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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 12/21/2015

Guests: Jennifer Palmieri, Anand Giridharadas, Michelle Goldberg, Matt Welch, Sherrilyn Ifill

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 21, 2015 Guest: Jennifer Palmieri, Anand Giridharadas, Michelle Goldberg, Matt Welch, Sherrilyn Ifill (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. WAGNER: Donald Trump hits back at Hillary`s ISIS recruitment claim. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will demand an apology. WAGNER: Tonight, the Clinton campaign is here to respond to Trump`s demand. Then, President Obama on Trump`s campaign of fear. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s what he`s exploiting during the course of his campaign. WAGNER: Plus, why Lindsey Graham`s exit could have big implications for Republicans. Big news on the Baltimore trial of the police in the Freddie Gray case. And it was the beauty pageant blunder for the ages. STEVE HARVEY, COMEDIAN: I have to apologize. (CHEERS) WAGNER : Tonight, the other beauty pageant news that might even make Miss Colombia smile. ALL IN starts now. (END VIDEOTAPE) WAGNER: Good evening from New York. I`m Alex Wagner, in for Chris Hayes. Right now, presidential hopeful Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally at the DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Protesters have already interrupted what appears to be a special Christmas version of a Trump rally, complete with festive decorations, where moments ago Trump said this, referring to Hillary Clinton. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Donald Trump is on video, and is is using him on the video to recruit! And it turned out to be a lie. She`s a liar. No, it turned out to be a lie. Turned out to be a lie. And the last person that she wants to run against is me. Believe me. Believe me. You know? I was just with somebody from ABC I won`t mention, and he said, oh, the Hillary camp said they`d love to run against Trump. Of course they`re going to -- that`s what they want to say. I mean, it`s going to be -- ask Jeb Bush if he enjoys running against Trump. Seriously. Ask him. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Here`s what prompted that during Saturday`s Democratic debate. While all three presidential candidates slammed Trump for his statements about immigrants, Mexicans, and Muslims, Hillary Clinton said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don`t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS`s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Trump cried foul, repeatedly claiming that Clinton lied, and then this from the man who refuses to apologize for anything. And then Trump demanded an apology. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I would say this, Matt -- I will demand an apology from Hillary. OK? You can be the messenger. I will demand an apology from Hillary. She should apologize. She lies about e-mails. She lies about Whitewater. She lies about everything. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon offered a terse reply to that demand. "Hell no. Hillary Clinton will not be apologizing to Donald Trump for correctly pointing out how his hateful rhetoric only helps ISIS recruit more terrorists." And just a few hours after releasing that statement, Fallon made it clear that the campaign was not backing down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN FALLON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: If we had heard other Republican candidates standing up to Trump before now, then maybe we wouldn`t be in this place where he`s still considered the front-runner and he still continues to get away with this hateful rhetoric that is actually making it less safe here in the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Joining me now is communications director for Hillary Clinton`s campaign, Jennifer Palmieri. Great to see you, Jen. Let me ask you -- JENNIFER PALMIERI, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN`S COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me, Alex. WAGNER: Let me ask you first about Donald Trump`s latest comments just a few moments ago. Does Hillary Clinton want to run against Donald Trump? PALMIERI: I don`t think I want to betray -- betray that -- our view on that. Although there is a lot about running against Donald Trump that seems appealing, at least the ability to knock down some of his more outrageous and dangerous arguments. You know, I saw that you played the clip about what he said tonight and how he said that Hillary Clinton is saying that there`s video of him all over talking about ISIS and that ISIS is using that to recruit. And that is exactly true. There is in fact -- there are news clips videos. There`s plenty of news coverage all over the Muslim world that`s covering what he is saying about Muslims in America, and we see that on Twitter. You see -- I have a list of tweets from ISIS supporters, from al- Nusra, which is -- which is part of al Qaeda, saying things like -- calling on Muslim-Americans to join their fight, saying that Muslims may not be able to come to America but Muslim-Americans some leave there and join their committed brothers and sisters in ISIS territory. We see, you know, there are -- there are -- this is happening on social media. And this is all a result of some really dangerous rhetoric, rhetoric that not only counterterrorism experts say is helping ISIS but even the Pentagon. WAGNER: Jen, are you at all concerned that you`ve sort of gotten dragged into a tit for tat over video evidence with Donald Trump? PALMIERI: No. Because this is -- no, because the larger -- if this is what it takes to have the argument that the American public can see about just how dangerous and for us to be able to show the evidence that exists in social media as well as experts around the world saying how dangerous his rhetoric is and that it is in fact -- that ISIS supporters, other terrorists are using it on social media to call on Muslim-Americans to join their fight. This is just -- these are just facts. And it is -- we didn`t really see any Republican candidates stand up to him and take him on when he first said this a couple weeks ago, and now you see Jeb Bush joining him, saying he`s joining Trump on his comments and calling on Hillary to apologize to Trump. And as it turns out, no, she`s not going to apologize to Trump for rightly calling him out on how dangerous his rhetoric is. And we`re happy to show people these tweets that exist. They`re out in the public domain from ISIS supporters saying that -- using his rhetoric to recruit new support. WAGNER: And you guys are confident that the claim of video evidence holds up? PALMIERI: That`s right (ph). There are -- there are dozens and dozens of news video clips from al Jazeera, from al Arabiya, the people that are able to provide coverage into the Arab world using -- also CNN, other things that are translated there. These news clips travel everywhere, and they also contain there, and the evidence you see on the impact that news clips or just print coverage or coverage online is having, you can see it reflected in a lot of attitudes. But you know, even more specifically into social media, which is a great way that ISIS obviously and other terrorist networks use to recruit. WAGNER: Let me ask you a question about the debates overall. We know there`s been a lot of discussion about this particular line. But overall, these are some of the least watched debates that have aired. In part some folks say because the debates happened on a Saturday night. The next Democratic debate is on a Sunday in mid-January, the same day as two NFL playoff games. Do you think that`s the best time to have a debate? And does the Hillary Clinton campaign -- has it made the case to the DNC that perhaps the timing should be changed? PAMIERI: So the -- I think as you can see from the first three debates we`ve done, that this is a platform at which Hillary Clinton excels, I think it`s probably the best platform that voters have had to see her -- the range she has and how she`s able to -- she`s going to take on ISIS but she`s also the person that can take on the economic problems that trouble people. We`re thrilled that CNN had record viewership of its first debate, the Democrats did. You know, the networks, ABC and CBS chose to have their debates on the weekend. That`s also true for the Republican debates, the television networks are hosting. It`s only MSNBC and CNN and CNBC and FOX that are choosing to have their debates on weekday nights. We love debates on weekday nights. They get a lot of coverage. More people that can see Hillary Clinton debate, the better off she does. And you can see that reflected in -- we don`t always rely on public polls to show what people are, but we certainly see her -- the reaction being that she`s doing really well. But these are decisions that are made by the television networks, not by the campaigns, not even by the party. WAGNER: Jennifer -- PALMIERI: I guess they don`t think it`s great television. But it is good that NBC is doing it on a Sunday night, which is probably going to be a little better. WAGNER: Jennifer Palmieri with the Clinton campaign, thanks for your time. PALMIERI: Thanks, Alex. WAGNER: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and former chair of the Democratic National Committee, and MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican National Committee. Chairman Dean, Governor Dean, let me start with you. Just in terms of the latest volleys between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush is getting in the fray saying that it took a lot of chutzpah for Hillary Clinton to talk about Donald Trump and recruiting videos. Your thoughts on this air war between the two. HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: How could Jen not be right? Of course the ISIS supporters are going to use this on Twitter. It`s all over the place. So, you know, this is typical Donald Trump bluster, bravado. The truth is a casualty. I think Hillary`s going to get an enormous amount of credit from the American public for taking him on where his own people in his own party are afraid to because they`re afraid of him. Because he`s got a huge lead and he looks like he`s the prospective nominee. WAGNER: Chairman Steele, I feel like we are seeing an unleashed, more ribald Hillary Clinton campaign if only in some of the statements coming out. I don`t remember the last time a Clinton campaign statement began with the words "hell no." One has to wonder is that the Trumpification of this race? MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You think the right there. That`s exactly what it is. It`s sort of elevating not completely over the top and outrageous, but it is bumping it up. You`re absolutely right. If you compare the rhetoric and the approach of her communication team from four years ago to the present -- I mean eight years ago to the present, yes, you do see there`s a ramping up. And that`s fine. I mean, I think that shows you the impact that this guy Trump is having across the board, in how people are communicating, recognizing that the American people are listening in that vein. They are raw in their feelings. They`re raw in what they`re hearing. And they want to hear politicians express that emotion, if you will, that they feel. But let`s be clear here: there is no evidence that has been pointed out by any news media -- PolitiFact did an extensive search on this, that demonstrates what Hillary Clinton said, that ISIS is using this as recruiting material specifically in terms of Donald Trump. So, you know, there is that part of this that goes to hyperbole. Trump has his. Clearly, Hillary Clinton is using a little bit of it, not to the same extent, but it`s effective messaging. And that`s what we`re watching play out here. WAGNER: Yes, Governor Dean, to that point, do you not think there`s a certain risk in getting involved in this tit for tat with Donald Trump over this specific issue? Given the fact that overall, the rhetoric, the heated rhetoric could be used in a recruitment campaign whether or not there is specific video evidence, but engaging with the Trump campaign on this. Doesn`t that sort of -- aren`t we going for the lowest common denominator? DEAN: I don`t think so, and I`ll tell you why. If this were the whole campaign, I would agree with Michael this would be a problem. But Hillary has to show that she can punch Trump in the nose. Trump is a bully, and he`s a blowhard. And you don`t want to get on his level but you do want to smack him once in a while and then go back to the high road that the three of them took on Saturday night. Hillary Clinton`s got -- knows more about public policy than anybody in the race, particularly anybody on the Republican side. But you do have to stand up to bullies, and I think the American people want to see that, and that`s I think the purpose of her discussion about Trump and his recruitment of ISIS people. I think, ultimately, she goes back to the high ground and back to policy, which is her strength and which, of course, is what people want to see in a president of the United States. STEELE: Well, she clearly doesn`t seem to know that much if she thinks that we are where we need to be with ISIS. And I think those types of slipups by Hillary Clinton -- DEAN: She never said, that Michael. STEELE: Yes, she did. She did say it. (CROSSTALK) WAGNER: She said we were in a different and better place than the debate last Saturday, Chairman Steele. But when it comes down to brass tacks -- (CROSSTALK) WAGNER: Wait. Because if there is a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the debate stage, where`s your money at? STEELE: Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? WAGNER: Yes. STEELE: On a debate stage? WAGNER: Yes. STEELE: Trump. WAGNER: Really? STEELE: Yes. WAGNER: Talk more about that. STEELE: Well, because Hillary`s not going to -- Hillary won`t go there. And if you look at -- if you look at the effective debaters on the stage on the GOP side, someone like a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio, their engagement -- I mean, they`re just as sophisticated and smart on the issues as a Hillary Clinton is. But even in trying to go up against Trump -- DEAN: They know nothing. Are you kidding me? STEELE: Excuse me? I think very much so. DEAN: I said they know nothing. Are you kidding me? STEELE: No, I`m not kidding you. I think they know quite a bit. DEAN: About what? STEELE: We can have that debate if you want. I`m not going to sit here and debate the intelligence of these individuals. I`m just listening to their -- DEAN: I didn`t say they were stupid. I just said they didn`t know anything. STEELE: Well, that`s saying something about their intelligence. And I think it`s hard -- I think you`d be hard pressed, Howard, to say that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and all the other Republicans on that stage don`t know anything about foreign policy or domestic policy -- DEAN: Michael, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in particular have been playing hookie from the United States Senate for a year. (CROSSTALK) DEAN: Ted Cruz is one of the most despised people in the United States Senate. That`s a fact. STEELE: Stop it. Stop it. I know you`re shilling for Hillary right now. Stop it. WAGNER: And this debate is just between Howard Dean and Michael Steele quite obviously. We are nearing the strange corner of the universe, where a match-up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may actually happen. So, gentlemen, we would love to hear your thoughts on that later. Howard Dean and Michael Steele, as always, thank you for your time. DEAN: Thank you. STEELE: All right. WAGNER: Still ahead, President Obama explains how ISIS works to Ted Cruz. Plus, Donald Trump calls them the silent majority. Why his supporters will not go silently into the night, even if he loses. And later, as one frequent Trump critic drops out, what does it mean for the other candidates who clash with the Donald? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump? I mean, this guy`s the chaos candidate. Am I right? Chaos. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb, you`re a very nice man. But you`re basically a little girl. Folks, this is true. I got hold of Jeb`s birth certificate. In full disclosure, his full name is Jebra. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: Back in July, Jeb Bush topped the polls in the GOP presidential race widely viewed as the front-runner thanks to his family connections and massive fund-raising advantage. But when Trump rose, Bush fell. And now he is a distant fifth place and polling just at 5 percent. Yesterday, in a comment that garnered some skepticism in Washington, Bush claimed that he is much happier now that he is at the back of the pack. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) INTERVIEWER: Six months ago, people thought you were the front- runner. Your campaign is not the -- JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hated that. INTERVIEWER: You hated being a front-runner? BUSH: Yes. I feel much better back here. INTERVIEWER: Why did you hate being the front-runner? BUSH: Because I always thought there was going to be a high expectation for me. And I totally get it. INTERVIEWER: Because? BUSH: Because I have a brother that was president and a father that was president. I have to go earn it. I have higher expectations on me than people have of me. So it doesn`t bother me a bit that the expectations are high. And I want to win, which means that you garner momentum when it matters. And so, I feel good about where we are right now. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: And speaking of candidates languishing in the back. One of them just threw in the towel today. What it means for the rest of the race, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) INTERVIEWER: Do you feel over seven years that you`ve come to understand why it is that some ordinary people in America believe or fear that you are trying to change the country in some way that they cannot accept? OBAMA: Well, look, if what you`re asking me, Steve, are there certain circumstances around being the first African-American president that might not have confronted a previous president -- absolutely. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: In a wide-ranging interview with NPR today, President Obama seemed to suggest that just being himself is enough to alienate certain Republican voters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: If you`re referring to specific strains in the Republican Party that suggest that somehow I`m different, I`m Muslim, I`m disloyal to the country, et cetera, what I`d say there is that that`s probably pretty specific to me and who I am and my background and that in some ways I may represent change that worries them. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: President Obama also weighed in on the fears and anxieties of some in the gop and blamed Donald Trump for capitalizing on that sense of dread. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I do think that when you combine that demographic change with all the economic stresses that people have been going through because of the financial crisis, because of technology, because of globalization, the fact that wages and incomes have been flat-lining for some time and that particularly blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy, where they`re no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck, you combine those things and it means that there`s going to be potential anger, frustration, fear. Some of it justified but just misdirected. And I think somebody like Mr. Trump`s taking advantage of that. I mean, that`s what he`s exploiting during the course of his campaign. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Joining me now is Anand Giridharadas, columnist with "The New York Times," author of "The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas." He recently suggested that the Trump phenomenon is a manifestation of a larger trend writing, quote, "Trump didn`t generate this constituency with a few brash statements. He harnessed feelings that long predated his candidacy, feelings of besiegement and alienation, of being silenced, and he gave them an unprecedented respectability. Even if Trump leaves the stage by springtime, he has galvanized, gathered, and given voice to all these Americans." Anand, when we talk about Trump, I guess I wonder, do you think it was only a matter of time before someone came along and harnessed this sentiment among the Republican base? ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think we`re living in a very weird moment where two huge features of the network age intersected in an improbable way, this kind of nincompoop totalitarians of ISIS halfway around the world using these network technologies to threaten the most powerful country in the world with like a few hundred guys and Internet connection. That scares the bejesus out of people. And then you have the generation of generation-long network age pummeling people economically. And somehow this year with the Paris and San Bernardino things and this long-running economic story, it`s all come together in this kind of big messy ball of fear and anxiety and frustration and resentment. And Donald Trump didn`t create that, but he has understood it, diagnosed it, and then created a set of wild, wacky prescriptions for it more effectively than anybody in the race. WAGNER: It`s interesting that the fear and loathing is not just directed to outsiders, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, it`s also disgust at institutions -- the government but also the media. Donald Trump is having a rally right now and just had some choice comments about journalists. I want to play those for people who may have missed them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: And then they said, you know, he`s killed reporters. And I don`t like that. I`m totally against that. By the way, I hate some of these people, but I`d never kill them. I hate them. No. These people -- honestly -- I`ll be honest. I`ll be honest. I would never kill them. I would never do that. Let`s see. No, I wouldn`t. I would never kill them. But I do hate them. And some of them are such lying, disgusting people. It`s true. It`s true. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: So it`s twofold there. Right? He can direct the ire of -- and the loathing of his constituents toward the institution of media. But also it`s a way of discrediting anyone in the media who fact-checks Donald Trump. GIRIDHARADAS: But just -- hold on -- just think about what we just saw. It`s insanity. It`s insanity. And every day it becomes a little more normal to all of us. And so, we`re just kind of -- we keep meeting it halfway. It`s insanity what we just saw. And everybody is now on the Internet quoting this poem, "First They Came." WAGNER: Right. GIRIDHARARDAS: Right? First it was the Mexicans, then the Muslims, now it`s just journalists. WAGNER: Right. GIRIDHARADAS: A presidential front-runner joking about executing journalists? But I think the question is what is it about our system that provides no checks on the rise of someone like this? And what is it about everybody else that`s not allowing them to tap into that same anger in a constructive way? WAGNER: Well, and you also write that the problem with this is not just the existence of this in the universe, it`s that we eventually capitulate to it in a way. That the goalposts are moved on the field so that we try to find a middle ground with Donald Trump instead of dismissing him outright and entirely. GIRIDHARADAS: You watch the Democratic debate. The number of questions -- let alone the answers. The number of questions that were essentially versions of but which freedoms do we need to given, which freedoms do we need to give up? Trump set that agenda. And now the debate moderate -- it`s in this weird kind of psychodrama where we all end up negotiating with Trump. And the Democratic debate moderators are saying, OK, we accept a premise that freedom must be curtailed. When did we accept that premise? Now, it`s just a question of which ones. And this is what he did with the issue of Muslims. I wrote in the piece, he wasn`t trying to solve a Muslim question. He was trying to convince us that a Muslim question is a thing. WAGNER: Right. And therefore, Donald Trump in his weird way has won even if he ends up losing. GIRIDHARADAS: He wins by losing. It`s genius. It`s like something on "The Apprentice." WAGNER: Anand Giridharadas, thank you for your time. GIRIDHARADAS: Thank you. WAGNER: Still ahead, a surprising and historic beauty pageant took place this weekend. And we are not talking about this beauty pageant. I`ll explain coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: You may have seen footage today from the conclusion of last night`s disastrous Miss Universe pageant where host Steve Harvey misread a cue card and mistakenly announced that runner-up Miss Colombia had won the crown.




HARVEY: The first runner-up is Colombia.


WAGNER: After that came an even more cringe-worthy moment where the crown was awkwardly taken off the head of Miss Colombia and put on the head of Miss Philippines. It was a memorable pageant moment, but it was not the most significant one we saw this weekend. That took place in Baghdad, where on Saturday a 20-year-old woman was named Miss Iraq 2015 in what was Iraq`s first major beauty pageant in more than 40 years.

The pageant faced stiff opposition from conservative religious hard- liners and tribal leaders in Iraq, who claimed the event would corrupt public morals. One judge told NBC News that 15 women dropped out of the competition before its conclusion, including two who had received death threats.

But after a delay, the pageant finally went forward this weekend and 20-year-old Shaima Qassem Adulrahman, an economics student, was declared the winner. She told NBC news "I want to prove that the Iraqi woman has her own existence in society. She has her rights, like men."

She added, "I am afraid of nothing because I am confident that what I am doing is not wrong."


WAGNER: Tonight, Baltimore police officer William Porter, the first of six officers to go to trial in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, he has a new trial date after the first jury deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial last week.

Porter still faces four charges, including manslaughter, but he will not be retried until June of next year, long after the other five police officers have gone to trial.

And the decision throws a major wrench in the rest of the state`s prosecution plan. One of the reasons Officer Porter was the first case to go to trial was because prosecutors considered him a material witness in the cases against two other police officers: Officer Caesar Goodson, who faces the most serious charges, and Sergeant Alicia White.

Both of their trials begin next month, but now it will be very difficult for prosecutors to get Officer Porter on the stand during those trials or to even get his prior testimony or statements entered into the record, because if he still has charges pending against him, which he will, if his trial doesn`t begin until June, Officer Porter will be able to assert his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination.

As legal experts told the Baltimore Sun, if prosecutors want Porter to testify or want even want even to introduce his statements to police investigators, they likely will have to grant him immunity.

Joining me now is Sherrilyn Ifill, long-time Baltimore resident and present of the NAACP legal defense and educational fund.

Sherrilyn, thanks for joining me.

I guess in terms of moving this forward do you think the state has any option but to give Officer Porter immunity?

SHERRILYN IFIlL, PRESIDENT, NAACP LDF: I really don`t want to speculate on that, Alex. There are a number of other cases against other police officers that are in the works. I think the state`s attorney`s office has a lot of considerations that they are engaging in.

And I think one of the things we have to be really careful about is making sure that we don`t imperil any of the other cases or give any excuse for defense council in the other cases to suggest they cannot get a fair trial.

I think this is -- you know, we just had the mistrial last week. There`s a lot to consider. And I think that the state`s attorney`s office is doing probably a very good job of thinking about all the considerations and playing out this chess game and trying to reverse engineer the result that they want and trying to see if they can get the result with the actions that they take with or without Officer Porter.

And I think we`ll just have to see. We have got other police officers to be tried before him, including Officer Goodson and others beginning in January.

So, there`s a lot to happen before we return to the issue of Porter and I`m sure right now there are very serious conversations happening with Porter`s counsel and in the state`s attorney`s office about how they manage him.

WAGNER: It`s of course worth noting that Officer Porter has pleaded not guilty to the charges. I wonder from a legal perspective were you surprised that the judge has kept his -- the retrial in June and not expedited that at all?

IFILL: No. I`m really -- I`m not surprised at all. As I said, there are a number of other officers still to be tried. This is a very complicated case, a very involved case. There has to be a jury selected for each of the cases and against each of the officers. And there are many other cases in Baltimore City to be tried during that period as well.

So no, this doesn`t seem unusual to me that June would be the date that would be selected.

WAGNER: Because of the complicated nature of all of this and the multiple trials and the fact that some kind of result is delayed no matter what in the case of Officer Porter, I guess I wonder for the people of Baltimore who are eager to see a conclusion to this, I mean, do you feel like that the state still has the confidence of the city in the way it did at the outset of this?

IFILL: I think people in Baltimore are much more sophisticated than they`re giving credit for. You know, today we filed the suit challenging the decision by the governor of Maryland just a few weeks after the unrest in the Freddie Gray case to cancel the subway that had been planned for Baltimore, the east-west subway going through the African-American communities that had been planned for nearly 15 years.

And that`s one of the issues that many Baltimoreans are very focused on.

There`s a complex set of issues involving structural inequality in Baltimore. One of the key issues is the issue of police brutality and misconduct, to which we`re paying close attention. But we`re also trying to keep our eye on multiple things at the same time. We knew going in that this would be a long and engaged process. Once the state`s attorney announced charges against six officers. And I think people should give the citizens of Baltimore credit for understanding that this is going to be complex and that we have to be patient but that we expect there to be justice and not just justice in terms of the verdicts against those police officers but justice in terms of multiple levels of structural inequality in Baltimore including around transportation, housing, education and a whole series of other issues.

WAGNER: Well, and it`s worth noting that we`re finding out today as of today there have been 336 homicides in the city of Baltimore. That is the second highest total on record in the history of city.

IFILL: This has been a really tough year for Baltimore on multiple levels. The issue of crime and the killing of African-Americans, largely African-American men, in Baltimore as a result of our crime problem is something that`s never far from the minds of Baltimoreans or leaders in Baltimore, and we continue to work on that issue.

It`s not unrelated, however, from all of the other issues. People in Baltimore are no different from other human beings, they also struggle and dream and deal with the consequences of long-term structural inequality and lack of access to opportunity, jobs and education.

And I think most of us recognize that even as we deal with the short- term problem of trying to stop the killing, trying to save lives of people in Baltimore who are victims of homicide, we`re also trying to look at the lives of those who are not victims of homicide but who nevertheless are struggling in a system in which our educational system have so many challenges in which there continues to be housing segregation, in which there`s lack of mobility in the city and many other issues of inequality.

WAGNER: Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Thanks for joining me.

IFILL: Thank you.

WAGNER: Still ahead, does Ted Cruz actually know what carpet-bombing means? President Obama just took him to school on that very subject. That is next.



SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion.


CRUZ: I don`t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we`re going to find out.


WAGNER: After GOP presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz vowed to carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion, he was pressed about what his carpet bombing strategy would mean for civilians in ISIS-controlled areas since the phrase "carpet bombing" typically refers to bombing a defined area without discriminating between targets.

In defiance of that widely accepted definition Cruz suggested at last week`s GOP presidential debate that his carpet bombing would somehow not kill civilians.


CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed and you have embedded special forces to direct the air power, but the object isn`t to level a city, the object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.


WAGNER: Sounds like a plan, right? Kill the bad guys and don`t kill anybody else.

But that is not how war and specifically this war actually works. As The New York Times detailed this weekend, for months the U.S. military has known that ISIS uses the city hall in Raqqah, Syria as an administrative center and a dormitory for scores of fighters.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi may even have been in the City Hall, which is part of a group of buildings that is reportedly the closest thing ISIS has to a headquarters.

But here`s the problem, one that illustrates why Ted Cruz`s claims are so entirely disconnected from reality, that city hall, it also houses a jail where ISIS puts men caught sneaking a cigarette and women spotted with clothes that reveal even a hint of skin.

In other words, it`s where ISIS houses innocent people, victims of ISIS.

You bomb that building and you kill them as well and maybe create new terrorists in the process.

Which is why in an interview with NPR that was released today President Obama had a pointed message for those critics who want more bombs to fall.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, who is it that you`re going to bomb? Where is it that you`re going to bomb? When you talk about something like carpet bombing, what do you mean?

If the suggestion is that we kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Iraqis, that is not who we are and that would be a strategy that would have an enormous backlash against the United States. It would be terrible for our national security.

And you know, unfortunately, many of these critics can get away with just suggesting that bombing more or being less discriminate in how we approach that would make a difference.




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: My campaign, I`m going to suspend my campaign. I`m not going to suspend my desire to help the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you getting out of the race?

GRAHAM: Well, because I`ve hit a wall here. You know, my campaign has come to a point where I need to think about getting out and helping somebody else.


WAGNER: Lindsey Graham`s 2016 presidential ambitions and his plans to bring a rotating cast of first ladies to the White House, they are no more. Today, the South Carolina senator announced he is suspending his six-month presidential candidacy. Although it is worth noting that he did manage to outlast fellow ex-candidates Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker and Rick Perry, Graham built his campaign on being the Republican Party`s voice of reason, the adult in the room with foreign policy credentials.

As The Guardian noted, Graham was consistently hailed as giving the best debate performances in the undercards.

But that didn`t get him very far in this 2016 political climate. Graham polled consistently at the back of the pack. The latest Huffington Post polling average had him at less than 1 percent nationally.

In fact, Graham`s presidential quest might be best remembered not for the candidate`s debate zingers or his foreign policy chops or his plea for religious tolerance, but for his attacks on the Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Graham has called Trump a complete idiot and has encouraged voters to tell Trump to go to hell.

But when Graham labeled the front-runner a jackass, Trump gave out Graham`s phone number at a campaign rally.


TRUMP: And then I watch this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today. And he calls me a jackass. He`s a jackass. He called me four years ago -- three, four years ago. Lindsey Graham. I didn`t even know who he was.

He goes Mr. Trump, this is Senator Lindsey Graham. I wonder if it would be possible for you to call Fox.

And he wanted to know whether or not I could give him a good reference on Fox & Friends, OK. And he gave me his number.

And I found the card. I wrote the number down. I don`t know if it`s the right number. Let`s try it. 202-(DELETED. I don`t know, maybe it`s -- you know, it`s three or four years ago, so maybe it`s an old number.


WAGNER: Graham`s response to that came in the form of a very elaborate and highly produced video.


WAGNER: That video perhaps perfectly summarizes this Republican presidential primary campaign, where stunts outweigh substance and policy proposals take a back seat to blender performance art.

Up next, a look at who is still on stage and what comes next in the 2016 republican carnival.



TRUMP: Sadly, I guess you heard, Lindsey Graham left the race today. Sad. Very sad. I`m extremely sad. He was nasty to me, wasn`t he? Ooh. Did you see how many -- everybody that goes against me, it`s like X, X.


WAGNER: That was Donald Trump earlier this evening at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Joining me now to analyze the shrinking Republican field is Michelle Goldberg, columnist for Slate, and Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of Reason magazine. Welcome to you both.

Michelle, what happened to the Lindsey Graham candidacy? Trace it, if you will.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE: Well, I don`t know that there`s really that much to trace, right. I mean, he never got above 2 percent in the polls. And I think part of it is that there is a hunger out there for a kind of aggressive American nationalism but not in a neoconservative version that Lindsey Graham embodied. I mean, there`s no appetite for huge new American invasions, American occupations, for recapitulation of George W. Bush`s foreign policy.

What Donald Trump, and to some extent Ted Cruz promised, is sort of a kind of like neoconservative swagger on the cheap, right? They`re going to reinstate kind of like American power and respect and dominance but just without actually committing any sort of resources to it. That`s what people want.

MATT WELCH, REASON: I think there`s a very important point in there, which is that right now the interventionists, the hawks, the neoconservatives, the last few people who describe themselves openly as neoconservatives, they`re in a panic mode right now. They`ve been busy calling Ted Cruz an American firster, because he used the word America and first consecutively in the last debate.

Look at their ranks. Basically, they`ve got Marco Rubio who`s around 12 percent. They`ve got Jeb, who`s a dead fish at 5 percent. They`re busy trying to like pump up Chris Christie as a viable candidate in New Hampshire just hoping for it. But basically, they`re outnumbered by 2-1 in terms of public support for candidates right now.

There isn`t a very strong appetite for interventionism. That`s really interesting.

WAGNER: Well, I think it`s -- I mean, Lindsey Graham`s campaign has suggested he`s getting out so that his supporters will flock to other establishment candidates. And I guess I wonder, does this have any effect on the race?

GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, my understanding is that yeah, maybe Marco Rubio`s going to get the .5 percent or .3 percent bump. My understanding is that there`s some importance in terms of his donors and supporters in South Carolina will now be free to line up behind someone else.

But no, the idea that kind of Lindsey Graham is now going to throw his weight behind -- I mean, presumably Marco Rubio or else I guess Chris Christie. There`s no...

WAGNER: There`s no weight to be thrown away.

But Matt, to your point about interventionism and hawkishness not being particularly ascendant. I mean, Rand Paul has failed to gain traction as well. And I guess I wonder where do you think we are on that subject?

WELCH: I don`t know. I mean, it`s really up in the air. There`s a whole question of which of the kind of 3 percent club is going to give us the dead cat bounce, right? You know, Fiorina`s super hawkish. She`ll name every single submarine class you`ve ever heard of in the course of a debate. Rand Paul is going anti-kind of interventionist. Ted Cruz is hitting a lot more anti-interventionist notes despite the cart carpet bombing. He wants to sell it by saying carpet bombing, but he`s against a lot of the nation building kind of exercises out there.

So, one of those guys or gals is going bump up from the 3 percent level hopefully just to make this thing more interesting.

But we don`t know. I think ever since ISIS started beheading people that really changed American public opinion. More Americans noticed that thing happening than had noticed any single public event basically since 9/11 and it`s changed the way that we`re thinking about things.

GOLDBERG: But I think it`s a miscalculation to think that just because Americans are reluctant to -- or Republican primary voters are reluctant to kind of engage in a big new ground war that they therefore favor kind of a Rand Paul-style actually fairly humble approach to the world.

WELCH: Yeah, I mean, they clearly don`t. But there is a voice for that that does not have a lot of space. And in an anti-establishmentarian campaign, which is what we have right now, it is interesting that people associate the establishment with that kind of Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio interventionism and they`re rejecting it.

WAGNER: I mean, completely anti-institutional. I mean, look at the people who dropping out. They`re governors. They`re senators. And who are we left with? I mean, who is the race left with? People who`ve never held elected office. And you talk about people...

WELCH: Or executive office.

WAGNER: Or, yeah, exactly. Sorry.

WELCH: Tea Party senators and then...

WAGNER: You have business executives, neurosurgeons, you know, real estate moguls.

GOLDBERG: We`ve still got a few senators in there.


WELCH: But they are all Tea Party senators. I mean, those guys were rabble rousers. They ran against their own party`s establishment each of them including Rubio back in 2010. So it`s -- the establishment is completely discredited in this election.

WAGNER: I guess I wonder real fast just in terms of whether anything -- anybody`s exit from the race can shape anything setting aside Donald Trump? Is there someone in the middle tier of candidates do you think that can reshape the race by leaving?

GOLDBERG: I think it would probably reshape the race if Jeb left. You know, there`s obviously -- those people would probably all go to Rubio. And you know, Rubio getting a 6 percent bounce at this point...

WAGNER: Or whatever Jeb is polling at that point.

GOLDBERG: And I think even more importantly the money and the kind of consolidation of the Florida Republican political establishment.

But no, I mean, it`s interesting that there`s still a bigger anti- Trump vote than a Trump vote. But kind of once you add up, say, Trump and Cruz and Ben Carson you`re talking about a solid majority of the Republican primary.

WELCH: The other person besides Jeb is Ben Carson who has been dropping like a stone. But if he drops out, then that`s got to go somewhere and Ted Cruz is...

WAGNER: Maybe heavy feather -- dropping like a heavy feather.

Michelle Goldberg and Matt Welch, good to see you both. Thank you for your time.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.