IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 12/15/2015

Guests: Jennifer Granholm, Cornell Belcher, Warren Adelstein, Charlie Pierce, Tony Suarez

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 15, 2015 Guest: Jennifer Granholm, Cornell Belcher, Warren Adelstein, Charlie Pierce, Tony Suarez (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at all those press. HAYES: Fear and voting in Las Vegas. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is about the essence of America. About all of us who feel out of place in our own country. HAYES: Tonight, as campaign chaos gives way to the last Republican debate of 2015, is there anyone who can do anything to slow Donald Trump? Plus, the final Democratic word before the Republican fight. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can give in to fear. Bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming commander-in-chief. HAYES: Then, school shutdown. Why New York and L.A. had two completely different reactions to two nearly identical threats? MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: There was nothing credible about the threat. HAYES: And back to Baltimore. What today`s deadlocked jury means for the first trial in the Freddie Gray case. When ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The fifth Republican presidential debate, the final GOP debate of the year is set to begin if about an hour at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. There will be nine candidates on stage in the main debate, with front runner Donald Trump at center stage. Four additional candidates who were polling too low to make the main stage, participated in a separate debate earlier in the evening. Outside of the Venetian, protesters amassed early in the day with signs opposing hateful rhetoric. While inside, the candidates and the media prepared for the first GOP debate since the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino that have at least as of now reshaped the presidential race. In a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 40 percent of Americans says national security and terrorism should be the top priority for the federal government, an increase of 19 points since April. Only 23 percent now say job creation and economic growth should be a top priority, a decrease of six points. But there is a huge partisan split going on here -- 48 percent of Republican primary voters, a majority, cite national security and terrorism as the government`s top priority, just 26 percent of Democratic primary voters feel the same way. Over the past few weeks, a pervasive air of fear and downright panic has overtaken American politics and infected much of the media. And there is no clear indication of the tangible effects of the cause of that and what happened today in the second largest school district in the country. This morning, officials closed the entire Los Angeles public school system, a decision that affected more than 640,000 students along with their families, in response to an e-mailed bomb threat they deemed credible. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAMON C. CORTINES, SUPERINTENDENT, L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: It was not to one school, two schools, or three schools. It was many schools. Not specifically identified, but there were many schools. That`s the reason I took the action that I did. I am not taking the chance of bringing children any place, into any part of the building until I know it`s safe. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Police administrators spent the day searching the 900-plus schools in the district going building to building, in a search that turned up nothing. In New York City, officials received a very similar threat but determined it to be a hoax and decided to keep the schools there opened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAM BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: This is not a credible threat. It is not something we are concerned with. What we would be concerned with is overreacting to it. We will stay aware. We will stay involved. But we at all costs cannot start overreacting to what will probably a series of copycat types of initiatives. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: In the wake of the Paris attacks, there was speculation that GOP primary voters in particular would, quote, "look to the Republican candidates with the maturity and experience to make real presidential decisions." A situation that eliminates Donald Trump as former GOP under secretary of defense (INAUDIBLE) argued. Instead, Republican primary voters have been rallying around Trump, who has gotten huge cheers around strategy for ISIS that amounts to, quote, "I would bomb the bleep out of them." Since the Paris attacks in November 13th, Republicans support for Trump has risen from 25 percent, all the way up to 33 percent, an 8-point spike. In a climate of fear, it is not the, quote/unquote, "serious-minded candidates" GOP primary voters are turning to. Rather, a candidate who offers not policy solutions but bombastic proclamations of toughness, calls for killing the families of alleged terrorists, including women and children, and who seeks to keep all Muslims out of the country, at least he says temporarily. That is a candidate that many of the other GOP presidential hopefuls will be doing their best to emulate on that debate stage tonight. Joining me now, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, senior advisor of pro-Hillary Clinton advocacy group, Correct the Record. And, Governor, you are a politician. And you understand the power that fear can have among the populace. How do you combat it? How do you respond to it? How do you speak to it in a way that is clear eyed and sober and responsive but doesn`t gin people up? JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Well, actually, Chris, I think Hillary Clinton did that today. She was in Minnesota. She gave a great speech. In that speech, she directly responded to this. In fact, if I can quote her, she said, "We cannot give into fear. We cannot let fear push us into reckless actions that actually make us less safe. We must be open-hearted. We must celebrate American diversity, and not fear it." And she`s responding, of course, directly as you have alluded to, to Donald Trump, who is not only the biggest recruiter potentially for ISIS, with the hateful language that he`s made. He`s not only potentially alienating our allies, our Muslim allies, who we want to be more involved in this fight against ISIS, but if anybody saw last night at a rally here in Las Vegas, Donald Trump`s supporters -- I mean, he`s basically stoking, cattle prodding his supporters into fear and hate. And when there was a Black Lives Matter protester at his rally, that protester was goaded. And in fact, his supporters, Donald Trump`s supporters said things like, let`s set the MF on fire. He`s a Muslim. Shoot him. And things like Sieg Heil. Now, I know you can`t be responsible crazy people at rallies do. Sometimes, it`s totally out of your control. But, unfortunately, these incidents at Donald Trump`s rallies are becoming more and more frequent. And that is not worthy of America. That is not leadership. HAYES: But here`s something that has haunted me ever since Bill Clinton said it back in 2002. And because there are certain aspects of the current political mood that do recall the mind actually 2002 and 2003. This is Bill Clinton said in December 3rd, 2002, when Democrats were trying to kind of find their rhetorical footing on foreign policy specifically. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: We`ve got to be strong. When we look weak at a time where people look insecure, we lose. When people feel certain, they`d rather have somebody strong and wrong, than somebody`s who`s weak and right. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Was he right? Is that what we`re seeing right now, people wanting something that`s strong and wrong? GRANHOLM: Well, I think they want people who are strong, certainly, but not strong and wrong, and so wrong that you end up endangering the very citizens who you are asking to elect you. And that is what Donald Trump is doing. Remember, Teddy Roosevelt also said, speak softly, but carry a big stick. These guys are blustering, speaking loudly. But they are endangering the country. Now, compare that with President Obama who didn`t say a word, for example, before Osama bin Laden was taken out. But he carried a big stick. So, I think there is a different strategy here. And I think Hillary Clinton has got the right one. HAYES: Let me ask you this, because the mood of this country discuss, to me, feel much like 2002, 2003, I mean, one of the things happen, people make decisions in that atmosphere of fear, they later come to regret. One example is Hillary Clinton`s vote for the Iraq war. She has to her great credit I think said that was a wrong decision. But there is a real sort of judgment question, right, if the country is wrapped up in this moment of fear, whether you can trust that a politician is going to essentially buck the trend and do what`s in the best long-term strategic interest of the country? GRANHOLM: Yes, I think that`s a very good point. That you may feel carried along with the wake of emotion and do something that ends up being harmful. But you recall, also, in the wake of 9/11, the ethos that George Bush evoked, which is that he said we`ve got to be united and not divided. And that is the spirit of a real leader. When you start pitting Americans against Americans, then you are not acting like a leader. When you bring us together to fight a common enemy and bring our allies into the fold rather than insulting them, that is the sign of a true leader. HAYES: All right. Jennifer Granholm, thank you very much. Joining me now, Cornell Belcher, former DNC pollster and president of Brilliant Corner Research and Strategy. And, Cornell, here`s my question about the cross tabs on this polling on terrorism, right? Here`s the partisan split. Is national security/terrorism top priority for the federal government? Fifty-eight percent of Republicans say yes, right? Twenty-six percent of Democrats say yes. So my question is, is this question being refracted through a partisan lens? Meaning, this is just a way of saying, I don`t approve of Barack Obama? Or are there different levels of concern about this, quote, "threat" among different partisans? CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER DNC POLLSTER: I think there is a different level of threat and concern that`s spread along partisanship. I mean, look, if you look at, I think it was "New York Times" poll a couple days ago, also, you saw that 40 percent of Republicans were both dissatisfied and angry, which is basically double what Democrats were and a lot more than what independents said. And if you look at, I think "The Washington Post" poll today ahead with 61 percent of Republicans very, you know, very likely that we have another terrorist attack soon. Republicans are in a different place than the rest of the country. But also, that`s a place that the party are driving them. Republicans do very well as a ruler strong man branded party in this sort of atmosphere is an atmosphere that absolutely benefits Republicans broadly, although you see the base of their Republican party, very much in this fear and anger space, which, by the way, is a perfect storm for a candidate like Donald Trump. HAYES: The other question I have is how durable these effects are of these shocks on the system like the Paris attacks, like the San Bernardino attacks. I mean, it makes certain sense. There is a certain rationality. We`ve seen these two terrible attack, horrible mass murders. The Paris one particularly when planned and terrifying in how logistically complex it was in terms of a bunch of co-conspirators. What do we know about how long that kind of sense of pervasive threat will continue in a voting public? BELCHER: It`s as long as they`re successful at driving it. I mean, let`s be clear -- I mean, I saw a lot of the Democrats lost in the face of the terrorism stuff coming out in 2000, after George Bush sort of used it front and center. HAYES: Yes. BELCHER: You know, Max Cleland comes to mind first. Someone who left half his body on the battlefield for American lost in the face of this sort of thing. So, as long as they drive it and certainly their base is revved up for it, and, frankly, it`s problematic for the other Republicans in the debate tonight because Donald Trump oddly enough has a double-digit lead over most of the field on dealing with terrorism. So, the conversation right now is benefiting the Republican Party and the conversation, in particular, is benefiting Donald Trump. Now, if we go into the general election where the top issue is not economics and a top issue as far as terrorism, it`s a better environment for Republicans. HAYES: You know, what you said about Trump there is also interesting. Because I`ve watched as Republican after Republican has donned on them. They first thought, oh, great, OK, terrorism, now security, foreign policy, I got this. I`m the best briefed on this, I have experience. I served in all these roles. They have watched as the fear genie that`s been let out of the bottle has sort of come back to haunt them, right? Because it turns out folks aren`t really looking for a real ten-point plans and sophisticated analysis. They want someone who will say I want to bomb the bleep out of them. BELCHER: Right. The simple answer wins out here. And I keep listening to all these professionals talk about, you know, his ceiling. There is no ceiling on fear and xenophobia in this country. HAYES: Yes, Cornell Belcher, thank you for that. BELCHER: Thank you. HAYES: I should mention before I move on to something else, I understand why people are afraid. What happened in Paris and San Bernardino is genuinely upsetting and terrifying. Anyway, we are monitoring breaking news out of Nashville, Tennessee, tonight, where Southwest Airlines Flight 31 traveling from Houston airport just split off a taxiway at Nashville International airport heading to its gate. Southwest says all 133 passenger and five crew are safely off the plane. A local fire department took three people to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. Right now, the plane is still sitting in the grass by the taxiway. No word yet on exactly what happened. Still to come, as Jennifer Granholm alluded to earlier, a Nazi Germany era salute shouted out from the crowd. That really happened, as a protester was removed from last night`s Trump rally. I`ll talk to the reporter who caught it on camera, next. Plus, the entire Los Angeles School District closes after receiving a threat. How they made that decision and how New York having received a similar threat today stayed opened. And later, how all this, the growing paranoia and fear and violent rhetoric will play out in tonight`s GOP debate. Those stories and more ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has done the one single thing he cannot do, declare war on Islam itself. To all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, like the king of Jordan and the president of Egypt -- I am sorry. He does not represent us. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The debate stage earlier tonight, Senator Lindsey Graham attempted to place himself apart from Donald Trump on Islam. Despite the fact that Trump`s proposal to keep Muslims out of the country has not hurt his poll numbers, Americans in general have hold relatively negative views of Islam -- 43 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans in a survey out last month saying it`s incompatible with American values. We have been bringing you occasional stories of harassment and assaults targeting Muslims in this country. But it`s worth compiling a list of the major incidents since the San Bernardino attack on December 2nd. Two days later in Florida, the Islamic Center Palm Beach was vandalized. About half its windows broken and furniture inside overturned. That same day, the St. Louis branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations received threatening phone messages from a man who said he`d chop off Muslims head if they came to his home. We told you about a store owner in Queens, New York, who has attacked on December 5th by a man reportedly yelled "I kill Muslims." The next day, a woman in California yelled slurs and threw hot coffee at a group of people praying in a park. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are very distinct. Your mind has been taken over, brainwashed. You have nothing but hate. Nothing but hate. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Elsewhere in California on that same day, a Sikh temple, which to be clear, has nothing to do with Islam but is often confused by bigots with Islam was vandalized with graffiti referencing ISIS. On December 8th, as we reported to you before, the severed head of a pig considered unclean in Islam was thrown at a mosque in Philadelphia. That same day, a Somali restaurant in North Dakota was fire bombed after already having been spray-painted with Nazi SS symbols. On December 10th, the Council on American Islamic Relations headquarters in Washington had to evacuate after receiving a threatening letter filled with white powder which turned out to be harmless. That same day, police began in Texas, families had rocks thrown through their windows at least twice in two days. Islamic Center in Phoenix has been a frequent target of armed protests had its windows smashed. On December 11th, a southern California mosque was set on fire. The suspected perpetrator has been charged with five felonies, including arson and commission of a hate crime. Elsewhere in California, just two days ago, vandals spray-painted two mosque with the words "Jesus" and left a plastic replica of a hand grenade in the driveway. That list is not comprehensive. But if you want a sense, look no further than the collective social id known as Google search. Two academics writing the "New York Times" did just that, finding a direct correlation between anti-Muslim searches and anti-Muslim hate crimes. In November alone, before San Bernardino, there were about 3,600 searches in the United States for "I hate Muslims" and about 2,400 for "kill Muslims." Up next, how hatred and ugliness bubbled over at a Trump rally last night in Vegas. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Last night, as has become fairly routine, protesters interrupted a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas. And despite warning from the campaign about how to respond appropriately, the crowd more or less went nuts. We have been chronicling all the incidents of violence against protesters that have occurred at Trump events, including one carried out by Trump`s own body guard who just cold-cocked a demonstrator while confiscating his sign, seen right there. And Trump himself seemed to condone when asked the following day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP (via telephone): I had 10,000 people in the room. And this guy started screaming, by himself, and I don`t know, rough up, he should have been -- maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Since then, the Trump campaign has apparently tried to rein in the attendees at his events, informing them of the correct way to handle protesters in a rally in Iowa last Friday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a protester starts demonstrating in the area around you, please do not touch or harm the protester. This is a peaceful rally. In order to notify the law enforcement officers of the location of the protester, please hold a rally sign over your head and start chanting, Trump, Trump, Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Last night in Las Vegas, after protesters interrupted several times, some attendees started screaming and shoving. And as one heckler was being dragged away by security, people could be heard yelling, "kick his ass, shoot him, light the motherf-er on fire," and then someone fired shouted a Nazi salute. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) HAYES: That was Sieg Heil there in the end. I`m joined now by MSNBC political reporter Benjy Sarlin, who`s at that rally, took the video of the protester being dragged out. So, for people that weren`t there or trying to kind of make sense of blurry iPhone footage, what did it feel like in the room at that moment? BENJY SARLIN, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Chris, I have been to a variety of Trump events in the past. None of them have felt anything like this -- the amount of intensity and rage that appeared just from zero to 11 as soon as protesters started making noise was honestly frightening. I mean, the senior scene there was seconds after that protester started yelling about gun control, and you already saw this onslaught of violent rhetoric. And this just played out throughout -- it started at one point to escalate towards physical contact. There is one audience member who shoved a protester. But it never quite boiled over in that direction, thank goodness. But it was very scary. I mean, there was a lot of raw pure uncut rage going on. And this is not something I have felt at previous Trump rally, which often feel more, you know, however you feel about Trump, like entertainment, people having a good time, even people that don`t agree with Trump. This was different. HAYES: So, you were the one that caught the Sieg Heil, which made a lot of news, for understandable reasons. It`s not every day you hear that shouted at an American political rally, at least on a mainstream event. Do you know who said that? We don`t know who this person is or what could possibly motivate someone to say that? SARLIN: Well, Chris, let`s be fair about a couple things here. I do not know who that person was. And like you said, we don`t know what`s motivating them. Obviously, it`s not impossible they were saying it, lest say, ironically. HAYES: Right. SARLIN: My impression was this was a large older aged white man. He looked very, very upset. I put it enraged. He just took a full breath and bellowed Sieg Heil. Now, he didn`t seem to be with the protesters or sympathetic to the protesters. So -- but I can`t fully tell you what he meant. HAYES: I mean, that`s not something you hear all the time. Was your sense of the folks there -- there is not a lot of management, partly because Secret Service has their own rules. Secret Service has now be been staffed to Donald Trump. Certain candidates get Secret Service very early. He is one of them. How much are you able to interact with the folks who are attending these rallies? SARLIN: Well, Chris, I was mingling with the crowd talking to some Trump supporters before. But here`s the thing, I was sort of breaking the rules by doing that. Trump has been trying to contain the reporters to a pen, a media pen, in which they can observe the event, not leave, not be in the crowd, and I have a feeling these protests are outbursts and the reaction may have to do with that strategy. Now, I am not a daily Trump reporter. I don`t have to worry about access the people follow him every day do. And, frankly, I showed up a little late. So, they didn`t have a media sign-in table. So it`s easy to walk in with the crowd. So -- part of their -- but there were really only a handful of reporters in the crowd as a result. It was mostly national reporters like me who don`t necessarily cover Trump every day and don`t have those concerns. But you see just from these videos, how important it is to have people out there because it can get -- this is obviously a story, how protesters are treated at this event, and how the crowd reacts. It`s important to have eyes on it. HAYES: All right. Benjy Sarlin, who is there in I believe the spin room, reporting on the debate and Trump event last night. Thanks a lot. SARLIN: Chris, thanks for having me. HAYES: All right. Still to come, a deadlocked jury, what this means for the first trial in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, and to the five trials that are still to come. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Tonight, the jury in the trial of the William Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray is deadlocked. After about nine hours of deliberations, the jurors said they could not reach a verdict and were ordered by the judge to continue deliberating.

The jury finished up for the day about two hours later still deadlocked.

Officer William Porter is charged with manslaughter, second degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment stemming from his failure to secure Gray in a seatbelt as directed by Baltimore police department policy and failure to call a medic when Gray asked for one, which the prosecution argues rises to the level of criminal neglect.

He has pled not guilty on all charges.

If convicted on all charges, Porter could face up to 25 years in jail.

But, and this is important, if the jury continues to be deadlocked, meaning they cannot reach a unanimous verdict on one or all of the charges the judge can declare a mistrial on those deadlocked charges.

That possibility adds yet another element of uncertainty to a trial that already has Baltimore on edge.

Earlier today, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings who represents large parts of the city, urged residents to accept whatever outcome, whatever it may be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: As personal as the Porter verdict will be for the families of Mr. Freddie Gray and Officer William Porter, and as emotionally satisfying or devastating, the future of our community will not defined at the moment of the verdict, but it will be defined in the days and years that follow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Meanwhile, Maryland`s Republican governor called for a peaceful response while questioned why there haven`t been more protests in response to the surge in violence in Baltimore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. LARRY HOGAN, (R) MARYLAND: Crime is out of control in Baltimore City, and we have got to do something about it.

You know, I expressed my concern that we have a lot of people out there expressing their concern and their frustration over the tragic death of Freddie Gray, but where is the uproar from the community, where are the people protesting the 330 people that are murdered?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Fran Scott, Baltimore City Councilman responded to the governor`s assertion by tweeting a picture of an anti-violence march with the message Larry Hogan, this photo is from Penn North April 17. People in Baltimore work every day to deal with violence here.

While Baltimore prepares to deal with the outcome of the first trial in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, the deadlocked jury prepares to return their deliberations tomorrow morning.

Joining me now, Warren Alperstein who is a criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor in Baltimore City, who has represented police officers in the past. And, Mr. Alperstein, my understanding is you have been in that courtroom. You have been watching this trial unfold. Let`s start with what the kind of standard, what does the prosecution have to prove in order to get a conviction here?

WARREN ALPERSTEIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, good evening, first of all. Good to be with you.

First of all, it depends on what charges we`re talking about. Obviously the most serious charge is the involuntary manslaughter. And as it relates to that, the state has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Officer Porter, like any defendant, acted in a gross, grossly disregard for the welfare and human life of Freddie Gray.

The other charges that are less serious, include misconduct in office, second degree assault and reckless endangerment.

HAYES: So, here`s my question. When we get to the lesser charges, particularly, if the prosecution can establish in the minds of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that two things happened, that Officer Porter did not buckle in Gray and that he was -- that Gray asked for medical help and Officer Porter did not provide it. If those two things can be established, regardless of intent, is there enough there to convict on any of the charges?

ALPERSTEIN: Yeah, so that`s the problem that I think that the state has right now. The defense as we all know has no obligation whatsoever to present a defense.

HAYES: Right.

ALPERSTEIN: We saw, obviously, is not only did they present a defense, but it was a very compelling defense. And they very clearly and were very compelling in their presentation on behalf of Officer Porter, specifically, they called a number of medical experts to rebut the state`s medical experts, indicating that, hey, it wouldn`t have mattered how quickly medical help was called for Freddie Gray, because the injury to the spinal cord was so catastrophic that paralysis occurred within milliseconds. That was a big point for the defense.

As it relates to the seat belt issue, a number of expert witnesses were called, other witnesses on behalf of the defense that is, to testify that the policy, custom and common procedure within the Baltimore City Police Department was not to restrain people, prisoners in the back of a transport wagon.

So the defense really did present, you know, a good case. They didn`t have to. I think it`s going to be quite difficult, I think, for the jury to unanimously come to a verdict whereby they convict Officer Porter.

HAYES: So there`s four charges, and I`ve also heard from other people that the prosecution did a rather good job as well. It`s -- in this case, you have to prove essentially the omission of an act as opposed to the commission of one, that is not providing help, not buckling him in.

Given that there is four charges, given that we`re seeing the possibility of a hung jury or a mistrial, what are the ramifications were there to be a mistrial?

ALPERSTEIN: Well, as we`ve come to learn, the state very much wants to use Officer Porter`s testimony, that is he gave prior statements to investigators in the internal affairs division when the case was being investigated. He also, of course, has testified in his own defense.

So, what the state wants to do, Chris, is present Officer Porter in -- as a states witness in the case against Officer Goodson. Officer Goodson is the driver of the transport wagon, as you`ll recall. So Officer Goodson is next in line. He`s on deck.

The problem for the state is going to be if this is, in fact, a mistrial, because the jury could not reach a unanimous decision, the state is going to have a real problem, because at that point in time, Officer Porter is very much going to still have a Fifth Amendment privilege to not testify against himself.

And the state cannot compel him, because he`s going to be pending trial. So what`s going to happen is, Officer Goodson who is scheduled for trial on January 6th, he`s going to go. I can`t fathom under any circumstance, that Judge Williams, the presiding judge, is going to bump Goodson or any other co-defendant down the road so that Officer Porter can testify, obviously, this judge is not going to do anything to appease the state to make it easier for...

HAYES: And Officer Goodson is the one who is facing the stiffer charges, many people believe that the state is looking to build a case against him. And they could find themselves in a situation in which they are lacking the testimony that they were hoping to have from this trial in trying to get the conviction against Officer Goodson who the state has brought, if I`m not mistaken, the most serious charges against.

ALPERSTEIN: That`s correct right. Officer Goodson is charged with second degree murder. The idea being that since he was the driver of the transport wagon the theory goes on behalf of the state that Officer Goodson is most responsible for the care and custody of any prisoners, to include restraining prisoners in the wagon off course (ph) as well to provide immediate medical attention when it`s needed.

So if Officer Porter is not available to testify because he does, in fact, invoke that privilege to remain silent, that`s a real problem for the state, because they really need Porter. and they in as much said that during the motions hearings.

HAYES: All right. Warren Alperstein, thanks for joining me. Really appreciate it.

ALPERSTEIN: My pleasure.

HAYES: All right, still ahead the matchups for tonight`s debate, a look at the changing dynamics between the candidates as they prepare to take the main stage coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can now announce and conclude, and tell you and tell the community, that we believe that our schools are safe and we can re-open schools in Los Angeles Unified School District tomorrow morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Los Angeles authorities just held a press conference after a day in which a threat to an entire school system was handled very differently there than it was here in New York, where schools were also threatened.

Authorities in L.A. now say all the schools have been checked and have concluded schools are safe.

But a little before 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time today, the entire L.A. school system, 900 schools serving about 650,000 students, was shut down because of a threat in the form of an email sent to a school board member.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is important that I take the precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The threat mentioned several schools as targets, without naming specific ones we were told at the time. L.A. authorities said they were acting out of an abundance of caution, particularly in light of the recent attack in San Bernardino, just about 60 miles from L.A., but a little more than an hour later, the New York Police Department tweeted, "just in, there was a specific but non-capital letters, credible threat, made to New York City schools this morning."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police commissioner in New York says that they received the same threat. They determined it not to be credible and they are investigating it as a hoax.

He says, for example, it makes references to Allah, but the a isn`t capitalized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Soon thereafter, New York leaders held a press conference clearly criticizing the decision made in L.A.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK; This was a very generic piece of writing sent to a number of different places simultaneously and also written in a fashion that suggests that it`s not plausible.

it`s important, very important not to overreact in situations like this.

BILL BRATTON, COMMISSIONER, NYPD: We do have an investigation under way, but it`s an investigation into a hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Bratton reiterated that in the email threat. Allah had not been spelled with a capital a. Bratton says his department`s decision had been made in cooperation with the joint terrorism task force and the FBI.

Now Bratton, a former chief of the LAPD, we should note, said that Los Angeles made its decision locally, something L.A. authorities did not dispute when they held their own press conference a bit on the defensive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAMON CORTINES, SUPT. L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: I made the decision to close the schools, that was after talking to the chief deputy superintendent, the chief of police of the school police, and after they reviewed with me the information that had been shared with them.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, (D) LOS ANGELES: The decision to close the schools is not mine to make, but it is mine to support as mayor of the city of Los Angeles.

CHARLIE BECK, CHIEF, LAPD: It is also very easy to criticize a decision when you have no responsibility for the outcome of that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Now, the similarly worded emails were written by someone claiming to be a senior who was bullied and claiming to be a radical Muslim, but not capitalizing Allah. The emails specify both bombs and firearms. But according to NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams, New York authorities concluded the threat was phony, because the same person could not be a student at two places at once.

There are indications the emails can be traced to an email service provider in the U.S. popular with online pranksters.

L.A. schools are set to reopen tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Donald Trump and his policy on Muslims, was the first topic in the GOP undercard debate tonight. But while George Pataki was winding up an attack on the Republican frontrunner, he also gave him a promotion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You have also suggested Mr. Trump`s plan is unAmerican and absurd, why?

GEORGE PATAKI, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. It`s one of many absurd things this president has said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Did you catch that?

Well, so did Donald Trump, who retweeted, Donald Trump, Pataki just called you this president, to which Trump added, but I don`t want his endorsement.

Coming up, we`ll preview the matchups in tonight`s mean stage debate which hasn`t yet started. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: With the early debate over, the nine remaining Republican candidates are gathering for the main event at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Expect the spotlight to be on just a few of them. First, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, these are your two leaders in the Republican race at this moment. Trump`s lead in the national polls has expanded in the last few weeks. In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll out today, Trump is up 6 points from last month. His support among GOP primary voters is now at 38 percent, that`s 23 points ahead of second place Ted Cruz.

But, with less than 50 days until the Iowa caucus, it`s Cruz who has surged to a ten-point lead in a recent poll of likely Republican caucus goers.

Marco Rubio will also be in the spotlight tonight. He`s getting attention for a new ad The New York Times that appeals directly to the core supporters of both Trump and Cruz, people that feel disaffected, let`s say, from American politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: This election is about the essence of America, about all of us who feel out of place in our own country, a government incredibly out of touch and millions with traditional values branded bigots and haters.

This is about wages growing slower than the cost of living, a generation drowning in debt and a president humiliated by Putin, Iran and Islamic jihadists.

I`m Marco Rubio. I approve this message, because this is the greatest country in the world and acting like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: It`ll be interesting to watch the dynamic between these three men, currently at the top of the race and see whether there`s anything second tier candidates, even third tier candidates can do to capture enough attention to get back in the race.

For instance, remember Rand Paul, former future of the Republican Party? Or Chris Christie, also former future of the GOP? What are they getting up to these days? We`ll talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Joining me now Reverend Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Charlie Pierce writer-at-large for Esquire there in the lovely Venetian ensconced in the ersataz palazzo, enjoying all the Sheldon Adelson`s hospitality has to offer.

Mr. Suarez, let me begin with you. There you are a part of a meeting, I believe, of other prominent Latino religious leaders talking about the state of this race. How are you feeling about how things have been going?

TONY SUAREZ, VICE PRESIDNET, NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Well, it`s been an exciting race. This is -- there is diversity, male-female, African-American, Latino, Anglo, all running. There is a lot of hope, there`s a lot expectation in the race.

Yet at the same time that there is expectation and hope, there was troubled messages that we received yesterday as well.

HAYES: Let me ask you this, Marco Rubio, people call him the sort of establishment frontrunner right now. There has been a lot of endorsements that have flowed his way. He has done decently in the polls. He has, as far as I can tell, yet to be pressed at a debate on what actually his position on immigration and comprehensive immigration reform is.

Do you feel satisfied you know what he actually believes and thinks?

SUAREZ: Senator Rubio has been a friend and someone that our organization and our president Reverend Sam Rodriguez has worked with and talked to. We believe we know where he stands. We believe that he still embraces what he voted for with the gang of eight when they passed that bill.

HAYES: Wait, I want to stop you right there. Because if that`s true, that`s news, right? Because he has repeatedly said he has abandoned it, that he does not believe in it anymore. He does not believe in a path to citizenship, which was included in that bill. So you are saying you think when he is saying that, he is not telling the truth?

SUAREZ: Well, I -- in the spirit of Christmas I bring glad tidings, because when we spoke to his senior campaign yesterday -- and I pressed and asked that question, they said in no means has he abandoned what he stood for in the Gang of Eight bill and that he continues to be a champion for immigration reform.

HAYES: Well, that`s interesting. I hope that people at other networks are watching this and ask him about that, because that might be an interesting thing to hear.

Charlie, do you think that -- what do you think of this dynamic that people have gamed out, right, which is basically Ted Cruz is repellent and odious to most of the Republican leadership class. Everyone in the senate basically hates him. The elected GOP officials and donor class really dislikes him, although, he has got some huge donors on his side as well.

But the threat of Trump makes him suddenly palatable. And he can kind of pull off this triangulation where he`s the kind of perfect Venn diagram between Trump and Rubio?

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Yeah, I think that`s probably accurate for the moment. It`s going to be very interesting tonight, because as we saw tonight from the undercard, this is going to be the most blood thirsty debate we`ve in the United Sattes since we were arguing about the War of 1812.

And Cruz is going to be posed as the isolationist tonight where Lindsey Graham and all those guys in the first debate already put him there. So if he can withstand it tonight. And I don`t think he`s going to get it from Trump. I think he`s going to get it from Jeb Bush and from Chris Christie.

But if he can -- I mean, if Donald Trump continues to be as strange as he has been, if he can be strange enough to make Ted Cruz palatable, that`s like a reversal of a physical law.

HAYES: Mr. Suarez, I`m curious what your sense of some of the rhetoric in this race has been like as a Christian leader, as a man of faith. When you hear about, say, banning people that have a specific faith for a period of time, does that concern you?

SUAREZ: Absolutely.

And I want to read just a very short quote from our president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Sam Reasonable where his message to every candidate has been that we are to be light, that we are -- as what`s inscribed in the Statue of Liberty, "I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

And he said for that matter, no presidential candidate, elected official or branch of government carries the authority to extinguish the light. And we are to be a light of liberty and freedom to Jews, to Muslims and to Christians.

Our concern has been and our concerns in our meeting yesterday with Senator Cruz was that for the first time we heard that not only will he not support a pathway to citizenship, but he will not support a pathway to legalization. This is very troubling, very alarming. And we need clarification from the senator that in fact this will not be the position that he takes.

This is someone that evangelicals look up to. They respect. They stand with him on the issues of life and religious liberty when other candidates called for the banning of all Muslims coming into the country, Senator Cruz was one of the first to raise his voice and say we can`t discriminate based on religion and we applauded...

HAYES: Wait, he said that? Ted Cruz didn`t say that. Ted Cruz said that`s not my policy. He didn`t say, we can`t discriminate.

SUAREZ: Yeah.

And again as we`ve met with him, he said we can`t block people from coming into the country based on religion alone.

But what we heard yesterday that there would be no pathway to legalization that -- it`s deja vu of the days of the Mitt Romney campaign. And you cannot win the general election and have a stance like that. You won`t win the Latino electorate

HAYES: Charlie, Mr. Suarez just said something about light and about being a beacon of light. There`s the famous Reagan Morning in America, city on a hill. I am struck how unremittingly dark the entire rhetoric of the Republican field has been so far.

PIERCE: Oh, it`s extraordinary. You know, we`ve got -- it started. I mean, to me, it really got -- it really went, you know, into the Twilight Zone during the whole Ebola thing where we were hearing about immigrants who had these loads and diseases who were coming over the border. And now of course we have had the two attack in, you know, less than two months, and the total freakout in L.A. today. Yeah, I mean, it`s a gloomy party. Nobody.

And I think if -- okay, I think Marco Rubio is going to go down in history as a great lost opportunity. I really do.

HAYES: I think that`s...

PIERCE: I think he could have been a different one. HAYES: A wise prophecy from Charlie Pierce. He`s a wise man. Reverend Tony Suarez and Charlie Pierce, thank you both. That is "ALL IN" this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END