tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC February 17, 2014 5:00pm-6:01pm PST
george washington and the idiots on his bridge. happy birthday, mr. president, from the people who know the difference. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. tonight, the investigation into bridge-gate widens. last night, the executive director of the port authority ordered the port authority's police chief to investigate the role of some of their own officers in the ft. lee lane closures. one from the "bergen record" about police officers on the ground during the traffic in ft. lee telling frustrated motorists to complain to the mayor sokolich. and the other from our own steve kornacki about an acquaintance of the governor who was at the scene. meet lieutenant thomas chip michaels, a police officer at
the port authority. chip was on duty at the george washington bridge on september 9th, 2013. that would be the first day of traffic in ft. lee. but september 9th wasn't just a normal day at work for chip because he had a meeting with a high-ranking official at the port authority, according to documents submitted to the new jersey assembly. you may recognize him. >> david wildstein. w-i-l-d-s-t-e-i-n. >> yes, according to documents submitted by david wildstein, himself, on september 9th, chip michaels appeared to be texting the former port authority appointee david wildstein, "it's expletive up here." later the two met in person. michaels took david wildstein for a ridearound to survey the impact on traffic. in the coming days, documents indicate that chip texted wildstein with updates on the traffic. a message on september 10th reads "local ft. lee traffic disaster." and chip michaels and david
wildstein had more in common than an interest in traffic. they both hail from livingston, new jersey, where they attended high school with none other than chris christie. in more recent years, michaels coached christie's kids' hockey team. in a 2010 profile for the "star-ledger" michaels joked about seeing his childhood friend ascend to governor of his state. "we break his chops a little bit just saying, you're the governor? looking at him laughing." the connection involves more than chip. chip's brother, jeff michaels is a big-time republican in the state. he advised christie's campaign in 2009. >> i've known him for a long time. we went to high school with -- our families knew each other from livingston. and just stayed in close contact with him over the years. and was very pleased to help his campaign out with policy. >> once christie was elected, jeff michaels went on to form a lobbying shop, optimist partners. in chris christie's first year
as governor, the firm's earnings jumped by 700%. meanwhile, he was giving big. in 2010, jeff michaels donated $25,000 to a pro-christie superpac. since late 2012, he's donated over $20,000 to the republican gover governors association. today christie said through a spokesman that he has "never had any conversations with either jeff or chip michaels on this topic." up until this weekend, three known christie associates knew about the traffic in ft. lee as it was happening. this weekend, msnbc's steve kornacki uncovered a fourth. the question is now, how many more people are there out there? joining me now, msnbc's resident new jersey expert, steve kornacki. he's the host of "up" which airs weekends at 8:00 a.m. eastern. great reporting, steve. >> thanks. >> detective steve kornacki. what's the significance of this to you? >> the significance is it's somebody who didn't just have knowledge of it, an eyewitness
account of the first day, of the first minutes of the opening moments of this. >> and who david wildstein apparently chooses to be the person to go survey the scene. >> yeah, however that came about, right, david wildstein, it's not just that he's there and seeing this, he's riding around with david wildstein, giving his impressions and probably getting david wildstein's first impressions about, as you see in the texts what a mess is being created here. he texts at one point that he has some idea of how we can make this better. totally unclear what that means. does that mean he's totally innocent, was not in the planning, just horrified by this and has ideas how to make it better or, like, hey, this scheme you're working on, i have ideas -- >> that's the great ambiguity. is he not in on plot? is he being told this is a traffic study and seeing this with his jaw, he's like oh my god, this is a nightmare, i have ideas to make it better as in, open the lanes, buddy. >> that raises the other possibility. if that's what it is, if he really -- he showed up that day, looking around, saying, what the heck is going on here?
i don't -- this is a terrible thing. he has potential access to governor christie that your average port authority police officer does not have. and as this thing starts to, you know, percolate, and then blows into this national, you know, political scandal, and chris christie is out there saying, there's absolutely nothing untoward about this, making jokes about it. here's a guy who's -- as recent as 2010, very friendly with him. >> could be like -- >> yeah, you ask around trenton, you know, jeff michaels, what lobbyist has chris christie's ear more than any other? the name that comes back to you is jeff michaels. >> jer michaels calls him on election night saying, you won. >> there's a pathway there to get this information. >> like, hey, gov. i want to bring into the conversation heather haddon who covers new jersey for the "wall street journal." the reason i wanted to have you here, heather, patrick foye says today -- executive director of the port authority -- we want to look into this. there's this "bergen record"
reporting. i want to give one little hint of their reporting about the level of activity of the port authority police on the ground at the time telling people to blame the mayor. so here's a clip of that. one motorist recalled an officer approached his vehicle without prompting, told the driver, roll down his window and deliver the message, are you frustrated? robert michelle said the officer asked. what's going on, michel replied. call the mayor's office to complain, michel responded. the port authority police were much more involved on casting the blame on mayor sokolich before. patrick foye is ordering an investigation. where do you see foye in all this? >> i think this brings up the inherent tensions in the port authority. a bistate agency. new york and new jersey have a lot of stake in this agency. there have been tensions throughout the year. who gets what, what airport gets subsidized, what one doesn't? so now, foye has been a real
part of this investigation going forward. >> we know about what we know because foye, of course, sevent this e-mail which is the bureaucratic version of a nuclear weapon over to the other side basically being like, you're lucky you didn't kill anyone. >> and put that in writing. >> exactly. put that in writing. the reason i wanted to have you here specifically, you're one of the reporters who reported this piece that has sort of since kind of disappeared down the memory hole. full screen, "wall street journal" report that cuomo and christie spoke about the traffic in ft. lee at the time. right? >> right. >> you reported that. that has since been denied. it seems by both parties. what is the deal with that? >> so governor christie firmly denied it and made a joke about it at the time saying i asked governor cuomo, did we talk about this? he said no. so he said, i don't remember any conversation about this. governor cuomo has since sort of danced around the issue a bit more. he's been evasive about it. he's said they have talked about the airports but he says not the george w. bridge issue.
he's also -- he does not seem comfortable we he's asked questions about this call. so clearly there are more questions to be asked. >> that, to me, is why it seems to me that the port authority ordering this investigation, patrick foye in response largely i think to your reporting, steve. it's always seemed to me if andrew cuomo wants to destroy chris christie, he may be able to. we do know the new york side, across the river, is holding some cards on this thing. >> well, what we know is the unique nature of bistate agency is there's the new york side and the new jersey side. there are generally people who are sort of understood by each side to be the voice of the respective governor. cuomo speaking through pat foye. when you talk to people on the new jersey side, the impression was bill baroni had the title of deputy executive director. a title higher than david wildstein. but the impression you get when you talk to people on the new jersey side and the new york side in the port authority is, when those decisions had to be made that required gubernatorial
input, that it would be david wildstein who would go and make the phone call to trenton. whether he's talking to christie, himself, or somebody, he would be -- >> he was the eyes and ears. >> right. it raises the question to me, a guy like chip michaels who knows christie better than your average port authority cop who might know wildstein from livingston better than your average port authority cop. what i'd be interested in asking him, isn't your impression that governor christie wanted to happen? is it your impression he knows about this? >> right, you're going to want no know as this fight is happening, as this fight is escalating and christie, himself, said the life in this agency is basically a universe of unceasing warfare between new york and new jersey. that is what life inside the port authority is. it's a bizarre agency. there's lots of money on the line. and the two sides are fighting each other tooth and nail every day. as this thing's erupting, you're going to want to know on the other side of this thing, am i dealing with the governor here or not? right? >> right. no, and so that's the surprising
thing, as i say, bill baroni technically should have been in the position where everybody would assume he's the point of contact. the impression that everybody, or most people in the port authority had, though, was that david wildstein was the point of contact. that's why i just say, with michaels, knowing christie, you know, himself, knowing probably through his brother, christie that well, i'd be curious to ask him. we put in a request for a comment. i'd be curious to ask him, was it your impression when david wildstein was telling you this that this was david wildstein speaking for the governor? >> right. now, have you gotten response, christie folks have basically said, we never had a conversation about this. >> no conversation with chip, no conversation with jeff about this. >> right. and have you gotten responses from chip and jeff? >> no. >> the michaels brothers. >> have not heard from either of them. >> heather, this story in which you guys reported out that christie called cuomo amidst this to complain. again, we know from the e-mail traffic there was this huge eruption to push back on new york for having the temerity to end their traffic study.
right? to blow this thing all up. there was outrage, in fact, indignant outrage from the jersey operatives on the side of this being like we're pushing back, getting david samson. you guys reported this. is this report still stands, right? you stand by this reporting. >> we do. >> so you -- you reported out and you had evidence this was talked about in the conversation, you stand by that. it has been denied by christie and sort of denied or waved away by cuomo. >> yeah, we stand by it. and, but one thing i just want to add on what you're saying before about the power struggle and, you know, governor cuomo's role in the agency is new jersey's lost some big guns at the port authority now. lost david wildstein and lost bill baroni. they're in a much more weakened position going forward. going to be interesting how that effects future deals. there's a lot of things on the table. >> about to get rolled by the new york side on everything. do you suspect that we will see -- were you surprised by the "bergen record" reporting about the level of involvement apparently of the port authority police --
>> we always had that. there was always that document from mark sokolich at the middle of all this and saying he's here. i'm hearing from residents they're being told by port authority cops to blame the mayor. that question has always been out there and unexplored. this was a really valuable report this weekend. and i was surprised they were actually able to track down commuters who had -- >> roll down the window moment is, like, that has come from someone. that's not someone that you've heard it being floated around that if people give you a hard time, tell them it's the mayor. that is someone that's told you, go out make sure people know. steve kornacki, catch his show "up" weekends at 8:00 a.m. eastern. heather haddon from the wall street journal. on the eve of what would have been his son's 19th birthday, a father in florida had to remind us of what the law is supposed to do. >> we don't accept a law that would allow collateral damage to our family members.
we raised them not to fear each other, we raise them to be good citizens in america. we expect the law to be behind us and protect us. and that's what i wanted the law to do is protect jordan as we protected jordan. >> what the verdict in the michael dunn case means and where we go from here, next. when possibilities become reality. with centurylink as your trusted partner, our visionary cloud infrastructure and global broadband network free you to focus on what matters. with custom communications solutions and responsive, dedicated support, we constantly evolve to meet your needs. every day of the week. centurylink® your link to what's next. life with crohn's disease ois a daily game of "what if's". what if my abdominal pain and cramps come back? what if the plane gets delayed? what if i can't hide my symptoms? what if? but what if the most important question is the one you're not asking? what if the underlying cause of your symptoms
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the verdict in the murder trial, michael dunn, has many asking just what the heck was the jury thinking? and more to the point, just what does it take to convict someone of murdering an apparently unarmed black teenager in the state of florida? another young black man dead. another armed defendant pulling the trigger and telling a florida jury he feared for his life and another verdict that sends waves of anguish and frustration through a community hoping this time the law would deliver justice, that this time the jury would say to the parents of this young black man and the parents of young black and brown men and women and kids across the country, we see you? this jury deadlocked on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of 17-year-old jordan davis. judge russell healy decleared a mistrial on the first-degree murder count. the defendant michael dunn was, however, found guilty of three counts of attempted
second-degree murder. one for each of the living victims of his shooting an one kpou count of shooting or throwing a deadly missile. you'll recall the november 2012 dispute over loud music at a convenience store in jacksonville, florida, resulted in dunn firing ten shots at a red durango suv with four teenaged occupants. davis was struck in the back and groin by three bullets and died a short time later. the defendant says davis verbally threatened his life and claimed davis was holding what looked like a gun. that claim was unsupported by any other witness. there were no weapons found in the vehicle and the defendant's fiancee said under oath dunn never mentioned seeing him with a gun. after the shooting dunn left the scene with his fiancfiancee and not call police. jordan davis', a verdict that failed to deliver justice to their son. >> we are so grateful for the truth. we're so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all.
and we will continue to stand and we will continue to wait for justice for jordan. >> there are a lot of good kids out there, a lot of good nephew, a lot of good grandsons. granddaughters. nieces. and they should have a voice that they shouldn't live in fear and walk around the streets worrying about if someone has a problem with somebody else. >> florida state attorney and lead prosecutor angela corey said the state planned to retry dunn on the first-degree murder charge. not only to seek justice for jordan davis but get another conviction in the event the attempted murder convictions are overturned on appeal. corey also expressed concerns about the jury instructions in this case. >> one of the things we've had a lot of problems with are the jury instructions. they're about to change. the jusfy bli use instructions on us again.
they changed the manslaughter instructions in the middle of the trial. >> joining me, phillip agnew of dream defenders. we've been speaking for a while on the program. talking about the work they're doing, taking on stand your ground, criminal justice system in florida in the wake of tray jon martin's death. how are you feeling about this verdict? >> chris, thank you for having me. it's sad but we're not disappointed at all. when you look at the cast of players in this case and many others cases in the state of florida, there's only one conclusion you could have drawn. so we're not confused. we weren't surprised. you've got state attorney with a history of incompetence. and with ill intent. she's railroaded young people of color into the justice system with adult charges and adult prison. so you've got her over the case. there's to surprise there. you've got a governor in our state that goes around the state talking about job, jobs, jobs, but what he really means is jails, jails, jails. you've got two players in a case
there. you have the puppet masters in our state. you've got the nra, you've got marianne hammer. you've got the geo group. you have ysi in our state. all headquartered here. so as a young person growing up in the state of florida, it's very easy to see that florida never loved us. we understood what the verdict would be before the verdict ever came out. he was guilty of murdering a young man who is guilty every day, the portrayals of young black people, of guilt and of criminalization every day led to this death. and so it was easy to see that michael dunn would get off when you have that cast of players and people that make money. every single day, chris, by showing young black and brown people as criminals. as menaces to society. and so jordan davis was found guilty that night when he was killed, but michael dunn in a case that should have been open and shut could not be found guilty by a clearly incompetent state attorney who seems to find it very easy to put young black
people in adult prison. but can't convict somebody for killing one. >> you use that phrase, florida never loved us. i saw the hash tag that you were using, #neverlovedus. what does that mean to you, physical unt physic florida never loved us? >> it's clear. we can go as far back as casey anthony. go to trayvon martin, this recent michael dunn verdicts. it shows very clearly that veneer of great florida, the palm trees and beaches is starting to erode away under a correction system that is misplaced and that puts people in adult prisons, young people in adult prisons. when we say florida never loved us, when we say america never loved us, it's quite clear to us, and it has been quite clear to us that we live in a state that doesn't care about us. and so it's important that when we lay out our case against a state of florida that the state of florida understands that we have a common understanding, that we live in a state that has
caused our education system to hemorrhage. we arrest more kids and put them in adult prisons than any other state. and so when tourists come here and they go to disney world and see a place where dreams come true, that's basically the only place in florida where that happens. and so florida never loved us. america never loved us is our clear proclamation that we have an understanding that we live in a state that shows no care for young people of color. >> i want to bring in legal analyst lisa green, and jelani cobb, director of institute for african-american studies at the university of connecticut. lisa, here's what i think, from -- to get to the technical aspect of the trial. there are so many different things that led to this verdict. particularly on the mistrial and the hung verdict. what i keep coming in on, and phillip talked about angela corey, whether the state did a good job of prosecuting the styl trial, the broader context. the use of deadly force is
justifiable if michael dunn reasonably believes the force is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm to himself while resisting another's attempt to murder him or another. reasonably believed. the stand your ground law means he has no duty to retreat. that was in the jury instructions as well. how -- how -- what is going on that this definition of reasonable is producing an inability to convict on what seems so clear? >> you know, chris, it's why i would say that it's possible this case was lost at the voir dire. all you needed was one juror who listened to the prosecutor actually do a very careful job of explaining the reasonableness standard. went into that jury room and replaced it with a subjective saying, you know what, that sounds right to me. >> that is so important. i think, jelani, the kind of profound core of this verdict, and i think the reason it has struck people so horribly, even though he's looking at a lot of jail time, even though he's not
getting scot-free. he's not walking out of that courtroom. is the idea that both in the trayvon martin -- in what happened to trayvon martin, what happened to jordan davis, some official body of the law has said, when you encounter an apparently unarmed young black man during the night, it's reasonable to fear for your life. that is what is being communicated here. >> so, i mean, chris, the thing that strikes me about this verdict is this. you know, the constant question is, what if he had not fired additional rounds after he killed jordan davis? so had he not done that, under this decision, this verdict, he would have done nothing wrong. he would have been allowed to just continue as he was and this would have been deemed a justifiable shooting. and so what we've actually done is codify people's prejudices. codify their worst instincts inside the law. i came up in activist
communities. i remember the dealu case where we were in new york and talking about specific police, you know, malpractice and their behaviors. and we thought this was an issue that needed to be addressed through the courts and we were skeptical that we'd actually get justice through it. now what we've seen with the laws is the removal of those kinds of presumptions of kind of cart blanche on the part of law enforcement and placing those in the hands of everyday citizens. >> phillip, stand your ground law got a lot of attention last year in the george zimmerman trial. i want to hear what your plan is next in the state of florida, right after we take this quick break. don't go anywhere. [ male announcer ] legalzoom has helped start over 1 million businesses.
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we're back. i'm here with phillip agnew, lisa green and jelani cobb. there's been some research, and one of the things you see is in cases of white people killing black people and using justifiable homicide as a defense, self-defense, you see much higher rates of not guilty verdicts. that is then exacerbated by stand your ground laws. so there's already, without stand your ground laws there's already a very significant gap as you see from the data we're putting on the screen there between what juries do when confronted by a white person killing a black person, claiming justifiable homicide and the reverse. and then that then is exacerbated by stand your ground. it seems like there's so much
operating before you even get in the courtroom in a case like this. >> the law is bad, chris. and we shouldn't mince words. the numbers show it. we had representative matt gates on television this morning spouting statistics that had no cause and effect. the law is bad and it leads to death and leads to violence. so we have an opportunity here to remove this law, but we cannot do it in the state of florida because as i said before, and i love to reiterate, there is money in politics. there's money from the lobby that ensures that if you murder someone and you murder someone of color, that you will get off for it. and it's very intentional. it's not accidental. the system isn't broken. it was designed this way. so as you said, the numbers are overwhelming. we can go back and forth about the statistics but people are dying, young people are dying based on a presumption of murder. a presumption of menace. and a fear. and that fear is implanted in people. and so the law should go. we know that.
we can keep having the discussion, but until we talk about the systems that are supporting this law, and the people that are behind it, we're not going to get anywhere. >> the state has said they're going to do a retrial and given what phillip -- given the fact you have the same jury instructions, you've got the stand your ground law, we apparently now, there was some, one or more jurors on that who looked at the set of facts. i wanted to scream today in the editorial meeting. jurors, you are overthinking this, you're overthinking this. it is not the case this was a justifiable moment in the first volley of shots that turned into attempted murder a second later when he squeezed another one into the car. don't overthink it. >> i totally understand your frustration. it's a justice swift system, not a swap meet. the people who are really happy about split the baby verdicts are missing a larger point which is to me a week ago, dunn takes the stand in his own defense. highly unusual. he finishes testifying. how many people thought that was a slam dunk? >> no one.
>> granted, not an acquittal but a mistrial. >> you think that does not bode well for a retrial? >> it's too soon to tell. dunn's attorney was on television this morning talking about all the grounds he might have for repeal. that's pretty typical defense talk. some of them didn't pass muster with me. we're closer to the beginning than the end. >> jelani, there's an amazing hash tag that started going in the wake of the verdict, #dangerousblackkids. people were tweeting pictures of their kids. to kind of take this idea of the presumption of menace that seem to be operating here. the kids are in the car. they're playing loud music. i fear for my life automatically. and blow that up. what will it take to blow that up? how do we blow that up? >> i mean, chris, i wish i knew. you know, what i think, i feel like in looking at this circumstance, we've taken the trayvon martin situation and then just run it through a the s thesaurus. this is not atypical.
outrage has to be recycled every six months or shorter or a few months longer than that. or if it's florida now, or it's san francisco in a b.a.r.t. stake or new york city with a young man on the way to his wedding the next day. sean bell. this is not atypical. i wanted to also, you know, make the point that the law, as it stands, this is the intended outcome. what we've actually done is deputize the citizenship. and so we understand the history of lynching and saw mob violence. florida has its own particular history. not exclusive to florida around this mob racial violence. what we've done is kind of create a one-person lynch mob possibility. >> phillip agnew, lisa green, jelani cobb from the university of connecticut. thank you all. one quick note, jordan davis' parents will be on "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" wednesday at 10:00 p.m. eastern.
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if you spent any part of the past weekend binge watching "house of cards and" and think the abuses of power in that show are farfetched, spend this presidents' day in american history. sure, francis underwood lies left and right, fudges the truth when convenient. francis hasn't started any wars, right? as far as i know. i'm only on episode 3 of the new season. no spoilers. in 1846, polk told congress mexico invaded american territory and spilled american blood. turned out polk never had solid evidence to support his claim but it didn't matter. couple days later congress declared war, america invaded mexico. a few years later a peace treaty which the u.s. gained from mexico, california, nevada, utahs, parts of new mexico, colorado and wyoming. 1985, president reagan's administration sold weapons to iran in spite of the embargo of selling arms to iran. his people lied about it and took the ill-gotten gains to
fund an illegal war in nicaragua. his people lied an that, too. of course, there's richard nixon, 1969 started a secret bombing campaign that killed hundreds of thousands of cambodians and sucked the country into decades of unspeakable horror and bloodshed. in a few minutes we'll bring you our first ever worst presidents competition. here's your chance to get in on it. sends us your entry in 140 characters or less. for example, something like this, nixon secretly carpet bombed cambodia, also thought abortion was necessary when you have a black and white. will nixon make our final four of worst presidents ever? it's a very crowded field. stick around. anything we purchase for the paper cottage goes on our ink card. so you can manage your business expenses and access them online instantly with the game changing app from ink. we didn't get into business to spend time managing receipts, that's why we have ink. we like being in business because we like being creative, we like interacting with people. so you have time to focus on the things you love.
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ask your doctor if humira can work for you. this is humira at work. . today is the day we celebrate the birthday of our first president, george washington, as part of a holiday that has somehow, though it's not quite clear how, been expanded to celebrate all of our nation's presidents. we've had 43 of them so far. a lot of people think it's actually 44. grover cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms so he usually gets counted twice. any presidential historian will tell you a lot of these presidents have been pretty bad. in fact, some have been downright terrible. the list of terrible presidents is actually a lot longer than the list of great once. so instead of celebrating our best presidents this year, our lincolns and fdrs, we here at "all in" decided to truly grapple with the american presidency by looking at our worst presidents.
i'm not talking about the william henry harrison types who didn't accomplish anything. to be fair, harrison didn't have much on a chance. he died of pneumonia a month after taking office. no, we want to gaze into the heart of darkness. the president whose corruption, malfeasance, incompetence, cluelessness, racism, violence, ethnic cleansing made the country and world worse. historians spent a lot of time thinking of how our presidents compare to each other. 1962 not long after he left office, a panel of historians rated dwight eisenhower as a mediocre to below average president. by 2012 "newsweek" put him in the top 10. for real consistency at the bottom of the list, however. andrew johnson, james buchanan, harden, rated by presidential scholars as the three worst presidents. in surveys between 1982 and 2010. ulysses s. grant and franklin pierce rounded out the 25. a new face popped up on the
all-time worst list, george w. bush who came in as fifth worst president in american history. siena, bush rated poorly among historians in handling the economy, communication, ability to compromise, and intelligence. today i've invite e e ed three . i've got my own nominee which i'll share in a moment. joining me, dorian warren. international and public affairs at columbia university. john nichols. jim moore, communications expert, co-author of "bush's brain: how karl rove made george w. bush presidential." john, i'll begin with you. your nominee for worst president ever? >> got to be andrew johnson. i'm not willing to give an inch on this one. and, look, i advocated for some pretty tough action against george w. bush and i certainly have no taste for herbert hoover and some of these other folks,
but andrew johnson, who became president of the united states because of the assassination of abraham lincoln, opposed the bureau which was going to allow african-americans to begin to have some sort of economic stake in the country where they had just been released from slavery. he blocked the civil rights act which was to allow african-americans basic citizenship rights. he fought against the 14th amendment which brought african-americans into full citizenship. and he actually vetoed allowing states to enter the united states because they might have tipped the balance in favor of civil rights. >> yeah, we should -- >> he also -- >> the context here is johnson is basically a stone cold white supremacist ray s supremacist racist. i'm not saying
hyperbole. opposed to full citizenship and liberation for the african-americans newly freed. put on to the ticket basically just so there would be a border state democrat who could hold the government together and suddenly finds himself president after lincoln is assassinated and there's a case to be made, john, if you had someone there, if you had lincoln, reconstruction could have looked a lot different such that the entire civil rights era of the 1960s would have happened then. >> well, understand this. reconstruction was supposed to be a project that allowed southerners who had supported slavery, ultimately, to come back into the process to bring african-americans. and it was a complex process. you needed a very sophisticated but very strong leadership. in this case, andrew johnson refused to work with congress. he implemented something he called presidential reconstruction.
and he allowed the southern states to develop their own constitutions. many of which had specific rules to disenfranchise african-americans. and the last point i'll make is, when i covered the florida recount of 2000, if you traced back some of the legal structures that made it possible to upset the real count in that state, clear the way for george bush to become president, you will find that they can be traced back to actions taken the late 1860s because andrew johnson let it happen. >> andrew johnson, the tragedy of reconstruction, unfulfilled promise, basically a white supremacist racist who comes in and destroys a possibility in that crucial moment for something like equality, full citizenship in that moment. dorian warren, you have another nominee. >> you know, johnson is, he's close, but for me, i'm a fellow at the roosevelt institute. i have to go with number 31, her
herbert hoover. >> put him on the board. >> the worst economic crisis in american history, the great depression. he presided as secretary of commerce and president over the so-called roari in'20s. highest levels of inequality until very recently. a decade of wage stagnation. workers couldn't afford to buy, you know, products. >> all sounds very familiar. >> it all sounds very familiar. what was his solution to the great depression? well, first thing he says, 1928, as he'sruining for re-election, he says we're nearer today to the idea of the abolition of poverty and fear from the lives of men and women than ever before in any land. >> everyone look at this quote for a second. this is a guy on the eve of the worst economic crisis the country will face basically being like it's just around the corner. everything's working great. we're driving right in the right direction. >> and even the republican campaign slogan for him in 1928 was to put a chicken in every pot and a card in every garage. that was the slogan.
black thursday hits. he actually says, this is reminiscent of john mccain during our own great recession and crisis. he says after black thursday, the fundamental business of a country that is production and distribution is on a sound and prosperous basis. >> yeah. >> he still didn't get it. what were his solutions to people homeless, starving, unemployed? private charity. not any government intervention. sounds very similar to paul ryan and others. >> you have massive unrest, you have unbelievable amounts of misery. the government doesn't do nearly what it needs to to pull the country out of the great key press. >> he's still in the ideology of lassaiz faire economy. >> he's balancing the budget in the midst of mass destruction across the country. >> takes office at 3% unemployment. by the time he leaves it's around 23%. >> it's hard to beat that record for economic mismanagement. >> one last political point, he ushered in the dominance of the democratic party in 1932 in terms of the white house with fdr winning as well as congress.
>> it's a now total blowout in '32. we have hoover on the board, johnson on the board, one for reconstruction and his role in that, another for the worst economic mismanagement. there's someone else more recent who, jim, you want to enter into the conversation. i've got my own president with the initials a.j. we're going to give you both of those right after this break. stick around. does it end after you've expanded your business? after your company's gone public? and the capital's been invested? or when your company's bought another? is it over after you've given back? you never stop achieving. that's why, at barclays, our ambition is to always realize yours. a steel cage: death match of midsize sedans. the volkswagen passat against all comers. turbocharged engines against...engines. best in class rear legroom against other-class legroom.
but then we realized. consumers already did that. twice. huh. maybe that's why nobody else showed up. how does one get out of a death cage? vo: right now, get 0.9% apr on all passat models plus a total of $1000 in bonuses. earlier we asked you to tweet us your picks for worst president ever. we have a ton of answers. including, worst president ever, dick cheney. ali says buchanan when he wasn't ignoring the dissolution of the union, he was actively aiding the south. should have gone to jail. goldie taylor says millard fillmore signed the fugitive slave act. aside from that, the most ineffectual and forgettable president ever. these are good. told ya! i'm feeling better already. [ male announcer ] new alka seltzer fruits chews. enjoy the relief!
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nichols. who do you think is the worst president ever? >> actually whoever becomes president, chris, thinking they're going to end up behind millard fillmore. i come into this with a perspective of former long haired hippy vietnam era war protester. and i think what matters the most to our country is when a president comes in and executes geopolitics that have this sort of global impact but also ruin things for all of us at home, and i think what happened under george w. bush is that they cooked intelligence, they created a case for a war to invade iraq, to get even for his dad. and as the former secretary of defense, donald rumsfeld said, we had no choice. the country floated on a sea of oil. the idea was to get oil. to avenge his dad. and hopefully end sectarian violence. and we look at this years later and we have hundreds of thousands of iraqis, some human rights groups put it at a million-plus that are dead.
tens of thousands of american veterans who are harmed and whose lives have been ruined or they have been killed. then we end up with a veterans administration that can't handle all of this. on top of that, as he's launching these two wars, iraq and afghanistan, he's administering a huge tax cut at a time when the spending is about to go up, he gives a tax cut to the upper income, to corporations, and then all of this comes home to roost in our economy. we get a big deficit. our country is now still struggling from all of that. so my belief is that regardless of any category you might consider, i think the judges have to give the oscar for worst president to george w. bush. >> yeah, i mean, you make a very strong case. i think one of the things that's key to point out about w., unlike lyndon johnson, a divided split record in terms of what he did interfacially, the vietnam war, what he did domestically which is push through and sign some of the most significant landmark legislation in american history, george w. bush's nonwar record, i mean medicare part "d"
which sort of works and is extremely expensive. and then also overseeing the worst financial crisis, you know, since the great depression. i think that absolutely puts him in the running. i would say from just a pure, if you want to talk about, like, who is the most amoral sociopath we ever had as president of the united states, you got to go with andrew jackson, basically like the country elected tony soprano, all right, to be president. the guy, and this guy personally killed many people. in duels. killed lots of people. we still don't know how many. as a soldier ordered his men to raid and kill women and children. he was raiding indian camps. he pushed through the indian removal act which was an official state push of ethnic cleansing that led to the trail of tears. he overruled the supreme court. tens of thousands of indians removed from the south forcibly in what was one of the most shameful moments in all of american history. and i want to say this about andrew jackson. this is a guy who at the end of
his life says this. he had but two regrets. he had been unable to shoot henry clay or hang john c. calhoun. by the way, i don't like john c. calhoun. that said, the thing to think about this guy is that he was one of the most -- like, the idea that this person ran the american state, this incredibly violent man, who in his personal life, in what he did in office, was just this omni directional maelstrom of violence against people that he was just racks up kills. i mean, this is andrew jackson. >> i'm sold. >> yes. well, the other thing i will say is that he also got rid of the bank which led to massive amounts of crisis. the big question i think on the table, dorian, i'll put it to you is, is it true, how do you make the case for hoover when you look at the two areas of economic management, the misery it causes the sheer power and force of violence the president commands and the hell they can unleash in their seat as commander in chief?
>> chris, that's an impossible question. you is me almost equivocating. i'm going to give it one more try. hoover when he left office was responsible for the passage of the 20th amendment to the constitution. why? we needed -- people were suffering so much. we had to shorten the time between the election and inauguration. election is in november. inauguration used to be in march. hoover was so awful, people are suffering so much we amended the constitution to make inauguration january 20th because of hoover. >> he was that bad. i do think that you should all, if you get a chance tonight, you know, wikipedia, read about andrew johnson. relive the bush period in the many fine books that were produced or, you know, go to msnbc archives if you can pull up much fine programming here. and read some andrew jackson stuff, too. it really, quite a character. dorian warren from colombia university. john nichols. ben moore. gentlemen, thank you all.
now that we told you our pick for the "all in" bad presidents, which would you pick? go to our website to vote. that's "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" begins now. >> it's like the uninspiration hour. feeling positive about civil life and opportunity? don't do it. >> say, look, the guy we have right now, look at what he's compared to. i think. it's also part of the tsh. >> keeping everything in perspective. >> exactly. >> thank you, man. appreciate it. thanks to you at home for being with us this hour. msnbc's steve kornacki and "bergen record" newspaper both have new scoops on the chris christie bridge lane scandal. two big new developments in this story that have apparently started a whole new part of the investigation. and it starts with leona helmsley. remember, billionaire hotel and real estate developer. she earned and then cultivated a reputation for being