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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/23/15

Guests: Myrlie Evers, Jerry Mitchell, Todd Rutherford

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. The Website Gawker is occasionally really quite profane. Gawker is known, for example, for posting celebrity sex tapes. Gawker also occasionally breaks real news, as they did with this story that they did on the shirtless Craigslist ads which resulted in a married family values New York Republican resigning from the United States Congress. Gawker also occasionally breaks big news as they did with this dump of photos, photos of the security contractors who were charged with guarding the U.S. embassy in Kabul. They were guarding the embassy in Kabul until this story came out and these photos were posted on Gawker at which point they weren`t in charge of guarding that embassy anymore. So, the Website Gawker is often profane. It is occasionally great. And it is, frankly, the kind of online news outlet that occasionally will stop you in your tracks. Today, Gawker stopped me in my tracks when they ran a short feature story, mostly pictures, but a feature story on a statue -- a really, really, really big statue in Nashville, Tennessee. Now, I have been to Nashville. I`ve been to Nashville more than a few times. I can never remember seeing this statue, though, or maybe if I did my brain went into "save yourself" mode and erased it from my memory. This is a terrifying thing. It`s 25 feet tall. It`s a bunch of different colors. Look at the eyes. Terrifying blue marble eyes. And look at the teeth. This thing has a mouth like a circular saw. Look at those chompers. Terrifying, right? It looks a little bit like -- I know what you`re thinking -- it looks a little bit like Scary Lucy, that bronze statue that was supposed to be Lucille Ball in her hometown and then the locals asked the nice artist who made it to please take it down because it was scaring the children. Looks a little bit like Scary Lucy. But I think Nashville one is even more viscerally terrifying. And that`s in part because it `s 25 feet tall and it apparently looms over Interstate 65 with those terrifying blue marble eyes and those chomper teeth. But it`s also scary because of what it is. What it depicts. What it stands for. James Earl Ray is the man who shot and killed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in April 1968. He was King`s assassin. James Earl Ray fled the scene after the killing. He actually got over the border into Canada. Once he was in Canada, he got a fake passport somehow, he eventually flowed the United Kingdom. But a couple months after he shot King, they finally picked him up in London England. They caught him out for the fake passport, and he was extradited from the U.K. back to the United States for-to-face trial for killing Martin Luther King. And in 1969, a little bit less than a year after the killing, James Earl Ray was convicted. Now, ultimately, he pled guilty to that crime but for a while, for a long while, actually, he and his attorney -- his attorney was a guy named Jack Kershaw -- he and his attorney put forward that theory that James Earl Ray didn`t actually kill Martin Luther King. They put forward this theory that said that James Earl Ray was actually just the fall guy for the crime and actually the guy who killed Martin Luther King was a man named Raul. Even years after James Earl Ray went to prison, even after James Earl Ray once escaped from prison for a few days before she was recaptured, Jack Kershaw, James Earl Ray`s attorney, kept going on and on and on about this Raul theory. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TV ANCHOR: James Earl Ray is in solitary at Brushy Mountain Prison in Tennessee. The last of the five men who broke out within last Friday night was caught this morning. And today, Ray`s lawyer was on hand, so is Eric Burns to report on what the lawyer had to say about his client. ERIC BURNS, NBC NEWS: This is Jack Kershaw. He`s James Earl Ray`s attorney and he talked to Ray this morning. He told reporters that Ray is OK physically, exhausted mentally, and sorry he tried to escape. And, he said, there was no conspiracy to help Ray escape. JACK KERSHAW, ATTORNEY: I think we can discount the outside help business now. If there`d been outside help, that have been some sort of -- something in the backyard or something. REPORTER: Did he plan the escape? KERSHAW: No? REPORTER: Who did? KERSHAW: I don`t know. BURNS: Ray refused to talk to these investigators for the House Assassinations Committee today, but he will talk to them later, Kershaw says. Kershaw also says he has a picture of the man named Raul. According to Ray, Raul was the brains behind the plot to kill Martin Luther King. Kershaw says that he will show this picture some time in the next two months after he has asked the court for a new trial for his client. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, that was the defense attorney`s defense. That was the attorney`s defense for the man who killed Martin Luther King. He said it wasn`t my client, James Earl Ray, even though he went to prison for this. He didn`t actually do it. It was really some guy name Raul. And there really wasn`t much more to it than that. He just asserted that was Raul in the picture. That brilliant "it was Raul" defense did not fly and James Earl Ray never got out again, either legally or by escaping. And he died in prison in 1998. But the attorney, the guy who represented James Earl Ray and came up with the Raul defense, he, Jack Kershaw, lived out his days as an ardent proselytizing segregationist. Jack Kershaw was in the White Citizens Council. He was in the League of the South. He was an unrepentant activist segregationist. And he was also an amateur and terrible sculptor. James Earl Ray`s attorney is the guy who made this. This absolutely terrifying 25-foot tall fiberglass sculpture that looms over interstate 65 in Nashville, Tennessee. The defense attorney for the man who assassinated Martin Luther King made this thing, and even though the statue does look a little like scary Lucille Ball, who it actually depicts is Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, sometimes credited as being the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Nathan Bedford Forrest was also a high ranking general in the Confederacy and this statue along I-65 in Tennessee is supposed to inspire you to revere him. Now, to help with that, just in case any of this isn`t clear enough, the statue is surrounded by, I think, I`m counting 13 Confederate flags on giant flagpoles. So, that`s very subtle. Welcome to Nashville. Today, in the wake of the massacre of African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, last week, today, a Democratic candidate for mayor of Nashville proposed that the city of Nashville might try to do something about this giant founder of the Klan sculpture wrapped in Confederate flags that they`ve got on the side of the interstate heading into town. Today, Nashville City Councilor Megan Barry suggested maybe the city or the state could put up, I don`t know, trees or shrubs or something to try to block the view of this thing at least. Now, the trick here is that this thing is on private land. It`s on land owned by one of Jack Kershaw`s friends. And today, that friend who owns the land on which that sculpture sits, he told Nashville public radio, basically, bring it on. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BILL DORRIS: I`ve got some 1,800-foot flagpoles. I could put them up starting tomorrow. And they`re going to have to build a helluva wall and a helluva bunch of trees to block all that. Slavery was the first form of social security. If you stop and think about it a minute, it was a cradle-to-grave proposition. They never had it so good as far as job security to begin with. It wasn`t the best of job security but it had benefits. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the man who hosts the giant Klansman Confederate flag private memorial along Interstate 65 in Tennessee. Interestingly, when you ask him about the quality of the sculpture itself, he admits that the statue is terrible. He admits that Jack Kershaw was not a good sculptor. But he says he wants to keep that Klan sculpture up there and he says he`ll fight to keep it, specifically because he believes in the Confederacy. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DORRIS: As an artist, mediocre. As a thinker, he was way ahead of a lot of people in his time. Jack got some materials that I used to make bathtubs with and he started with a butcher knife. That`s the end result that you see throughout right now. REPORTER: To a lot of people, this monument is a symbol of racism. DORRIS: Any monument is a symbol of racism is if you are going to make it a symbol of racism. Now I`ve been accused of being racist. If I was racist, why have I got so many blacks working for me? I still consider this the sixth-largest nation in the world, the Confederate States of America. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Confederate States of America. So, congratulations, Tennessee, you now have this to deal with. I mean, all Klan statues and Confederate flag displays are to some degree terrifying, that`s kind of the idea of them. This one is slightly more terrifying than usual because of the quality of the sculpture. Oh, my God! Gawker`s headline on this today was perfect. "Alarming statue of a racist and horse perfectly honors the Confederacy." Perfect. Well, Tennessee now has that alarming statue to contend with anew, in the wake of Charleston. But that one`s on private land, so they`re up against the guy who still believes he`s living the Confederacy, knows what he`s up against and wants to fight for it. And here`s the one that`s on public land. This one is also in Tennessee. This is the bust of the same Nathan Bedford Forrest which stands not on some private land somewhere but on the grounds of the Tennessee state capital. This Nathan Bedford Forrest statue is four feet tall. It`s been there since the 1970s. Tennessee`s Republican Governor Bill Haslam said today that he now wants this Nathan Bedford Forrest bust taken out of the Tennessee state capital. Now, it`s interesting. There was a law passed in Tennessee in 2013 that makes it almost impossible to remove Confederate monuments in Tennessee when people object to them. Because of that new law passed by Tennessee Republicans in 2013, it`s going to be hard to remove that founder of the Klan bust from the Tennessee state capital. But the Republican governor of the state now says he will support any effort to do that. Governor Bill Haslam also now says he wants to state of Tennessee to stop issuing Confederate flag license plates. That actually shouldn`t be hard at all. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe today just ordered the state of Virginia to stop issuing Confederate flag license plates. He cited last week`s Supreme Court decision which allowed the Texas state government to deny requests for Confederate flag specialty plates. As the Democratic governor of Virginia today, Terry McAuliffe just ordered it, ordered the state Transportation Department to stop issuing these places and to issue replacement plates to anybody in Virginia who has one on their car. I have no idea what is going to happen when 1,677 Virginia vehicle owners who paid for Confederate flag license plates and have them on their cars now, I have no idea what will happen when they get their replacement plates in the mail without the Confederate flag on them. But apparently in Virginia that`s about to happen. In North Carolina, Republican Governor Pat McCrory says he wants the legislature to get rid of the Confederate flag license plate in North Carolina. It looks like he could do that himself if he wanted to, thanks to that Supreme Court rule, at least as far as I understand it and based on extrapolating from the Terry McAuliffe experience in Virginia. But in North Carolina, Pat McCrory says he wants the legislature to do it instead of him doing it himself. In Kentucky, the Republican candidate for governor of Kentucky has called for the statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, to be removed from the Kentucky state capital. In Alabama, the state legislator who sponsored legislation to take the Confederate flag down from the capitol dome in the 1990s has introduced further legislation today to take the Confederate flag off the Confederate memorial that`s on the state grounds, too. That, of course, is the same fight that`s unfolding with lightning speed in South Carolina right now. There are some really interesting developments on that which we`re going to get to later on in this hour. But overall, we are at a really amazing inflection point right now. Like, even just in this 24 hours of this news cycle, right? Where this stuff going go -- I mean, it looks like there`s so much momentum to pitch all of this stuff, maybe all this stuff is going to get pitched. But maybe it`s not. Maybe it`s going to be proposed that it be pitch and it sticks around despite this flurry of new discussion, despite this outpouring of purported new understanding of the power and pain of these symbols after the massacre in Charleston. But, you know, it`s not a done deal and it`s not clear it will be a done deal any time soon. For example, in Georgia. Republican Governor Nathan Deal in Georgia, he was asked today about the Confederate flag license plate in his state. Unlike all the other governors in the Deep South states today that said maybe there`s some way these things can be taken care of, maybe this thing should be gotten rid of, today, Nathan Deal in Georgia says he, quote, "doesn`t have a problem it with." And Georgia has got an interesting history around these things in terms of state symbols. Before 1956, this had been the flag of the state of Georgia. But in 1956, after Brown v. Board, right, in the throes of the civil rights movement, Georgia in 1956 changed its flag from that one to this one. Subtle, right? It`s not like that had been their flag since the civil war. They put the Confederate flag on the Georgia state flag in 1956, in the 1950s specifically to stand for segregation, to stand against civil rights for black people. 1956 they did that. Georgia eventually had to change that. It took forever. It took decades. It took a couple of false starts. It took a bunch of politicians losing their jobs. But Georgia eventually got themselves a normal flag again in 2003. They dropped the Confederate flag one in 2003. But when it comes to dropping the Confederate flag license plate, Republican Governor Nathan Deal today says he isn`t ready for that. Doesn`t see the need, like to keep the Confederate flag license plate in Georgia. He`s OK with it. So, we`re experiencing this rush now, right? This kind of rush to make up for lost time. This rush to at least propose getting rid of the similar bombs of white supremacy that we have let linger in our country for a long time now. In the past 24 hours, this has taken a very fast corporate turn as well. Walmart, Sears, Kmart, eBay, Amazon, Etsy -- all saying they would stop selling Confederate flag stuff. But, you know, as that happened, people also started buying the Confederate flag like it was going out of style because maybe it is. Sales soaring. Thousands of percent on Confederate flag merchandise before these retailers stop selling them. Get them while they`re hot. And governors like Georgia`s Nathan Deal said, no, actually, we`ll keep our Confederate flags on our license plates. And in the state, the one state that still has the Confederate emblem on its official state flag, in that state, the leading conservative political figures in the state starting feeling a little shy today about changing anything, started to say, hmm, maybe they`re going to keep their Confederate symbol, even on the state flag. I mean, what we are living through right now is at least on the surface, we`re having this sort of lightning fast recalibration of what`s OK and what`s not OK when it comes to overt racism. And the overt symbols of the white supremacist movement past and present. What we`re dealing with right now is a sort of a recalibration, a new reckoning of what`s OK and what`s not OK on private land and on public land and as government speech and in American politics and in conservative politics specifically, we are experiencing a moment of really fast movement right now. But that does not mean we are experiencing a new consensus. What has just started here is a fight, and it is unpredictable as to how it`s going to turn out. But the fight is on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Some big news tonight out of D.C. and the 2016 Republican field which took kind of a weird turn today. We also have here for the interview tonight the legendary activist Myrlie Evers, the widow of Medgar Evers. That is still ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: God bless Haley Barbour. We spent a long time on this show last talking about the former Mississippi governor, former Republican Party chairman and his rosy recollections about the good work in his Mississippi hometown of a white supremacist group from the 1950s. That same group in its new white supremacist forum appears to have been the group that inspired the shooter in the Charleston massacre last week. Well, today Haley Barbour gave his opinion about the Mississippi state flag. That`s the only state flag in the country that features the Confederate emblem right on it. The Republican speaker of the House in Mississippi says the state of Mississippi should get rid of this flag, should get rid of the Confederate emblem on its flag. But when former Governor Haley Barbour was asked about it today he said he is personally not offended by the Confederate flag or at least by the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi flag. He says it doesn`t bother him. He added today, quote, "While I was governor of Mississippi, Mississippi became the only state in the country to use state money, taxpayer money, to build a civil right`s museum." Expecting that museum to open in 2017. Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says he`s not offended by his state`s partly Confederate flag but he is very proud of its civil rights museum that`s due to open in the next couple of years. Already they have been collecting artifacts for it like, for example, the papers of Medgar Evers. Medgar Evers the first leader of the Mississippi NAACP. Medgar Evers took on that exceedingly dangerous mission, boycotting local businesses, organizing sit-ins, investigating civil rights murders like the killing of a young Emmett Till. In the middle of that work, Medgar Evers was murdered. In 1963, he was shot to death outside his family home with his wife and kids crouched for their own safety on the floor of that home. It took more than 30 years for them to convict the man who murdered Medgar Evers. In the meantime, his wife and children followed the many tens and hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who fled the South and who fled Mississippi in particular. His widow, Myrlie Evers, became a respected voice for equality in her own right and although she stayed away from Mississippi for a long time, a couple of years ago she moved back. Myrlie Evers became a visiting scholar at a local black university in Mississippi. She also, you may remember, deliver the invocation at President Obama`s second inauguration. And she has helped put together the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum which will house not just the papers of her late husband, those papers which she donated. That museum will also house the gun that was used to end his life. In 2013, Myrlie Evers spoke at the groundbreaking for that civil rights museum. But look at what else happened at that event. Not at the time she was speaking when she was just listening to what else was going on that day. You can see it -- look at this photo. You can see the current governor, Phil Bryant, speaking at the podium and way back there in the other part of the picture there, that`s Myrlie Evers, the woman they call the permanent first lady of Mississippi. But covering her, obscuring her with its golden fringe is the Mississippi state flag with the giant Confederate emblem right up there in the upper left hand quadrant. What must it be like to be Myrlie Evers sitting on that stage within that Confederate flag flying over the proceedings? And now, today, with these new and newly urgent calls for Mississippi to finally get rid of that flag, what must it like to be her of all people today. Joining us now for the interview is Myrlie Evers. She`s chairman of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. We`re also joined by Gerry Mitchell, who`s also an esteemed investigative reporter from the "Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger". Thank you for being here tonight. It`s real honor to have you both here. GERRY MITCHELL, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI CLARION-LEDGER: Thank you. MADDOW: Ms. Evers, I`ll start with you, ma`am, if you don`t mind. What do you make of this change going on in your state now where there`s suddenly all this new information for changing the flag and getting rid of that Confederate emblem? MYRLIE EVERS, MEDGAR & MYRLIE EVERS INSTITUTE CHAIRMAN: Well, quite honestly, I was surprised that the leaders of Mississippi made the statements that they did, the willingness to remove that flag. I think it goes on to say in a sense that change can happen at any time, at any place. I was surprised. I`m still surprised. But it really depends on what happens after that. And what is happening today. And I`m deeply afraid that we are still as a country mired in prejudice and racism, and I think the incidents that have happened over the last few days point exactly to that. It`s unnerving to have to think back and relive all of the pain and the suffering, not only of my family but of so many other families. Not only in Mississippi, throughout the South and actually throughout the nation. And I have to ask the question, really, how far have we come? That was the question that was asked years ago, how far? It`s still a point that needs to be honestly explored and answered and I must say to you that I am so disturbed by what has been happening in these last few days. And I`m horrified, horrified, at the fact that one of the largest newspapers in this country, "The Wall Street Journal," had a series of articles and those articles each time called that young man who killed the people in the church "mister". They addressed him as "mister" throughout that article and they have done it again and again. And we are looking at a paper that impacts millions of people, not only here but across the country as well. I`m horrified with it. I`m angry with it because people don`t realize what one subtle thing can do to take us back years, to roll back all of the advances that we have made and I think I have kind of set myself up as a person to critique those things and I must admit I am still angry. I could not say that a couple of weeks ago, but I can say it today honestly. And that`s why I work so heart to try to see that justice prevail, not only as it did in my husband`s death, and I`m sitting next to a dear different, Jerry Mitchell, who worked endlessly with me to see that justice prevail. And it took years for it to happen. So, people say to me, well, now, aren`t you satisfied with the progress we`ve made? And my answer is "absolutely no", because we still have so much to do to correct the ills of our society. MADDOW: Ms. Evers, I want to direct one question to Mr. Mitchell who`s there with you, Jerry Mitchell from the "Clarion Ledger." Jerry, when you look at these calls being made in Mississippi, in particular from Republican leadership in the state legislature that the Confederate emblem should go from the flag, does that -- does that make it seem to you like there`s enough momentum that it might happen? That that major change might happen in the state or do you feel like this is a long fight that`s just at the beginning that still has an unpredictable outcome? MITCHELL: It`s a little early to be able to tell. I think as Ms. Evers has mentioned, we`ve had some indications that -- I didn`t anticipate this to be honest with you, even in the wake of Charleston that certain leaders would step up in Mississippi, Republican leaders and say this is the first statewide Republican leaders that I`m aware of who`ve actually stood up and called for this. There have been others, you know, not in state positions. But yes, it`s early and we just got to see how this all kind of shakes out. You know, after -- you know, this is two or three or four months later when the legislature comes back to meet, which will be in January, unless there`s a special session, how will they feel then? Will there still be this momentum to really try and fix it? But it is a fascinating thing. The other thing that`s kind of interesting detail on this to me is those that have called for interestingly have invoked their faith. I find that interesting that those who have called for the change of the flag, almost every one of them, has invoked their faith, saying, you know, because of my faith, I really believe this is an emblem that needs to come down. MADDOW: Ms. Evers, I just wanted to ask you one question that maybe you are more qualified to answer than almost anybody else I can think of and I`m thinking about the families of those people who died in the church in Charleston right now, they`re seeing the deaths of their family members and their loved ones become a catalyst, potentially, for a significant change throughout the South, and throughout parts of the whole country -- the idea that major change comes from personal tragedy, from murder and loss. It`s one thing to see it from the outside. It`s another thing from the family members of the people who are lost to experience that, too. Do you have any advice or any insight for them in terms of how to manage what they`re in the middle of now? EVERS: You know, I have nothing but admiration and respect for those family members who have been impacted by this dastardly deed. I had to ask myself the question, could I have done the same thing? I`m afraid not. I have to admit that. I was angry, hurt, revengeful. So many other things that are kind of on the negative side of this. But we saw Medgar Evers shot down at our doorstep, and three little children watching their father die, the long fight that Jerry Mitchell and I had to see that justice prevailed. How many trials, Jerry, were there? MITCHEL: Three. EVERS: Three. I have found that I still have bitterness. I`m not proud of it, but it`s a fact and that`s one of the reasons I have worked so hard and in so many arenas to try to see justice prevail. As I recall in the `90s, when churches were being burned, particularly in North Carolina, South Carolina, I was at that time head of the NAACP, and we went from one community to another looking at the ashes of those churches that had been burned. I have nothing but admiration, love, and hope for the people who suffered the loss of their friends and relatives at this shootout and how they have come together and how they have prayed for those who hurt them. I don`t think I`m that strong. After all of these years, I have tried to move forward in which I have, but I have just been so incensed with these last couple of days of how the media, particularly "The Wall Street Journal," has handled this. It`s a slap to everyone who has given one way or the other in the movement. And I might add, the president of the United States had every right to use the word that he used in his speech today, I believe it was. So, you know, we go through these changes, we hope for the best, we continue to work. We see the buildings being torn down, we see our young people in the street going wild. There has to be a better way. And I have to say to myself -- back off from the anger and continue to work for peace and understanding. MADDOW: Myrlie Evers, a true life civil rights hero, reporter Jerry Mitchell of the "Jackson Clarion-Ledger" -- it`s a real honor having you both here tonight. Thank you both so much for your time. Thank you. EVERS: Thank you. MITCHELL: Thank you very much. MADDOW: All right. We got lots more to come tonight. Please do stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today was a day that ends in Y, so that means there was the usual amount of drama in Congress, including the very controversial trade bill which passed the Senate today. There was also a different kind of drama in Congress today in two different ways. One was this moment of silence on the house floor for the victims of the mass shooting at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last week. Members of South Carolina congressional delegation, including the state`s two senators stood in the well of the House for that moment of silence as each of the victims` names was read. This happened just a little earlier tonight. The other thing that happened today that was dramatic -- on its face, it was sort of a logistical decision, but it was also very moving one. It turns out the House is not going to be in session this coming Friday. It was going to be, but they have canceled everything for Friday, specifically so members of Congress can travel to Charleston to attend the funeral services of the people killed in Charleston last week. We know that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden are going to be going there for the funerals, which is sort of amazing. But it turns out there`s one major problem with that. And that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Just a little more than two weeks ago that President Obama did something that he has not done a lot of as president. It was earlier this month when President Obama decided that he would deliver the eulogy at the funeral for Beau Biden, Vice President Joe Biden`s oldest son who passed away after a battle with brain cancer. The president`s eulogy was a very emotional thing. The president teared up at one point during the eulogy. He had a long embrace for Vice President Biden when it was done. President Obama has not delivered a lot of eulogies during his time as president, but he is now about to deliver his second one in the span of just a few weeks. President Obama is expected to personally deliver the eulogy this Friday for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who is one of the nine people killed inside the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last week. A funeral for Reverend Pinckney is going to be held at a giant venue in Charleston, it`s the TD Arena in Charleston. It seats about 5,000 people. They`re expecting a huge turnout for this funeral on Friday. But here`s an issue with that particular spot being the venue for this particular funeral. That arena is the arena at the College of Charleston. That`s where the College of Charleston basketball team plays its games. This is the president of the College of Charleston, a gentleman named Glenn McConnell. Glenn McConnell has been president for less than a year. The picture is his official head shot as college president. But here`s another more well-known picture of him. That`s also Glenn McConnell playing the part of a white Confederate general at a slave-themed Confederacy party. This picture was taken in 2010 at an event he attended that was hosted by a Republican women`s group. Glenn McConnell, now president of the College of Charleston, also in his spare time dresses up as a Confederate soldier, that`s his hobby. Here`s another picture. This is Glenn McConnell in 1999 proudly posing in front of about -- just about every sort of Confederate flag you can find. Glenn McConnell used to be the lieutenant governor of South Carolina, seriously. But now, he is president of the college where President Obama is expected to speak at this funeral on Friday. The place where he`s set to deliver the official eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. There`s nothing honestly to be done about that. That is where this funeral is going to be. That`s South Carolina. But they are trying to do something about this, which is about the government of the state of South Carolina. This is the Confederate flag that currently flies at the state capital grounds in Columbia, South Carolina. This flag has been either in this location at a Confederate memorial or atop the capital dome for the last five decades. It`s remained there through every controversy that`s swirled around it until now. Yesterday, the governor of South Carolina and nearly every other top political leader in the state finally called on the state legislature to act to remove that flag from the capital grounds. Today, the legislature did act. Both the South Carolina House and Senate voted to start debating whether and how to remove that Confederate battle flag from the state capital grounds finally after all these decades. This political process has happened fast. The vote to take up this issue was overwhelming in both chambers. "The Post and Courier" newspaper has a whip count going about where each member of the legislature stands on the Confederate flag. It`s going to take a two-thirds vote in each chamber to get it done. This is where things stand right now. The green bar represents the number of legislators in favor of taking down the flag. The dotted line there is the level they need to get to in order to secure a two-thirds vote. So, it`s close but they`re not there yet. As fast as this happening, though, there is one very, very important way in which it is not happening fast enough. That is because tomorrow, inside the state capital, ahead of the funeral, there`s going to be a public viewing for one of the victims in that mass shooting. There`s going to be a viewing at the capital rotunda for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. He was a beloved member of the South Carolina State Senate. He`s going to lie in state at the capital rotunda as the Confederate flag flies outside. I said the viewing was going to take place Thursday. It`s now actually happening tomorrow. But Reverend Pinckney`s body is going to be taken in a horse-drawn caisson from the funeral home to the state capitol grounds tomorrow afternoon. His casket will lie in state under the capitol rotunda. The public and his former colleagues in the legislature will line up to pay their respects. That viewing is set to begin at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon. And what that means is his body and those who are coming to honor him will first have to pass by that Confederate flag which still tonight remains on the capitol grounds. This vote today in South Carolina was a vote to debate whether or not to take that flag down, but the actual vote to remove it won`t happen until sometime this summer, if at all. So, unless, they come up with some other accommodation specifically for tomorrow, 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, 1:00 p.m., that flag will be flying on the state capital grounds as the Reverend Clementa Pinckney lies in state a short distance below it, which would be unbelievable. There may yet be some accommodation, though. This is not something being talked about widely yet, but we have looked into this in some detail and we believe there may be an arcane but very specific solution to this mess. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got some new and rather surprising 2016 news ahead, and next on the show, we`ve got what I think could be a solution to a really sort of disgusting problem that is otherwise about to happen tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. at the state capital in South Carolina. That`s next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a really specific point but I think it`s an important one. There`s a law on the books in South Carolina that dictates how the state`s various flags should be handled, specifically the flags that fly on the capital grounds. This is that specific section of that law. It specifies that just the U.S. flag and South Carolina state flag may fly atop the capital dome. But then it goes in to great detail about the location of the Confederate flag that also flies at the state capital complex, although no longer on the dome. That flag, of course, is at the center of controversy right now, not only whether it should be at the capital grounds at all, but whether it should be there tomorrow specifically, while the body of state senator Clementa Pinckney lies in state under the capital rotunda. There will be a public viewing tomorrow for Reverend Pinckney tomorrow afternoon at the state capital at the rotunda. But that means his body and those that want to come honor him after he was murdered in Charleston last week will have to first possess past the Confederate flag. That will the situation as of 1:00 p.m. tomorrow in South Carolina, unless some other accommodation can be made to remove that flag somehow tomorrow. And that`s where the state law comes in. There`s a provision in the law that says these flags at the state capital can be removed at appropriate intervals as maybe necessary due to where. Due to where? Everything needs a little maintenance, a little laundering now and then. Does this one provision in the Confederate flag law mean that Governor Nikki Haley or some state official could call for that specific flag be removed tomorrow, maybe even just temporarily in order to deal with the normal wear and tear that that flag has endured and in order to keep the flag of the Confederacy from flying over the body of a man who was murdered last week for a white supremacist who says he did it in the name of that flag. Joining us is Representative Todd Rutherford, who is the top Democrat in the South Carolina legislature. Sir, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to see you. STATE REP. TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: First of all, let me ask you about what happened today in the legislature. There was an overwhelming vote taken in both house of the legislature, as I understand it, to at least take up the issue of the flag on the capital grounds. RUTHERFORD: That`s correct. In the Senate, they did it by voice vote. In the House, we had 100 members, blacks and whites vote together to say that we are going to take you have the flag debate. Last night, I told your viewers, in fact, that we would begin two or three weeks from now. I`m told now that we will begin even sooner than that, maybe as soon as next Tuesday, depending on when the governor`s vetoes are announced. MADDOW: That`s fast. RUTHERFORD: That`s fast. MADDOW: Next Tuesday, however, is still many days after Senator Clementa Pinckney, or Reverend Clementa Pinckney killed in Charleston last week, after he is due to lie in state tomorrow at the capital. The reason I raised this issue of this specific statute that concerns ways that flags can be taken down at the capital and still stay within the letter of the law is because it seems to me that it is -- forgive me -- morally intolerable for him to lie in state beneath that flag. Do you think that`s a possible loophole that could solve that problem? RUTHERFORD: Well, you know, when I was on the state house grounds today, I noticed the flag looked a little peeked. Some of the color looked like it was wearing off. So, I certainly did bring that to the attention of the governor and I hope that she noticed it as well, and maybe takes the time to take it down, because as you stated, it is abhorrent that the flag will be at full mast, when the U.S. flag is at half mast, when the South Carolina flag is at half mast, when the U.S. flags at half mast all around this country, but that flag at full mast. If the U.S. flag is bowed, if the Stars and Stripes are bowed, then why shouldn`t the Confederate flag be bowed or removed at a minimum when Senator Pinckney`s body is going to lay in state, and lay in the rotunda, at the state house? MADDOW: Do you think there would be a backlash, do you think there would be upset if it was brought down just for those few hours during that ceremony for him tomorrow? RUTHERFORD: Those people that have told you and many others that they support this flag because of its heritage, even those people should recognize if it`s heritage and not hate, then it should be removed during the course of a funeral. I don`t know why we haven`t heard overwhelming calls from those flag supporters to come out and say, the flag needs to be taken down during the funeral. I don`t know where they are. And I`d ask them, where are you? Why are you not coming forward saying that that flag needs to be removed? If the governor was to take the flag down because as I stated, it did look like it need to be replaced, by the time anybody said anything, they could replace it while Senator Pinckney was being buried in Charleston. Again, he was killed by a man done under the colors of that flag. At some point, justice has to be served and that flag needs to be removed. MADDOW: Representative Todd Rutherford, top Democrat in the South Carolina State Legislature -- thank you for your time tonight, sir. Thank you. RUTHERFORD: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. More news still to come tonight. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This we now know is the signature of a man named Donald Trump, who apparently resides at 725 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York. Yesterday, Mr. Trump of that address actually went through with it and filed his FEC paperwork to run for president officially. Now, you know, in case you thought it was a fantastic dream -- no, there it is. It`s official. When Mr. Trump declared last week that he was running, he became the 12th major Republican to enter the race. The next one is going to jump in tomorrow. And that is Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, who holds the distinction of not only being unlucky number 13 into this race, he also has the numerological distinction of having the worst approval rating of any governor in the nation. Bobby Jindal is viewed positively by 27 percent of the people in his home state, which is the worst with approval rating for any governor in the country. But, we also know now that Bobby Jindal will be followed in though the race for the presidency by the governor who has the second worst approval rating of any governor in the nation after him, and that is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Bobby Jindal has 27 percent approval rating. Chris Christie had 30 percent approval rating. They`re the worst two in the country. We do now, though, get to put dotted lines around Chris Christie`s adorable mug on our candidates` chart, because the Christie camp now says he will run announce his run for the candidacy by the end of this month. And that sounds like it`s a long ways away, but it isn`t. That means he`s going to be in for the race for the presidency by a week from today. And with Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie getting in now, getting in now within the next week, that means the total number of candidates in the Republican field for the presidency is 4,602. Not exactly. I`m rounding up to the nearest 4,602, because it is easier than actually counting them one by one. Trump officially yesterday, Jindal tomorrow and Christie within the next week -- and then your mother-in-law. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END