Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 05/04/15

Guests: Kweisi Mfume, Kisha Hebbon, Doug Gansler, Matt Katz, JohnWisniewski, Matt Katz, Helen Holton, Keith Haynes

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Charges in Baltimore, indictments in New Jersey. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews. We`ll get to the indictments in the "bridge-gate" scandal in New Jersey in just a moment, but we begin with the stunning news today from Baltimore`s top prosecutor that six police officers there have been charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Marilyn Mosby told reporters, quote, "No one is above the law," and she said Gray`s death was the result of mistreatment he suffered by the officers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY STATE`S ATTORNEY: Following transport from Baker Street, Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And the most serious charge, second-degree murder, was filed against the driver of the police transport van. The other officers face charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to assault, police misconduct and others. According to Mosby, the initial arrest of Freddie Gray was illegal, and officers repeatedly ignored Gray`s requests for medical attention.   Mosby also had this message for the protesters who`ve taken to the streets since Gray`s death. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOSBY: To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for "No justice, no peace." Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man. To those that are angry, hurt or have their own experiences of injustice at hands of police officers, I urge you to channel the energy peacefully as we prosecute this case. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Reacting to the news today, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was, quote, "sickened and heartbroken." Meanwhile, Gloria Darden -- that`s the mother of Freddie Gray -- told Buzzfeed, quote, "I feel good because we got all six of them." She also spoke directly to her son. Quote, "You can rest, Freddie. You can rest. You can be in peace now." As marchers return to the streets of Baltimore, we are joined by NBC News`s Lester Holt, who is at City Hall. So Lester, you were there earlier in the week. You`re back now in the wake of this really stunning announcement today. Just what is the mood you`re encountering tonight in Baltimore? LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": Well, on the streets and the neighborhoods that we saw only a few nights ago rioting, there was actual celebrations. I encountered one mother who was going to take her kids to a class, instead she brought them to the street corner that was kind of the center of the celebration and said, I wanted them to witness history. And she was talking about it in such terms. I said you, Sound like you`re almost describing a historic civil rights moment, and that`s what she said she believed it was, a moment when there was accountability for police, something that she believes has been missing here for a long time. There have been protesters in the street again tonight, but again, a much more celebratory mood, talking about a justice. And of course, we`re all reminded this is only the beginning of the justice process. Where this leads, no one knows. But certainly, there are a lot of folks in this town who didn`t think it would happen. You mentioned -- you used the word "stunning." I`ve used it myself. I don`t know if the charges are so much stunning or the speed, the fact that the report was handed over by police only yesterday. I don`t think anybody saw this coming immediately, but we now know that the prosecutor`s office had essentially been doing their own concurrent investigation, which brought them to these charges, Steve.   KORNACKI: Yes, Lester, the speed and also, I think, the content of the message from the prosecutor today. We had the quote there for you at the top of the show, but the idea -- you were talking about the protesters being so skeptical that any kind of charges were going to be filed, and now here`s the prosecutor speaking directly to them and saying, I heard you, and now I`m acting. HOLT: Well, I think one of the more remarkable things that stood out to me was the fact she made note and filed charges around the fact that he shouldn`t have been in that police van in the first place, that they had -- in her estimation, they had no grounds to even arrest Freddie Gray, so it begins right there. That sends a larger message because we have heard in communities like this complaints of police harassment. We know that there is -- there`s data from around the country that blacks are more likely to be arrested, arrested at a higher rate than whites. This sends a message that may resonate well beyond Baltimore, this notion that Freddie Gray was singled out simply because he made eye contact with a police officer and ran. The knife he had with him, which had been reported to be an illegal switchblade, she says was not illegal. So again, in her estimation, he should not have even been placed under arrest. KORNACKI: All right, NBC`s Lester Holt, live in Baltimore, appreciate the time tonight. Thank you very much. And the state`s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, said today the officers, as Lester was just saying, never had probable cause to arrest Freddie Gray in the first place. Let`s watch that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOSBY: The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law. These officers subsequently removed the knife and placed it on the sidewalk. Mr. Gray was then placed back down on his stomach, at which time Mr. Gray began to flail his legs and scream as Officer Miller placed Mr. Gray in a restraining technique known as a leg lace (ph), while Officer Nero physically held him down against his will until a BPD wagon arrived to transport Mr. Gray. Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray`s arrest, as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: All right, let`s bring in Jayne Miller from our Baltimore affiliate, WBAL. Jayne, thanks for taking a few minutes tonight.   So to start on that, if you would, that question of the timing, of the speed. All of the indications we were getting as recently as last night were this is not something that`s going to be coming today, maybe not something that`s going to be coming any time soon. Then all of a sudden this morning, that police report comes back, and now we have the charges being filed. What accounts for that quick speed? Do we have a sense of that? JAYNE MILLER, WBAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the state`s attorney`s office had been conducting its own investigation since April 12th -- April 13th, when the injury to Freddie Gray occurred. So while there was a police investigation, and that was very much part of what the state`s attorney did today, there was also an independent investigation -- more independent investigation by the state`s attorney office that was going on simultaneously before Gray`s death. And we were in the neighborhood. We saw their investigators going door to door, tracking down witnesses -- very active investigation at that time. So it was really running parallel to the police investigation, and the key was getting the autopsy report, as the state`s attorney said today. She said it was presented to them today with that homicide ruling. Let me tell you about the process here. This has been charged through a charging document. What`ll happen now, which is a very routine process in the state of Maryland, is this case will now be presented to a grand jury. There may be additional evidence. There may be the tweaking of the evidence. And then grand jurors will decide whether to issue indictments. Those indictments may tweak the charges. They may -- you know, there may be some different charges, as well. And that`ll happen over the next three weeks. That is exactly what happens in most of these cases. Most crimes in Maryland, at least in the city of Baltimore, get charged through a charging document -- exactly what happened today. And then the officers are processed. They`re booked. They are going through their bail process as we speak. And then case goes to a grand jury. Generally, indictments are issued. And then they will come back into court for arraignment and then they`ll be out of the lower court, the district court, and they`ll be in the circuit court, which handles more serious cases. KORNACKI: Now, the six officers charged in Freddie Gray`s death were defended today by the Baltimore police officers union, and here was that group`s president, Gene Ryan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GENE RYAN, BALTIMORE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: We`re disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment, given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded. Our officers, like every other American citizen, are entitled to due process. We will continue to support them throughout this judicial process, which we believe will result in a finding of innocence.   (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: All right, so Jayne, you laid out the process that we`re looking at over the next few weeks here, next few months maybe. But in terms of the substance here, in terms of what these officers are being charged with, can you walk through quickly basically what the case is that`s being made here, one of the officers actually being charged with second degree murder, the others with involuntary manslaughter? What is the sort of theory of the case here? MILLER: Well, the theory of the case is that according to -- first of all, the theory of the case starts now with that -- what the -- what is being described as the alleged illegal arrest. So it starts there. So now he`s in their custody when he really shouldn`t be because, allegedly, they didn`t have probable cause to arrest him. But after we get to that, he gets put in the police wagon. Baltimore police policy is clear that a prisoner has to be seatbelted to secure him. That did not happen in this case, according to the evidence. Secondly, if a prisoner needs or requests medical attention, then an officer has to get that. Again, allegedly, that did not happen in this case. This is a kind -- this is an injury that occurred at some point in that timeline, and then because he was unresponsive by the time that second prisoner is loaded into the van, what that indicates is that it occurred enough time before that for his condition to be really seriously deteriorating. So that second degree murder charge against the van driver, the van drive has the most responsibility for his safety -- that second degree murder charge is called "second degree murder depraved heart," and that`s really just his wanton disregard for human life. And because of this long time from the time he -- he -- the theory about when he suffered the injury, his condition starts deteriorating, he`s unresponsive, they see him unresponsive, they still don`t call a medic. They get to the district. He`s not breathing. The man we interviewed yesterday, who was the other man in the -- the other prisoner in the wagon -- he says that they took him out of the wagon first at the police district before they ever tended to Freddie Gray, even though Freddie Gray is the one who wasn`t breathing. So there may be much as 60 minutes that passed from the time this injury occurred until he gets to Shock Trauma. That`s what amounts to the case. This is a negligence case. This is a disregard for the rules and procedures you`re supposed to follow, and as a result, somebody dies. That`s the kind of case this is.   KORNACKI: All right. Wow. Jayne Miller, WBAL, appreciate the time tonight. Thank you very much. Now let`s bring in NBC`s Ron Allen. He is outside that CVS drug store that`s become ground zero for the protesters. Ron, I see some protesters behind you right now. Tell us what`s going on. RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there`s this huge crowd that`s just arrived, Steve. They are filing through this intersection of Pennsylvania and North, which has been the epicenter of protest, of confrontation, of the riot that happened here on Monday. They`ve been walking around town from City Hall to the inner harbor area, and now they`re here over the past couple of hours. All this began right after the prosecutor announced the charges against the officers. They -- people have been gathering. They`ve been in the streets. They`ve been celebrating. They`ve been joyful. They`ve been cautiously optimistic. They`ve been skeptical. They`ve been shocked and surprised. There`s been a range of emotions has been going on out here. People are genuinely amazed that this happened, I think, because this isn`t a thing that usually happens. Police officers are not usually charged with crimes when young black men die in America. So it`s a stunning development, and it`s something that people are calling historic. And they`re also saying that they hope this becomes a model for what happens around the rest of the country. A young man that I was standing with here just a minute ago made what`s perhaps the most profound point I`ve heard all day. He said that this is the result of people going out and voting not long ago, voting for a new prosecutor, for Marilyn Mosby, putting her in office back in November. She took office in January. That, he said, correctly so, is perhaps the most -- one of the most significant reasons why we are here today, because this person who is now in charge of prosecuting crimes in this area is a young African-American woman who`s from this community, who`s been -- she`s actually from Boston, but she`s been a part of this community. She is as similar to many of these protesters as you will find in the country, perhaps. She`s one of the youngest prosecutors in the country. That`s very significant. That connects the dots. Back in Ferguson a few months ago, they had an election in November. They elected three African-American city council members. That`s going to change the dynamic there. So for all the history that`s been made here, perhaps, for all the significance that`s happened here, for all these -- the arrests that have happened here, that, as this young man pointed out, is profound and important, as well, something that we should all perhaps focus on as to why change is happening, why things are changing in the country, and why we`ve come to this day that we have today -- Steve. KORNACKI: Yes. Thank you, Ron Allen, for that. And I don`t know if people caught, but behind Ron, there was a very encouraging scene we saw as he was speaking. One of the protesters, it seemed, went over and hugged one of the police officers. They smiled at each other -- one of the more encouraging scenes we`ve seen this week. Anyway, I`m joined now by Kweisi Mfume. He`s the former Maryland congressman, former president of the NAACP, joins us now. Can I just ask you to start the mood right now, compare it, if you would, to the mood a couple nights ago.   KWEISI MFUME (D-MD), FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Well, if I`ve got my finger in my ear, it`s because it`s awful loud here. There are several marches that have just gone by. I mean, the mood here is obviously a little different. There`s less anger and more appreciation that, at last, people are seeing some aspects of justice begin to take hold -- the fact that Maryland Mosby today came forward in a very succinct and detailed and transparent way and offered up enough information that allows people on the ground to connect the dots of what happened when, and she gave a complete timeline, as well as a complete set of circumstances that go with it. So people here are -- I don`t want to say buoyant. They are hopeful that this, in fact, represents the beginning of a process that very often doesn`t take place. Usually, when something like this happens around the country, people are pushed to the side. Officers will get a slap on the wrist, or the case will be thrown out. This is very decisive on her part. And as someone who knows Marilyn well, I can tell you that she`s done her homework. She`s not swayed by pressure. She feels strongly committed to justice and strongly committed to the belief that no one is above the law. KORNACKI: Yes, you make the point there that we`re -- I think we`re accustomed, in these situations to -- you know, it seems in a lot of cases to end with the officers not being charged in sort of similar situations. Your reaction this morning? Were you surprised? MFUME: Was I surprised by what? KORNACKI: That they`re being charged. MFUME: Well, I`m -- I`m not surprised that the state`s attorney took the action that she did and that she found the facts and brought the charges because she found probable cause. No, I`m not surprised. What I didn`t (ph) get surprised by was the fact that although everybody was focusing on the police investigation, she clearly had enough sense and determination to begin back on April 13th her own investigation, as she said, for 12, 14 hours a day with her entire investigative team, so that when the Police Department finally came forward with their conclusion -- information and their decision (ph) in the investigation, she said, I already had it. I`ve got that already. So what took place here I think surprised a lot of people simply because Marilyn Mosby took it upon herself to do her own thorough investigation, to verify it over and over again, to find in this case, as she did, probable cause and then to move forward with these charges. KORNACKI: And I thought one of the things that was so striking in her statement today, again, was that she spoke specifically -- she spoke directly to the protesters saying, I have heard you, I want you to keep the peace now while I pursue justice in this case.   But do you think when we talk about the speed of this -- a lot of people saying they`re surprised it happened so fast, that today, and not a week from now, not a couple weeks from now, that it`s today that she brings the charges. Do you think the reaction from the community we`ve seen this week had an effect on the timing of this? MFUME: Well, the community, as I said before, basically is pleased. We know this is a long process. There will be motions and appeals and an attempt to change venue on it. But at least the process has started. And I should tell you this. Marilyn Mosby comes in this without anything pushing her one way or the other. She comes from three generations of policing, so she has that aspect of it. She`s a victim. She saw her cousin killed on her doorstep when she was a teenager. It affected her so much that she wanted to go to college and then go to law school and then to fight for justice as a prosecutor. She lives in this community. Her and her husband, before anybody knew them, bought an old house, built it up, raising their two daughters there. She was invested here before any of this happened and before she ever got elected to office. So the sincerity of what she brings to this position, quite frankly, is something that is refreshing and that we don`t see in other places. And I think that has given her the credibility for people here on the ground to believe that although there are a lot of things that will happen before this is over, at least their state`s attorney looked at the evidence and came forward with a conclusion. KORNACKI: All right, Kweisi Mfume, former congressman, former NAACP head, thanks for joining us tonight. Appreciate it. MFUME: Thank you very much. KORNACKI: And coming up, we are going to get to the law in this case, the prosecutor in Baltimore announcing an array of charges for those six police officers, ranging from misconduct in office and assault right up to second degree murder in one case. and later this hour, the other big political story of the day, the indictments in the "bridge-gate" scandal in New Jersey. This is HARDBALL, place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   KORNACKI: All right, MSNBC`s Joy Reid is in the thick of that protest going on right now in Baltimore. Joy, what`s going on around you? JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: All right, Steve, I`m standing here with some of the young people who are involved in this really massive march that I believe started at City Hall and has made its way to Penn -- Pennsylvania North, and it`s now making its way down the street here. Let me talk to a couple of these people and see why they`re here. Starting on the end, a young man with a sign that says, "End the curfew." Tell me, why do you have that sign? Do you think the curfew has gone on too long? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a major violation of our freedom just to have a curfew in a city like this. It`s not OK. REID: And let me ask you guys, what were your impressions when you heard that the police officers, you know, that were involved in the death of Freddie Gray were charged? What was your impression? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s a step in the right direction, definitely, but we want to see convictions. We want to see them convicted for the indictments. We don`t want it to just go by the wayside. Everybody needs to stay active and continue pressing on. REID: Yes, one of the things that we have noticed is obviously the youth of the crowd, but also the multiethnic makeup of the crowd. Why did you think it was important to be here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s hugely important. It`s not an issue just for African-Americans, you know? Police brutality and what happens to Freddie Gray affects all of us, and until all of us take a stand against it, this will continue to be an issue. REID: Yes. And how about you? Why did you think it was important to be here today and do you think that the Freddie Gray case is going to actually change policing in the country? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I came from Florida this morning just for this march, and the way how I see it, this is a tipping point, so you can either act like you don`t know what`s going on and act like this is an isolated event, or realize that this has been going on for decades in this country, centuries, technically, and hopefully the consciousness of America wakes up, and they -- they realize that something has to change.   REID: Yes, absolutely. Well, when prosecutor Mosby said that this day was for the young people who are part of this movement, the black lives matter movement, she was talking about people like these young folks that stopped with us here today. So, you can see the mood here today. People feel determined to keep going with it, and I think they feel like they have had a small success -- back to you, Steve. KORNACKI: All right, Joy Reid on the scene in Baltimore, thanks for that. And much more from Baltimore, also the indictments today in the Bridgegate scandal in New Jersey -- HARDBALL back offer this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE`S ATTORNEY: The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiners determination that Mr. Gray`s death was a homicide, which we received today, have led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Baltimore`s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, who moved swiftly and dramatically today, charging six Baltimore police officers with crimes, including murder and manslaughter, in the death of Freddie Gray. She detailed how Lieutenant Brian Rice, Sergeant Alicia White, Officer Caesar Goodson, officer William Porter, Officer Garrett Miller and officer Edward Nero all played a role in Gray`s death.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOSBY: Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray`s arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray. Upon arrival of the transport wagon driven by Officer Caesar Goodson, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Nero and Officer Miller loaded Mr. Gray into the wagon, and at no point was he secured by a seat belt while in the wagon contrary to a BPD general order. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: The Baltimore police union says in a written statement that -- quote -- "None of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray." Today marks only the start of the legal process to hold accountable who killed Freddie Gray while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. And joining me now is former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and former prosecutor and now a defense attorney Kisha Hebbon. Doug, let me start with you. You have heard the sort of theory of the case being offered by the prosecutor today. Does that fit with the charges being brought, including this one case of second-degree murder? DOUG GANSLER, FORMER MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, look, there`s two different courts of opinion that are being dealt with, or two different courts here. One is the court of public opinion and one is the legal system. And as you just said, the legal system begins today, and the charges are actually quite interesting. You know, look, we don`t know really what happened. She put her -- the timeline out there today. And, obviously, the most difficult charge to ultimately prove before a jury will be the second-degree murder charge, the depraved heart, because it will be pretty difficult to show that there was an intent to kill by any of the police officers, particularly someone who was just driving the paddy wagon, who drives paddy wagons every day and somebody`s spine was hurt. (CROSSTALK)   KORNACKI: Doug, I don`t mean -- can I stop you there, but I want to define this term for everybody. GANSLER: Yes. KORNACKI: Because we think of second-degree murder, my response as a layman on this stuff is, well, first-degree, that means intent, that means premeditated. GANSLER: And deliberation. KORNACKI: Second-degree doesn`t. What`s the difference here because it adds this idea of depraved heart? Specifically, what does that mean? GANSLER: Well, yes. And first we have to have premeditation and deliberation, so they had to wake up that morning and want to kill Freddie Gray. The second-degree would be such circumstances that anybody in those circumstances would know that the conduct that they did would kill in this case Freddie Gray. That`s going to be very difficult to show. Involuntary manslaughter, which four of the officers were charged with, will also be interesting to see how that comes out because what they have to show there is the death can be accidental, which given the theories that are sort of out there, that might -- that would certainly make sense, but if it`s accidental as a result of some sort of negligence, you now have involuntary manslaughter. The negligence on this case would not be using the seat belt on Freddie Gray, a police policy that had been put in nine days earlier and had never been in place for years and years and years before that. Will they be able to convince a jury, and where will that jury be, that in fact that was negligence that led to this accidental death? KORNACKI: Kisha, do you think Mosby is reaching here at all? KISHA HEBBON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think what the state`s prosecutor did is do what a lot of prosecutors do, in that they charge an array of charges. They charge more serious offenses and then they go all the way down to like in this case there`s an aggravated assault, I believe. And the reason why prosecutors do that is because it increases the options of having a conviction of something. It`s like the jurors will have an option as opposed to saying, OK, is it only a depraved heart murder or was it an involuntary manslaughter?   So, I see this all the type and I think it`s extremely typical in prosecuting cases. KORNACKI: Let me ask you, too, Kisha. An interesting statistic here. I think, since 2005, 54 cases in which officers shot a suspect to death, in a majority of those cases, when they go to trial, the officers are not convicted. Seems like once you get into the courtroom here, is there something that favors the officers when you get to a jury? HEBBON: Right. Well, I think this case is totally different because here there`s no shooting. There`s a man who was arrested, placed in the back of a police van and suddenly he`s sick, he`s asking for medical attention, and then he dies a week later. So if there`s no indication that there was a fight between Mr. Gray and the officers or that he had a gun or that he went for an officer`s gun, this case is going to be totally different from what happened in, say, Ferguson or in the Trayvon Martin case, because here it`s clear that there was some kind of misconduct and obviously a crime. (CROSSTALK) GANSLER: Well, and those cases also have self-defense as an element of the case and whether or not the police officer in those cases was following protocol. In this case, that might be a little bit different. There`s obviously no self-defense claim here by the police officers and the protocol issue is really going to come down to the seat belt. And the reason why, by the way, until nine days ago they didn`t have a policy of doing a seat belt is because no police officer wants to put a seat belt on somebody who is acting out potentially and might bite them, spit at them and that kind of thing. And that`s going to be a fact-finding mission that the jury ultimately will have to decide. KORNACKI: All right, thank you to Doug Gansler and Kisha Hebbon. Appreciate the time tonight. We are going to keep an eye on everything that`s going on, on the ground in Baltimore right now. And up next, the other big political news of the day, indictments in the Bridgegate scandal in New Jersey.   This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In addition to the big story of criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case, we have got more breaking news tonight on the crime and punishment beat. This is the big one surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. David Wildstein, one of Christie`s top officials at the Port Authority, appeared in a Newark federal court today to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy and criminal misconduct for his role in the scheme to shut down the George Washington Bridge in the fall of 2013. In addition to Wildstein`s plea deal, two other high-level members of Christie`s staff, his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his top official at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, have also now been charged in a nine-count criminal indictment for their alleged role in the same conspiracy and its cover-up. In his guilty plea today, David Wildstein told a federal judge that he, Kelly and Baroni shut down the bridge as an act of revenge, targeting the Fort Lee mayor for refusing to endorse Christie`s reelection. Wildstein is facing a maximum of 15 years in jail, although he will likely be sentenced to significantly less time because of his cooperation with the government. The charges again Kelly and Baroni carry a maxim penalty of up to 86 years in prison. This all comes as Chris Christie of course prepares to make an announcement about running for president which could come as early as this month. Christie`s office says that today`s news affirms that the governor had no involvement in or prior knowledge about this conspiracy. Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly also maintain their innocence. I`m joined now by John Wisniewski, the New Jersey assemblyman who co- led an investigation by state lawmakers into the scandal. It was evidence that his committee uncovered which led to the U.S. attorney`s criminal investigation. And Matt Katz is a reporter here with WNYC in New York. Thank you for both for joining us. And, Assemblyman, let me start with you.   JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: Sure. KORNACKI: Your panel looked into this last year and in your final report, you could find nothing to pin on Chris Christie. The U.S. attorneys looked at this and he said today that in this scheme, he doesn`t think anybody but these three are going to be charged. He didn`t find any smoking gun on Chris Christie. Does that mean Chris Christie should be considered in the clear on this? WISNIEWSKI: Well, I think it`s premature to make those conclusions. I also think that it doesn`t really adequately characterize what our report or what the U.S. attorney said today. Our report said that we didn`t have any findings one way or another about the governor`s involvement. Mr. Fishman today said that based on the evidence he has, he doesn`t foresee any additional charges. But this is more than just continuing to press the narrative that the governor knew nothing about this. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is people that he trusted, people that he put into position, people that were his spokespeople at the Port Authority carried out a very bizarre and very mean-spirited plan to deprive people in Fort Lee of the ability to get across town. This is not just simply about whether or not an indictment will come. It`s about the moral responsibility of a man like Chris Christie. (CROSSTALK) KORNACKI: But do you believe you have -- you have David Wildstein, his lawyer, for instance, saying again today that Chris Christie knew about these lane closures as they were happening, that there`s some evidence that exists, he says, that would back it up. I mean, have you looked at this? Do you believe that Chris Christie knew about this either before or during the closures? WISNIEWSKI: I find it hard to accept the governor`s statement that he knew nothing about what people who were in his employ were doing. Steve, we all know how governor`s offices work. Bridget Kelly didn`t wake up one morning and decide to close these lanes because she thought it would be a fun thing to do. Somebody gave her the authority. Somebody gave her the direction to do this. We don`t know who that is. So there`s still a lot of unanswered questions with this. We don`t know where that will go and clearly the facts that the U.S. attorney has deduced thus far say that there`s nothing to charge anyone else on this incident.   But he`s also said that based on the facts that they have so far. So, there are unindicted co-conspirators that the U.S. attorney mentioned, and we don`t know who they are or what they may say in the future. KORNACKI: Bridget Kelly, speaking of her, broke her silence today in a press conference, affirming her innocence and declaring her intent to take this case to trial. Let`s watch what she said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIDGET ANNE KELLY, FORMER CHRISTIE CHIEF OF STAFF: I am here today to say that I will no allow the lies that have been said about me or my role in the George Washington Bridge issue go unchallenged. Contrary to the way I have been described by some of my former colleagues, I am not stupid. I am not weepy, insecure, unqualified or overwhelmed. Let me make something very clear. I am not guilty of these charges. For the indictment to suggest that I was the only person in the governor`s office who was aware of the George Washington Bridge issue is ludicrous. David Wildstein is a liar. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Matt Katz, that sounds an awful lot like to me that if this thing goes to trial, Bridget Kelly as part of her defense is going to be pointing the finger either at Chris Christie or at people very close to Chris Christie, when she says it`s ludicrous to say that I`m the only one in that office that knew about this. MATT KATZ, WNYC REPORTER: And I agree. I thought that was a pretty big bomb she dropped. It was more significant than David Wildstein`s attorney, who says evidence exists. She was out front. It was her saying it and she said other people in that office knew. And, you know, the U.S. attorney hasn`t said who those other people are yet. We don`t know who those other people are yet. And it does. It continues these questions about, well, maybe somebody else does have something indicating that this goes up to the governor. The governor can very fairly say that all these investigations, 16 months later, nobody has brought this into my office. Nobody has proven that I had anything at all to do with this, but there`s still obviously unanswered questions and there`s going to be potentially be trials going on while this guy is trying to run for president. I mean, imagine the split-screen of this situation for him. He`s going to be in New Hampshire, trying to -- presumably trying to win the nomination, and at the same time Bridget Kelly is going to be on trial potentially disclosing all the dirty secrets of the governor`s office and making allegations about, you know, who else may have been involved in this.   It`s -- he had a good day in that sense that he didn`t get charged with anything, but he had a bad day in that this is going to keep going on and on for him. KORNACKI: Well, and speaking of Christie, in a previously taped interview that aired on FOX News tonight with Bret Baier, Christie reaffirmed his innocence. Here`s what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: There`s not one been fact, Bret, that has come out over the course of the last 15 months that`s contradicted anything I have said after an internal investigation, after a highly partisan Democratic legislative investigation or after a U.S. attorney`s office investigation. Nothing has come out that contradicts what I said in an hour-and-15- minute-long press conference the day after this became public. And nothing will, because I was not aware of it. But I am accountable for it. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Matt, I wonder if you can make sense of this, because I scratched my head at something today. You have David Wildstein saying and you have the feds saying in these indictments that, hey, look, what was this, what were these lane closures, it was to punish the mayor of Ft. Lee because the mayor the Ft. Lee didn`t endorse Chris Christie`s re-election in 2013. He`s not saying who among those three, the prosecutors aren`t saying who among these three would have masterminded or come up with that scheme. But it does raise a more basic question that nobody addressed to me. Where would the impulse to do something like that come from in the first place? I mean, it`s such an uncommon, extreme, disproportionate response to a mayor of a town of 30,000 people not endorsing you. Where does an idea like that originate in the first place? MATT KATZ, WNYC REPORTER: Right. You know, the U.S. attorney today failed to kind of present a narrative of how this all went down. We don`t know what preceded the "time for some traffic problems" e-mails from Bridget Kelly that was allegedly the order to shut down the lanes. We don`t know whether this was part of a coordination with the Christie campaign, the -- the -- there was some question about whether the Christie campaign folks may not have been able to be charged because they weren`t in a public position or maybe they weren`t involved in this at all.   Fishman did not -- the Fishman -- the U.S. attorney did not divulge any more details beyond what`s in the indictment and what that has failed to do is sort of give us the fuller picture about why this would have happened. I mean, it is a wild, wild thing that happened here to close lanes to the busiest bridge in the world just to get back at a Democrat who didn`t endorse a Republican in a race that everybody knew the Republican was going to win. So, yes. KORNACKI: And by the way, just in terms of the politics of that. Yes, a Democrat and Republican, it`s not that he endorsed the Democrat. He just refused to endorse anybody, which in politics usually that`s a win, when a guy from the other party won`t endorse his own party`s candidate you`re doing something right. Even that wasn`t enough. Anyway, thank to Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Matt Katz. Appreciate the time. Up next, we are going to go back to Baltimore where protests are under way once again on the streets in response to the stunning announcement today that the six police officers involved in Freddie Gray`s arrest are now facing criminal charges. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE`S ATTORNEY: I heard your call for no justice, no peace. Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: All right. We are back. There has been a dramatic change in the mood on the streets of Baltimore since the announcement of criminal charges against the officers involved in Freddie Gray`s death.   For more on that now we go live to MSNBC`s Craig Melvin who is standing by in Baltimore. Craig, describe the scene, please. CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Steve, you know what, I want to show you a picture here. We`re in West Baltimore and there`s been so much attention paid to the images that divide us. For the past 10 or 15 minutes, I`ve watched no less than 100 people here walk up to the national guardsmen who have been protecting the streets and the neighborhoods for the past few nights, to pose for pictures and the guardsmen being extremely gracious. And this has been the scene that`s been unfolding here for the past 20 or 30 minutes. You would think the Ravens have won the Super Bowl, or the Orioles the World Series. I mean, it`s pretty much a party atmosphere here. You`ve got some drummers that have been banging for the past hour or so. There was a street parade of sorts, a spontaneous street parade about 20 or 30 minutes ago. A lot of the folks I`ve talked to here, Steve, pleasantly surprised by the announcement today, pleasantly surprised that the officers were indicted. A number of them also understand though that this is very much the beginning of the process. I want to bring in someone who`s -- you`ve lived here in west Baltimore for how long? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For like ten years. MELVIN: Ten years? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, originally from New York. MELVIN: What`s your first name?   UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lisa. MELVIN: What`s your last name? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Logan. MELVIN: Lisa Logan. You`ve seen this unfold the past few days in your neighborhood. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my neighborhood, right around the corner from where I live at. MELVIN: Have you ever felt unsafe over the past few days? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I don`t feel unsafe because the community has welcomed me because I live my life -- I`m a transgendered woman, but they have welcomed, and they have embraced me so to see this in my neighborhood is really just like wow. I`m glad for the verdict and as well coming out in the street. MELVIN: You said verdict, but you understand the charges. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charges. I fully understand it, but you know what I`m saying, just -- just this and inkling alone shows some kind of hope, you know what I`m saying, that we blacks here in this community have some kind of -- MELVIN: What happens if the officers who are charged aren`t convicted? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s no way in God`s green creation they can`t be charged because something happened to this man, this young man in the back while in police custody. So something happened. So there`s no reason why nothing can`t be charged.   MELVIN: This scene that we`ve watched play out over the past few hours, young, old, black, white. It`s like a street party. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t call it a street party. If you want to say street party or celebration or anything like that, it`s justice, you know what I`m saying? Something that this community needs -- a black man going into custody and then die. How many other people have died in this tragedy and nothing has come out of it? This is something. This is a start, you know what I`m saying, a conversation or anything. But what I want to know is why the mayor took so long to even say anything or in reference -- or the police department. Why did it take so long for them to be even charged with it? If I killed somebody or hurt somebody, I`d be charge that had same day when I got arrested? MELVIN: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re welcome. MELVIN: Steve, I want to move down just a little bit here. Excuse me, I`m sorry -- and show you a little bit more of the scene as it unfolds here on Pennsylvania and West. You can also look up and see the helicopters. At one point, there were five -- five helicopters. This is the only one that we say right now. But, again, it`s a surreal scene in West Baltimore as you can see the armored personnel carriers moving down the street as people dance in front of them. Again, the curfew, in effect tonight, folks should be off the streets from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Officials here in Baltimore saying that is going to be the case. KORNACKI: It`s amazing, Craig, such a departure from what we were seeing just a couple days ago. But appreciate that report. That`s some great stuff there. Craig Melvin live in Baltimore. Our coverage from Baltimore is going to continue after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   KORNACKI: We are watching protests right now not just in Baltimore but in cities across the country. Right now, we have live pictures from Seattle. That`s where hundreds of people have taken to the streets for the city`s annual May Day march. They`ve been bolstered by the group Black Lives Matter, who are demonstrating over the death of Freddie Gray. Also in Philadelphia, across the country, where police clashed with protesters last night. There are more demonstrations going on tonight. Back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: As this week ends, the mood in Baltimore seems to be changing considerably. We talked about political leadership. And joining me now is Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton, and Maryland State Delegate Keith Haynes. Councilwoman, let me start with you. The end of the week, we just had a really fascinating report on the ground from Craig Melvin, just talking about, talking to some of the protesters about how the mood changed tonight. I just wonder if we can take a bigger picture look at the events of the last few days when you look at the leadership, whether it`s a governor, whether it`s the mayor, whether it`s the prosecutor today -- who emerges in your mind this week as having really done a good job of leading this city? HELEN HOLTON, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL: I`m going to tell you, everything has to point to our state`s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, as well as Congressman Elijah Cummings. Congressman Cummings from the beginning of the outbreak and the unrest was here on the ground. People know him. We love him. He`s been here with the people in the trenches, demonstrating what it means to be in leadership, not afraid and in the ground with the people. We are the people. State`s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has taken her task to heart in doing what she`s been asked to do. She has studied the evidence. She came out today. She made a statement. Indictments came down.   We are at the beginning of a process -- a process that will take some time. And just as she said this afternoon, we need peace as we seek justice. And so, we`re here on the ground to ensure that even in celebration, that we remain peaceful in our community. KORNACKI: Delegate Haynes, let me ask you about the mayor of the city, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. How do you assess her performance this week? KEITH HAYNES, MD HOUSE OF DELEGATES: Well, let me first say that we have experienced in the city of Baltimore something that`s almost unprecedented in the last 48, 50 years. And so, as we have navigated through the events of the last two weeks, from peaceful protests to this time last week where things began to really reach a boiling point, to where we are now, where people begin to see that the first step of justice has taken place. You can always look in hindsight, but I have to tell you, it`s been turbulent waters for anyone who is an elected official to navigate this past week and a half. So, I will simply say that I`m glad we`re at this point. I think that, in hindsight, even when anyone can probably say, we should have done this, or actions should have been done better or worse, but the thing we need to focus on is that we`re at a point where it`s calm in the city. People are still protesting, but doing it nonviolently and looking forward and working together to pull together to move forward and bring this city to where we want to take it. KORNACKI: All right. Councilwoman Helen Holton and Delegate Keith Haynes, appreciate you joining us tonight. We`ll be right back after this. HOLTON: Let me just say this, let me just say -- (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now, live from Baltimore. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. 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