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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/08/15

Guests: Michael Coyne, Anthony Scott, Chris Stewart

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Great reporting from the field tonight, Chris. Great to have you there, man. Thanks. And thanks to you at home for joining us as well this hour. There is a lot going on in the news today and even into tonight. We`re going to have more coming up this hour on that South Carolina shooting which has resulted in that North Charleston police officer being charged with murder. We`ll have more coming up on that story a little later on this hour. Also, of course, today was the day that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all counts related to the Boston marathon bombing. We`re going to be talking about that verdict this hour, but specifically about what`s going to come next after the verdict because it`s actually the penalty phase of the trial, the sentencing part of his trial, the question of whether or not he`s going to get the death penalty that has even more suspense to it than today`s very dramatic verdicts did. So, that`s just some of what is coming up this hour. We`ve also got a decoder ring for you this hour. A story that lots of people on the political right are very, very upset about -- but if you`re not on the political right, you probably have no idea what they`re upset about. We`ve got that story decoded for you in case you haven`t been watching FOX News for the past week. So, there`s a lot going on this hour. That`s all still to come. But we`re going to start tonight in Tennessee, because in Tennessee, something has started there as I think basically a bit of slightly random home state excitement and confusion. A little bit of state news, used to be just a local thing to Tennessee, but it is about to turn into kind of a nightmare for the entire 2016 field of presidential candidates -- almost, almost the entire field. These guys, look at that roster there. These guys are all about to be at the same place. Look. This is basically the whole Republican field for 2016. There`s one guy on there who is definitely not running for president, he`s a sheriff from Wisconsin. There`s one other guy who we now know is not running for president, although he might have made a run before he bungled his way into a huge economic and pr disaster for his state. And now half tried to get himself out of it and his state is still reeling. And nobody quite understands anything that Mike Pence says anymore. So, Mike Pence might have been a contender before last week, but now, he`s no longer even potentially running. Other than those two guys, though, everybody else in that set of pictures, that`s basically the whole Republican presidential field for 2016 -- Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, even Donald Trump -- they`re all going to be there, at the NRA convention which starts this week in Nashville, Tennessee. Honestly, it is the whole field. The only ones who have been left out as far as I can tell are Chris Christie, who was not invited, the NRA does not like Chris Christie, even though he likes them. Interestingly, Rand Paul was also not invited, although the NRA is not explaining that in terms of them having some beef with Rand Paul. They just say they didn`t have time to invite everybody. And that meant not inviting him. Aside from those two, though, the entire Republican presidential field is going to be attending the NRA convention which starts this Friday in Nashville. At that convention, they`re expecting 70,000 people. And this is a huge event, and because it is such a big event every year, cities and states really compete to try to host this thing. It`s an economic jolt to any local economy to get 70,000 people there for any purpose. So, Nashville was obviously very excited to get the NRA convention at their convention center this year. And the Tennessee state legislature was just over the moon that Nashville was going to be hosting the NRA. The Tennessee state legislature has gone not just Republican in recent years, they`ve gone like three-quarters Republican. Look, this is the partisan divide in the Tennessee house and Senate right now, just huge Republican majorities in both chambers in Tennessee. And in their excitement about the NRA convention, this huge convention of NRA members coming to Tennessee, Republican legislators in that state set aside a whole week in the legislature last month to be gun week, basically to figure out what sort of new state gun laws they could give to the NRA as a "thank you" present for the NRA bringing their convention to their state. Republicans in the state legislature considered everything from eliminating all gun permits in the state. What could possibly go wrong? They considered allowing people to travel with guns in ways that they legally cannot in Tennessee. Now, ultimately what they decided to go ahead with was this bill which would override any local law in Tennessee, overrule any local community that wanted to ban guns from a public park in Tennessee. Weirdly, the law said cities and towns could still keep up their existing signs, saying that they don`t allow guns in parks. The signs could stay up. But they would no longer actually reflect the law. What was proposed by Republican state legislators this year, as thanks to the NRA for the convention coming to town, is that any legally permitted gun owner in Tennessee could ignore any sign banning their gun from a public park, and that gun owner could take their gun to the public park despite any local statutes otherwise if they wanted to. So, that was their plan as their sort of sacrificial offering they were going to lay at the feet of the NRA. Republicans in the state legislature got working on that last month. Their plan was to pass it quickly. And this is interesting -- most new laws passed in Tennessee, you pass something in Tennessee, it goes into effect January 1st of the following year. Or if they`re really rushing it, and you pass your new law in the first half of the year, you can set it so it goes into effect on July 1st - - July 1st of the year in which the law is passed. But for this one they made a special dispensation. For the "bring your gun to the park" law, they wrote this bill so it would take effect immediately. The law would change and the "bring your gun to the park" rule would go into effect as soon as the governor signed the bill, instantly. Hopefully like the day before the NRA got there. So the confetti would still be falling when Ted Nugent and Wayne LaPierre rolled into town. That was the local plan in Tennessee for how they wanted to welcome the NRA to their state. It quickly got very awkward. There may not be very many Democrats left in the Tennessee legislature, but the ones who are left appear to be rather spunky. If Republicans in the state legislature were going to override local community laws about where guns were allowed, and where they were not allowed, would Republican legislators be willing to live under those same principles themselves? The Democrats proposed amending this legislation so it didn`t just get rid of all the guns -- all the laws banning guns in local parks, their proposed amendment would also override the regulations that banned people from bringing guns and other forms of weaponry into the state capital. It`s kind of calling the question, right? Let`s see how Republican state legislators feel about anybody being allowed to pack any kind of weapon they want in the legislative chamber where those Republicans had their offices and had to go to work every day. Republicans said no to that. No, they did not want people to be able to bring guns where they work. So, that was awkward. Then, there was also what`s been called locally Tennessee`s Rambo problem. In Tennessee, they call this guy the Radnor Lake Rambo. He`s a guy who likes to walk around outside courthouses and particularly outside schools while wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a very visible rifle. Sometimes he carries a bolt action rifle, sometimes it`s a semiautomatic assault rifle, fitted with a silencer which is a nice touch. And this guy puts on his bulletproof vest, walks around outside schools, fully armed, looking like a determined and well-prepared school shooter, freaking everybody out. And then, he does this, and inevitably when police stop him to check and see what he`s doing to find out if he is, in fact, a school shooter, he records his interactions with the police. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POLICE OFFICER: I don`t mind if it is not loaded, but I need to know if it`s loaded or not. If I let you go and you end up shooting 12 people, whose fault is it, mine or yours? RADNOR LAKE RAMBO: Am I being detained? POLICE OFFICER: Yes, you are. Put your hands down. RADNOR LAKE RAMBO: No, I`m going to put my hands on my head. I don`t want to get shot. POLICE OFFICER: Nor do I. That`s why we`re stopping you. RADNOR LAKE RAMBO: Really? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Really. So, for a while, Tennessee`s very own Radnor Lake Rambo, this guy has been stomping around outside schools and courthouses wearing his bulletproof vest, carrying his gun, scaring the bejesus out of people, causing school lockdowns and all the rest of it. And one Republican state legislature in Tennessee said, well, OK, as long as we`re having Gun Week, as long as we`re trying to do some stuff on guns in advance of the NRA bringing 70,000 people to our state, with all the Republican presidential contenders, right, as long as we`re having gun week, and we`re doing gun stuff, there is this one little local gun related problem that we are having in Tennessee which maybe we can do something about. So, because of the Rambo guy, this Republican state legislature proposed a new amendment in that Tennessee guns in the parks bill that they`re rushing to pass ahead of the NRA arriving in town this week. The trick is, though, if you think about the strategy here, they can`t do anything to that bill that might offend the NRA, that might upset the Republican Party`s positive relationship with the NRA, right? As it happens, they did find some language that the Republicans felt OK about, they didn`t think would upset the NRA, and Republicans in the Tennessee legislature actually voted for this change, for this amendment. So, it`s in the bill now. What they were able to bring themselves to pass is this, this language which adds to their new law, a ban on squirt guns. It`s a ban on fake guns, toy guns, things like squirt guns would be banned specifically anywhere near Tennessee schools. No squirt guns, no fake guns within 150 feet of Tennessee schools. Real guns are still OK. But squirt guns and toy guns would be illegal outside of schools under the new law. The ostensible reason for this new language was to respond to the Radnor Lake Rambo guy. "The Tennessean" newspaper helpfully points out that that guy is actually carrying real guns, so he would still be OK to keep doing what he`s doing under the new law. But if your personal plan to stop that guy was to sully his bullet proof vest with a squirt from your super soaker, you would be the Tennessee gun criminal now, not him. And so, now, you`ve got headlines in the local press like this one, which is hilarious. That`s been the result of Tennessee Republicans and their effort to show off for the NRA by okaying legal guns everywhere while inexplicably banning toy guns near schools. And that result has even been too weird even for Tennessee Republicans. So, now, it actually looks like there`s not going to be any new NRA-endorsed gun law for the Tennessee governor to sign before the time the NRA gets to town at the end of this week. The whole thing has been slowed down a little bit as the process has just gotten too weird. But then, then there`s the matter of what is actually going to happen in Tennessee when the NRA comes to town at the end of this week. You think it`s weird the fake guns are banned but real guns are OK thing? Check this out -- the NRA obviously is a fierce advocate for guns being allowed everywhere. Since the Newtown elementary school massacre, they have advocated in particular for guns being allowed in schools. The NRA is advertising their convention for Nashville this week as nine acres of guns. But when they host their big NRA concert this weekend in Nashville, when they host Jeff Foxworthy doing his comedy thing and Allan Jackson doing a country show at the NRA convention, no guns will be allowed at those NRA convention events. It wouldn`t be safe. They also will not allow any of the exhibiters at the convention, the people laying out those nine acres of gun. They will not allow any of those guns to be operational. They are mandating to all their convention exhibitors that they physically remove the firing pins from all the weapons in the exhibition hall so none of them will be operational. Again, it wouldn`t be safe. At the same time, though, that`s not just -- that`s not kind of a blanket prohibition that they`re putting over everything at their event. It`s not like a local law requires them to do this. It`s not like they`ve got a no guns rule at every location for the NRA convention where they`re hosting these 70,000 gun-owning convention-goers. It`s not a blanket rule. I mean, sure, there`s no guns allowed in the room when Alan Jackson is singing or Jeff Foxworthy is performing his comedy show. But in the grand ballroom where the entire 2016 presidential field other than Chris Christie and Rand Paul will be speaking this week, when all the governors and senators and presidential hopefuls are going to be speaking at their events, guns are fine. The NRA has decided to let everybody carry guns at the speeches for Scott Walker and Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush. Come see Jeb Bush at the NRA convention. Bring your loaded weapon, all of you. The NRA told the spokesperson for the venue that they`re doing this at in Nashville, that gun owners with proper gun permits will be allowed to bring their weapons inside to attend the speeches of all the 2016 candidates. We asked the venue today, it`s called the Music City Center in Nashville, we asked them, and we asked the NRA as well whether the NRA has plans to actually check people`s gun permits as they enter the ballroom. Whether -- they say if you`ve got a permit for your gun, it`s fine if you want to bring your gun to Jeb Bush`s speech. We asked whether they are actually going to check permits, whether they`re going to check to see if the people who show up carrying guns are properly permitted to carry those guns. In response to that direct question from us tonight, the NRA spokesperson told us tonight, quote, "I don`t think so." But the NRA has basically just arranged for almost every Republican candidate running for president in 2016 to appear before a large crowd of people carrying presumably loaded weapons. And, no, before you stop watching this and start Googling whether or not any of these guys have Secret Service protection, none of them do. That doesn`t come until later in the process. Now, if the convention organizers at the NRA decide to change their minds, if they decide they maybe want to keep guns out of that hall, maybe they want to put up metal detectors or something like that, we will let you know. But right now the plan is open carry, all the candidates. And everybody just hope for the best. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have some upsetting late developments tonight on an incident that took place earlier this morning involving U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This was in Jalalabad, which is in eastern Afghanistan. A convoy of U.S. troops was there this morning providing security for a U.S. diplomat who was meeting with provincial governors in that part of Afghanistan. The U.S. diplomat in this case, you see here on the left, departed that meeting with the Afghan officials, departed that meeting by helicopter. Soon thereafter, the military convoy that had been providing security for him at Jalalabad came under attack. What we`re told is that a man dressed in an Afghan military uniform opened fire on those U.S. troops. We`re told the shooter was ultimately killed in the firefight that ensued. What we`re told by U.S. officials this morning was that one American soldier was killed in that firefight. What we are now learning in addition to that information is that seven other Americans were also shot and wounded in that incident. Now, it`s unclear at this point whether the shooter in this case actually was a member of the Afghan military or whether he was just posing as one. But this incident, one killed and seven reported shot and wounded, this marks the first time since December that an American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. We will have more on this story as it develops. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Christmas Day 2009, this 23-year-old man was arrested for trying to detonate plastic explosives that he had hidden inside his clothing on a Delta operated plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit. Two years after he was arrested, he pled guilty in U.S. federal court to multiple criminal counts, including the attempted murder of the 289 people on board the plane with him. He was sentenced to four life terms, plus another 50 years, all without the possibility of parole. He will spend all of the rest of his days on Earth at this super max facility in Colorado. On May 3rd, 2010, this man was arrested for planning a car bomb in a vehicle in Times Square in New York City. He pled guilty in U.S. federal court to 10 criminal counts. A federal judge in the southern district of New York sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will also spend all the rest of his days on earth at that same federal super max facility in Colorado. It rarely makes national headlines anymore, at least for long, when these kinds of convictions happen. When these sentences go down and these guys get sentenced to live out their days in well-deserved obscurity. But just because it doesn`t make headlines all the time doesn`t mean it isn`t happening frequently. The trusted bin Laden lieutenant who was just convicted earlier this year in a federal courtroom in Manhattan, he`s awaiting a sentence now that could be up to life in prison. Earlier this month, it was Loretta Lynch, the federal prosecutor who President Obama has nominated to be attorney general, her office just got a conviction of an al Qaeda member who`d been part of the cell plotting to hit the New York City subway and a newspaper office in Denmark and targets in Manchester, England. That latest conviction this month was the fourth one tried so par and the fourth one convicted. That was last month, actually, March, not April. Those are just a couple of examples. But the U.S. criminal justice handles high-end terrorism trials all the time with remarkable success. When is the last time a big federal terrorism trial resulted in a not guilty verdict for the accused terrorist? After the Boston marathon bombing, a whole clutch of Republican senators, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, Saxby Chambliss. They all came out and said that even though Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a U.S. citizen and he committed this crime in the U.S. and he was arrested in the U.S., he should nevertheless be designated an enemy combatant. Those Republican senators demanded that he be denied a defense attorney and that he be held indefinitely in detention to gather intelligence. They demanded that he be shipped off to some detainee prison somewhere or to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. They said, quote, "The least of our worries is a criminal trial, which will likely be held years from now." The Obama administration rejected their demands, the Obama administration decided that would not be an option. He is a U.S. citizen. Our U.S. justice system can handle a case like this. Today, after 11 hours of deliberations over two days, the federal jury convened to hear this case in Massachusetts. Found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 of the charges against him, including 17 of those 30 charges which would make him eligible for the death penalty. Had Dzhokhar Tsarnaev been brought to Guantanamo, who knows if he ever would have been tried or by whom. Honestly, the military tribunal system at Guantanamo is a practical, logistical and legal disaster. "The Boston Globe" editorialized today against those early calls for Tsarnaev to be sent to Guantanamo or somewhere else offshore. Even before the verdict came in, "The Globe" described the good that has come from holding an open, fair and untainted trial in the United States near the scene of the crime. "The Globe" says, quote, "The community learned important new details of the bombing and drew a step nearer to putting the traumatic week of the bombing and Watertown manhunt in the rear view mirror." Now that the verdict has come in, though, guilty on all counts, there is another not so fine distinction that is suddenly very important in this case. No, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not tried in freakin` Cuba, thank you very much. He was tried here at the scene of the crime, right? But it wasn`t a Massachusetts case ultimately in which he was found guilty today. The feds took over the Tsarnaev case. And that ends up being very important now because had Dzhokhar Tsarnaev been tried by the state, had he been tried in Massachusetts state court, he would not be facing the death penalty right now. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984. Because the Feds tried this case, now the same jury that has convicted him will have to decide if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will live the rest of his life in prison or if he will be killed. The federal government has the death penalty. The federal government kills prisoners by lethal injection when they do it. But the federal government has also only killed three prisoners in the last 25 years. What is the likelihood that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will also go to federal death row? Joining us now is Michael Coyne. He`s dean of the Massachusetts School of Law. Dean Coyne, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate your time tonight. MICHAEL COYNE, DEAN, MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, thanks for having me here. MADDOW: So, how will the part of the trial that comes next, the part where they decide his sentence? How will that be different than what`s happened in the trial thus far? COYNE: Well, there will be some overlap because the government will still want to present evidence of the victims suffering and carnage that took place at the finish line. So there will be some redundancy in the evidence. But the rules of evidence are relaxed in this phase, and the defendant will be able to offer mitigating factors -- his youth, his adolescence, his upbringing, social factors that might have influenced him here, and especially his corruptive, coercive influence of his older brother as he sees it, and those will be mitigating factors that he will introduce. The government will introduce what we call the aggravating factors, the ones that justify the death penalty because we have young victims, vulnerable victims, a police officer, and we have maiming as a result of a weapon of mass destruction. MADDOW: Because the trial is being held in federal court, but in Massachusetts, federal jurisdiction which has the death penalty, Massachusetts state law would not have the death penalty, there`s a sort of spotlight on whether or not the jury might have some resistance to the death penalty regardless of the crime. Just to the death penalty as a punishment. Did they screen for that when they chose this jury? COYNE: Yes. The jury is what we call death penalty qualified. They were extensively interrogated with respect to their views and whether they could apply it if the law demanded that he be put to death. So, they`re already qualified. And it is a difficult job for the government to get a jury in Massachusetts to determine that the death penalty, the most serious penalty we can impose on anyone, is in fact appropriate under the circumstances. But it`s been said with respect to this case, if this case isn`t the classic death penalty case, frankly, also with the classic death penalty jury at this point, a white middle class jury, then there isn`t a better case that can be made for the imposition of the death penalty. MADDOW: Judy Clarke, the defense attorney in this case, one of the defense attorneys in this case, she has been very successful in arguing against the death penalty in other high profile cases. From what you know of her earlier cases, nothing`s exactly like this, but the way she`s defended other people, do you have any insight as to how she might go about arguing against having him put to death? COYNE: There is. This defense team has been called the death penalty dream defense team. They have highly talented lawyers led by Judy Clarke, and what she`s done in other cases is really tried to get the jury to empathize with the defendant. They will never understand how he got to the place he did and participated in these mass destruction. But what she needs to do is try to get them to have some empathy for his upbringing, his adolescence, his immigrant status, and the coercive influence of his older brother. She`s been very successful at being able to personalize her unlikable client so that the jury can see that. She did this with Susan Smith, with respect to the woman that killed her two children. And she was able to successfully defend that case and avoid the death penalty for her client. She has represented other mass murders as well and been successful. She does so because she brings in expertise to the matter, she brings an enthusiasm and she`s a tireless worker. She`s a terrific advocate and he`s fortunate to have this dream team of defense lawyers. MADDOW: It`s interesting that there is so much more suspense about this portion of the trial, after his conviction than there was even about the conviction itself. COYNE: Well, this is the much harder burden for the government here. Most of us expected that the jury would return a guilty verdict with respect to the charges themselves. But 17 of them as you pointed out carry the death penalty. This will be an uphill battle for the government. MADDOW: Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, been following this case closely, thanks for helping us understand it tonight. Appreciate it. COYNE: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Much more ahead, including the latest on the story of the man who was shot and killed by a policeman in South Carolina. The investigation of that case took a dramatic turn when the video of that incident was made public late yesterday. We have the victim`s brother and his family`s attorney joining us straight ahead. Please do stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS STEWART, SCOTT FAMILY ATTORNEY: We have to really recognize the strength and fortitude and fearlessness it took to come forward when you know you just filmed a police officer murder somebody. How that should be respected throughout this country is that this person came forward when there were many people who sees another just regular person do something and don`t come forward. That`s the kind of person that needs to be duplicated. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The lawyer for the family of Walter Scott yesterday calling out as a hero the mystery bystander that took the video of Walter Scott`s death in a shooting by a North Charleston, South Carolina police officer Saturday morning. Well, today in Charleston, South Carolina, NBC got an exclusive interview with that bystander who shot that video that changed everything. We`re going to have that for you as well as a live conversation with the brothers of Walter Scott, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Yesterday, this video of a police officer shooting and killing apparently an unarmed man who was running away from him at the time, yesterday, the video was posted online by "The New York Times" after it was made available to the family of the man who was killed in that video. After the tape became public, the police officer who fired the shots was charged with murder in the death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. When we learned about the video yesterday, we did not know who made it. We did not know who made the remarkable decision to keep filming this encounter in North Charleston, South Carolina. Even with the shots fired. A person who is plainly aware of what it was he had filmed, and then made the decision to get that video to the victim`s family. What we did not know yesterday was the identity of the shooter of the video. Now we know. The man who filmed the video, his name is Feiden Santana and he gave his first interview earlier this evening to NBC`s Lester Holt. In that interview tonight, he describes what he saw before he started recording. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Was there a struggle? FEIDEN SANTANA, SHOT CELL PHONE VIDEO OF POLICE SHOOTING: There was. They were down on the floor. They were down on the floor before I started recording. They were down on the floor. I remember the police had control of the situation. He had control of Scott. And Scott was trying just to get away from the Taser. The Taser, you know, you can hear the sound of the Taser. HOLT: He had been tased at that point? SANTANA: Yes. HOLT: You hear the sound? SANTANA: Yes, I heard the sound before I started recording. And I believe he just wanted to get away of the Taser. But, like I say, he never used the Taser again. HOLT: So, Mr. Scott runs away. SANTANA: He runs away. HOLT: And then, so what does the police officer do? SANTANA: As you can see in the video, the police officer just shot him in the back. And I knew right away that I had something in my hands. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was again Feidin Santana who was the bystander who took the cell phone video of the killing of Walter Scott. Feidin Santana also spoke with Craig Melvin of MSNBC and he told Greg the kind of amazing story about he almost deleted the tape once he had it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTANA: I thought about erasing the video and just getting out of the community of North Charleston and leaving for someplace else. CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Leaving town? SANTANA: Yes. MELVIN: Because you were that scared? SANTANA: Yes. I knew, like I say, I knew that as soon as I saw the video, I knew the cop didn`t do that right way -- the right thing, and, like I say, I feel kind of scared over that. I saw the police report. I read it. It wasn`t like that, the way they were saying. MELVIN: You read the police report? SANTANA: Yes. Yes. And I saw on the news, and I say, you know, this is not the right -- this is not what happened. And I had a friend of mine and I showed the video to him and I tell him what I witness, and he was agreeing with me. So, you know, he told me think about what you want to do with this. Like I say, and I just put myself in the position of the family, you know, that I know if I would have a family member, like I say, I didn`t -- I couldn`t tell what was going to be the decision in this case, if the police would be charged or not. But I wanted them to have this, and do something about it. Because I know if I wouldn`t give it to them, nothing would happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The bystander video shot by Feidin Santana, you just saw there, it did make it into evidence, did make it into the public view and it changed everything about this case. Before the tape, the only public narrative about this case was the police officer`s claim that he was fearing for his life and defending himself. Today, after the tape was made public, North Charleston Patrolman Michael Slager was arraigned on a murder charge. He spoke to a judge from jail in a videotape conference today. He remains in custody tonight. Officer Slager has now been fired from the North Charleston Police Department. He also got a new attorney this afternoon, after the lawyer who had been representing Mr. Slager withdrew yesterday once the video came out. At a tense press conference today that was interrupted several times by protests, North Charleston`s mayor and police chief told reporters that there`s more video the public has not yet seen, footage from Officer Slager`s dashboard camera is now in the hands of the state law enforcement division, which is investigating the shooting. Local police say that that agency will likely release that footage tomorrow. So, plan for that. The mayor also announced that he has ordered 150 additional body cameras for police officers on top of the 100 or so cameras the city already had funding for, but had not yet started using. He says every officer on the street will wear body cams as soon as a policy is established and the officers are trained in how to use them. Tonight, though, in North Charleston, with all the developments among the living, Walter Scott`s family is grieving his death. The family announced this evening that his funeral is set for Saturday. Joining us now is Walter Scott`s brother, Anthony Scott, as well as the Scott family attorney, Chris Stewart. Gentlemen, I appreciate you both being with us tonight. I know it has been a very difficult time for both of you. ANTHONY SCOTT, WALTER SCOTT`S BROTHER: Yes, it has. MADDOW: Yes. Mr. Scott, how are you -- how are you holding up? How is your family holding up? SCOTT: We`re not doing very well right now. But we feel a little relieved that the arrest was made and he was charged with murder. And hopefully, justice will be carried out. MADDOW: Mr. Scott, can I just ask you to describe what you first saw? I know that you actually arrived at the scene. I`m told your mother called you to say your brother had been Tasered in an encounter with the police. Can you tell us what happened and what you saw that day? SCOTT: Well, when I got to the scene, the first thing I saw was the cop -- the police car and my brother`s car wrapped in tape, police tape. They secured the area. And I knew something was wrong at that time. And then when I walked up to my nephew, he told me that my brother was gone. And then I proceeded to ask what happened to my brother. I know, because a traffic stop, that`s no reason to have someone Tasered to death. And that`s what I originally believed had happened. But what actually had happened, he had gotten shot. But I didn`t learn that until later on that day. MADDOW: Mr. Stewart, I`ll ask you. A lot of people in the national media in particular have been asking sort of counterfactual questions, what would have happened had this video not come to light? What would have been the course of this case? And we`re making it up honestly, we`re speculating because only one thing happened, and the video did become available. But is it clear to you from what you understand of how it was investigated, what the police had done, what was going to happen had that tape not come out? STEWART: Yes. We`ll never really know the answer to that. MADDOW: Yes. STEWART: What we do know is what was shown to us in the beginning. And what was shown to us was the officer`s story, the officer`s incident report, and the police station actually making a statement saying the same thing that the officer said about him trying to take the Taser and use it on the officer. None of that was true. And we now know the truth by seeing the video. And I think if the video never surfaced, it would just be the officer`s word against Mr. Scott`s. MADDOW: Is it your belief that the -- that after the shooting and the video when you can see the officer dropping something next to Mr. Scott`s body on the ground, that what he`s dropping is his service issued Taser? STEWART: I think the video speaks for itself. It`s pretty clear. If you put that together with the rationale that he wrote in the incident report, in his public statements, that he got ahold of my Taser. I think he officially called it in. He got my Taser. So, he had to come up with a justification for just shooting somebody. He had to come up with a real justification for shooting somebody in the back, which he knew he had done. So he, on the video, ran back, grabbed the Taser which he knew was nowhere near the body. If somebody got your Taser, they would still have it in their hand, and he casually tosses it on the ground. And that was going to be his story. He didn`t know anybody was watching. MADDOW: Mr. Scott, let me just ask you one last question. And I don`t -- I don`t mean to impinge on your grief and on what your family is going through, but I know you have made a public announcement about your brother`s funeral planned for this weekend. Do you expect -- obviously, there`s so much national concern, so many people want to be supportive of you and your family in terms of what you`re going through, do you expect there will be a lot of people who come out for your brother`s funeral? What would be the most helpful to you and your family at this point? SCOTT: Well, it`s open to the public right now. But media is not welcome at this time. MADDOW: Anthony -- sorry, go on. STEWART: The family really wants it to be a family-centered event, not a big publicity thing. No cameras inside at all and just the family mourning the loss of their loved one. We`re going to make that happen. MADDOW: Chris Stewart, Scott family attorney, Anthony Scott, brother of Walter Scott, who was killed this weekend -- gentlemen, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate having you here. STEWART: Thank you. SCOTT: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We`ve got a lot to still come tonight. Believe it or not, we actually have some breaking news from the White House tonight. This story has just broken late. Nobody saw it coming. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, we have some breaking news tonight from the White House. One hallmark of this presidency saw a lighthearted hallmark has been the administration`s program that allows people to petition President Obama about some issue or another. If you get enough signatures, the White House will make some kind of response. The most famous example was the petition for the Pentagon to build a "Star Wars" style Death Star. That got enough signatures for a response. It did get a response from the White House. But it was not the response that petitioners had hoped for. No Death Star. Wah-wah. Those "We The People" petitions have proved so popular that the administration has raised the threshold for what you have to do to get a response. It`s now much harder to get enough signatures to qualify for the White House to weigh in on your issue. But that is where we are tonight with one of these that was actually a really meaningful petition that has resulted in a big deal pronouncement from the White House tonight. OK, this petition was inspired by Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender kid from Ohio. In December, she posted a note saying that her life was not worth living, that she had been kept from transitioning by her parents, that instead she had been taken to religious therapists who told her she was wrong. After she posted that note, Leelah Alcorn committed suicide. She threw herself in front of a truck, 17 years old. A week later, this petition surfaced on "We The People" Web site at the White House, enact Leelah`s law to ban all LGBTQ conversion therapy. The petition told Leelah Alcorn story. It asked President Obama for his help in banning therapy to try to fix or cure sexual minorities. And they got enough signatures to qualify for a response. They met the new and higher threshold of 100,000 signatures in one month`s time. And tonight, they got their response. The White House tonight said President Obama will in fact call for an end to so-called conversion therapy or reparative therapy. "The New York Times" reporting tonight that the president will not call for an explicit federal ban, but he will say that he is open to conversations with lawmakers in both parties about how to deal with this issue and stop this kind of "therapy", end quote, the therapy -- quotes around therapy is what I was trying to do there. In the official response to the petition tonight, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett noted that lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bans on so-called conversion therapy. She said that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed such a ban into law back in 2013. Well, this is still very new news. We don`t yet know how this is going to play out exactly, what exactly the president is going to announce or what it is going to lead to. But this is real news from that petition site which previously has been treated mostly like a joke. This is real news and a surprise tonight. Stay with us. More ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: As you might have noticed, the 2016 race has begun in earnest -- at least on the Republican side. There is one Republican candidate who would very much like to be president but who is now waiting to see whether members of his own inner circle are about to be indicted in federal court. There`s new front page news tonight on the potential indictments, and that is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOST: I want to ask you if you had one do-over, one thing you could go back and revisit and do it differently, what would it be? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Oh, gosh. I mean, I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t have been as trusting with some people, I would have asked more questions on certain things in general. And I wish I would have had that to do over again. HOST: How would that have worked? Really, I mean -- CHRISTIE: I don`t know. HOST: I think I know what you`re talking about. You`re talking about the bridge and you did ask people. The people that are going to lie to you, they`re going to lie to you consistently. CHRISTIE: Yes, it`s true. I think, you know, for me I`m pretty good if I`m really aggressive about it. Maybe I could have been more aggressive, I don`t know. It`s one of those things that`s still kind of surreal to me, and I don`t really understand it still. But it`s certainly something that has been, you know, a really bad period -- HOST: Sure, sure. CHRISTIE: -- for me, both personally and professionally. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wearing an apron, bearing a little bit of his soul into an interview on a new show. It`s called "Pasta and Politics with Nick Acocella". It premiered tonight on New Jersey public television. Interesting conversation, right? If Chris Christie could have one do-over, he said it would have been his handling of the great New Jersey bridge scandal, that nearly week-long hell scape ordered up on purpose for one New Jersey town by at least one Chris Christie staffer apparently for political reasons. It`s a still unresolved, unexplained scandal that has dogged the governor`s administration since it was first uncovered in 2013. Governor Christie did fire a couple of his staffers for their roles in that scandal. But the federal prosecutor in the state, the U.S. attorney for the state of New Jersey also opened a criminal investigation into the matter, which is ongoing. Among the key figures in that scandal and among the federal probe is this man, David Sampson, former New Jersey attorney general, widely seen in New Jersey as Chris Christie`s mentor. Before David Sampson stepped down a year ago from his state job, he was running the agency that controlled the bridge where that manufactured traffic jam took place. He`s also a founding partner of a law firm that`s reaped millions in state business during the Christie administration. Federal prosecutors reportedly have been looking for possible signs of a conflict of interest between David Sampson`s government work and his position at that lucrative law firm. Well, now comes news that David Sampson has stepped down from that law firm. A spokesperson for the firm telling "The Bergen Record," "After heading the firm and working relentlessly for 43 years, David Samson has been planning his ultimate retirement and leadership succession for some time." In a very unusual turn, though, his firm is not just changing leaders, it`s changing its name. The firm is called Wolff and Samson. It has become arguably the most powerful and politically connected law firm in Chris Christie`s New Jersey. But David Samson is now not just retiring, they`re also stripping his name off the firm. It`s not going to be Wolff & Samson anymore. I don`t know what they`re going to call it. Chiesa Shahinian -- I don`t know who these people are. But it`s going to be a fresh start. As Chris Christie starts his run for president in 2016, it`s hard to not wonder about when and whether the other shoe is going to drop in terms of potential federal criminal indictments in the bridge scandal that Chris Christie says he regrets so much. "The New York Times" posted this front page article saying indictments in the bridge case are imminent. They`re coming as soon as next week. But honestly, we have seen that prediction before, and it`s been 15 months so far with zero news from that New Jersey prosecutor`s office, which does not leak. That said, all those previous predicts also did not come on the heels of Chris Christie`s mentor resigning from his law firm without explanation, and his law firm inexplicably stripping his name off the building before he was even cold. So, still, lots of intrigue here, but so far intrigue is it. Watch this space. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END