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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 04/09/15

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Susan Crabtree, Tony Ortega, John Dixon, SusanRahr, David Harris

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Officer Michael Slager`s dash cam video of the beginning of his fatal encounter with Walter Scott shows a completely different kind of police work than we have seen in the video of officer Slager shooting Walter Scott in the back and killing him. In the dash cam video, officer Slager is professional, he is polite, he is respectful, but all of that changed when he found himself chasing Walter Scott on foot. Here is that dash cam video. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (MUSIC) MICHAEL SLAGER, POLICE OFFICER: (INAUDIBLE), see your license and registration insurance card? WALTER SCOTT, VICTIM OF POLICE SHOOTING: (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: OK -- SCOTT: (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: OK, let`s start with your license. Reason for the stop is your brake light is out. SCOTT: Oh, OK, (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: OK -- SCOTT: I don`t have (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: Do you have any insurance on the car? SCOTT: No, I don`t have insurance (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: Boy, you don`t have insurance on your car that you bought (INAUDIBLE) insurance -- SCOTT: Well, I haven`t bought it yet, (INAUDIBLE) I got to do that Monday -- SLAGER: You bought it -- SCOTT: (INAUDIBLE) let me drive the car -- SLAGER: Oh, OK -- SCOTT: Yes, because my car is down, I use a -- SLAGER: Oh -- SCOTT: (INAUDIBLE) car. SLAGER: OK -- SCOTT: I just (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: All right, let me -- let me have your driver`s license. So, you don`t have any paper (INAUDIBLE)? SCOTT: No sir -- SLAGER: No registration in there -- SCOTT: No -- SLAGER: No insurance? SCOTT: He has all that stuff -- SLAGER: What is it? OK, so you`re buying this car? SCOTT: Yes sir. SLAGER: Did you already buy it? SCOTT: No, not yet, I (INAUDIBLE) -- SLAGER: Is -- a minute ago, you told me that you bought it -- SCOTT: Well -- SLAGER: Are you saying (INAUDIBLE) by Monday -- SCOTT: I`m sorry about that, (INAUDIBLE) bring me the money. SLAGER: Oh, OK, all right -- SCOTT: Yes -- SLAGER: I`ll be right back with you. (OFFICER MOVES AWAY FROM CAR) (SCOTT OPENS CAR DOOR) SLAGER: Get in the car! (SCOTT OPENS CAR DOOR) (RUNNING) SLAGER: Taser! (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, "The Washington Post" Eugene Robinson, also joining us Susan Rahr, former sheriff of King County, Washington, Seattle, and a member of the President`s task force on 21st Century Policing. And also joining us, David Harris, law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and John Dixon, chief of police for Petersburg, Virginia. Chief Dixon, I just want to go to you on the technicals of what we`re picking up on this dash cam. Why -- how did we get the audio so clear at that distance from the patrol car. JOHN DIXON, POLICE CHIEF, PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA: Because some of the audio systems depend on what they have with the dash cam. There`s a mic that will be attached to the officer, and it sounds like they have a system where, as the officer is leaving the vehicle, you can continue to still hear the audio from that system that they have. O`DONNELL: And chief, it sounds like we`re hearing him run as the video keeps rolling, we`re definitely hearing the audio of that. And so that makes me wonder, do you think it is possible that there is recorded audio of the interaction with Walter Scott, including -- up to and including the shooting? DIXON: Well, it`s very possible. And again, that system may be a certain distance -- is no longer activated on the audio. So it depends on what system they have. But it sounds -- certainly sounds like is an audio connected to the camera within the vehicle. O`DONNELL: Susan Rahr, former sheriff in a big city area like Seattle, what is -- what is it you`re seeing when you look at this dash cam video? SUSAN RAHR, FORMER SHERIFF OF KING COUNTY, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Well, it starts out, it looks like a pretty routine traffic stop. I don`t see anything remarkable about it until Mr. Scott flees from the vehicle. O`DONNELL: Eugene, the same question to you, and the experience of -- that Walter Scott`s having, sitting there in that car, this police officer -- EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes -- O`DONNELL: At his side. What is your sense of what he`s experiencing there? ROBINSON: On what, Walter Scott? -- O`DONNELL: Well, it`s Walter Scott -- (CROSSTALK) Because what I`m watching, it looks like this is about as polite an encounter of this kind as I`ve ever had. ROBINSON: Well, obviously, there`s something that makes him very uncomfortable, because -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: He gets out of the car and books away. So -- and we don`t know what that is. He obviously didn`t -- O`DONNELL: But did you -- ROBINSON: Wanted to go -- O`DONNELL: Did you see anything -- ROBINSON: When he -- O`DONNELL: Did you see anything in the officer`s conduct that would have thrown you if you were -- ROBINSON: No -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: And at that point, no I don`t. You know, no, I`m not an expert on police procedure like some of our other guests are. So I don`t know what the officer is supposed to do when a guy for a routine traffic-stop suddenly gets out of the car and dashes away. And obviously if he`s unarmed, there`s a problem with shooting him eight times. But -- O`DONNELL: But -- ROBINSON: Up to that point, I`m not -- I don`t see much there -- O`DONNELL: Yes, there`s just -- ROBINSON: There -- O`DONNELL: And so I say, I don`t see how -- there`s no clue there that this is going to end this way. David Harris, your reading of what you`re seeing in that dash cam video? DAVID HARRIS, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, I agree with the other guests, there`s nothing here but a routine traffic stop. The brake light or some kind of a tail light winds -- appears to be out, and the officer has every right at that point to pull the vehicle over, make an inquiry, issue a citation or a warning. That looks like what was happening right there. Nothing more than conversation investigation, are all a very routine manner. O`DONNELL: And Chief Dixon, given the two pieces of video that we`ve seen, this approach to the car, which seems professional. And then what we`ve seen in the other video, that personal video which actually shows the shooting, shows what is being charged as the murder of Walter Scott. How can you join -- you as a -- with all your experience in law enforcement, how do you join those two videos, what we`re seeing in those two videos? DIXON: Well, something that obviously tragically made a difference there, because I agree 100 percent there, initial traffic stop was exactly what, you know, you would want to happen in a traffic stop; individual is pulled over as he was pulled over. The conversation took place, there was nothing negative about the conversation, there was nothing, you know, that would have, you know, had led anybody believe that it would have led to the second video that we`ve seen where the gentleman Mr. Scott, was shot in the back. You know, whatever took place there had to take place within whatever the officer was thinking of doing or not thinking of doing, and that`s what created that situation to occur. O`DONNELL: Susan Rahr, in your experience with police officers under these kinds of situations, what are the kinds of trip points that are out there? The kinds of breaking points that change the way they`re handling a situation, a situation like this? RAHR: Well, in this particular case, obviously the officer learned something about Mr. Scott, put together with him running from the car. I don`t know what was in the officer`s head, but in order for an officer to reach the point of using deadly force, the officer has to perceive to make it a legal shooting, an immediate threat to himself or someone else. It`s not apparent in this video what that threat was or if there was a threat. O`DONNELL: Gene, the background information is that he -- it is possible that he was worried, his family says he might have been worried about being delinquent on child support -- ROBINSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Payments, he didn`t want to go to jail for that, and the decision he might have made at that moment was to run away for that. But - - ROBINSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: As a South Carolina native, someone who grew up in this area, are there things that you would like the police to know about what the African-American experience there is in these kinds of approaches? ROBINSON: Well, you would hope that the police who come from that community would have a better idea of -- you know, or at least a good idea of how people live and who people are. And you know, one thing that strikes me is that no police officer stops -- decides to stop every car with a broken tail light -- O`DONNELL: That`s correct, that`s a big thing. ROBINSON: So, there`s discretion involved there. And there`s a -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: There`s a decision made and so, I don`t know anything about this officer. We will learn more about him, and we will learn more about the North Charleston Police Department and how it polices the city. But how were those decisions made and are they, you know, are they made at random or they made, you know, for specific purpose, and that`s a big question I have. O`DONNELL: Chief Dixon, you and I were in a panel discussion the other day which raised this very issue, which is the broken window theory, which you see applied in situations like broken tail lights, is not in its -- in the original attempt a zero tolerance theory. There is still discretion involved. And you know, I drive a car that`s almost as old as Gene Robinson, and I`ve had -- I`ve had some not working tail lights. I have never, ever been pulled over for that, never. I`ve only been pulled over when I was pretty seriously over the speed limit. And so talk about that discretion in a -- in a case like this, with that broken tail light and how that kind of discretion should be applied. DIXON: Well, it should be applied not dealing with any of the protected classes. It shouldn`t deal with race or sexual orientation or anything other than the situation itself. And I agree with the other panelists, because here is the key thing. Right now is an opportunity to look into the officer, see how many times that he had utilized, you know, that discretion and who he utilized that discretion on. Because it could clearly show that there`s a problem. That he, you know, often pulls over black males and you know, because of that, and have never pulled over a white male because of the same issue. So, you know, here is an opportunity to take a look at that, and we will -- I`m sure that will be part of the investigation looking into why he did this, and if this is a continuous process that he does. You know -- (CROSSTALK) HARRIS: This is a great point that I think the chief is making. It is -- it is -- every police officer knows that the traffic code is his or her best friend. There is no car that can`t be stopped, no driver that doesn`t violate some small rule of the -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Yes -- HARRIS: Traffic code, every three blocks or so -- ROBINSON: Meaning -- HARRIS: Except maybe my elderly dad and he goes too slow for conditions, let me tell you. And so because of that, officers have an almost unlimited discretion to stop anybody. And the question is, we know they`re not going to stop everybody. But the question is, how will they exercise that discretion? And when you see somebody pulled over for DWI, for reckless driving, for being 25 miles over the limit, that is something that any police officer viewing that will do. But broken tail lights, that involves a choice and one of the things we`re going to want to know from the officer`s record is what is the pattern of choices he makes? O`DONNELL: Well, he only has a five-year record, and he does have one complaint against him for use of taser that was discussed today. We`re going to take a break right here, coming up, police continue to seize personal video cameras from people, even though courts continue to rule that you have a first amendment right to record police activity. What is the law on videoing police? What are your rights? You need to know the answers to these questions, that`s coming up. And also, suddenly, Hillary Clinton has a potential challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, someone no one saw coming unless Gene Robinson, he didn`t even tell me. The former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee made a big announcement today and he will join me later. And an "Nbc News" investigation reveals the shocking treatment of the father of the leader of the Church of Scientology. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: You have a first amendment right to video police, but some police will try to tell you that you don`t have that right. That`s coming up. Also, we have an exclusive interview with a surprising potential challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, as Hillary Clinton may now be only days away from officially launching her campaign. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (RIOTING) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In the police riot at the Democratic convention in 1968, Chicago police learned that the camera is not their friend. The savage beatings the Chicago police administered to people who obviously posed no threat to them were all captured on camera and then shown to the world. Since then, video of the Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 to this week`s video of Walter Scott being shot in the back, and several videos in between have shown that the second most dangerous thing that a bad cop can encounter in the street is a camera. A deadly weapon, of course, being the most dangerous thing that any cop can encounter on the street. Chicago police have taken their fear of cameras to an extreme. Tiawanda Moore used her phone to record a conversation with two Chicago police internal affairs investigators about a sexual harassment complaint she brought against a patrol officer. The recording clearly shows the officer is trying to talk her into dropping her complaint. When they discovered she was recording the conversation, they arrested her. A year later, she went to trial facing 15 years in prison for the felony of recording police officers without their consent. A jury found her not guilty in less than an hour. A year ago, the Illinois law used to arrest Tiawanda Moore was struck down as unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court. But the Illinois legislature did not give up trying to protect police from your iPhone recordings. In December of last year, they passed a new law, acknowledging that it is legal to record police in public, but it is a felony to record them in private. This law too will surely be struck down when it is constitutionally challenged since a public employee does not have the same right or expectation of privacy that individuals have within their homes. In other words, it will be constitutionally impossible, probably, to define what is private while a police officer is on duty. The Illinois law is one of many factors that has clouded the minds of police and the public about the right to record video and sound of police activity. Gene Robinson, there is a legislator in Texas who introduced a bill recently to make it illegal to videotape any police activity if you`re within 25 feet of the police, so you can be within 20 feet of the police, do whatever you want, but don`t turn on that iPhone. They know this is the thing, and as is shown repeatedly, that can -- that can lock them into a problem unlike any eyewitness testimony possibly can. ROBINSON: Right, and so what is there to hide? O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: Well, it is clear they don`t want -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: To succeed, and you know, look, I try to stay away from hyperbole, right? I try not to go totally overboard. But the words `police state` do come to mind when you -- when you talk about not being able to take pictures of the police officers who work for us, doing their duty. You know, God bless them, I`m very happy that they work both for us protecting us, it`s great. But we should have the right to take their picture -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- ROBINSON: To show what they`re doing. O`DONNELL: Chief Dixon, how much, you know, how much of this seizing of cameras is the individual police officer`s ignorance of the actual law and the constitutional protections of the first amendment. How much of it is willful misconduct on their part? DIXON: Well, I think what happens with that, that you have officers in the middle of whatever they`re doing, you know, they get caught up in the moment, and you know, they reacted to it. I think it`s clear that, you know, we can be videotaped. I don`t think that`s without question. I think that what I want to make sure that the public understands that they can`t interfere in whatever police action is being taken in the process of videotaping. And as long as the videotape doesn`t become evidential issue, then, you know, they have a right to have it, they have a right to use it, they have a right to do whatever they want to do with it at that point in time. So, you know, officers, you know, we just need to be clear on when and where those different factors fall into place. O`DONNELL: Right, and David Harris, the interference issue is one that police do cite on the spot. They say, oh, that video -- that`s interfering with what we`re doing and then they seize the camera and they deal with the constitutionally -- constitutionality of that later if -- HARRIS: That`s right -- O`DONNELL: They happen -- if they have to deal with it at all. HARRIS: That`s right, and this is -- this is nothing but a dodge. I mean nobody should interfere with what police are doing, but if you`re across the street, you`re out of the way, that is nothing but an excuse to stop the recording. Let`s be clear about this. Recording is not only a constitutional right, because police officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public, it`s more than that. There is no doubt in my mind that if that recording that we`ve all watched had not surfaced, that police officer who shot that man in the back, he would be out in a patrol car today doing the same job. That is what some of these laws are designed to fight. And it`s regrettable. States legislature should not go there. Everybody in -- that I know carries a fully active video and audio recording system. And you cannot roll this back. The technology is there, it`s out of the bag, police should be much better off understanding that everything they do is going to be recorded by somebody. They`d actually be much better off getting their own cameras on and getting with the program. So not every video we see of police is of them doing something negative. O`DONNELL: Susan Rahr -- HARRIS: It should serve good purposes -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HARRIS: Too -- O`DONNELL: Susan Rahr, to that point, there`s all this discussion now about let`s get body cams on the police officers, that`s a -- RAHR: Right -- O`DONNELL: Perfectly noble ambition, it`s a very expensive ambition, but it`s worth funding, it`s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, nationwide billions of dollars if it`s really to cover all police officers. But in fact, we have a lot of cameras out there, as the professor just said, in everyone`s pocket, ready to videotape these situations. RAHR: Well, that`s absolutely right. It would be -- in my opinion, it would be beneficial for every police officer to have a body cam. The hidden cost of the body camera program is not the cameras themselves. It`s storing and disseminating the images that have been recorded and we have to balance the privacy rights of the people who are caught unwittingly on those videos. But I don`t know of many law enforcement leaders or even law enforcement officers that don`t think that body cameras are beneficial. We just have to recognize the full cost. The cameras are the cheap part. It`s the infrastructure to support the collecting of the data and then disseminating the data when there`s a public disclosure request. HARRIS: That is absolutely right -- RAHR: In a state -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break there -- HARRIS: That`s absolutely right, you`ve got storage cost, data cost, these things aren`t free, but it is also not free to be sued over and over, pay hundreds -- RAHR: That -- HARRIS: Of millions of dollars in judgments. The body cameras -- RAHR: The real cost isn`t -- HARRIS: Are not a silver bullet, they have their own problems, there are privacy issues to deal with, there are policy issues to deal with, but they can be a very significant factor in establishing the facts. That`s what they can do. They won`t change the law, they won`t change the standards, but they can help us establish the facts just like what they`ve done here. O`DONNELL: OK, we`re going to have to hold it there, I`m going to have to invite you all back to discuss specifically this, exactly how to implement the use of body cams, what the challenges of that actually are. And there are plenty. Really appreciate your time tonight, Susan Rahr, David Harris, and Chief Dixon, thank you very much for joining me tonight. RAHR: Thank you -- O`DONNELL: My pleasure. DIXON: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, former Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee made a big announcement today that not one political pundit predicted unless Gene Robinson did on a secret note to himself. He is the former governor, he`s officially exploring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton might finally have a debating partner. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: There are multiple reports tonight that Hillary Clinton will announce her presidential run -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- this weekend. The "New York Daily News" says she is expected to announce Sunday via video and social media. Today, a potential challenger to -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination has emerged, someone who, no one saw coming. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FORMER GOV. LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), RHODE ISLAND: I`m Lincoln Chafee and I am a Democrat considering a run for President of the United States. O`DONNELL: Today, Lincoln Chafee, a former senator from Rhode Island and then governor of that state, announced he is exploring a run for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. Chafee is also a former Republican. Like his father before him, he served as Rhode Island`s Republican member of the United States Senate, where he cast the only Republican vote against the Iraq War in the Senate. He then won the governorship as an Independent, and then changed to Democrat while he was serving as governor. In an interview with "The Washington Post" today, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- Chafee said about the Iraq War vote -- "I don`t think anybody -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- should be President of the United States that made that mistake. It`s a huge mistake and we live broad, broad ramifications today of instability, not only in the Middle East but far beyond, and the loss of American credibility. There were no weapons of mass destruction." Joining me now for an exclusive interview, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- Former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee. Welcome, Lincoln Chafee. And I may be welcoming you to the presidential campaign if you move from exploring to deciding. What will be -- what do you need to explore in order to decide that you will run for president. CHAFEE: Well, the law allows this first step through this exploratory process just to get started, and all the filing that is required on your income that comes in from your fundraising and then your -- of course, your expenditures. It`s just a little easier to get started under Exploratory Committee. So, we`ll see down the road when the official decision will be made. O`DONNELL: What you said to "The Washington Post" today sounds like it would be impossible for you to support Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee. CHAFEE: Well, we`ll see how it plays out over who are the candidates to get into this race for the Democratic nomination. I know there are several bit expressing their interest now -- Governor O`Malley, of course, and Senator Sanders, Senator Webb. So, we`ll see who gets in the race and how it turns out as to who I might support if I`m not successful -- I hope to be successful and expect to be successful. That`s down the road. O`DONNELL: It seems, in the 2008 Primary Campaign, certainly, that the single biggest policy difference or difference in record was that President Obama was opposed to the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton voted for it. Do you think that that`s still -- that still, in the next presidential election, in the next primary season, will have the kind of resonance than it had then. CHAFEE: Yes, I do. It`s relevant to what we read about every day in the papers in the Middle East and in other areas of the world -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- ISIS and what`s happening in Nigeria, and how we confront some of these extremist insurgencies. And we were successful -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- in the past over the years by having good alliances and having good American credibility. And that`s been squandered by this bad decision. Even though it`s a long time ago, I agree with that, back in 2002. But the ramifications are still felt today. O`DONNELL: Does that mean that John Kerry, who voted for it, that he, too, would be, in your mind, disqualified for being president because he cast that vote. CHAFEE: I do believe that. We had just finished with Vietnam, and all the Vietnam veterans and the debacle that was Vietnam. We had a moment in time where we had a peaceful world we were handing to our children. And to make this decision to go into Iraq was just so bad that I will stick with what I said, whether it`s John Kerry or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton. O`DONNELL: And is there something in that 2008 campaign -- there were a lot of invitations to Hillary Clinton in debates and all that to, in effect, retract that vote or find some way of apologizing for that vote or explaining that vote. Do you believe there is something that Hillary Clinton could say about that vote for the Iraq War, where your reaction would be, "Well, OK, then, we can proceed from here with a new view of the way you would govern." CHAFEE: Well, I think she tried in her book. And I just don`t think it was -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- a sincere enough effort to explain that vote in any convincing way. And there were actually two votes that day in October of 2002 -- the Levin Amendment, which kind of just slowed down the process. And she voted against the Levin Amendment, Senator Levin from Michigan. And then we had the Iraq War vote. So, it`s going to be very difficult for her to explain in any way. First of all, her vote against the Levin. And second of all, the Iraq War authorization. O`DONNELL: To the present and the future, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- what foreign policy disagreements do you have with Hillary Clinton now, if any. CHAFEE: Well, it`s a whole approach to our place in the world. I mean, at the moment of when we so-called won the Cold War, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- the Berlin Wall came down, Soviet Union broke up, we were seen as a soul super power. At that time, we had a responsibility to act very humbly and, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- as a sole superpower, to exercise that place in our history very responsibly. And I don`t think we did it -- the muscular, the whole neocon approach, the unilateralism. Senator Clinton kind of buys into some of that approach to our place in the world. And that`s one of the big reasons I`m running and putting together this Exploratory Committee. O`DONNELL: And, quickly, before you go, do you support the Obama administration`s negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal and the framework that you`ve seen so far. CHAFEE: Absolutely. That`s how we made good relations with China, talking with them, and the former Soviet Union talking with Gorbachev, talking with Deng Xiaoping in China. That`s how you resolve issues before the bombs start flying, the bullets start flying. O`DONNELL: Lincoln Chafee, thank you for joining us on this important night for you. And I really want you to come back soon to talk about domestic policy differences you might have with Hillary Clinton -- CHAFEE: Of course. O`DONNELL: -- and Republicans. CHAFEE: Of course, look forward to it. O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. Up next, -- CHAFEE: Thank you. O`DONNELL: -- Hillary Clinton might just be days away from announcing for the presidency. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And, later, an MSNBC News investigative report on the Church of Scientology. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) The announcement the political world has been expecting for years now may be coming soon. Multiple reports tonight that Hillary Clinton is about to launch her second run for the Democratic presidential nomination. The announcement is expected this weekend with one report saying it will be Sunday, announced via video and social media. Joining us now, Susan Crabtree, White House Correspondent for the "Washington Examiner." And Eugene Robinson is back with us. So, we just had Lincoln Chafee on, to all of our surprise, -- EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. O`DONNELL: -- except you, right. You predicted Lincoln Chafee was going to run -- ROBINSON: I don`t think that`s right. No, I did not predict, -- (LAUGHTER) -- three years ago, that Lincoln Chafee would be in the race. O`DONNELL: I`ve got to say, just listening to him there, and having watched him in the Senate, this is a debate partner that is real for Hillary Clinton, if he decides to get on that stage. He can create real debate dynamics. ROBINSON: She`s going to find him really annoying -- O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: -- in the debates, right, because he`s obviously going to go after her on weaknesses. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And he sees those as -- you know, we talked about foreign policy. You guys talked about foreign policy tonight. He sees the Iraq War vote, in particular, as a weakness. He will press her, I think, on her -- you know, "What do we do now," which she really didn`t get into. But he will press her on that and make her, I think, seem more hawkish than she wants to seem in the Democratic primary. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. Just the vote, Susan Crabtree, the vote that -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- defined her presidential primary campaign last time, she had every right to think wasn`t going to be -- have much role in this campaign. But if Lincoln Chafee gets in there, then that discussion is opened again. SUSAN CRABTREE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, I see that is -- you know, Lincoln Chafee, with all due respect to his history in the Senate, I covered him for many years, he`s not really a serious candidate in this race. O`DONNELL: No, I`m not betting on him to win. CRABTREE: Right. O`DONNELL: All I`m talking about is, ooh, this makes the dynamics of the debate serious. CRABTREE: Yes. O`DONNELL: Yes. CRABTREE: Because she wasn`t -- didn`t have a debate for him. But the problem here I see for Lincoln Chafee is that -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- foreign policy is something that American people are galvanizing around right now. They want a stronger foreign policy from President Obama. And, right now, we`re going to -- he`s going to be hitting her from the left, and it might give her a bigger platform to hit him back from, well, the right -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- or a stronger foreign policy, more robust outlook on the world. O`DONNELL: Well, the polling is very supportive of what the President is doing with Iran, Gene. And the thing about the candidacies like Chafee, where he`s a smart guy and he knows what he`s talking about, is he doesn`t have the pressure of trying to preserve his lead. He can just say -- ROBINSON: Right. But he will never come -- O`DONNELL: -- like I just asked him -- you know, well, I just asked him, "What about the President`s negotiations on Iran." Absolutely, hundred percent for it. You know, you don`t get -- ROBINSON: Right, right. O`DONNELL: -- answers like that from the -- ROBINSON: No temporizing, no sort of wishy washy -- O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: You know, my theory is always, and will remain, that it takes a lot to make an election a foreign policy election. O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: I`m still not convinced -- O`DONNELL: Yes. ROBINSON: -- that this, in the final announcement, is going to be a foreign policy election. It might be. But, generally speaking, it takes an act of war to make it -- in which the United States is heavily involved to make it foreign policy election. So, in the end, you know, this certainly is going to be important. But it could not be -- it might not be the decisive factor in the election. O`DONNELL: Yes. And although she may have a good debate opponent now, Hillary Clinton is as good a debater as you get in these kinds of campaigns. And it`s not like she`s not ready -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- for everything Lincoln Chafee is going to say, or anyone else who might get up on that stage with her. And I just don`t see right now, even with what Lincoln Chafee had to say, where you carve out a significant difference with Hillary Clinton -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- even on foreign policy today, in the present, and where you go on domestic policy with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. CRABTREE: Right. Well, I think, that`s really key for the Democratic primary. But I do think I will differ from you on this particular election. I think the rise of ISIS and the beheadings on the videos has really changed -- there`s been a sea change in public opinion on foreign policy. And you see that with the polls and how people really want or approving of air strikes in Iraq. Before, they were just -- and even boots on the ground, you see more people supporting that. So, I do think this is going to be a little bit of a different election. And I don`t understand why -- I think that you`re exactly right -- Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee are going to hit her from the left on this, if he does get -- Jim Webb does get -- decides to get in the race. But I don`t know if that`s the greatest strategy for the general election, certainly for the primary. O`DONNELL: Eugene, she seems -- if this is what she`s doing, completely in control of her timing. ROBINSON: Uh-hmm, yes. O`DONNELL: There doesn`t seem anything rushed about this. It`s not in reaction to someone else doing something or someone else`s announcement. ROBINSON: And why wouldn`t she be. O`DONNELL: Right. (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: Really, why wouldn`t she be. I mean, because, let`s face it, unless someone like Elizabeth Warren gets into the race, she has no serious opposition, she has no threatening opposition for the nomination. She can have it if she wants it. O`DONNELL: Thank you, Eugene Robinson. I`m shocked that you didn`t predict Lincoln Chafee was going to run. (LAUGHTER) Susan Crabtree, great to have you here in the studio tonight. Thank you. CRABTREE: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, an NBC News investigation into alleged -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- tactics by Scientology against former members, including spying on the father of the current leader of Scientology. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) President Obama made a late night visit to the Bob Marley Museum while in Kingston, Jamaica last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The President said this during a photo-op with the Jamaican Prime Minister today -- BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The quick trip that I made last night to Bob Marley`s house was one of the more fun meetings that I`ve had since I`ve been president, as big fan since I was in high school. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: No comment. Up next, a new NBC News investigation into Scientology. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) In Alex Gibney`s HBO documentary, "Going Clear," the Church of Scientology is portrayed as an organization that uses intimidation against its opponents. Today, there is -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- more controversy involving Scientology`s leader. NBC`s Joe Fryer has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOE FRYER, NBC NEWS WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): David Miscavige is leader of the Church of Scientology. And, according to police reports, two private investigators say they were hired to track the leader`s father, Ronald Miscavige, Sr., a long-time Scientologist who left the church. In 2013, one of those investigators, Dwayne Powell, was arrested in West Allis, Wisconsin after police received a call about a suspicious man walking around the neighborhood. DEPUTY CHIEF ROBERT FLETCHER, WEST ALLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: What Mr. Powell did indicate to the detectives was that, at the end of the day, yes, that he believed he was working for the Church of Scientology. FRYER: According to police documents, Powell said he was hired through an intermediary firm and had been following Ronald Miscavige for one and a half years. He said, he and his son were paid about $10,000 a week to search his garbage and follow and photograph him wherever he went. Powell also told police he put a GPS tracking unit on Ronald Miscavige`s car. The police report says, Powell stated that David Miscavige is paranoid and afraid that ex-members will discuss the inner workings of the church. NBC News exclusively obtained audio of Powell`s statement to police. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DWAYNE POWELL, ARRESTED PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: I`m just supposed to report back what he does, who he talks to. They want me to find people to make friends with him, to lead him in a positive direction." (END AUDIO CLIP) FRYER: In response, the Church of Scientology says, "The entire premise of the report is a bald-faced lie. It is preposterous." David Miscavige`s attorney says, "Mr. Miscavige has never spoken to Mr. Powell, never hired Mr. Powell, and never directed any investigations by Mr. Powell." But in his statement to police, Powell says there was an incident where he saw Ronald Miscavige slumped over while grasping his chest. Powell said, he contacted his intermediary and, according to the police report, he said he was called about two minutes later by a man who identified himself as David Miscavige. David told him that if it was Ron`s time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way. That story was repeated by Powell`s son who was also interviewed by police. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DANIEL POWELL, DWAYNE POWELL`S SON: My dad got off the phone. He goes, "I just got a call from David Miscavige and he said don`t intervene if he starts having a heart attack." (END AUDIO CLIP) FRYER: But the Church of Scientology says, "No conversation with Mr. Miscavige ever took place. It is unadulterated expletive", adding, "Mr. Miscavige has always taken care of his father and continues to do so." Ronald Miscavige, now 79, declined to comment, except to tell NBC News he was devastated to learn about the events in question. As for Powell, he could not be reached for comment. When police arrested him in 2013, officers found numerous weapons in his car. But Powell said they were just for sport shooting. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) POWELL: I just follow the old man. I swear, I`m not intending any harm to him ever. (END VIDEO CLIP) FRYER: Powell was eventually charged with one federal count for possessing a silencer. The charge was dismissed, contingent on him completing a special program. But what Powell told police nearly two years ago is bringing more attention to the Church of Scientology. Joe Fryer, NBC News Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Tony Ortega is a journalist who has written extensively about the inner workings of Scientology and the accusations that they face today. He`ll join the discussion next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM DEVOCHT, FORMER CONSTRUCTION MANAGER, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: Miscavige, he slapped me across the face, knocked me on the ground, kicked me a couple of times. MARTY RATHBUN, FORMER SENIOR EXECUTIVE, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: Flaming fists, kneeing him in the stomach, getting on him on the floor. DEVOCHT: And you think you want to get up and retaliate. But you also think, "I`ve got 75 other people who are all likely to tackle me if I did." And then you`ve got the sheer of it. Here`s the equivalent of the Pope suddenly knocking you on the ground, and you`re thinking, "I must have really screwed up." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Tom DeVocht and Marty Rathbun in the HBO documentary, "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief." In response to the documentary, the Church of Scientology wrote to HBO, saying in part, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "It is well known that tn part, it is well known that Tom DeVocht is a liar. It is documented in publications and in his own words and Gibney`s primary source." "Marty Rathbun is on record in 2009 stating that Rathbun, in conspiracy with Tom DeVocht suborned perjury in a legal case." (END VIDEO CLIP) Joining us now, journalist, Tony Ortega, who`s also featured in that HBO documentary. Tony, the latest NBC report about Miscavige`s father, what do you make of that. TONY ORTEGA, JOURNALIST, "THE UNDERGROUND BUNKER": Well, an important thing to remember is that Ron was a member of Scientology for many, many years. And, three years ago, around this time, he escaped from the international base. I first reported that in July, 2012. He literally, you know, escaped from the base near Hemet. And he`s been outside Scientology now for three years. And so, there`s no wonder that David is very nervous about what his father might say. And that`s why he -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- has him under surveillance. O`DONNELL: What, I mean, at this point, what could his father say, what could anyone say that is worse than what you`ve revealed, than what the HBO documentary revealed. ORTEGA: It`s about control. Scientology is all about control. David Miscavige hates the idea of anyone talking about his personal life. Ron does have a lot to say about Scientology, I`m sure. (END VIDEO CLIP) And so, David does have a reason to be nervous about that. But he only knows how to deal with it in one way. And that`s to surveil, to harass. And this is -- you know, there was another example three ago when two private I`s came forward and explained that they had spent 24 years following just one man that Miscavige wanted watched. And that operation cost between $10 and $12 million dollars. O`DONNELL: The thing that all watchers of the documentary are wondering is, how do members of Scientology hear this and consume this information and then go on without questions apparently. ORTEGA: Scientologists are very, very skilled at ignoring the press. They ignore it. They won`t watch the show. They won`t hear us talking about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Just an example, when I say somewhere earlier on the show, "We`re going to talk about Scientology earlier," would the devout Scientologists go, "I`m not going to -- " ORTEGA: Absolutely. And I`ll tell you why. Because Scientology is a snitching culture. It`s an interrogation culture. And if you see that your father is watching Lawrence O`Donnell and learning about what we`re talking about right now, that family member will write a report. (END VIDEO CLIP) So, they know that if they watch the documentary or they watch this show and they mention it to somebody, "Did you see that show last night," someone will submit a report and they`ll be dragged in for an interrogation, an interrogation that will last until weeks and that they have to pay for, $4,000, $5,000 for an interrogation to find out if they`ve absorbed some of this negative material. O`DONNELL: All right, Tony Ortega, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. Chris Hayes is up next. END