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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 03/11/15

Guests: Susan Crabtree, Eugene Robinson, Frank Bruni, Chelsea Davis, MarqClaxton, Steve Ditmeyer

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey Rachel, we`re going to add to some of what you had to say about that Secret Service scandal tonight -- MADDOW: Good -- O`DONNELL: The latest one, we`ve got congressing -- you talked about on your show, there`s now Congressional reaction to what happened there. MADDOW: There should be, good, could be -- O`DONNELL: Another amazing story there -- MADDOW: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel -- MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Well, Hillary Clinton issued a challenge to the other potential presidential candidates today. That`s also coming up. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR JAMES KNOWLES, FERGUSON, MISSOURI: The city of Ferguson, Police Chief Thomas Jackson have agreed to a mutual separation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police Chief Tom Jackson has resigned. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Justice Department investigations found Jackson was running a police department rampant with racial bias. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the two fraternity members seen on video have now apologized. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Writing, it was wrong and reckless. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope that he genuinely is apologetic and not just apologetic because he got caught. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed during an overnight training mission. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven Marines and four soldiers missing and feared dead. JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our hearts go out to the families of the servicemen and women involved. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The battle against ISIS is front and center at a Senate hearing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is (INAUDIBLE) that really focuses on the fight against ISIL. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Would dispel doubt that Americans are united in this effort. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran. Tell me why I`m wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the facts completely contradict that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Republicans are standing behind that Iran letter. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sent a message that this needs to be a good deal. KERRY: My reaction was utter disbelief. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gave comfort to our enemies and pause to our allies. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "Associated Press" filed a lawsuit against the State Department over Clinton`s records. REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: She doesn`t get to determine what`s a public record and what`s a personal record. SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: And I don`t think convenience should trump national security. DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Then they went back to writing their open letter to Iran. (SINGING) JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Yes, we`re the world, most liberated body and yet -- nuts. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Two Secret Service agents were involved in what appeared to be a drunk-driving incident on the White House grounds last week. That`s the latest Secret Service scandal being reported tonight by "The Washington Post". "The Washington Post" revealed that the Department of Homeland Security`s inspector general is investigating allegations that two senior Secret Service agents, including a top member of President Obama`s protective detail, drove a government car into White House security barricades after drinking at a late night party last Wednesday. Officers on duty who witnessed the March 4th incident wanted to arrest the agents and conduct sobriety tests, according to a current and former government official familiar with the incident. But the officers were ordered by a supervisor on duty that night to let the agents go home. Said these people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal matter. New tonight, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and a ranking member Roger Cummings(ph), have released this statement just within the hour. "The committee`s ongoing bipartisan investigation has focused from the onset on whether or not specific instances of misconduct is indicative of a broader cultural problem within the agency. Although recent steps have been made to bring new leadership in at the highest level. This incident begs the question of whether that is enough. The fact that this event involves senior level agents is not only embarrassing but exhibits a clear lack of judgment in a potentially dangerous situation. The committee as a whole remains committed to restoring the integrity of this elite agency and improving accountability at all staff levels." Joining me now, Susan Crabtree, White House correspondent for the "Washington Examiner", also joining us, "The Washington Post" Eugene Robinson and "New York Times" Frank Bruni and Msnbc`s Krystal Ball. Susan Crabtree, what are we -- what more do we know about this apparent drunk-driving incident by two Secret Service agents actually on the grounds of the White House? SUSAN CRABTREE, WASHINGTON EXAMINER`S WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think "The Washington Post" story did a very good job of detailing. What I think is unfortunate is that it`s not all that surprising. I did a story last year that chronicled the use of the disciplinary action that was taken, that the Secret Service takes against its agents. And I found that the FBI and even the TSA is -- has a higher standard when it comes to alcohol-related incidents. And they have an automatic 30-day suspension, whereas when I looked at the incidents of the Secret Service over the past five years, they have a very uneven record of punishing their agents and officers for alcohol-related events. O`DONNELL: Susan, do they have a written policy on it? CRABTREE: They have what every agency in the federal government has, what is called the Table of Discipline or Table of Punishment. But they would not provide me that table so that I could do some comparison. But they did give Capitol Hill a chart, an outline of all the incidents that required disciplinary action over the last five years. And they had 36 reported alcohol-related incidents. And of those, nine of them were charges of drunken driving. And they`re the only --they did not suspend their agents or officers for the 30 days, only in one case that I found. O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, it sounds like it`s time to file a Freedom of Information Act request with -- EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes -- O`DONNELL: The Secret Service to get their disciplinary procedure on alcohol -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indeed -- O`DONNELL: Related incidents and -- I don`t know, in a few years I suppose, we`ll get a response to that. ROBINSON: If that, if that. You know, and to note a couple of things, number one, "The Washington Post" story was reported by Carol Leonnig, who -- our great national staff reporter who has owned the Secret -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Service story for months now, it`s always pretty authoritative. Second, President Obama, after that string of Secret Service incidents last year, decided to name a Secret Service veteran as head of the agency. There were some voices who said it needed a more radical reform, a total outsider to come in and really shake up the Secret Service. I think we will hear renewed voices saying that right now, given this new incident. O`DONNELL: Yes, Frank, Joseph Clancy went back to the Secret Service to take over, and these guys were at a retirement party for the Secret Service press secretary, the spokesman. Then they come back to the White House after that. Apparently comfortable enough, even under the new regime, to just drive on the property drunk. FRANK BRUNI, JOURNALIST, NEW YORK TIMES: What makes me wonder, I mean we`re talking about the leadership that is the Secret Service recruiting the same types of people that it did, Neil(ph). I mean I`m blown -- ROBINSON: Yes -- BRUNI: Away by what we learned last year, what we`ve learnt now -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- BRUNI: We`ve all spent a lot of time around politicians who are guarded by the Secret Service. I was always in a kind of awe of them and they seem -- ROBINSON: Me too -- KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, "THE CYCLE": Yes -- BRUNI: They seem like the paragons of rectitude and I don`t know if this has always existed to some degree and we didn`t know about it, or if we`re really seeing a different kind of behavior and if it`s an entirely different kind of behavior, why? BALL: Well, and that`s what`s so sad here, is that the Secret Service was one of the few remaining government agencies that people really revered and really respected. And obviously, that trust and credibility had already been broken down. But this story was so astonishing to me, I had to re-read it -- O`DONNELL: Yes, you did -- BALL: Several times -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- BALL: To make sure I was -- this really happened last week, and they were really drinking and it was at White House? And some of the top -- I mean these are all allegations let`s say -- ROBINSON: Yes -- BALL: The top members of the president`s protective detail? It is astonishing, especially -- O`DONNELL: Is it -- BALL: Given the scrutiny that they must know -- BRUNI: Is it really -- is it really -- BALL: They`re under at this time -- BRUNI: Is it really anymore astonishing than the guy who got practically all the way into the White House kitchen, and was making himself a sandwich, wasn`t overpaying -- I mean -- (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: Yes -- BRUNI: You know -- O`DONNELL: But of course -- BRUNI: Series of astonishing events, oh, yes -- O`DONNELL: But those are different, people -- Frank, that`s the uniform service out there, that`s a lower ranking, less trained group, they`re guarding your front lawn. And of course, it`s outrageous that that didn`t work. But this involves -- and this is the number two person in the President`s protective -- ROBINSON: I know -- O`DONNELL: Detail. ROBINSON: I know, I know. That`s supposed to be somebody who really knows what he`s doing. O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Right -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: I needed some folks -- O`DONNELL: And is a model to everyone else -- ROBINSON: Exactly -- O`DONNELL: In that detail -- ROBINSON: Exactly. BALL: I mean -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s -- BALL: I guess it`s an improvement that at least these things are being investigated now -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- BALL: And we`re finding out about them now rather than months or sometimes years down the road -- BRUNI: But thanks, and worth mentioning your column before -- ROBINSON: Right -- BALL: I just think he -- ROBINSON: Right -- BALL: I think your point about Joseph Clancy being installed and the insider here, I think that is the question that`s going to be raised. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, is that -- BALL: And maybe there should have been -- O`DONNELL: OK -- BALL: A more radical shakeup. O`DONNELL: No, they haven`t -- BALL: What? O`DONNELL: Released the name of the supervisor who intervened at the scene to prevent any kind of arrest that might have occurred that night. So that`s one question, Frank, is who is that? And then also, why are we just hearing about it now? Why wasn`t there an incident report of some kind publicly filed -- CRABTREE: But this is typical -- O`DONNELL: By Clancy -- go ahead Susan -- ROBINSON: It`s true -- O`DONNELL: The next day, why didn`t Joe Clancy give us some kind of incident report on this? CRABTREE: You know, this is part of a -- sort of the pattern here that the Secret Service is engaged in since these string of incidents, security incidents has began. And I don`t think it is -- well, he talked to sources within the Secret Service as I have, it doesn`t seem astonishing to them that the supervisor -- it`s egregious that the supervisor would let them go. We may never know if they were sober or not, because the supervisor let them go. But when I talk to sources within the Secret Service, they say that there is a cover up going on from supervisors, there`s uneven discipline. And that that`s what`s creating problems with the morale at the Secret Service. O`DONNELL: Susan -- CRABTREE: They -- O`DONNELL: A quick question -- CRABTREE: Punish people -- O`DONNELL: I mean -- CRABTREE: Differently -- O`DONNELL: You got to wonder if the supervisor would have confidently let them go, if there`s -- Gene mentioned, they had brought in someone new from the outside who no one there knew and no one was familiar with. And no one had a sense of what the new director`s limitations are on these things. CRABTREE: That`s exactly right. And you know, Congressman Chaffetz who led this basically, the charge and really investigating the Secret Service last year, he said that he was disappointed when President Obama named Joseph Clancy. Not that he didn`t think Joseph Clancy was a great guy and has a respectable service record of service, but he thought as the independent agency that reviewed the Secret Service problems, that it mandated that we quiet this sort of culture of cover-up that`s going on at the Secret Service -- an outside person. O`DONNELL: Gene, in the bureaucracy and in a service like that, a decision like that normally is made, frequently is made I should say, with the idea that this is what the director would want me to do. ROBINSON: Yes, haven`t seen it -- O`DONNELL: He would not want to see two of his agents arrested on White House property and have that being on the front page of "The Washington Post" tomorrow. I`m doing what I think the director wants me to do. ROBINSON: That`s exactly right. And you know, reading between the lines, and I haven`t had the chance to read the story careful. You don`t hear all these overlapping police agencies. There was -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: There was an incident going on, there was suspicious package -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: That`s what was happening -- O`DONNELL: Right -- ROBINSON: D.C. police were on the scene. One wonders if D.C. police hadn`t -- haven`t perhaps dropped a dime on the Secret Service -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: This year -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: And perhaps -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Call Carol and ask her how she -- (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: Carol won`t necessarily tell me -- O`DONNELL: All right -- ROBINSON: But -- O`DONNELL: Susan Crabtree, thanks for joining us on this, really appreciate it. CRABTREE: Thanks for having me -- O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break here. Coming up, national headquarters of that Oklahoma fraternity accused of racism is now facing reports about the same sort of thing at other universities. And Hillary Clinton has challenged Republican presidential candidates today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: In the apology statement that I read on this program last night from one of the University of Oklahoma students who was expelled after getting caught on video singing a racist song with his fraternity brothers, he said, the song was taught to us. That fraternity is now being investigated at other universities where incidents of racist behavior have been reported. "Nbc`s" Gabe Gutierrez has the latest. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (CHANTING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will never be an -- SAE -- GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC (voice-over): Sigma Alpha Epsilon today said racist behavior entered its University of Oklahoma chapter, three to four years ago, calling it a horrible cancer. BRANDON WEGHORST, SPOKESMAN, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON: We have to cut that cancer before it infects too many other groups. GUTIERREZ: Brandon Weghorst is SAE`s national spokesman, he says the fraternity has so far been unable to verify reports of similar chants at other campuses. Parker Rice, one of the SAE members in this video said the song was taught to us. WEGHORST: When somebody says it was taught to us, we know it was not the national headquarters. It wasn`t even something that is -- would be part of our history at all. GUTIERREZ: Rice said, "I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that`s not an excuse." The parents of a second fraternity member in the video, Levi Pettit also apologized. "He made a horrible mistake and will live with the consequences forever." UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an old fraternity tradition of singing these types of songs. GUITIERREZ: Andrew Loews(ph) who in college was in SAE is now an outspoken critic of Greek life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racism is alive and well in the American college campus and especially in fraternities. GUTIERREZ: E.J. Veasley is an active member of the University of Cincinnati`s black student association and a proud SAE member. E.J. VEASLEY, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATTI: We do not act like that, and a bad behavior is not something that we represent. GUTIERREZ: In 2013, the SAE chapter at Washington University in Saint Louis was suspended following allegations that pledges same racial slurs to African-American students. Last year, Clemson University`s chapter was suspended for holding a racially themed party. (CHANTING) Now at OU, the growing scandal has sparked a rallying cry, and today the normally silent statues spoke volumes. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Up next, we`ll be joined by the co-director of the University of Oklahoma, is with Unheard of the situation on campus tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (CHANTING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will never be an -- SAE, there will never be an - - SAE, you can hang them from a tree, but they`ll never sign with me. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now from the University of Oklahoma is Chelsea Davis, co-director of the University of Oklahoma group Unheard. Chelsea, tell us what`s been happening at campus today and what your -- what more you might be hearing about this fraternity and other things they may have been involved with over the years. CHELSEA DAVIS, CO-DIRECTOR, UNHEARD, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA: So it`s -- the culture on campus today has been very emotional, emotions are high, a lot of students are upset. They`re concerned about this typical behavior of being a part -- and being active within the Greek community as a whole. That`s why the Unheard movement, we`ve been working tirelessly with senior administration to address these grievances within our community, not only the black community but the minority community as a whole. I`m aware that this behavior apparently is not typical, it`s behavior that`s been seen across college campuses, across the United States. So it definitely is concerning -- it`s definitely a systematic change that needs to happen and we are working tirelessly to address that change. O`DONNELL: Do you personally know anyone who was on that bus singing that song, Chelsea? DAVIS: No, I do not, I`m not aware of anybody on that bus. O`DONNELL: And that fraternity, did they -- did you know any members of that fraternity before this incident? DAVIS: No, I do not. O`DONNELL: So they live in a way that`s kind of separate from the way you live there? DAVIS: I would say that. I would say the Greek community is pretty separate from those who are not Greek as far as like living conditions and things of that nature. O`DONNELL: Trymaine Lee, I have no experience with fraternities, wasn`t in one, I don`t get it. And every public story that come -- there`s -- every story that happens about them is bad. It`s either someone has, you know, died from drinking or this crazy stuff here. What`s your reaction to all this? TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: I mean you have the combination of a lot of alcohol use, the age, and also some of these deep-rooted cultural things that are assigned to these individual fraternities. I have family members who are members of the -- (INAUDIBLE) and -- O`DONNELL: Were you in a fraternity? LEE: I was not. O`DONNELL: Yes -- LEE: I was a little too independent -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- LEE: The idea of having to -- O`DONNELL: Exactly -- LEE: That this just wasn`t my thing -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- LEE: But when you look at -- these will be millennials, they`re simply still accepting and it`s post-racial. But the idea -- not just of the use of the slur, but the connection to lynching -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- LEE: Hanging from a tree, that`s a big leap from, you know, rapping along with a singer. And then you look at Cornell University, four years ago, SAE had their chapter there closed because they hazed some kid to death, a 19-year-old black kid from Brooklyn. His hand was tied, he was gagged and he was filled with alcohol, he died of alcohol poisoning. And so there`s a lot to be concerned about any way, with nothing -- with these young people in these campuses and the cultures. But this leap from the apathy to the idea of lynching and those deep calls for connection is scary. ROBINSON: All right -- O`DONNELL: Indeed -- ROBINSON: I grew up in the Jim Crow south, OK, and this would have shocked me when I was growing up -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: You know, that sort of chant in a bus full of people. So I don`t know how they make that leap in a bus full of millennials in 2015. O`DONNELL: And what -- ROBINSON: That is stunning. O`DONNELL: What about -- to both of you. What about the glee that we`re seeing in this singing? There`s a -- ROBINSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Spirit of it is the -- I think it`s even more frightening than the words in a way. They are so happy about this. ROBINSON: Yes -- DAVIS: Right -- BRUNI: They`re cheering each other -- DAVIS: Right -- BRUNI: On and everyone is -- O`DONNELL: Chelsea, go ahead about that -- react to that. DAVIS: I most definitely agree with you that it is concerning the spirit that these students were partaking in. It seems -- as if they were happy, clapping and rejoicing within this chant. It`s definitely concerning and it`s definitely scary, it`s frightening to think that students would partake in such terrible language and behavior. I`m at a loss of words for the participation on that bus -- O`DONNELL: And Chelsea -- DAVIS: For everybody -- O`DONNELL: Chelsea -- DAVIS: Not just -- O`DONNELL: What -- DAVIS: The two males identified -- O`DONNELL: What`s your reaction to the apology that one of those students issued last night and the apology that the parents of the other one issued last night? DAVIS: Well, most definitely happy that the apologies were given. Most definitely I think it`s time to take this as a learning experience for all those parties involved. I don`t think that we need to look at the excuses that were within the apologies as far as the alcohol and this was taught to me. We just need to take this as a lesson learned and move forward as a nation and put cultural sensitivity training on the forefront and diversity inclusion within every university curriculum. O`DONNELL: Trymaine, when the apologies came in last night and I read them on the air, they really read like public relations consultants were involved for these Dallas families that could afford them. Including the construction of that sentence, the song was taught to us. Passive voice, we didn`t -- we don`t know who taught it, that`s very carefully and specifically left out. LEE: The shifting of the blame, it seems completely structured and planned. But when you look at some of these southern colleges in general, go to SCC, (INAUDIBLE) Louisiana, see the LSU games and you would hear -- I`ve heard stories of run N-word, run. And there were the football players from Oklahoma who said these are the same guys who are patting on their back and giving us high fives. But here they are on a bus singing, hang them from a tree. O`DONNELL: Yes -- LEE: So this stuff is deeply rooted in the cultures of this community. ROBINSON: Yes, but you know, I was speaking just a couple -- a year or so ago at a small college in Pennsylvania. Not the deep south. Where -- and I was speaking to African-American students, and there had been some really ugly episodes of racial violence -- is all you can -- all you could call it really, against African-American students who were fearful. And -- it`s just anecdotally, just seeing, you know, points of this happening around and it`s very troubling, and I don`t really understand it. I don`t quite understand what`s going on. O`DONNELL: Go ahead Frank -- BRUNI: It is one of the really troubling thing here, which is -- this is all happening in the context of an institution of higher learning. ROBINSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Right -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- LEE: And some of the phrases we`ve heard tonight, diversity, cultural sensitivity, you talked about -- you said to Chelsea, so these guys were separate from you. Colleges should be a place where kids are learning how to live in a diverse society. They should be mixing with each other. And fraternities are an emblem of what too many kids in college do today. Which is they find a group of like-minded people, like-skinned people, they huddle in that group and they don`t use college to kind of prepare for a diverse society. O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight, Chelsea Davis from OU`s group Unheard. Chelsea, you were heard tonight, thank you very much for joining us tonight. DAVIS: Thank you for having me. O`DONNELL: Coming up next, the Justice Department`s report came out on the Ferguson Police Department last week, and today we have yet another resignation there. The police chief is out. And new information about what`s been happening on train tracks in America, including what happened on that Amtrak crash the other day. The police were there before the crash, could have notified Amtrak that there was a truck stuck on the tracks. Police failed to do that. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Another day, another big resignation in Ferguson, Missouri. This time, the chief of police, Thomas Jackson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KNOWLES: The city of Ferguson and Police Chief Thomas Jackson have agreed to a mutual separation which involves the police chief`s resignation from the city of Ferguson. The chief`s resignation is effective March 19, 2015. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Here`s a look at chief Jackson at work. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must explain this, explain it -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not releasing the officer`s name? THOMAS JACKSON, POLICE CHIEF, FERGUSON, MISSOURI: We weighed the value of releasing the name right now against the safety factor that both him and his family and his neighborhood and we opted to postpone that. We`re just asking that protests -- (CROSSTALK) The protests be peaceful. We understand the anger, we understand the people want answers and we understand that we`ve got a problem. What we`re making available today are the dispatch records and the video of footage of a robbery, a strong arm robbery, with use of force that occurred in a local convenient mart. The officer that was involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was Darren Wilson. We needed to release that at the same time we would release the name of the officer who was involved in the shooting so that -- so that we could just keep open and give you all the information that we have. The initial contact between the officer and Mr. Brown was not related to the robbery. I`m truly sorry for the loss of your son. I`m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Marq, I want to get your reaction to the Justice Department report on Ferguson, the police department and the court system there, and Ferguson`s reaction to that report so far. MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: I`d tell you, it was horrific in reading the report, going over the report, how much abuse of the system existed, and what actually happened is you saw it laid out on paper is systemic corruption throughout the system. You tilt it -- you really target the minority, the black community there in Ferguson, and it really is something that`s really horrific. And I think it`s taken some people by surprise. I`m not surprised by this. More significantly, I think what the Justice Department`s report points out and shows clearly is that we should even go -- further than reform. I mean, the abuse and the corruption involved really mandates that there`s reconstruction of the criminal justice system, especially in Ferguson but not exclusively in Ferguson. O`DONNELL: Trymaine Lee, you know Chief Jackson, you spent a lot of time out there. What`s your reaction? LEE: You know what, I saw this coming. There was no -- going to be no choice but for him to step down. When I would talk to him and look him, you know, in the eye and we`ll talk man-to-man, you get the sense that he`s a guy that wants to do the right thing, but at every turn, when there`s an opportunity to do the right thing and try to make things better, he poured more fuel on the fire. I think part of that is just not being ready for primetime. But it`s also in the culture and the environment that he and the supervisors at least nurtured. When you look at reports not being filled out properly, piles and piles of report not being filled out for months a time, you look at some officers said there was a competition to see how many tickets they can issue to one person. The extent and then the collusion of the court system, I mean, all together, there`s no way that the chief of police wasn`t to some degree aware of -- you know, the many missteps that his officers were taking out there. O`DONNELL: And, Gene, as we watched him on TV, Trymaine was out there covering, you had that feeling about not ready for primetime. But, you know, small town police chief, who doesn`t know how to do TV, that`s understandable. ROBINSON: Yes. O`DONNELL: What you wondered about is, is he effective doing his job back in the office? The Justice Department shows us no, not a bit. ROBINSON: No. No, he wasn`t. And look, he wasn`t running a system where the police department was us, the community was them, and it was us versus them and they were a source of revenue, essentially, and a body to be harassed and to be exploited for the cash that they represented for the coffers of Ferguson. And it was scandal. O`DONNELL: This is the sixth one to lose a job since the Justice Department report came out. The county clerk was fired. Two police officers, a sergeant and captain, resigned when it was discovered they were involved in the racist e-mails. A judge lost his job, a city manager resigned, a chief resigned. And Frank Bruni, every one of those people would be happily in their jobs today if protesters had never taken to the streets in Ferguson. BRUNI: Isn`t that scary? Isn`t that scary? It makes you wonder how many other communities out there are like Ferguson and we don`t know about it because none of these other events happened to bring us to a Department of Justice report. O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, what would you like to see happen next in Ferguson? Do you think that police department should be disbanded? Do you think that community should be policed in another way? CLAXTON: Yes. Well, I personally believe it should be disbanded. But I want to touch on something that Frank just mentioned, and that is that, you know, we`re talking about Ferguson, but there are many Fergusons throughout this nation. And I really have to emphasize the need not just for reform, but in many cases reconstructing the entire criminal justice system. Let`s be clear about something as well. Ferguson was engaged in collars for dollars, as they call it in the NYPD. The dollars went into the coffers of city government, apparently if you believe the Justice report, based on them targeting specific individuals. And the police chief and all those attached to the chief had to have full knowledge and understanding of that. And I won`t excuse for that or make excuses for them. And I never got the impression in looking at him that there was a sincerity or an empathy with the community. But there needs to be a reconstruction, first in Ferguson, then other smaller police departments throughout the nation that operate shockingly in the same manner that Ferguson operates. O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, thanks for your expertise on this tonight. Trymaine, thanks for joining us. Really helpful. Thank you. Coming up, what we know about that truck that caused that train crash in North Carolina. The police were there on the scene before the crash happened and they notified no one that a truck was trapped on the tracks. And later, the votes are in. We have a new poll telling us who the frontrunner is to replace Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": How did Cotton convince Republicans to publicly undercut our current president? How did he do it? It`s the kind of persuasive rhetoric it might take to get, let`s say, an unfixed dog to hump a pillow. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton issued this challenge to Republican presidential candidates today on Twitter, "GOP letter to Iranian cleric undermines American leadership. No one considering running for commander- in-chief should be signing on." Already signed on to the letter are four potential presidential candidates, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz. Begging to sign on, until today anyway, are Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Gene Robinson, you know, it`s very unusual for governors to sign on to a Senate letter. But everything about this letter is unusual so there`s room for them to sign to. ROBINSON: The whole thing is just nuts. I mean, it is just nuts. And you know, the Iranians sound like a voice of reason in this whole thing by saying, you know, this whole thing is silly, we`re not paying any attention to it and nobody else should. Right? O`DONNELL: Now, Krystal, does this mean -- when Hillary Clinton does that tweet, does that mean that Republican candidates then must get on the letter in order to impress people in Iowa or do they -- do any of them think, you know what, there`s going to be a general election debate where I don`t want to explain what my name was doing on that letter? BALL: Well, so far we haven`t found that candidate yet, have we? I mean, they all seem to either they want to be on the letter or they`ve been supportive. O`DONNELL: Supportive. Yes. BALL: Seem to be supportive of what the letter is all about. And that -- I mean, that really is the heart of the problem here. Right? These Republican senators, both through inviting Bibi Netanyahu to speak to the Joint Session of Congress, and through this letter, have made this a completely partisan issue and of course trying to undermine the president and the administration there, too. Look, if you`re a Republican running in a Republican primary, it is never going to be the wrong move to oppose the president as stridently as you possibly can. BRUNI: All of that is true, but this wasn`t just -- that tweet wasn`t just about Iran. That tweet was about, let`s please, please change the topic. BALL: It`s a nice little pivot. ROBINSON: Yes, right. (CROSSTALK) BALL: No doubt about that. BRUNI: What are we talking about? We`re talking about the tweet and Iran, and not Hillary`s e-mails. BALL: Well, we will probably talk about that, too. O`DONNELL: And, Frank, she let an awful lot of issues go by in the last few months. BRUNI: Yes. O`DONNELL: Netanyahu`s speech without any tweeting and without any comment. BRUNI: So what was different about today? Today was the day after the news conference that didn`t quite heal all the wounds and stop all the question. (CROSSTALK) BALL: Well, and also in that news conference, she led first with her work on gender equality, and then she weighed in on Iran and then she went on to those e-mails as if to say, I know you all are concerned about this silly stuff while I`m looking at the big issue. BRUNI: Well, that was fascinating theater, though, because that was her saying this is the least important of these three items. BALL: Absolutely. BRUNI: But it`s what you guys are hounding me about. BALL: And that, you know, looking forward to the campaign, though, foreign policy is a big advantage for her. And I know Republicans wouldn`t believe that, given Benghazi, et cetera. But she is the one candidate among all of these who can really say I have credibility, I know what I`m talking about. She`s not going to get tripped up the way that Scott Walker already has. BRUNI: If I can just play devil`s advocate. That`s going to cut two ways. ROBINSON: Yes. BRUNI: A lot of people say, with a lot of credibility, OK, there were all of those air miles. Show me where the world is better, though. Show me the things she invested energy in, Libya, Russia, where things are really - - (CROSSTALK) BALL: It`s about having confidence in a person. ROBINSON: And I actually think, you know, Benghazi, she will be happy if they focus on just Benghazi. O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: Because there`s no there-there. There`s nothing on Benghazi. O`DONNELL: Right. ROBINSON: There`s no scandal there. But if they look at Libya policy more broadly -- BRUNI: Or Russia. ROBINSON: Right. Or Russia. The Libya policy broadly was a mess, right? You know, and she -- BALL: But let`s be -- I mean. ROBINSON: She was in the middle of it and the policy is a mess. BALL: Let`s be real about the electoral process. Right? And I have deep respect for American voters, but they`re not going to be looking -- O`DONNELL: Uh-oh, uh-oh, whenever someone says that, it`s -- (CROSSTALK) BALL: Really many of the -- you know, specifically what happened in Russia or specifically what happened in these foreign countries, they`re going to be looking at a candidate and say, do I think this person is credible, do I think that they know what they`re talking about, do I essentially trust them, and do they feel they can handle this? BRUNI: Yes. BALL: And Hillary Clinton passes that test. Some of the Republicans don`t. ROBINSON: OK. BRUNI: And an even bigger question than that, Which I think she will do well, and does this person make me feel secure? And that`s been a big problem for Obama. He hasn`t made a lot of Americans feel secure. BALL: Well, and that was her -- that was her strength in 2008, where she came across as very strong. BRUNI: There`s the whole ad, the midnight call ad, remember? BALL: That was her strength. But people didn`t connect with her on the emotional level. But that is the playing field where she is most comfortable. O`DONNELL: And, Eugene, there`s been a lot of criticism over the last week, beginning with David Axelrod about hey, what`s wrong with team Hillary that they`re so slow to respond to this e-mail situation? Took them a week. This looks to me to be a good example of team Hillary at work in campaign mode, and Hillary herself at work in campaign mode. ROBINSON: Well, you know, I think the basic question is, should there be an actual campaign now? I mean, if there were an actual campaign apparatus, a declared candidate, and a national campaign -- O`DONNELL: On this show she`s actually a declared candidate. ROBINSON: Right. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: I ignore -- she`s been a declared candidate for many years. ROBINSON: Right. I`m with you. I`m with you. But if -- but if there were an official campaign, and an official campaign spokesperson. O`DONNELL: Right. ROBINSON: And operatives, right, there would have been somebody immediately out talking about it. There would have been talking points flashed out immediately to all sorts of spokespeople who would have relayed them out by Twitter, by Facebook. (CROSSTALK) BRUNI: But if it`s worse for her, are you saying that would have been better or worse? ROBINSON: No, it would have been much better for her. BALL: She also looks simple-minded -- ROBINSON: Because she would have responded much more quickly than she did, it wouldn`t have festered for eight days. She would have been out the next day with some sort of more coherent response, it would have been much better. O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to take a break here. You`re going to have time to think about who you want to host "The Daily Show" -- BALL: Well, I don`t have to think about that. O`DONNELL: OK. All right. But up next, how the police could have stopped that Amtrak train crash in North Carolina. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. Oh, my god. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), oh, Jesus. Oh, my god. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We have shocking new details tonight about Monday`s Amtrak train crash in North Carolina that injured at least 59 people. A North Carolina State Highway patrol officer was at the scene, where the tractor trailer was stuck on the tracks for several minutes before the crash occurred. The state trooper apparently did nothing to notify railroad officials that the track was being blocked by a truck. Every public railroad crossing in America has a sign with a number to call if there is a problem at that crossing. Joining me now, by phone, is Steve Ditmeyer, a former Federal Railroad Administration official who teaches railway management at Michigan State University. Steve, the reports indicate that this state trooper was actually accompanying that tractor trailer because it was oversized and according to regulations need to have a state trooper accompanying it. So the state trooper was there the entire time that the truck was having that difficulty. Some witnesses have indicated it was as long as 20 minutes. Others indicate a full eight minutes stuck on the track. Plenty of time. I`m going to ask you, Steve, would that have been enough time to stop this crash if the trooper had alerted someone? STEVE DITMEYER, FORMER FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. Eight minutes should have been plenty of time for the trooper or the truck driver to call the railroad. The railroad would have notified the Amtrak train. The stopping time is probably a minute or longer for the Amtrak train. But it could have come to a stop before hitting the truck. O`DONNELL: And Steve, do we have training for truck drivers specifically about this, what to do if your giant tractor trailer is struggling across a railroad crossing? DITMEYER: I believe that is all part of the exams for the commercial driver`s licenses. That they be aware of these signs and that they know what to do with those signs. Also, emergency responders of all types, fire, police, and medical, are instructed about these signs and when and how to use the -- how to contact the railroads in case there`s a problem at the crossing. O`DONNELL: Well, this was a complete failure by the state trooper who was there, and by the operator of the truck. Steve Ditmeyer, thank you very much for joining us tonight. DITMEYER: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have a poll telling us who the frontrunner is to replace Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." Hint, Tina Fey`s name is in the poll. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Last night we showed you this amazing video of the 2-year-old boy being abducted and told you how the kidnapping was stopped thanks to the boy`s 10-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister, and two teenagers who helped. Tonight, police in Sprague, Washington, say they`ve arrested a 15-year-old suspect. Police are not releasing the name of that suspect because of his age. Up next, we`ll see if our panel agrees with a poll on who should take Jon Stewart`s place as the next host of "The Daily Show." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: In a new poll, Tina Fey is the prohibitive frontrunner to take over Jon Stewart`s anchor desk at "The Daily Show." 19 percent of those polled would like to see Tina Fey hosting the "Daily Show." 16 percent would like to see Dennis Miller and 8 percent preferred John Oliver who is locked up at HBO. Tina fey hosting "The Daily Show" might look something like this or she might do something completely different. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TINA FEY, COMEDIAN: President Bush again defended Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld saying, you are doing a superb job. Our nation owes you a debt of gratitude. And this time, even Rumsfeld was like, you`re screwing with me, right? Tempers boiled Wednesday when Senator Ted Kennedy threatened to subpoena records of the controversial group Concerned Alumni of Princeton and Chairman Arlen Specter had to slam his gavel twice before boredom was restored. As California`s wildfire season got under way, a 4.5 earthquake hit Santa Barbara on Sunday. Said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, these earthquakes are fantastic. I promise you more action and excitement. We got wild fires. Soon we`re going to have a super mega tornado, giant sinkholes. We`re going to make California the number one action state in the country. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, it`s the perfect audition tape. BALL: That was sort of like Schwarzenegger meets Donald Trump, I think. There was something a little Trump-esque about that. But look, I would be super psyched if Tina Fey took over at "The Daily Show." I also -- early on I wanted Samantha B. I thought I love her. I think she would be fabulous. We have very few women on late night, basically none. But she is getting her own show on TBS. So kudos to her. So I`ll take Tina Fey. ROBINSON: What about Amy Poehler? She would be fabulous. BALL: I would say both -- let`s take both of them together. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: Amy Poehler, she would be fabulous. BRUNI: She would be fabulous. ROBINSON: She would be really good. O`DONNELL: Who is your vote? BRUNI: I can`t go against Tina Fey. I would love to be controversial and all that, but she`s sort of like -- she`s sort of become comedy`s version of Beyonce in music. You know, all America loves her. You can`t not love her. O`DONNELL: All right. Let`s look at the -- let`s look at "The Daily Show" audition tape for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Let`s look at this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FEY: People say that Hillary is a bitch. Let me say something about that. Yes, she is. And so am I. And so is this one. AMY POEHLER, COMEDIAN: Yes, deal with it. FEY: You know what? Bitches get stuff done. That`s why Catholic schools use nuns as teachers and not priests. Those nuns are mean, old clams, they may sleep on cots, and they`re allowed to hit you. At the end of the school year, you hated those bitches, but you knew the capital of Vermont. So I`m not saying, it`s not too late, Texas and Ohio. Get on board. Bitch is the new black. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Now -- BALL: She`s got a point. O`DONNELL: Yes. (LAUGHTER) BRUNI: She does. Can they trade off nights, one after the other? O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s what -- BALL: Get them together. Why not? O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: That would be -- (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: That`s true. That could work. BALL: If I can throw another one out there. I also love "Daily Show" correspondent Jessica Williams. I also think she is fabulous. O`DONNELL: She`s fantastic. BALL: And fantastic. O`DONNELL: She has said that she doesn`t believe she`s ready for this job. And you know, you can let your minds wander on the possibilities here because little known fact, we are talking about the highest paid salaried job in show business. ROBINSON: Yes. BALL: Is that true? O`DONNELL: Do not just -- BRUNI: Will it remain so no matter who takes it over? O`DONNELL: Well, what it means in your negotiations is, you know how much they have in their pocket. ROBINSON: Right. O`DONNELL: And so -- no, they`re going to say to you, no, you don`t get what Jon gets because he earned that a few years. But it means -- but it means you can go after the biggest stars you can think of. ROBINSON: Yes. BALL: Big stars like Lawrence O`Donnell. O`DONNELL: No. That would -- believe me. BALL: Sounds like you`re considering that. O`DONNELL: Comedy Central doesn`t have a list that goes down that far. BALL: I`ll take that as a maybe. ROBINSON: Hard job, though. O`DONNELL: Yes. It is. Yes, it is. ROBINSON: It looks like it would be a really, really, really hard job. O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: It does. Because you have to be funny at a very specific -- O`DONNELL: And you`ve got to be fresh every night. BALL: It`s (INAUDIBLE). That`s right. ROBINSON: You have to be, you know, funny on a dime. And then you have to -- you know, funny spontaneously. O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: Situationally. BALL: And no matter what is going on in the news. ROBINSON: Exactly. BALL: You have to find a way and make it -- ROBINSON: And you have to go just -- go too far but just far enough. O`DONNELL: Frank Bruni, last word. BRUNI: Some writers. O`DONNELL: Yes. BRUNI: It`s not all you. (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: "Daily Show" writers are brilliant. Eugene Robinson, Krystal Ball, Frank Bruni, thank you all for joining me tonight. BALL: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END