of doubt the shooter`s motives were not political in nature, but words published on his website should extinguish that quickly. Joining me now Ben Jealous, former president of NAACP, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Ben, why does it matter to your mind whether we call this terrorism or not? BEN JEALOUS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, look, it`s critical. We in the civil rights community have fought really since the very end of the Civil War for this type of terror to be treated just as that by the U.S. government. And it`s a real test for the FBI. I mean, what it comes down to quite frankly are you willing to consider a -- you know, young white man who targets black people to kill them because of his politics a -- you know, someone who is acting as a terrorist. And as much trouble as I`m having with that word right now, you know what`s real, Chris, is that, look, if this was John Walker Lindh II, we would not be having this conversation. If it was a black person who was targeting white people, we would not be having this conversation. It seems that the U.S. government for a very long time has just tripped over, you know, coming down on the white supremacists of the day, the kind of newest version, as what they are. And this guy was clearly a terrorist. He was - - I mean, he couldn`t have made it more clear. HAYES: Yeah. I mean, to me the key here is, the reason we care about terrorism as a category is that there`s something particularly toxic to the social contract about political violence, about violence that is undertaken to achieve kind of ideological aims. And it just seems clear on its face given what we have learned this weekend from that website that this was -- I mean, they`re the worst kind of politics known to man, but they are politics. What by his own words he was doing. JEALOUS: No, look, I mean, that`s precisely right. You know, and of course why this is so painful for us in the black community, why, you know, it`s so core to what the civil rights community is about, people of all colors in the civil rights community is that the one type of human violence that has been permitted sort of longest in U.S. history has been white people killing black people, you know, in the name of racial oppression, right. I mean, you can go the first 200, 250 years of our country`s history really 400 years in the institution of slavery, it was totally legal. And this in many ways -- and he made it clear when he held that confederate flag was an extension of that, it was about putting us back in our place, so to speak. He rambles on about slavery and how he wish to turn back the clocks. And that`s why it hurts so much when you see the U.S. federal government tripping over themselves not to call him a terrorist. You know, the actual FBI director having such a hard time with this concept because you`re like, really, what is the problem here? If he was claiming that he was with ISIS you wouldn`t have a problem. You know? If this was the Black Panther Party 40 years ago, you all didn`t have a problem. So, why are you having a problem with this now? HAYES: Yeah. I mean, if you take those photos that were unearthed this weekend, you replace the confederate flag with the black flag of ISIS, I mean, there`s just no question to anyone, anywhere how this gets treated or what definition it falls under. Ben Jealous, always a pleasure, man, thank you very much. JEALOUS: All right. I appreciate you. Thank you. HAYES: All right, coming up, the Republican governor of South Carolina says 150 years after the end of the Civil War the time has come to take down the confederate flag. But does she have the votes? More on that ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: It is official, America, Donald Trump is running for president. Yes, it is even more official than his dramatic escalator entrance and rambling announcement speech last Tuesday, because today the Trump campaign released FEC form 2, "Statement of Candidacy" stamped June 22 and starts the clock running. A financial disclosure form must now be filed within 30 days. Financial disclosure form will give us an idea of Trump`s actual net worth. The bad news for Trump, in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll he`s garnering just 1 percent of GOP primary voters, in 11th place, behind Carly Fiorina. He must be in at least tenth place to get on the Fox News debate stage in August, though, there is still time since Fox will average the five most recent polls. So good luck, and godspeed. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: To many people it is a symbol of tyranny, it`s a symbol of white supremacy, it`s a symbol of domination. UNIDENITIFIED MALE: It is. But again, to another population in this state, it`s a symbol of heritage, it`s a symbol of state rights, it`s a symbol of my great-great- grandfather died in some battle in Manassas or Bull Run or who knows where. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: A day after the murders of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston with the confederate battle flag still flying high over the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol, while the stars and stripes and the state flag were both at half staff, conservative politicians like Congressman Mark Sanford continued to dispute the ugly history of that symbol. Well, what a difference just a few days can make. By Friday with outrage growing over the flag`s official place of prominence, a few cracks were forming and that night here on this show we broke some big news. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another conservative legislator out of Spartanburg said he is going to sponsor the bill to take the flag down. We are going to make progress in this state. HAYES: What legislator was that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doug Brannon who was from Spartanburg said -- he called me. He said... HAYES: And Spartanburg is very a conservative part of this state. UNIDENITIFIED MALE: That`s right. He called me just before air. He said I`m going to sponsor a bill to take the flag down. It has to come down. We`ve got to move forward in this state. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: During the show we then got state representative Doug Brannon on the phone to tell us why he decided to sponsor that bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOUG BRANNON, STATE REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH CAROLINA: I had a friend die Wednesday night for no reason other than he was a black man. Senator Pinckney was an incredible human being. I don`t want to talk politics, but I`m going to introduce the bill for that reason. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Then, over the weekend hundreds of people marched in Charleston and the state capitol Columbia calling for lawmakers to take down the confederate flag. A Moveon petition demanding its removal ultimately garnered over 500,000 signatures and tweet from a prominent Republican helped ratchet up the pressure on members of his own party. Mitt Romney tweeted on Saturday, take down the confederate flag of the South Carolina capital. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor Charleston victims. But the death blow for confederate flag apologism was probably the trove of photos discovered this weekend showing the white supremacist who reportedly confessed to last week`s massacre embracing the battle flag, burning the stars and stripes, and making pilgrimages to sites celebrating so-called confederate heritage. Today, flanked by a bipartisan group of South Carolina lawmakers, including congressman Mark Sanford, Governor Nikki Haley announced a major policy change. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. NIKKI HALEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: For those who wish to show their respect to the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way. But the state house is different and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way. 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. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: I spoke earlier with Congressman James Clyburn, Democrat from South Carolina who was there standing beside Governor Haley and asked him if he was part of the behind the scenes conversations leading up to her announcement. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Last Thursday at Morris Brown AME Church at the service, the governor and I spoke and during our embrace she said to me, we just got to do something. We got to have a proper response to this. So I had no idea she was talking about the flag at the time. I saw her later that afternoon. And it just seemed to me that she was getting to a good place on something, but I didn`t know until yesterday that -- that the flag was something that was eating away at her. And so when I talked to her earlier today, she told me what she was going to do and asked would I stand with her when she did. And so I did. HAYES: You know, there are obviously folks who are celebrating this and welcome it. There are others who are sort of saying, well, this was done in the face of a kind of crescendo of public outrage and the initial instinct to both Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham were if not to outright defend the flag, kind of hem and haw on it. How do you understand this decision as one of conviction or kind of following the momentum of where things were headed anyway? CLYBURN: Well, you know, I understand politics, and I know the difference in the Republican voters` psyche about the flag and Democratic voters` psyche. I would say generally two-thirds Democratic voters have got problems with the flag flying on the state house grounds, about two- thirds of Republican voters want it to fly on the state house grounds. But you know, when I talk to even Republican voters and I point out to them that they have been misled for years about this flag, a lot of them say to me, I never heard that before. Most people don`t know that that flag that`s sitting in front of the state house right now, that is a northern -- that is the battle flag of northern Virginia. That was a flag that Robert E. Lee fought under. But when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, he asked all of his followers to furl the flag. And as you know, six months after the war he applied for citizenship to come back into the United States of America. And so people who celebrate that flag, South Carolinans they just don`t know. South Carolinians didn`t fight under that flag. For the most part we hey fought under the flag of the citadel and other regimented flags. So South Carolinians have been celebrating a myth. And so when I point this out to people -- there was one lady who called me and said I checked on it and you`re right. So I know that I`m right about that. The flag that we had on top of the state house for -- since 1962 until we took it down 14 or 15 years ago, that was the Tennessee flag. That was not the flag that South Carolinians fought under. So, it`s kind of interesting to me that when people get educated about this, they are -- they change their tune a little bit. And so I think a lot of my Republican friends have decided to stop misleading people on what that flag really is because it`s not any kind of kinship to South Carolinians. HAYES: Congressman, let me ask you this also. I mean, obviously there`s going to be a big fight that`s going to be a legislative fight coming up. It`s not a sure thing, and we`re going to talk to a state senator about that in a moment. But any phone calls being made now to the Mississippi delegation that has the battlefield actually part of their state flag? Do you see this as becoming kind of a moment where obviously this is not just a South Carolina issue where there`s a little bit of a reckoning more broadly? CLYBURN: Well, it`s kind of interesting. I think so. They`ve had that debate in Mississippi and Georgia as well. I would say that Georgians, they got that flag as a big part of their flag and it`s not a flag that really should be a part of Georgia`s history. The Georgians are just wrong in celebrating that flag unless you just want an emblem of rebellion, of defiance, to celebrate as a part of your state, I think all of us ought to sit down and get our history correct. Georgians and the Mississippians were to get their history right, they would not be celebrating that flag because that flag is not anything that they ought to be celebrating. HAYES: All right, Congressman James Clyburn, thank you so much for your time tonight. I really appreciate it. CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: All right, we recorded that about 90 minutes ago. This now just breaking just in the last few minutes from the Associated Press. Mississippi house speaker, Mississippi, confederate emblem is offensive, should be removed from the state flag. So, things are moving very quickly right now. Now in South Carolina the big question is, are there enough South Carolina Republican lawmakers who are willing to back legislation to take down the flag? I`ll talk to one of those Republican lawmakers ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Joining me now South Carolina state senator Tom Davis, a Republican. Now, senator, my understanding is you support the governor`s call made today to take the flag down. TOM DAVIS, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Right. I had previously gone ahead and stated that I thought that the flag ought to come down. HAYES: How has your thinking evolved? How much did the massacre in Charleston have to do with your thinking on this? DAVIS: It had a tremendous amount to do with it. And it really forced me, and I think it forced a lot of legislators to rethink or to reconsider the 2,000 compromise which took the confederate battle flag off the state house dome and moved it into the front of the capitol by the confederate war memorial. And I think Governor Haley put it very well today and very similar to what I had stated earlier in that for many South Carolinians, this flag, this confederate battle flag, is something of honor, that represents history and heritage and ancestry and that`s not racism, it`s not hatred. But it`s equally true that some hate group or many hate groups have misappropriated the confederate battle flag as a symbol of their hatred. And we may not like that. We may think that`s unfair or unjust but it`s a reality. It`s been misappropriated by these groups and is largely seen now, and correctly in my view, but still seen now as a symbol of hate, and it`s something that divides us South Carolinians. And we can`t simply ignore that fact. The fact is, it is perceive by many to be a symbol of hate. And trying to do what Senator Pinckney always admonished me to do was to put myself in somebody else`s shoes and to see things through their eyes. And after he was murdered on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and then this weekend talking with my wife, I tried to imagine what it must be like to be a black South Carolinian that comes to the state house, their state house as much as it is mine, and as much as it is anybody else`s in South Carolina, and to see that symbol that causes so much pain. And I think that we just reached the realization that when you have something that`s been misappropriated and is used and now widely seen incorrectly but still seen as a symbol of hatred, it`s time to move on from that and let`s figure out another way to celebrate our heritage and our ancestry and our history. I thought Governor Haley put it very well today. HAYES: Senator, let me just say, and I think I`m like a lot of people welcome this change that`s happening in South Carolina. I think it`s -- it takes a certain amount of political courage to do what you did. It does seem a little odd to say it`s misappropriated insofar -- I mean, the confederacy in the writings of the people who founded it, who declared it at the time, very frankly was about the preservation of maintenance and slavery and white supremacy and white domination. Now there are I`m sure folks who feel an affinity for that flag for other reasons. But misappropriated does seem a slightly odd way to characterize its use by essentially modern-day white supremacists. DAVIS: I`d say misappropriated in this sense. I think that, again, most South Carolinians that support that battle flag flying on the state house grounds do so because for them it is a symbol of something that is noteworthy, important, historical, celebrating their ancestor, right or wrong it`s part of South Carolina history to them. When I say misappropriated I mean it in a sense of taking it away from that purpose entirely and using it for purposes of hatred, using it as rallying point to promote hatred. That`s just a fact. We saw it happen on Wednesday night. We`ve seen it happen on other instances. And that has to be recognized. And the fact that many are unhappy that hate groups are taking the flag and using it as a symbol, I think at this point in time that`s beside the point. They are using it. It is being seen as symbol of hatred and I think for that reason it would have to come down, especially when 35 percent of South Carolinians may come to the state house and see that flag and see it in that way. And when you`ve got something that`s dividing us, I think you just got to go ahead and take the step, take it down and find some other way to honor our heritage and let`s move forward as a state. HAYES: There`s the procedural path forward in terms of the legislature acting to get this flag taken down. It`s a little unclear to me. It`s looking like because of where you are in the session there`s going to need to be two-thirds votes in both houses, if I`m not mistaken. Do you think you can get it done? I mean, it seems to me quite an open question. DAVIS: Well, you know, I can only speak to the senate, which is where I serve. And you do the math there. You`ve got 29 Republicans, now we`ve got 16 democrats. It used to be 17 before Clem Pinckney was murdered. So, you`ve got 16 Democrats. And so this kind of imperfect but the way to look at it would be, OK let`s say you`ve got 16 Democrats that are willing to go ahead and vote to have the resolution amended that would allow us to take this matter up in July as the governor has asked us to do, in which I think we should do. So what that means is you`ve got to get 14 Republicans to get to 30, which would be two-thirds of the membership. And so of the 29 Republicans, you would have to get 14 to agree to amend the signing of the resolution. And I honestly don`t know what the math is at this point in time, Chris. I think we`ll find out more tomorrow in the senate when we convene at 1:00 to take up the budget. And I suspect at that point in time there will be some discussion about the confederate flag, confederate battle flag. There will be some head counts done. There will be some whip counts done. I`ll will have a better idea. But I`m optimistic. I think Governor Haley put forth a very strong and cogent argument. I think she properly recognized that for most South Carolinians who support the confederate battle flag flying it is a symbol of heritage, it is a symbol of ancestry and pride and that is not hate, that is not racism, but she also noted that for many people it has been misappropriated for that purpose. And we`ve got to recognize that fact. We`ve got to take something down that is causing so much pain to South Carolinians. I think she made a good case. I will have a better idea tomorrow when we convene in the senate just how good that case was made. HAYES: State Senator Tom Davis, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate it. DAVIS: Great to be here, Chris. HAYES: All right, things are moving very quickly on the confederate flag front. Walmart just announcing within the last hour and a half that they will be removing confederate flag merchandise from what they offer. 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 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. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END