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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/04/14

Guests: Rosalind Helderman, Claire McCaskill

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for having me last hour. I really appreciate it, man. HAYES: Oh, that was fun. MADDOW: Thanks. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The first governor of Virginia was Patrick Henry, as in "give me liberty or give me death" Patrick Henry. The second governor of Virginia was Thomas Jefferson, as in dude who wrote the Declaration of Independence. That Thomas Jefferson. They were the first and second governors of Virginia. Tough act to follow, right? Virginia governor since 1813 have all lived in this historic executive mansion in downtown Richmond, Virginia, the state capital. This is the oldest continually operated governor`s mansion in the whole United States. Being the governor of any state is a heady responsibility. Being the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia brings with it even a little more gravitas and intimidation than your usual states. Before today, Republican Bob McDonnell was the first ever Virginia governor to be indicted for things he allegedly did while in office. Then today, this afternoon, he became not just the first Virginia governor to ever be indicted, he also became the first one ever convicted, in his case, on 11 counts of corruption. He was convicted of defrauding the people of Virginia of their right to the honest services of a governor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standby. This is the verdict. Lorenzo, this is history. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have just learned that both Bob and Maureen McDonnell have been found guilty on count 1. Their defense that there could not have been conspiracy, that this marriage was broken, that the McDonnells weren`t even talking to one another. But jurors have clearly with this verdict rejected that argument. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s pretty much a clean sweep for the prosecution. Bob McDonnell found guilty on just about all of the 14 counts against him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doubt a historic moment in the Commonwealth of Virginia. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is live television, folks, and this is history. Never before in the Commonwealth of Virginia has a governor been convicted of a crime until right now. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: All local news coverage of today`s verdict in Virginia. This is how Bob McDonnell ran for governor of Virginia. This was his campaign vehicle when he ran. It`s an R.V. You can see it`s got a vinyl wrap paint job there showing him and his wife and all of their five kids. Bob McDonnell ran as a family values conservative. He finished up his political ads by flagging on screen the McDonnell family. The McDonnell family, to make the case that his family was basically the bottom line and maybe the most important reason to vote for him. And at his home base, on places like the "700 Club" televangelist TV show, Bob McDonnell explained how his family values agenda was going to change the state with him in office. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAT ROBERTSON, 700 CLUB: The defense of marriage, constitutional amendment for Virginia? BOB MCDONNELL (R), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: It is, 19 out of 19 states that have had it on the ballot have passed it so far. We think this is vitally important in Virginia, from the Garden of Eden, to 2006, with believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But because of some social trends out there and some court decisions, marriage is under attack. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Bob McDonnell, the politician who saved marriage in Virginia. Vote for marriage. Vote for Bob. That interview on the "700 Club", that took place when Bob McDonnell was attorney general of Virginia before he had started running for governor. But his whole political origin, how he got his start in politics, and how he leapt from the state assembly to attorney general to governor to vice presidential prospect, right, this was basically his trajectory was that he was the guy from the "700 Club." He was the family values guy who went to televangelist Pat Robertson`s college as an adult student. When Bob McDonnell wanted to leave his old life behind and get a start in conservative Republican politics, he went to Pat Robertson`s televangelist university. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTSON: Tell me about what Regent did to prepare you for this or did it do anything? MCDONNELL: It was a great four years. It gave me the insight into what our Founders believed about government and about their view of the Constitution that I`ve been carrying forth on the job today. It gave me a great understanding of the limited role of government and the important roles of the church and the family and the other institutions in society, and what happens if government tries to take on those roles and can often make a mess. But also, it gave me the real importance of being a Christian elected official that it`s not just what you say, but it`s also the style of how you say it and acting in a degree of civility and trying to build bridges to get things done without compromising principle and adopting those principles, I learned at Regent has made me effective both in the general assembly and now as attorney general. I`m grateful for my training here. ROBERTSON: I`m glad. How come you chose region? You went to Notre Dame. MCDONNELL: Well, I saw this guy named Pat Robertson on the "700 Club" talking about a fine university on Virginia Beach. And being a native Virginian, I thought, what a great place to learn the foundational principles of our country in a Christian atmosphere and then to be able to use that to serve the public. I thought, what a great place to train. So, it was a great decision, and the principles I`ve learned here have taken me forward in my public life. ROBERTSON: We`re thrilled you did. It`s premature to talk about the future, but you like the job, it might be something else down the road. MCDONNELL: There are opportunities, but, you know, the best thing I can do is be the best attorney general that I can be. If I do that, the Lord will open up other doors for me. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Lord and Pat Robertson, in part, did open up other doors for Bob McDonnell and his family values crusading conservative career. It ascended from there. I mean, as a state legislator, he had been a crusading antiabortion activist. He sponsored or co-sponsored 35 different antiabortion bills. As attorney general, he authored that anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment and he got it put on the ballot. As a candidate for governor, he had a little hitch when "The Washington Post" reported on the thesis that he`d written as an adult student at Pat Robertson`s university because that thesis explained his view that public policy should be designed to punish cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators -- in favor of straight married people. But he overcame that hitch when that was reported and he did win election as governor of Virginia in 2009. Once he was elected, in no time, he used his new authority as governor to rescind the state`s hiring protections for gay people. He overtly changed state policy to remove protections that previously were in place that said you couldn`t be fired for being gay. Bob McDonnell got elected government and immediately moved to change that policy to overtly say, yes, you can be fired for being gay in Virginia. The legislature then started moving forward on some of the governor`s other pet issues including legislation that he had sponsored as a legislator that would require Virginia women to have a medically unnecessary, state-mandated intra-vaginal ultrasound exam at the order of the state, if they wanted to have an abortion in the state of Virginia. This was somewhat of a national uproar about the forced ultrasound bill in Virginia. Governor McDonnell was asked about it over and over again. He earned himself the nickname, "governor ultrasound" with this legislation. Eventually, he did sign the forced ultrasound legislation in Virginia, but he said, in the end, it didn`t have to be a forced vaginal ultrasound. It just had to be a forced ultrasound of some kind. And then after that, he and his attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, moved forward with their plan for new state regulations to close almost all of the abortion clinics in the state of Virginia. Bob McDonnell in Virginia was the family values governor from the "700 Club" and he governed as the family values governor from the "700 Club." After graduating from Pat Robertson`s school with his anti-fornicators, pro-marriage thesis, he served on the board of trustees at the Pat Robertson school for eight years thereafter. The last job Bob McDonnell is on record as having, as recently of this year, is as a visiting professor at Liberty University. Liberty University is the other televangelist university in Virginia other than the Pat Robertson one. Liberty is the one that Bob McDonnell works at now. That`s the one that was founded by Jerry Falwell. Now that Bob McDonnell has been convicted on corruption charges and looking at decades in prison, potentially, there`s all this coverage today about the decline and fall of Bob McDonnell as a national politician and there has been a decline and fall of Bob McDonnell as a national politician. But that`s not the only thing going on here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCDONNELL: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Good evening. I`m Bob McDonnell. Eleven days ago, I was honored to be sworn in as the 71st governor of Virginia. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It is a remarkable fall. I mean, the same guy got tapped to give the national State of the Union response, as he just said there, 11 days after the start of his term as governor. The same guy 10 days after the end of his term as governor got indicted on 14 felony counts. It`s a remarkable fall from a national perspective, including the very near-miss of Mitt Romney considering him as his vice presidential running mate just two years ago now. But that square jawed, good hair, looks like a reasonable guy appeal that made the national Republican Party pick out Bob McDonnell as the one they wanted to show off as an appealing Republican leader who seemed like a good new face for the Republican Party, what that always ignored and what I think some cases being ignored today in reaction to the verdict, what that doesn`t tell you is really who he was and how he got himself into a position of power in the first place -- not in the national press, not in national politics, but in Virginia specifically. And who he was and how he became governor really was through the televangelist hard-core social conservative family values power structure in which he promised that he would be the man to save marriage in Virginia. That his personal family values would become the public policy of the state of Virginia. He would remake the state`s Christian morality in the image of his own Christian family and his own Christian marriage. That is how Bob McDonnell became Bob McDonnell. That`s how national Republicans even ever got his phone number. That`s how he rose to power in Virginia. That`s who he was. And then when we got the first revelations about this businessman being the one who paid for the catering at his daughter`s wedding, when Bob McDonnell said he`d paid for the catering, then it turned out it wasn`t just the catering at the wedding, it was $50,000, $70,000, $120,000 in loans. It was tens of thousands of dollars of clothes and shoes and golf clubs and golf bags and long trips to vacation homes and the white Ferrari and engraved Rolex and all the rest of it. When it came time for Bob McDonnell to mount a defense to federal charges that he sold his office for that cash and gifts and trips and luxuries which he took for himself and his family in exchange for official acts to help the man who paid him, when it came time to mount a defense, then what became the most salient and fundamental thing to know about this case and this corruption and not just the human failing at the center of it, but the national American politics that explain it in the first place, the most important thing to know about what happened here is that governor ultrasound, the governor from the "700 Club", decided when he got faced with these charges that the way he was going to fight these charges, the way he was going to save his own skin, was to leave his wife. The governor`s defense to these charges was built almost entirely on attacking his wife. He tried to blame her for taking the bribes. He called defense witnesses who referred to his wife as crazy and mentally ill and in one case as a nut bag. He told the jury that he was lonely because his wife actually loved another man and not him. She loved the man who gave them all these things and all this cash and that adulterous crush is what brought all of this horrible prosecution down on the godly good governor in the first place. He was so good. She`s the one who did it. And then he really did leave her. He testified, he let slip early on in his first day of testifying in his own defense, that he wasn`t even living with his wife anymore. That once the trial started, he had moved in with his priest. And so, yes, governor family values did have a wife who, like him, was on trial for more than a dozen felony counts and was facing decades in prison. But he left her during the trial, so he could focus on his own defense. He left her alone, at what presumably was the worst time of her life so he could serve up a defense for the nation to feast on that blamed it all on her and derided her publicly as crazy and incompetent. And maybe he only faked leaving her and faked his public humiliation of her for legal effect. Maybe it was real, who knows? But despite all those years of how he became who he is, that whole awe-inspiring political ascendance based on family values piety and the lectures to Virginia residents about their bad relationships, and bad living arrangements, and the infinite superiority of Bob`s own family values. Yes, Virginia, when you got Bob McDonnell, this really is what you got. One last thing to show you. In January, "The Washington Post" reported this, "McDonnell rejected plea deal to face one felony, spare wife any charges and avoid trial." In the course of the federal investigation into Bob McDonnell`s corruption in the governor`s mansion, prosecutors at one point offered him a chance to spare his wife, and mostly to spare himself. They proposed that the governor plead guilty to just one fraud charge and it was a fraud charge that had nothing to do with corruption in office. If he did that, his wife would avoid all charges altogether. Quote, "The governor rejected the offer." And instead, he and his wife were put up on 14 felony charges. And today, they were convicted on almost everything. He was not convicted of lying to banks about some of the loans. She was not convicted in conjunction with some of the golf junk that he took and with one of the loans. But other than that, they got nailed on everything. Sentencing is January 6th. They could each do something like 30 years in prison. After the verdict was read, there`s no indication that Governor McDonnell spoke to his wife or even turned to her. He did openly weep in court. He told reporters on his way out of the courthouse, "My trust belongs in the Lord". He didn`t mention anything about his wife, or his marriage, or yours. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead on today`s guilty verdict in the Bob McDonnell corruption trial. The reporter who broke this story wide open in the first place is here next. And for the interview tonight, Senator Claire McCaskill is going to be joining us live. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Buy your local paper. Subscribe to your local paper. Get it delivered to you at home or pay online to read it at their Web site. Go on, go on, go on, do it, go on. If we don`t pay money to support the jobs of people who report the news where you live, then those people will lose their jobs. Look at these headlines. It`s happening in local news markets all over the country, including today. And when the people whose job it is to report the news where you live, when they lose those jobs, that means the news where you live doesn`t get reported anymore. And the news, itself, doesn`t stop happening. There will still be crime and accidents and disasters and births and deaths, and sports games, and elections, and corruptions and scandals, but who will report them? The firing of local reporters, the waning of real local news outlets, it is terrible news for us as a country and us as a democracy. And it`s the best news of all for powerful people news of all for powerful people who are doing shady stuff who don`t want to get caught for it or called out for it. These are all reports about Bob McDonnell and alleged corruption before these reports literally became a federal case. A "Washington Post" reporter got assigned to cover local Virginia politics and cultivated sources and reported it out and she followed leads and, yes, she brought home a whale of a story. I should say papers in Virginia like the "Richmond Times Dispatch" also did great work on the McDonnell story. They deserve shout-out as well. But "The Washington Post`s" local coverage deserves a whale of a shout-out. We think of "The Washington Post" as a national paper, but they are a local paper for the Washington region. And if it weren`t for dogged local beat reporters working every day at papers like that, to cover stories like this, before they become big-time, then most stories like this would never get told. Subscribe to your local paper. If you already do, start giving gift subscriptions to your friends. They`ll feel so guilty when they expire, they`ll sign up to keep them going themselves. Trust me, I do it all the time. Pay to get behind the pay wall. Seriously, it`s your civic duty. Joining us now is Rosalind Helderman. She`s now a political investigations reporter for "The Washington Post." Ms. Helderman, thanks very much for being here. I really appreciate it. ROSALIND HELDERMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: So, the first thing I wanted to know when I knew we got you to come on the show tonight was whether you were surprised by the verdict today. I will tell you, I was a little surprised by the verdict because I felt like the defense sort of seemed more cogent than the prosecution in terms of the storytelling of this case. I was surprised. Were you? HELDERMAN: You know, you can never predict what a jury is going to do. I frankly would not have been surprised with virtually any outcome in this case, especially because there was some fairly tricky legal issues involved. Had a lot of people predict to me in the last couple days that they would be convicted. I had many more people predicted they would be acquitted. So, I guess, there was a little bit of surprise especially to the severity, just so many counts. This was not a compromise verdict of any kind. MADDOW: What was the scene like in the courtroom and at the courthouse when the verdicts were read out? HELDERMAN: It was really an incredible scene. People who have watched a lot of trial said that they had seen nothing ever before like this. It was just so emotional in the courtroom. It was absolutely packed, both with reporters and with a lot of supporters of the governor, a lot of family. And as soon as they started reading the verdicts, the governor started crying. His wife started crying. His children started crying. One of his daughters was crying very, very audibly, sort of between each charge. She would sort of cry out. It was really extremely hard to watch. MADDOW: In legal terms, Ros, is there anything about the way this was decided that you think should tell us what to expect in terms of the sentencing phase? Obviously, the thing -- one of the things that`s really stark here is just exactly how much time the governor and his wife could be facing if they go for maximalist sentencing here. Is there any way to extrapolate from the way it was decided to know how sentencing might go? HELDERMAN: Well, we know who things. First of all, though on paper they`re facing decades in prison, they`re certainly not going to get that. Neither of them has ever been accused of a crime before. The governor served in the military, which helps. You know, they`re looking at years. They`re not looking at decades. On the other hand, the judge in this case, who will be in charge of the sentencing, was very tough -- tough particularly to the defense throughout the case. And I don`t think that we should expect them to be on the low end of any range. MADDOW: In terms of what happens next here, obviously the governor`s defense counsel said that they`re going to appeal and so that means throughout the appeal, this will be a live case. But there has been this very, very dramatic conviction today, and it`s a landmark moment in Virginia, a governor has never been indicted before, let alone convicted. Do you think this will shock the Virginia political system more than they were shocked by the indictment? There`s been no substantial ethics reform at all in Virginia since the charges were first worried about and then brought. Is there a sense that this verdict today could actually jar loose more action than has already happened? HELDERMAN: You know, it may. We`ll have to see. They did pass some reform in the last session. Many people including the current governor have said they don`t think that they went far enough. Will this be sort of a shock to the system? It could. I mean, certainly I think they would like to see their laws sort of provide better guidelines to make sure that no one runs afoul federal authorities who are clearly now watching more carefully than they were before. We`ll have to see about that. MADDOW: Ros, I have one last question that is personal and don`t have to answer it if you don`t want to. But as a person who was bylining this before this was a story, the person who really made this a story in terms of the press knowing what was going on -- do you have any sort of lessons learned or advice to offer in terms of how we should be approaching stories like this and reporting like this as a country? HELDERMAN: You know, I guess I would just say for reporters, dig, keep digging, and, you know, if it feels like a story, keep following it. It probably is. MADDOW: Rosalind Helderman, political investigations reporter for "The Washington Post" -- straightforward as always. That`s been the beauty of your work all this time. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. HELDERMAN: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you. That is amazing work. Rosalind Helderman there from the very beginning of this story. Impossible to imagine what the trajectory of this would have been without her reporting. All right. So much more ahead, including many, many other things that happened on a very jam-packed news day today. And Senator Claire McCaskill is going to be here in studio. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Honestly, this is one of those days in the news that`s like 15 days in the news all rolled up into one. For the show, we held our news meeting at midday today to talk about what`s going on in the world, what we`re going to do for the show tonight. Then, from the time that meeting started over the course of just the next couple of hours, we got the news that Joan Rivers had passed away. Terrible news. The news that the Justice Department was launching a civil rights investigation into the police in Ferguson, Missouri. We learned the news that the Bob McDonnell trial had ended and the jury had reached their verdict. We learned the news that gay marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin had been overthrown in a sweeping federal court ruling. We learned that Republicans in Kansas state government were stepping in to block last night`s bombshell news that the Democrat in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas was dropping out. Kansas Republican election officials not letting the guy drop out. So, his name will stay on the ballot even though he doesn`t want it there and that means Kansas` Republican incumbent senator will face two opponents in November instead of one and that, of course, makes it more likely that Republican Senator Pat Roberts will be able to hold on to that seat instead of being beaten by the independent candidate who is trouncing him in the polls. Republicans in Kansas state government today moved to block that from happening. And that all happened in the space of about 2 1/2 hours today. And there`s yet more show. We`ll get to all of this. But I have to tell you, we`ve got Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill here for the interview tonight. We were first to report here last night that Senator McCaskill, herself, played an integral part in the Democrats` decision last night in Kansas to have their candidate drop out of that Senate race. So, we`ll get her reaction tonight to Republicans trying to force the Democrat to stay in that race. Senator McCaskill was also right in the middle of the response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last month. She`s holding hearings next week on the militarization of our police after that military equipment and those military tactics that we saw on the streets in Ferguson. So, all this to say, it`s been a heck of a day. There`s a lot still to come, including Claire McCaskill, next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: New York City`s police department is the largest one in the country, 35,000 NYPD officers on that force. Today, that department announced they`re testing out a program to equip their officers with body cameras. Right now, just a small number of officers on the force will be wearing the cameras, recording their interactions with the public, but the hope is that soon the entire force, tens of thousands of officers, will all be wearing cameras whenever they`re on duty. Last week, you might remember the Denver police announcing their plans to equip all their officers with body cams. They even released this funny PSA-type video showing Denver`s mayor wearing body cam glasses, asking citizens what they think about the program starting up in that city. Denver says they want to acquire about 800 cameras for their officers by the end of next year. In Ferguson, Missouri, officers on that city`s police force have also started wearing body cameras that were donated to them recently. The Ferguson police department has been given 50 body cameras. The chief there says the officers are receptive to the cameras so far. And all of this, this quick movement across the country on this issue seems to be emanating from Ferguson, Missouri, as its epicenter. It was in response to the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, by a Ferguson police officer last month, but the country`s attention suddenly focused on police use of force and police response to upset over their use of force. Those protests in Ferguson riveted the country. They also gave rise to some very concrete and specific calls for change. This is one of very popular petitions on the White House "We the People" Web site right now. It`s a petition for what they`re calling a Mike Brown law. Currently has more than 150,000 signatures, that`s way more than you need for the White House to respond to your petition. And what this petition calls for is a federal law that would require all state, county, and local police officers to wear body cameras. Quote, "The law shall be made in an effort not only to deter police misconduct, but to remove all question from normally questionable police encounters." The senior senator from the great state of Missouri, Senator Claire McCaskill, has come out in support of that kind of a federal law regarding police use of body cameras. In the wake of Michael Brown`s shooting death in Ferguson, Senator McCaskill said no local police department should receive any federal funds unless their officers are required to wear body cams, at the height of the tensions in Ferguson, with those daily protests, those daily confrontations, when the local police response to the public outcry about Michael Brown`s death sometimes looked more like a poorly planned military invasion than any sort of precision policing. Senator McCaskill went to Ferguson, she showed up and talked to people on the ground there. She said she was there because as a senator from Missouri, she works for those protesters. They are her boss. She said she was there to make sure they had the space and safety and respect that they deserved as law-abiding citizens to make their voices heard and to protest peacefully in the streets. During the visit to Ferguson, Senator McCaskill also said the militarized response from the local police force was counterproductive. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I think that last night the militarization of the response became more of the problem than any solution. I think it escalated the situation. It didn`t de-escalate the situation. And so, my goal has been to try to move out some of the military responses that they have been embracing and see if we can`t get back to good, solid police work that keeps the protesters safe. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The day after the Senate comes back in session next week, Senator Claire McCaskill is going to be chairing a hearing on the militarization of local policing. She says she`s going to be looking into federal programs that give away Defense Department equipment meant for war zones basically as hand-me-downs to local American police departments all across the country. The Senate is back in session on Monday. Senator McCaskill`s hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. Today, when the Department of Justice announced their new investigation into the whole Ferguson Police Department and potentially neighboring police departments in St. Louis County, Senator McCaskill weighed in there as well, calling the Justice Department investigation a step in the right direction. As a federal elected official who represents the state of Missouri, and who has been both present there in Ferguson and weighing in on what should happen nationally in response to Ferguson, Senator Claire McCaskill has become the living embodiment of how the story of that killing of a teenager in that one Missouri town and the police response to that killing has become a national story with implications for all of us in the whole country. Joining us now for the interview tonight is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. Senator, thank you for being here. MCCASKILL: It`s great to be here. MADDOW: You welcome the Justice Department investigation today. Is that because you think there is a clear problem in St. Louis county and in Ferguson that needs federal intervention to fix? Or is it something else? MCCASKILL: Well, there`s a lack of trust right now. There is a palpable amount of cynicism in the Ferguson community about their police department. And there`s also a belief that the federal government -- because historically the federal government has been the tip of the spear for many civil rights actions in our country. A lot of the reforms that we`re proud of this country didn`t start at the state and local level. It was the enforcement by the federal government. So, I think the federal government taking a really thorough look at policing practices, any patterns or plans that they have used that would indicate unfair treatment of some of their citizens, is just really important for catharsis in the community for them to begin to gain trust again in what is really an important part of our country and that is belief in the rule of law, that it`s fair. MADDOW: You`re a former prosecutor. You`ve worked with law enforcement for a lot of your career. When you think about the way that local police are going to respond to something like that, do you have empathy for their resistance, feeling defensive about having outsiders coming in and telling them that they`re doing it wrong? How do you think it`s going to be received locally? We`ve obviously seen overt signs from the local community that they`re welcoming it. Do you expect there will be some resistance? MCCASKILL: Well, I do think there has been some lessons learned. If you look at Ferguson adopting the body cams so quickly, they didn`t fight that. And frankly, body cams not only protect citizens from an overreach by police departments, they also protect police officers -- MADDOW: Right. MCCASKILL: -- because people may capture the end of a police altercation on camera and not capture the beginning of it which might give it a whole other tone. So, and also the county police department today agreed to a cooperative investigation with the Justice Department, asking the Justice Department to give them advice and analysis of their responses and they, of course, were the police department that I believe got carried away on Tuesday and Wednesday night which then ultimately led to an escalation, which ultimately led to some bad guys coming into the community when things really got complicated through the weekend. So, I really think that Ferguson and the county police department have been pretty good about saying, come take a look at us and let`s see if we are doing things wrong, which is positive. MADDOW: In terms of the other policy response that you`re very much involved in, other than the Justice Department, you`re convening this hearing on the militarization issues. If police -- it seems like this is the sort of thing that`s very popular. I mean, anecdotally, it seems popular. I can imagine across some of the spectrum, ideologically in Congress, there may be support from that from a lot of different kinds of legislators. But if police around the country decide that they really, really want their MRAPs and they really want their sound cannons and AR-15s and all of this stuff, are you sort of prepared to fight with law enforcement about this? If you feel like as a policy matter, it`s better for these militarized tactics and pieces of equipment to be denied to police officers who want them? MCCASKILL: I think it -- we`ve got to look at, first of all, it`s not just one program, it`s three programs. And there`s never really been the oversight on these programs, Rachel, that we should have. They are duplicating one another. In some instances, I believe we`re going to be able to show that the Defense Department is giving them equipment that`s expensive to maintain. And either Department of Homeland Security or Department of Justice is giving them the money to maintain it. The question is, how often is this equipment even being utilized? MADDOW: Right. MCCASKILL: And how much money is being wasted maintaining equipment that sits in a shed somewhere and has never really ever been used in any circumstances? So, it`s about when is this equipment being used? How effective is it when it`s been used? Is it really needed? And frankly, if we`re going to prioritize helping local police departments with federal dollars, maybe we should start with the body cams. MADDOW: Right. MCCASKILL: And before they get anything else, we do the body cams and we certainly make sure that if any of this equipment is ever going to be deployed in a domestic setting, there is adequate training and adequate thought process as to whether or not it is going to help a problem or hurt a problem. I don`t want to de-arm police departments, but what we saw in Ferguson was not what we want in the United States of America. I think all of us were bothered by those images and I`m determined to do something about that. MADDOW: I think the body cams issue, when you see so many different types of police departments and different types of states and cities and departments of different sizes all moving in that direction, at least being willing to try it, it shows the widespread acceptance of that as a potential next step. Would you mind staying for just a moment? MCCASKILL: Sure. MADDOW: I have another couple things to ask you about, in particular this game-changing news out of Kansas which might determine which party controls the Senate next year. No big deal. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last night on the show, we brought you late breaking news about the United States Senate and about the Republican Party`s hope and expectation that they`re going to take over the Senate in the elections this year. In Kansas, the incumbent senator, Pat Roberts, is a Republican, he`s up for re-election. Pat Roberts had a tough primary against a Tea Party guy, but he survived it. National Republicans after that primary thought Senator Roberts` seat in Kansas was basically a safe one, one they could preemptively put in their win column as they tried to find six other seats to try to take over the Senate for the last two years of the Obama presidency. Part of the reason Kansas looked safe for Republicans is because it`s freaking Kansas. They`re so red they voted for Mitt Romney by 22 points, in 2012. They`re so red, Kansas hasn`t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932. But more immediately, this year, incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts has had this great luxury this year of running against two people at once, two people splitting the vote against him -- with a popular and well-financed independent taking as much of the vote as the Democratic candidate was. Republican Pat Roberts was going to cruise to re-election simply by virtue of this three-way race. With that kind of a landscape for November, Pat Roberts reportedly hadn`t even been campaigning in Kansas recently. And that`s why it was a bombshell last night when the Democrat in that race announced he was dropping out. Democrat Chad Taylor sent a letter to Kansas secretary of state asking that his name be taken off the ballot. He told the press he was terminating his campaign. Him being off the ballot would, of course, clear the way for a two-way race between pat Roberts and the independent candidate, a guy named Greg Orman whose polling showed could very well win that seat if he had a head to head matchup with Pat Roberts. And, yes, Greg Orman is an independent, but him winning would flip that Senate seat from red to not red. And that small change in Kansas could seriously complicate Republican hopes for winning control of the Senate in November. And that`s how we left it last night, with Democrat Chad Taylor quitting the race, greatly increasing the chance that Republican Senator Pat Roberts would get turfed out in November. That`s how we got the news last night -- Democrat Chad Taylor quitting. Today`s news, Kansas state Republicans won`t let him quit. Today, the Kansas secretary of state stepped in to stop this thing in its tracks. I should mention that the Kansas secretary of state, Republican Chris Kobach, has endorsed Pat Roberts for Senate, but he didn`t take that as a reason to recuse himself from this decision. Instead, Mr. Kobach ruled personally today that the Democratic candidate who is trying to drop out didn`t write his letter to drop out in exactly the right way. And so, the guy has to stay on the ballot whether he likes it or not. The Republican secretary of state said so. The Democrat Chad Taylor says he will appeal. That means that the part of this fight that`s contained in Kansas continues in Kansas. But because of the national implications of this fight, this is also a national story. Last night on our show, MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt broke the news that the Democrat in this fight, Chad Taylor, made the decision to drop out last night in Kansas, partly at the urging of Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is not from Kansas. She`s from Missouri. Joining us again is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. Senator, thank you. MCCASKILL: Sure. MADDOW: Did you talk to Chad Taylor about dropping out of the race? MCCASKILL: I actually visited with Chad Taylor, and he`s a great guy. He was wrestling with the decision, and, you know, we had a great far- ranging conversation. I don`t think it`s probably a good idea for me to go into the details of our conversation, but he was wrestling with a tough decision, and I felt for him. I think he made up his mind, and frankly, he did it in consultation with the secretary of state`s office. MADDOW: Yes. MCCASKILL: He asked them, what do I need to do to do this correctly? He showed them the letter. These are the people that work for the Secretary of State Kobach. Is this enough? They said yes, this is what you have to do and it was, in fact, the secretary of state`s employees who guided him as to the language that was necessary in his resignation. So, the fact that this secretary of state is on Pat Roberts` steering committee, it does appear that somebody is trying to put their finger on the scales, which is unfortunate, because this is a man who had a very tough decision to make. He made it himself. No one made it for him. There wasn`t some grand plan, and I was happy to visit with him about it. MADDOW: What should happen now that the Kansas Republican secretary of state has made this decision? I mean, what we`ve seen the national Republicans do today is got rid of the existing Pat Roberts` campaign, they`re sending in their own national pros to run his campaign because now they realized they may have a real problem on their hands. What do you think should happen in response to this ruling from the secretary of state`s office? MCCASKILL: Well, Kansas is my neighbor, and I know these folks, kind of. I`ve got to think it`s probably not a good idea to have a senator who lives in Washington to have operatives come in from Washington to try to save his campaign. You would think there could be some Kansas people that pat Roberts might know that could help him as opposed to an operative from Washington, D.C. I think his campaign manager said the day after the primary that he was going home to D.C. to rest a few days -- probably not really sensitive to the fact that what the people of Kansas want is somebody who -- and, frankly, Kansas has a great big independent streak. I mean, people don`t know. There are some progressive tendencies in Kansas. For example, they are one of the first states I believe to pass the ERA. MADDOW: Sure. MCCASKILL: They were an abolitionist state. They elected Nancy Landing Kassebaum to the U.S. Senate when women were not getting elected to the Senate. By the way, she was a terrific senator, independent, fair minded, and that`s the kind of Republican that Kansans are comfortable with. But Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts have gone so far to the right, I think a lot of the moderate Republicans are no longer happy with the brand of the Republican Party has there. MADDOW: So, Kansas is next door to Missouri. I will give you that. You are not from Kansas. You are from Missouri. MCCASKILL: And I`m not a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks. MADDOW: I understand. MCCASKILL: But I`m trying to understand the state. MADDOW: I feel that from here. But did I miss some sort of Sherman-esque statement from you about never running for president? I mean, is there any -- obviously you`re involved not only in Missouri issues, not only in federal issues, you`re interested in what`s going on with the Democratic more broadly and the Senate more broadly. Why shouldn`t I be asking you if you`re running for president? MCCASKILL: You know, it`s just kind of an awkward, awful question. MADDOW: If I were you, I would be running, as the most -- MCCASKILL: Really? MADDOW: -- as the most centrist senator in the state, the way you`ve run in Missouri, the issues you`ve been interested in, the way you`ve stepped into stuff you didn`t have to get involved in, because you thought leadership was needed there. America is definitely ready for a woman nominee. If I were, I`d be running. Why aren`t you running? MCCASKILL: I don`t know. Sometimes people think me stepping in is more like a bull in a china shop maybe. I don`t know. MADDOW: We`re not a china shop. We`re America. MCCASKILL: I`m passionate and I do -- I`m not afraid of a fight where I think it needs to be taken. But I also know what the process is, and besides that, I`m all in for the first woman president, Hillary Rodham Clinton. So I want to be supporting her every way I know how. I think she`ll be a terrific president, and I can`t wait to say "Madam President" to her. MADDOW: She`s not declared she`s running. If she doesn`t declare, would you consider running? MCCASKILL: Probably not. I think I`ve seen up close what those things look like, and I think I can do a lot of good in other ways to serve the state I love and the country I love. But I think it`s a hypothetical we won`t have to talk about, because if somebody wants to betcha on whether or not Hillary Clinton is a candidate for president, I`d take the bet. MADDOW: All right. Well, that`s fair. I can see how uncomfortable this makes you. I will tell you, if I had to pick one Democrat who I thought could definitely win a race for president, it would be you. That`s in part because you`re considerably more conservative than I am. But I think you could win if you ever want to run. Anyway, I just leave it there. MCCASKILL: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you, Senator Claire McCaskill. I appreciate it. MCCASKILL: Great to be here. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: As if there hasn`t been enough news today, a federal judge in Houston today ruled that BP, the oil company, had been grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon spill, that the spill resulted from BP`s own actions. Today we got a sense of what the per barrel fine could be in this case, and the answer is a lot bigger than BP wanted. This federal judge today again ruled that BP was grossly negligent. That means the fine for each barrel spilled could be quadruple what BP was hoping to pay. BP is now facing a penalty of up $18 billion, that`s billion with a B. And even for an oil company, that is a ton of money. It can be hard to think in terms of billions, but the potential fine here is enough to wipe out most of BP`s profits for 2013, you could think of it that way. Or you could consider this -- when a company is facing a fine or legal judgment, investors tend to feel relief when they find out how much the company is going to have to pay, because at least the damage is done, there`s certainty, the stock tends to go up when the fine comes out. But that`s not what happened to BP today. This is what happened to their stock today. It fell off the cliff when they got the news of this potential $18 billion fine. The Deepwater Horizon case is a long, long way from being finished. BP intends to appeal this court ruling today. But this finding today does signal that the decisions of giant oil companies sometimes have giant financial consequences. Giant consequences, not just for the world they operate in but for their own very, very fat wallet. What a news day today! That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END