UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 12, 2014
Guest: Evan McMorris-Santoro, Basik Smickle, Michael Skolnik, William Barber, Laurence Tribe, Robert Costa, Florian Bellanger
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANCHOR: Can anyone break the cycle of violence in the Middle East? Good morning. Thanks for getting up early to join us. I`m Jonathan Capehart sitting in for Steve Kornacki today. There is a lot of news that happened overnight. A lot of stories we want to talk about this morning. So, let`s get started with the violence in Gaza overnight. The death toll in Israel`s air strikes on Gaza targeting Hamas is now more than 120 people. Gaza`s health ministry says more than 900 others have been wounded. Dozens of the dead are civilians although it`s hard to say how many for sure. Israel is also said to be considering a ground invasion. Among the targets that have been hit are two mosques which Israel says were concealing weapons. The violence is now in its fifth straight day. The latest confrontation is said to have come out of the kidnapping and murder last month of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. The U.S. meanwhile is offering to broker a truce settlement. We want to get the latest from Tel Aviv. For that we`re joined by NBC`s Martin Fletcher. Martin, what is the latest?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jonathan. Well, there`s been a continuing fighting today, there`s been about 15 rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli cities. No damage or injuries reported in Israel. And there`s been about 60 air and sea attacks on Gaza today so far. Five Palestinians have been killed. We just heard. Not too sure whether they`re civilians or who they are yet. But that`s just happened. This is all happening now to the beginning of some diplomatic activity to try and stop this, five days of bitter fighting that`s ended in the deaths of over a hundred Palestinians so far. The Egyptian government and the Qatar government have apparently put together a truce proposal, which they presented to Israel and to Hamas in Gaza. The response from Israel has been, we`re ready to look at it and to discuss it. Hamas, on the other hand, has responded by saying its - we do not want to even talk about it at this stage, so the pressure from the United States from international pressure is growing on both sides to stop this fighting. Yesterday Israel`s Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to that kind of pressure saying Israel will have to continue to do what it needs to do to stop all of those rockets being fired at Israeli citizens. Remember, there`s been about 650 Palestinian rockets fired at Israel over the last five days, almost no damage to Israeli property and no Israelis have been killed yet. Mostly thanks to Israel`s antimissile rocket system Iron Dome. Otherwise things could have been a lot worse, Jonathan, in Israel. Bad enough in Gaza, of course.
CAPEHART: Martin Fletcher in Israel, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
In her recent memoir Hillary Clinton devoted chapter 20 to the work she did in Gaza as Secretary of State trying to mediate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The last time Israel and Hamas fought in Gaza, Israel was threatening a ground invasion, so President Obama sent Secretary Clinton to broker a cease fire. Clinton writes "If we tried to broker a cease-fire and failed as seemed quite likely it would sap America`s prestige and credibility in the region." She did broker a cease-fire, but as we learned this week it only held for less than two years. So what does this latest crisis mean for U.S. diplomacy? Is this a familiar and recurring problem that anyone can fix? I`m joined by Evan McMorris-Santoro, White House reporter for a BuzzFeed.com, Basil Smickle Jr., as political strategist and professor at Columbia University, MSNBC contributor Josh Barro, a domestic correspondent with the "New York Times" and Joy Reid, host of MSNBC`s "The Reid Report." Thank you all for being here. Evan, let me start with you. Answer the questions. Can anybody fix this?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED.COM: It doesn`t seem like that`s an easy - easy thing, the question of the day. It`s $4,000 question, I guess. It seems like a very difficult situation, and one that keeps going on and on and on, and on. I mean as you mentioned the politics of it, it`s really much -- on the domestic level it feels like what we`re dealing with now is sort of falling into the same old sort of domestic politics surrounding it, the same sort of foreign politics. It feels like a show on repeat kind of.
CAPEHART: Yeah, almost like a - I mean we`ve been talking about this when we were discussing this in meetings yesterday, you know, President Clinton before he left office one of the last things he tried to work on was, you know, Israeli/Palestinian peace and Jimmy Carter. We can keep going back. What can be done?
JOSH BARRO, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it`s a conflict that`s been going on for north of 60 years now. And so, I don`t think that we should expect it in this crisis it`s going to get fixed. But I think the politics of it are actually somewhat different now than they have usually been over the last 20 years in that throughout the Middle East and North Africa, there`s this sense among the American public that there`s very little the U.S. can do that`s productive. The polling has shifted a lot toward people being opposed to interventions in various places, and so I think the level of expectation that the U.S. should engage and should get productive results out of engagement is lower than it`s ever been. So, in terms of domestic political expectations that we should achieve a cease-fire or be able to positively affect the situation, I think the expectations are lower than ever.
JOY REID, MSNBC`S "THE REID REPORT": Well, not only that, but I think that there is also a dismal sense that the two sides don`t even really, are not interested necessarily in the cease-fire. That they essentially I mean the Israelis as Netanyahu has signaled really I think have no interest in pursuing a peace process in quite a while. It`s been a long time since even the imperative to say we want to have a two-state solution has been on the table. So, I think the American expectations are exceptionally low. Then again the region expectations are low. You have all of the rest of the conflict regions taking place in the Middle East. I think the other thing that has changed is that there is a different coverage in this country of the death toll on the Palestinian side. That`s something that I have not typically seen, you know, over the course of following this for a very long time. You typically see a focus on Israel, but now you`re starting to really see a focus on the civilian death toll on the Palestinian side which I think for a lot of Palestinians is a refreshing change, although it`s incredibly deadly for, you know, civilians particularly in Gaza.
CAPEHART: Well, I want to switch. Because we have a lot to get to. I want to switch gears and talk about a story I will admit I had really no desire to talk about when the news broke yesterday. But now that it`s turned political I`m all for it. And, of course I`m talking about the big news Friday afternoon that LeBron James is leaving the Miami Heat to go back to his hometown of Cleveland. Check this out. This is the image that the Florida Republican Party tweeted out in the wake of that announcement. It says, what do these two guys have in common? They both ran away. You`ll recall the former Governor Charlie Crist left the Republican Party to become - first become an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, now he is running for his old job again as governor on the Democratic ticket. And he`s expected to face Republican Governor Rick Scott in the general elections. So, Basil, I know you wanted to jump in on the other discussion.
CAPEHART: But ...
BASIK SMICKLE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: We`re switching gears.
SMICKLE: You know, actually it`s a pretty interesting tactic, but I find it also interesting that the arrival of LeBron actually could put a wrench into Republican plans for their convention ...
CAPEHART: Their convention.
SMICKLE: Which I think is sort of a great story with respect to LeBron`s return to Cleveland. But the reality of this situation is that I think it is an interesting tactic but I mean I don`t see the actual ...
CAPEHART: You know, what`s funny about that - is that - Charlie Crist`s actual personal message he`s using this campaign is one of - I have always been this person, I`ve always been this kind of belief system. And I`ve left, you know, sort of followed the Republican Party to where it went, and it didn`t take me where I wanted to go. It wasn`t working up for me, so now I`m coming home to being a Democrat.
CAPEHART: So, I didn`t - Chris who will be the person trying (INAUDIBLE) LeBron James.
REID: Well, I just have a journey, the jersey burning industry is like so over the top right now. Because you had people who were burning LeBron`s jerseys in Cleveland are now trying to piece them back together.
REID: Oh you`ve got people with Miami like do we burn these? Might he come back? So we hold on to them. But the best tweet I found is one of my favorite tweets on it, was - people who tweeted it, "LeBron has left the state that isn`t expending Medicaid and going to the one that did."
REID: It`s a policy ...
BARRO: What I found so weird about this ad is basketball players are supposed to do this. People act like they are all like, you know, betrayed when their favorite leaves, but this is a part of the industry. And people change teams all the time. What Charlie Crist is doing is really odd. And he`s had this complete overnight political transformation. I know he has this story of how the Republican Party left him, but there is this long list of issue positions where he was on the ...
CAPEHART: He tried to stay in the Republican Party for quite a while.
SMICKLE: But this actually is a recent phenomena in the - in pro basketball, people leaving their teams. You know, Michael Jordan was like I`m going to beat everybody. I`m not going to go to the next team to win a ring. And I think that`s the other issue with the political parties, you stay in it and you try to reform the party from within instead of ...
REID: Yeah, Magic Johnson didn`t go shopping for rings. He stayed in L.A. I mean that`s - the tick of it, but his going home, actually, is very sort of sentimental.
CAPEHART: We`re not staying on this topic. We now move to the next question that we have here is where have all the Jewish Republicans gone? Well, not to Congress it seems. If you turn to page 813 of this morning`s "New York Times", Jason Harwood has a story on the fallout over exiting majority leader Eric Cantor`s defeat, quoting him "Decades after a Reagan era that was relatively rich in Jewish representation on the Republican side of both the House and the Senate, Republican Jews are grappling with what it means for a party that casts itself as the protector of Israel to potentially not have a single one of its children in Congress. There are undoubtedly a good deal of Jewish Republicans in Washington and outside of it, but the question is why can they no longer get to the halls of Congress?
BARRO: Well, I mean - if you look at the history of Jewish Republicans, it`s generally been very different from Eric Cantor. You`ve had people like Ben Gilman from New York, Jacob Javits was a liberal Republican senator from New York, Warren Rabbin (ph) from New Hampshire. These sort of centrist figures in the party, because Jews in the United States are an overwhelmingly Democratic constituency and they also tend to live in parts of the country that lean Democratic. So, in order to have a Jewish Republican in today`s Republican Party you need someone like Eric Cantor who not only is pretty close to the party`s broad ideological line, but lives in Richmond, Virginia, an area that does not have a very large Jewish community. So, you`re kind of looking for a unicorn. For the party to go back to where it was it would need to be competitive again in places like the suburbs of New York City, places that have substantial Jewish populations where you might find a moderate Republican candidate. That`s just not what the party`s ....
SMICKLE: I also don`t think that the policies that are begin put forth from the ones that are there even for the non-Jewish Democrats that are there are necessarily not in line with what a Jewish Republican running for congressman ...
REID: There was a contingent of Jewish Republicans in New York (ph), you know, that were concentrated among neoconservatives and that wing of the party is so descended at this point that the influence of that wing off the party, I think even has waned. So, I think that is where I mean at least a substantial number in the modern era because these were former Democrats for the most part, but who were hawkish on that particular policy, and that wing of the party is not exactly running things at the moment.
CAPEHART: No, they`re not. On the other side of this break we`re going to tackle the most talked about story of the week and it`s a sexy one. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: All right, folks. And it`s time to talk about the gun violence that continues to plague the city of Chicago. "The Chicago Tribune" is reporting this morning that two people were killed in shootings in Chicago last night. 18 more were injured. This comes only days after the killing of 14 people due to gun violence over the 4th of July holiday weekend. The city has been under scrutiny since 2012. It was that year when the city was the only city in the country to have more than 500 homicides. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently called the gun violence senseless and unacceptable, but he also blamed the lack of gun reform for the problem. So let me ask, do we think that Rahm Emanuel is right or is this level of violence really specifically - Chicago specific problem? And what`s up with their policing?
SMICKLE: Well, just a couple of things. In addition to the 14 people who were killed there were almost 90 people actually shot that weekend, which is an astounding figure? Here in New York we`ve seen gun violence actually spike and the mayor has said that, and the police commissioner said that they`re putting a few hundred extra police officers on the street. It`s not just a Chicago problem. But I think one of the interesting pieces of this is we look at just the federal, state, and city spending on police officers, in many cases, has gone down. So, you have taken police officers off the street. A lot of so-called intervention programs, after school programs, summer job programs, those have lost a lot of money over the last few decades. And also I would add the sort of school-to-prison pipeline, suspensions, high number of suspensions particularly for African-American and Latino boys, and also rampant absenteeism has contributed to this.
REID: I mean Chicago, first of all, isn`t the, you know, most violent city in the country. If you want to look at in terms of gun deaths, Detroit and New Orleans beat them. But in Chicago you have a couple of specific problems. You have a gang problem. And a lot of the shootings, you know, Miami, and some other cities that they don`t want to promote this, obviously, because the cities also have tourism, but they have an endemic gang problem. If you look at a map of Chicago, the violence is heavily concentrated on the South Side and the West Side. The rest of Chicago and actually Illinois is under average when it comes to gun deaths. It`s concentrated in just part of Chicago. Part of that is a gang problem. And then you look at the supply of the kind of guns they`re using in these shootings. That is an Indiana problem. There is a gun factory essentially that is streaming guns from a low gun control state like Indiana where it`s easy to go and buy a gun without a whole lot of wait time, without a whole lot of background check. And then those guns are being imported back into Chicago. So, you have states that have strong gun laws like Illinois that are having guns fed into them by states with weak gun laws that are their neighbors. That`s another part of the problem.
CAPEHART: Unfortunately, I have to shift gears in a major way. This was no doubt one of the most talked about stories this week. George Clooney is going after a British tabloid for those claims that his fiance`s mother objects to their upcoming wedding for religious reasons. As the "New York Times" puts it in their story this morning, "Sexiest man alive becomes angriest man alive."
CAPEHART: Earlier this week Clooney wrote in an op-ed in "USA Today", quote, "We have family members all over the world and the idea that someone would inflame any part of that world for the sole reason of selling papers should be criminal.: And it turns out this morning that Clooney isn`t the only Hollywood star going after "The Daily Mail." Angelina Jolie is taking legal action against the tabloid for publishing a video that it claims shows the actress when she was a heroin user in the late 1990s. Jolie has talked about her drug use in the past, but says this is a violation of her privacy. She is pursuing legal action of course. So, let me ask, do Clooney and Jolie have a legitimate beef or is this just the price of celebrity in today`s society?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There are two things on this. First, if that "New York Times" lead is not green lit as ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: By the end of this show something is horribly wrong in that industry (ph) in this country. Number two, I`m shocked. You can`t trust a British tabloid.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I`m falling over. I`m falling off my chair.
REID: Anything cash ....
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You can`t - I mean, look, the British tabloids have been having these problems for a long time. Maybe it`s harder for them now. They can`t tap phones as much as they used to.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But, you know, I think that this kind of back and forth, we are seeing celebrities step up to it more than they used to, right? We`re seeing -- they had to ignore it, they`ll get a lot of negative attention if they really sort of push back on this stuff a lot, but now it seems to be what you`re supposed to do, is turn and say like this is not ...
REID: Yeah, but that said, everything George Clooney does is absolutely correct.
BARRO: What is novel to me is that, you know, Britain has much stronger libel laws than the U.S. does.
BARRO: In the U.S., basically, if you publish something and you can say, well, really, honestly I thought it was true. That is a good defense. In Britain you have to prove you were right. And yet somehow they have a much more irresponsible press than we do on these sorts of celebrity gossip issues. They get sued, sometimes they lose, but I guess it sells so many papers that it`s worth it.
CAPEHART: But what about - but the question, that last question I asked, is this just the price of celebrity? Do celebrities have a claim on privacy?
SMICKLE: Sure they do. But it`s also the price of celebrity. I mean I don`t know if every celebrity can if they feel that something has been written about them that`s not true, if they have the resources, the time and the energy to go follow all of those leads. They`re just not going to do it, so they pick and choose their battles and this is Clooney`s battle.
REID: Yeah, but then, I don`t think that they - they go into these fields to be abused.
SMICKLE: That`s true.
REID: I mean I think when it becomes the point where they`re essentially putting their children out there or really sort of abusing their personal lives in really an egregious way, of course, they have it absolutely ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, there is abuse, too, there`s abuse of these readers.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: One of my colleagues at Buzz Feed watched that entire video, that entire Angelina Jolie video ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And so, we didn`t have to do it. It is 16 minutes long, which is like - it`s like a long, boring phone call between a woman and like her dad on the phone. She is like talking, boring, there`s nothing going on.
CAPEHART: But can you here the conversation?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You hear the conversation - you can. I mean this is I was talking to somebody in at Buzz Feed about this yesterday. And who watches the whole thing and this is what she was saying. They said there was nothing much to this, so you put a splashy headline on it. Who is going to watch a 16-minute video?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And then you - you have something.
CAPEHART: But she is not actually doing anything in the video. My understanding ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Now, unfortunately, I`m going to get my (INAUDIBLE).
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I have not watched the video I should say.
CAPEHART: Oh, now the total disclaimer comes through.
CAPEHART: But guys, thanks very much. My panel will be back throughout the show. But coming up next, it`s been one year since this controversial decision rocked the nation. The details are next...
CAPEHART: This weekend marks one year since George Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter charges in the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in February, 2012. Zimmerman testified he killed Martin in self-defense after trailing the 17-year-old African-American through the neighborhood because Zimmerman said the teenager seemed suspicious. George Zimmerman`s subsequent acquittal generated a national debate about race and justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Trayvon Martin will forever remain in the annals of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmitt Till as symbols for the fight for equal justice for all.
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This verdict still has nothing to do with civil rights. Civil rights need to be talked about, but not in the context of the George Zimmerman verdict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Even the president weighed in with a deeply personal response after the acquittal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: After all this you`d think George Zimmerman would have wanted to recede quietly into the woodwork, but in the year since he`s become a lightning rod for more controversy. One month after being acquitted Zimmerman toured the headquarters of the company that makes the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. And the following month he was the subject of a frantic 911 call from his then estranged wife Shelly who said Zimmerman was threatening her and her father with a gun. Neither Shelly nor her father pressed charges and divorce proceedings between the two are still ongoing. In November, Zimmerman was charged with felony aggravated assault after a domestic violence dispute with a girlfriend. Prosecutors dropped the case after Zimmerman`s girlfriend recanted part of her story. In March, perhaps, hoping for some positive publicity, George Zimmerman signed autographs at an Orlando gun show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Zimmerman greeted people and autographed photos of himself posing with his dog. He appeared at a scaled down version of the new Orlando gun show today at the Arms Room store on East Colonial. That show was originally set to be held at the majestic on John Young Parkway, but organizers say the venue canceled late Thursday after getting negative feedback about Zimmerman`s planned appearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So, one year later as Zimmerman continues to still controversy what have we learned from Trayvon Martin`s death and George Zimmerman`s acquittal? Joining me at the table is Michael Skolnik, editor-in-chief for "Global Grind" and political director for Hip Hop producer and activist Russell Simmons. And still with us, is Joy Reid, host of the "Reid Report" on MSNBC.
So, Joy, I`ll start with you. What have we learned and how have things changed in the wake of Trayvon Martin`s death?
REID: So, one of the things I think we`ve learned is that juries are very important in terms of their makeup. There was only one juror of color on the jury in this case. And afterwards, in the interviews that she gave to Lisa Bloom and to others, to ABC News, she talked about feeling bullied, feeling isolated, not being able to really vote her convictions. We also know that jury instructions are very important. That juror as well as others said that they felt constrained and hamstrung by the law, which included stand your ground, which wasn`t used as the defense, but did change the instructions to the jury. Which she felt and others jurors have said that they`ve boxed them into a verdict. Number three we`ve learned, that`s d be passion of prosecutors matters. Prosecutors in this case, yeah, they tried the case, but you didn`t get the sense that they believed the case they were trying because they certainly left a lot on the table. And if they, themselves, couldn`t look at Trayvon Martin and see somebody who could be their son then they couldn`t look at the shooter and see somebody who could be the bad guy, you cannot win a case that way. So, I think those three things are important.
CAPEHART: The Obama administration has talked a lot more about race in the second term. Here is what Attorney General Eric Holder said about the chief justice on the issue of racial discrimination at a commencement speech in May.
Oh, I`m sorry. I thought it was going to be a tape, but I`m reading it. "Chief Justice John Roberts has argued that the path to ending racial discrimination is to give less consideration to the issue of race altogether. This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn`t need to be actively confronted. In its most obvious forms it might be, but discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow like statute." The attorney general publicly challenging the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This does not seem like an administration that`s shrinking away from the issue of race. Is it, Michael?
MICHAEL SKOLNIK, GLOBAL GRIND: No. I think in fact this issue - the administration has stepped up an issue of race. Look at "My Brother`s Keeper" as an example. The president, you know, with Sabryna and Tracy, Trayvon`s parents in the second row and Jordan Davis`s parents in the second row at that announcement in Washington, at the White House saying, you know, we are going to create programs to uplift young men of color. I also think if you look at the attorney general`s point on stand your ground cases in general, right, white on black crimes have a 354 percent more likely chance to get off than white on white stand your ground cases. So, we still have horrible racial biases within our judicial system and as Joy pointed, the makeup of the jury has a huge, huge impact on the verdict. Because if they can`t see, I sat in the courtroom of George Zimmerman. I sat in the courtroom of Michael Dunn and I watched the jury. If you can`t look at Jordan Davis, if you can`t look at Trayvon Martin, see that child not just as your son, but as your human being, not as a thug or a criminal or a guy who is going to rob you or mug you or guy who`s pointed a gun at you, but the gun never even existed, then how can you acquit that young man of being, you know, being innocent?
REID: And remember what the defense did. The defense very overtly used race in order to achieve the outcome for their client. At the end of that trial there was a completely irrelevant witness put on the stand, a white, blonde woman who said, my house was robbed and it was young black men. And the constant messaging that you should take this boy, Trayvon Martin, and place him, right, into the body of the kind of people who rob homes, this is the kind of kid you should be afraid of, too. Wouldn`t you have been afraid of this kid? I mean for goodness sake. Look how tall he was. Look at this cardboard figure of him, look at how tall it is. This wasn`t a child. Stop using that baby face picture. That was a baby faced kid no matter what picture you used, I mean he was a baby-faced kid.
REID: But he was portrayed as this sort of potential monster and you didn`t have the prosecution refute that ever. And they also took that the shooter who portrayed himself as a weakling and you didn`t have the prosecution refute that despite his MMA fighting training, despite his history of having some issues with former girlfriends, other thing. Never brought up by the prosecution. So, this was a poorly prosecuted case and a decedent who was treated like he was the criminal.
CAPEHART: Let me just add some - play a little bit of devil`s advocate on that last point. Is - wasn`t part of the problem that some of the evidence was not allowed to be put in for the jury to see? I mean we were able to see as just regular people because of Florida sunshine laws, we were able to see a whole lot more evidence than the jury ever got a chance to see.
SKOLNIK: Here`s the thing what`s important in that case, right? When we left, when the trial ended on that case, we walked into the family room and we said it`s 3-3. It`s three, so we have three on our side and three against us, right? That`s what happened. They went into the jury room at 3-3. The jury set it - when she came out - and television, a couple of days later, when they got in that jury room they got confused by the jury instructions, by the stand your ground language and the jury instructions, and they thought it was a stand your ground case, when in fact it really wasn`t stand your ground case. He was just saying it was self-defense. They got confused and then one lady beefed 47, you know, she outsmarted everybody else and said we should acquit him.
REID: Right. And you also have - I mean Lisa Bloom, I think has done the best work on this. In terms of - yes, there was a lot of evidence that wasn`t admissible, but the theory of the case that was put forward by prosecutors left out a lot that actually could have been perfectly admissible. If you go through and look at the way that she sort of reconstructed the case, the idea of where the gun was, whether the gun was in the holster or the front or the back. The prosecution conceded that. The idea of who was on top in the fight between - the alleged fight between the two. The prosecution conceded that. That was so much conceded that even if you look at just the admissible evidence you had a prosecution that essentially under prosecuted their case and then to Michael`s point, you had jury instructions that weren`t clearly understood.
But I think at the end of the day, the bigger picture, is the makeup of the jury number one, whether or not jurors felt they had the tools if they wanted to have a different verdict. And then number two, I think, is the larger cultural piece of how people perceive the shooter versus the decedent.
CAPEHART: Really quickly.
SKOLNIK: And one big mistake they made, right, they played all of George`s testimony on video so he never had to take the stand. They learned that lesson in the Michael Dunn case, they showed nothing off his testimony with the police and they made him take the stand which ultimately put him in prison.
CAPEHART: Michael Skolnik, thank you, of Global Grind. Thank you so much for getting up with us this morning.
SKOLNIK: Thank you.
CAPEHART: When it comes to the assaults on voting rights there are a lot of things to worry about. We`ll have more on that, after this.
CAPEHART: A federal trial got under way in North Carolina this week that could affect the future of voting rights nationwide. The Justice Department and civic groups like the NAACP and ACLU are hoping to put that state`s restrictive voting law on hold until after this year`s election. This time last year, the Supreme Court gutted section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. It requires parts of the country with a history of voting discrimination to seek federal approval before making changes to their voting laws and 40 of North Carolina`s 100 counties were covered at the time of the decision. Just a month later North Carolina`s Republican legislature and its Republican governor Pat McCrory enacted a spate of tough, new voting restrictions. They lopped a week off the early voting period. They ended same day registration during early voting and they banned the extension of voting hours due to long lines at the polls. And starting in 2016, voters will have to show a government approved photo I.D. card. As for what qualifies as approved? Student I.D.s do not count, even ones from state universities. That is part of the reason why students have joined the Justice Department and groups challenging this law. Most of the people affected, the people who vote early, who wait in long lines at the polls, and whose I.D.s wouldn`t qualify? They are people who vote for Democrats.
The specific hampering of the youth vote would have been enough to give the state to Republican John McCain in 2008. As the "New York Times" reported this week, young voters went so overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in 2008 that he won North Carolina despite losing every other age group." But it`s not just in North Carolina that they`re fighting these laws. Republicans have been beefing up voter restrictions all across the country since the Republican takeover of state houses in 2010. The Justice Department is now beginning to push back and North Carolina is one of the first true tests. A ruling is expected sometime in the next month and here to tell us more about this week`s trial, we`re joined by the Reverend William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, one of the groups contesting North Carolina`s law. And Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, one of the top authorities in the justice system and coauthor of the new book "Uncertain Justice: the Roberts Court and the Constitution." And still here, of course, at the table is MSNBC`s Joy Reid. I`ll begin with you, Reverend Barber. Do you think a persuasive case was made at this week`s trial?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, NORTH CAROLINA NAACP: I do. You know, there is a scripture in (INAUDIBLE) Isaiah 10 that says woe unto political leaders who make unjust laws and pass oppressive decrees that rob the poor of their rights." This law is about robbery. This HB-589 that was passed by Thom Tillis and Berger and signed by McCrory is the worst kind of voter I.D. It is when you intentionally identify voters that you think will probably not support your political extremism and then you conjure up policies to suppress their right to vote. And that`s what we`ve seen here unjustly attacking 17-year-olds, from preregistering, rolling back same day registration, which is used heavily by students, and other minorities and the poor. Early voting, rolling back, rolling back Sunday voting. It is an all-out attempt, in fact, we call it the worst attack on voting rights since Jim Crow that we`ve seen right here in North Carolina. And we made a tremendous case.
CAPEHART: Professor Tribe, you write that the Supreme Court`s decision to curb certain sections of the Voting Rights Act is part of the Supreme Court`s philosophy under Chief Justice John Roberts. Can you explain that?
LAURENCE TRIBE, CO-AUTHOR, "UNCERTAIN JUSTICE": Yes. Well, Chief Justice Roberts has expressed the view quite often that we are basically past the period of Jim Crow and race discrimination. We`ve actually gotten to the Promised Land as long as we pay no more attention to race. I think that`s profoundly misguided. But even if he were right when you`ve got a case like this in North Carolina and I very much agree with Reverend Barber`s description, there is no possible way to understand what North Carolina is doing except as an attempt to disenfranchise racial minorities, young people, very old people, people who are likely to vote Democratic and even under those remaining sections, this is a very simple straightforward case. And especially, a court that basically took away the umbrella that the Justice Department had provided during the rain storm that was still going on leading Justice Ginsburg to say in dissent, "When you`re not getting rained on the last thing you want to do is throw the umbrella away." For a court that threw that umbrella away it better put up a different umbrella, the judicial umbrella when a racial rain storm falls down on voters. I think this is a very good case to illustrate that the Voting Rights Act is still alive, though not in the greatest health.
CAPEHART: Revered Barber, let me come back to you. We`re also seeing North Carolina communities closing polling stations in certain parts of towns, namely where low income and black voters are. How are citizens reacting?
BARBER: Well, citizens are standing up and certainly we`re engaging, our legal team is engaging. What we have seen here, Jonathan, is what happens when you roll back section 5. This bill and the activity that we see show why we still need full implementation of section 5. Let me give you an example. When the Supreme Court gutted section 4, one of the legislators said, now that the headache has been removed we can move forward. This bill went from a 12-page bill focusing on limited voter I.D. to a 57-page bill the next morning. That rolled back 40 different areas of our law, 40 different areas, from 12 to 57 pages. There was no debate, no committees, no expert testimony or anything. So what we`re seeing is a fear -- this is fear that extremists like Tillis and Berger- McCrory know that their extreme agenda cannot survive in the public square less than 25 percent of the voters voted for them. The legislature is now 18 percent of the poll, the governor is under 30 percent. So, what are they trying to do? They trying to suppress the vote in every way possible.
CAPEHART: Joy, let me bring this question to you because what`s happening in North Carolina is not an isolated incident.
CAPEHART: My question to you, though is, is it coordinated?
REID: Well, it`s not coordinated in the sense that these states are necessarily talking to one another, although some of them are probably using model legislation because that is kind of the way legislation happens nowadays. But you did put - I mean the lie was put to John Roberts, the sort of absurd statement that we`ll just stop paying attention to race and everything will be fine. Because, Reverend Barber is absolutely right, no sooner did they gut section 4 of the Voting Rights Act than states across particularly the south and in the Midwest and the Republican controlled parts of the country immediately began trying to lock in the gains that they made in 2010 and also to prevent further gains. But there are two ways you can respond to demographic tide. Because you have, first of all, reverse migration of a lot of African-Americans from the north down to the south into states like Georgia, into states like North Carolina making them more African-American. And you also have this situation where Mitt Romney and John McCain each got north of 86 percent of the white vote throughout the south and Barack Obama got north of 90 percent of the black vote.
So you have these mirrors where the white vote is becoming very, very Republican and the black vote is already very, very Democratic so the route to suppression of the vote is quite simple. You simply look at the way that African-Americans and minorities vote and you shut that down. You look at the way younger people who tend to vote Democratic vote and you shut that down. And it`s very simple. So, you don`t have to say overtly that you`re doing it on the basis of race, but the result is the same.
CAPEHART: We`re going to keep talking about this. There is more about this that I want to get to. So, we`ll be back to tackle those questions right after this.
CAPEHART: Welcome back. We`re talking about the efforts to block the vote in North Carolina and other areas around the country. Professor Tribe, let me come to you. Young people are making a constitutional argument based on the 26th Amendment against this law, the law in North Carolina placing restrictions on their ability to vote. Do they have a case? Do they have a good case here?
TRIBE: I think it is quite a strong case because many of the provisions, especially the ones that tell college students that they can`t use their college I.D. to identify themselves, but have to get an I.D. from their state of residence, it`s very complicated. Can`t possibly be explained as anything other than an attempt to abridge the right to vote on a count of age. And, of course, that`s the explicit prohibition of the 26th Amendment. It`s about time that that amendment was invoked. It hasn`t been used to challenge any of these ridiculous attempts at disenfranchisement before, but it ought to be used now because if it doesn`t apply here it is very hard to see where it would apply.
CAPEHART: Joy, we just saw in the Mississippi senate election Senator Thad Cochran saved by the African-American vote in Mississippi.
CAPEHART: But do we think that this will wake Republicans up to getting back into bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act?
REID: No. The response that you`ve seen particularly from the - sort of the Tea Party people, the McDaniel`s side of that argument has been this must be voter fraud. Look, these black people voting for Thad Cochran is ipso facto voter fraud. Clamp down on them more. So, it is actually causing the opposite reaction rather than saying, gee we finally found a way to get African-Americans to vote for a Republican namely have a Republican that`s preferable to the other guy. The response has been the opposite. And so, this is the fundamental problem and it shows you the impetus for doing these kind of voter suppression efforts. Because there is a certain kind of person that is undesirable at the polls in part of the country.
CAPEHART: Reverend Barber, what do you hope for out of this trial?
BARBER: Well, what we hope is that the judge will in fact agree and enjoin these laws and say that they cannot be in effect in the fall. We are pushing forward. We don`t know what the courts will do. But we understand the fight when it comes to voting rights. You have to have what I call LEAP, litigation, voter education, activication (ph), and participation. We are in the fight for the very soul of this democracy. If you saw that trial, Jonathan, and you walked in, on their side you have five white men. On our side you had Latino, you had African-American, you had women, you had men, you had 93-year-old Rosanell Eaton alongside college students. You had Carolyn Coleman and ministers and civil rights activists alongside other persons who are concerned about democracy in its fullest sense.
We know in 2012, 70 percent of African-Americans voted higher than ever before. We`ve seen whites beginning to vote their future and not their fears. We see students being activated. That means the old South is changing. A new South is rising with new demographics and these extremists like Tillis, Berger, McCrory are afraid of that. We`re going to continue to push forward. We have 50 young people in the streets organ registering voters right now. We`re going to fight in the courts, we`re going to fight in the legislative halls, we`re going to fight in the streets, and we`re surely going to fight at the ballot box.
CAPEHART: So, Joy, Reverend Barber is fired up and ready to go. Are these laws stirring up voters to action in other places where this is happening and is trying to take away a person`s right to vote, a strong way of motivating -- this is sort of like a leading question.
REID: Yeah, I know. You are absolutely right. Look, the great irony of voter I.D. and voter suppression efforts is that they might need the greatest motivator ever to minority voting. We saw it in 2012 in places like Ohio where the efforts to roll back early voting, etcetera, really spurred African-Americans into the vote. We saw it in Florida where cutting back early vote and those attempts made people feel, look, I`m not voting for the president. I`m voting for me. You cannot stop me from doing this, and so, actually, ironically in places like Georgia and North Carolina, Florida, across the South it is actually sparking more voting behavior.
CAPEHART: I mean, when it happened, I was saying to people, look, the last thing you want to do is to tell a black person they can`t vote. They will stand in line for as long as it takes because too many people fought and died and sacrificed for that ability to wait in line to have your voice heard.
CAPEHART: Your candidate might lose, but at least you did your part.
REID: Right. Especially older black persons. Because we all know how our grandmothers are. The last thing you want to do is tell grandma that she can`t vote because she will stand in line for ten hours if it takes that.
CAPEHART: Right. Reverend Barber, real quick.
BARBER: Yeah, when we saw Rosanell Eaton was going through the check points, you know, they check you for everything, going in federal court, she was singing "Ain`t going to let nobody turn us around." 93 years old and she says I`m going to live to vote some more just because they`re trying to take my right to vote. And it is on in the south, my brother. It is on.
CAPEHART: You are seeing a lot. And I can`t wait to see what happens in the South in the mid-term elections. My thanks to Reverend William Barber for joining the conversation and to Laurence Tribe, Joy Reid, you`ll both be back in the next hour.
CAPEHART: OK. Do you remember the polar vortex? Well, it might be making a comeback in July. The details are coming up next.
CAPEHART: It`s summer now. And it seems to be getting hotter and stickier with every passing week. But back in the dog days of winter when everyone in the Midwest and northeast was hit with record low temperatures and lots and lots and lots of snow we were all dreaming of this kind of heat. Now people are a little sick of it. I know I am. So, imagine our surprise this morning when we read in "Mother Jones" that the polar vortex is coming back next week. Our friends at the weather channel say only that people should expect some colder weather. Since it`s the middle of July I think folks will be happy about the forecast no matter what you call it. We`ll be right back with the hottest story of the week. Stay with us.
CAPEHART: It`s been two weeks since Speaker John Boehner first announced he would ask the House to bring a lawsuit against President Obama`s use of executive actions. Which executive actions? He didn`t seem to know yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Boehner, what specific executive action or actions are you planning to challenge in court?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: When I make that decision, I`ll let you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: This week, Speaker Boehner made his decision. He says he is going to sue Obama over the Affordable Care Act, take that Obamacare. The lawsuit takes issue with President Obama`s decision to delay the Affordable Care Act`s employer mandate. That`s the decision that gave companies with 50 to 99 full time employees an extra year to provide health insurance for their workers.
What makes this curious is that the delay is also something that the overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted to do after President Obama announced the delay. But anyway, by doing that, Boehner contends that the president change the health care law without a vote of Congress effectively creating his own law.
If this president can get away with making his own laws Boehner said, future presidents will have the ability too as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the legislative branch and the constitution and that is exactly what we will do. So reigning in presidential powers is what this lawsuit is ostensively about or is it about reigning in the Republican base or is it about something else entirely?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Impeachment is a message that has to be sent to our president that we are not going to put up with this lawlessness. He has allowed fraud, his subordinates and he himself to fraud the American people on these programs, these policies that he has promised will work or will not impact debt or deficit. These have been lies by our president. Those are impeachable offenses --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: I usually make it a point of ignoring former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and polling shows that most Americans agree with me, but in this case, has she let the cat out of the bag so to speak? People threaten to impeach the president all the time and for all kinds of reasons, for the Bowe Berdgahl prisoner exchange, for the allegations that the IRS was singling out conservatives.
For the mere suggestion that Obama could use the Fourteenth Amendment to raise the debt ceiling without Congress. And of course, there are still birther dead enders who feel the president should be impeached because they continue to believe his birth certificate is fake thus an illegal occupier of the oval office.
In an op-ed for "Breitbart," Palin pegs her call for impeachment to the surge of undocumented immigrants at the border, but she also set up a new litmus test for Republicans, quote, "It`s time to impeach and on behalf of the American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment."
And in her Fox interview, Governor Palin said nothing but impeachment would suffice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: A lawsuit being filed by Congress because you don`t bring a lawsuit to a gun fight. There is no place for lawyers on the front lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: At Speaker Boehner`s press conference Wednesday, NBC`s Luke Russert asked him about the comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Former VP candidate, Sarah Palin, called your move to bring a lawsuit against the president "bringing a lawsuit to a gun fight" that actually President Obama should be impeached. What is your response to Governor Palin?
BOEHNER: I disagree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the folks in your conference who privately talk about impeachment?
BOEHNER: I disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: As for President Obama, he had his own response to House Republicans on Thursday recalling a line said by Mark Wahlberg in that great movie "The Departed."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: He`s upset and yelling at the guy and the guy looks up and says, well who are you? Wahlberg says, I`m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy. Sometimes I feel like saying to these guys, I`m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Here to discuss the legal underpinnings of these developments, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe is back with us. Professor, I`ll start by asking you of all the options available to John Boehner is this the best case House Republicans have to bring a lawsuit on executive actions?
TRIBE: It may be the worst, but it certainly isn`t any good. Maybe there should be a lawsuit Boehner against Palin. Maybe he should be suing Sarah Palin or maybe the resolution should be called the Sarah Palin impeachment in the wings resolution. It is a crazy lawsuit. Now that the other shoe is dropped and we know what the complaint is we can see four very solid reasons why it has to get tossed out of court.
First of all, back in 1870, Congress passed a law saying that the interests of the United States in having its laws enforced are to be represented in the Supreme Court by the Department of Justice and the solicitor general. One House of Congress can`t suddenly deputize itself to defend the interests of the United States and for the House or Representatives or its speaker to have standing they have to show some particular harm to the House.
Now that`s going to be tough to do and the House of Representatives has voted more than 50 times not just to delay one little part of Obamacare, but to wipe the whole thing off the map. So there`s no standing. Secondly, there`s no there, there because there is no abuse of power, no violation.
The Internal Revenue Code in Section 7805-A says that the Internal Revenue Service, which administers the provisions that are at issue, has the authority to make all needful regulations, which have always been understood to include something as minor as a one-year delay to implement a law. The Bush administration did it.
It`s not unique to the Obama administration. So that for the president to tell the IRS, delay any penalty, on employers of 50 to 99 employees, which is less than 1 percent of the nation`s work force, for a year, is not a violation of law at all. It`s not an attempt by the president to become the legislative branch.
Third, the Supreme Court has made clear repeatedly and most dramatically an opinion by Justice Rehnquist when Senator Goldwater tried to take President Carter to court for unilaterally terminating our treaty with Taiwan, that branches between -- fights between the two political branches, between Congress and the president, should be resolved politically.
Each of those branches has ample resources to defend itself. It`s very unlike said Justice Rehnquist, the suit by the steel companies back in the early `50s against the Secretary of Commerce Sawyer when Truman told Sawyer to take over the steel companies. The steel companies were hurt.
It`s not at all like the battle over recess appointments when companies that were regulated by the NLRB complained and won unanimously in the Supreme Court on the ground that the president had improperly used the recess appointment power to give the NLRB a quorum. So that`s a third reason the political question doctrine.
And the fourth reason is back in 1946 Congress passed the administrative procedure act, which set up a method for challenging regulation enforcement or non-enforcement by an agency like the IRS. In 1985, the Supreme Court said that that was not available to a bunch of death row inmates who wanted to make the FDA regulate lethal injections.
The principle again announced by Justice Rehnquist, the former boss and mentor of Chief Justice Roberts was that you cannot use the administrative procedure act to get agencies to enforce the law. Now, in this case, it certainly would offend the chief justice and a majority of the Supreme Court for Boehner to be doing an end run. He`s not invoking the administrative procedure act.
TRIBE: Because it`s not available because earlier in 1985 in that decision so he is trying a new thing for the first time in history, the House of Representatives suing the president. It`s ridiculous.
CAPEHART: Professor, you`ve given us so much to chew on. I want to thank you so much for being with us this morning.
TRIBE: My pleasure, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: There`s a lot more. A lot more that I want to talk about on this. For that, I`m joined now by Jonathan Adler contributor at "The Washington Post" and professor at Case Western University and Evan McMorris of "Buzzfeed," political strategist, Basil Smikle Jr., and MSNBC`s Joy Reid, are all back with us.
All right, I want to read a quote from Sarah Palin`s Breitbart op-ed on Tuesday on why she thinks he must be impeached, the president must be impeached. She says, without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. Joy? I`m sorry. Jonathan.
My question is, does failing to secure the border count as impeachable offense? What are the actual impeachable offenses the president can be accused of, if any?
ADLER, "The Washington Post": Well, first of all, I don`t think impeachment makes sense. It is a very extreme option, but it`s generally been accepted that a president`s decision to refuse to enforce the law due to policy objections or philosophical objections are potential grounds for impeachment.
Professor Tribe wrote a very important article in 1999 outlining what those standards for impeachment would be and he said a president`s refusal to enforce the law due to philosophical objections as opposed to constitutional objections to that law would in fact be a very serious breach and be the sort of thing that would justify impeachment.
Again, I don`t think the things the president has done justify impeachment. I don`t think it`s something that the House should consider doing. But this refusal to enforce the law is the sort of thing that folks like professor tribe have in the past said would justify consideration of impeachment.
REID: Well, the question I would have, Jonathan, refuses to enforce what law? The law that controls the way those kids that are flooding over the southern border are treated, the law in place, which was signed by President George W. Bush, says that you cannot take those children and stick them on a plane and send them back to Guatemala. They have to have a procedure. The president is enforcing that law and that is what people are complaining about because they haven`t taken the kids and literally shoved them over the border back into Mexico from whence they did not come.
ADLER: Well, I would agree that the immigration context, the balance of authority between the legislature and the executive and the degree of the discretion that the executive lawfully has is actually more complicated than former Governor Palin suggests. I think other examples of things the administration have done are better examples of refusing to enforce the law. Again, I don`t think they rise to the level that would justify impeachment, but I think there are other examples where the administration has failed to uphold its responsibility to faithfully execute the law.
REID: Stipulating that everything is more complicated than what the former governor of Alaska suggested --
ADLER: Fair point.
REID: -- I would love to know what on earth it is that the grounds -- first of all, the impeachment question is really about the base of the Republican Party. It doesn`t accept the existence of this person in the White House right now. They don`t think he should be president period. They`ve been hunting and fishing for a way to try and push and push the House of Representatives toward getting rid of this person they cannot accept.
They`ve never really tried to come up with some legal basis. They just want him gone. I would be fascinated to know what a factual case would be for why this president would merit impeachment. They just don`t like him.
SMIKLE: I would also add back in 1988 the American conservative think tank even wrote about the frivolity of using impeachment with Bill Clinton saying you can`t go down this path because it accomplishes nothing for you. My question about this particular act is why is it that the Republicans are in this period of rebuilding that they`re actually using this as a rebuilding strategy going into 2016? I may understand as a rallying cry for 2014, but it does nothing for potential nominees in 2016.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Very simple. Boehner was there the last time the House did this to a president. It was a huge debacle. He is not going to do it again. On the other hand he has to deal with this base so he has this lawsuit idea which is like, here`s half a loaf for everybody.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The thing is, regardless of what the legal ramifications are, it`s a political question. If the House wants to vote to impeach Obama they can.
CAPEHART: Right, by a majority.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It is a question of a political calculation. Boehner saw what happened last time. They impeached Clinton. It was a huge disaster for the Republican Party. A huge disaster for Newt Gingrich. He doesn`t want to be Newt Gingrich.
CAPEHART: Guess what? He`s in a situation now where he`s holding the TNT. It`s like I`m watching Bugs Bunny and holding the TNT with a fuse that`s already lit and going down. The idea that Speaker Boehner is going to get out of this without more complications is beyond me. As you can tell, I`m -- one block is not enough time to talk about it. We`ll continue right after the break.
CAPEHART: We`re back discussing the Boehner lawsuit and the possible efforts to impeach President Obama. We should have just had the camera on during the break while we were talking because let`s just pick it up where I sort of ended. I don`t understand the gambit here that Speaker Boehner is playing because between the impeachment and a lawsuit, the lawsuit is the more complicated of the two.
The idea that the lawsuit is going to mollify the Tea Party raucous caucus he has that wasn`t, you know, content enough to just threaten the debt ceiling the full faith and credit of the United States, but also shut down the government over something crazy like repealing Obamacare. So what makes the speaker think this lawsuit is going to stop the caucus from going down the impeachment route?
MCMORISS: I`ll make the case for the lawsuit real quick. Boehner had a decision about what he was going to sue about. The idea is sort of rally the base. What happened is the Republicans want the election about Obamacare. They don`t want to talk about immigration. It is not a good thing for them. So what everybody thought would be the lawsuit the actual outrage that fired people up, the dream act thing himself.
Rather than do that, Boehner has tried to kick the ball back over to Obamacare and talking about Obamacare mandates from now until November is exactly what Boehner wants. So there is some little calculation to this. On the impeachment question, I have that, too. The day after every president is sworn into office, Congress holds a vote to impeach him and we just cover the impeachment base. Get it over with. You`re in one day, get impeached the next, and move on.
REID: Problem with your solution is first of all the affordable care act has lost it as a political issue. Even Republicans that have it like it. In the states they are tailoring it the way they did in Kentucky to make it sort of state specific it`s not as salient as a national issue. It has lost potency.
You have a base essentially, a political party being run from the Facebook page of a lady with a baby voice. This is now the way the Republican Party is run from and the media portion of the conservative sort of world runs that party now. So you can`t mollify the base. You sue them and they essentially say you, John Boehner, are a traitor to us because you keep on giving us phony, sham versions of what we want.
Stop giving us phony sham versions. Look what happened to Eric Cantor. They`re saying give us what we really want, which is the end of the Obama presidency. If you don`t give it to them you pay. So Boehner is being hurtled down this road and I don`t know how he gets off it other than impeachment.
CAPEHART: Removing the president is never going to happen.
REID: Right. But they want it.
SMIKLE: To your point that is part why I wish the Democrats would embrace Obamacare more and energize their base. You can see what ridiculousness the regimes are doing on their side.
CAPEHART: I agree. Jonathan, your final thoughts on this briefly?
ADLER: I think the choice of the employer mandate delay for the focus of the suit actually makes legal sense. I`ll leave the politics to you. As a legal matter one of the ways Congress typically tries to direct executive enforcement of a law is by enacting deadlines into law. This is what Congress did to ensure the Reagan administration was more diligent about enforcing environmental laws.
In this case, the administration is asserting that effectively the unilateral authority to waive deadlines enacted into law not simply to refuse to enforce but to actually waive away tax liabilities that are supposed to accrue by operation of law as folks on both sides of the aisle have pointed out that is a very dramatic assertion of power and something that dramatically alters the balance between Congress and the executive.
REID: The quick question is didn`t George W. Bush also waive a deadline in Medicare Part D? There was a deadline that was passed through Congress and George W. Bush unilaterally waived it through executive authority. Where was the lawsuit on that? Didn`t happen.
ADLER: The fact that the Bush administration sometimes failed to follow a law as it did doesn`t justify the Obama administration doing it.
REID: The executive authority, Lawrence Tribe laid it out very succinctly. In the administration of a law passed through Congress the executive had that authority. George W. Bush used it. Nobody sued him.
ADLER: George Bush administration did not actually use it in this way. The examples the IRS pointed to are not on point at all. The assistant secretary of the treasury admitted to Congress he couldn`t recall considering the legal authority before they went ahead with this decision. Further, the distinction made in the rule between companies below and above 100 employees for an additional year of delay of the employer mandate has no basis in the statute and Section 7805, I encourage people to go read because it actually does not authorize this sort of thing.
It`s one thing to say the IRS isn`t going to pursue penalties or give somebody more time to actually fulfill their obligations. The IRS has done that before. What the IRS is doing here is to actually waive the obligation all together. It would be as if the Republican president came in after Congress passed the tax increase and said, well I`m just going to delay this tax increase by a year or two. That`s impermissible.
CAPEHART: Never mind that the House voted to delay.
ADLER: And not an extra year for the smaller companies.
CAPEHART: Professor Jonathan Adler, thank you very much.
ADLER: Thank you.
CAPEHART: As well as "Buzzfeed`s" Evan McMorris, thank you for being here and on the show today.
Could an Ohio senator be the GOP`s best hope at winning back the White House? Details right after this.
CAPEHART: This was a pretty good week for folks in Cleveland. We`ve already talked about Lebron James and on Tuesday, the RNC announced that its 2016 convention would be in Cleveland. Since 1964 every presidential candidate who won the general election won Ohio, too. You could say you couldn`t win the presidency without it. That`s fueling speculation that Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman may be considering a run for president.
He told "The Washington Post" he doesn`t plan to run right now, but that could change if no other Republican is willing to address the issues he cares about. Portman could be an ideal GOP candidate. He has served in the House, the Senate, and top level positions in President George W. Bush`s administration. Is he conservative enough? You better believe it. On the affordable care act and gun reform, but there may be one little issue that could hurt him with the Republican base.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: My son and others who are gay and lesbian ought to be able to lead their lives as my wife and I have and for 28 years now been the, you know, had the joy and stability of a marriage.
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CAPEHART: Portman announced his support for same sex marriage last year, a change of heart that began after his son came out to him two years earlier. He was the first Republican senator to endorse marriage equality and that support looked like it could cost him any chance of the presidency.
According to a Quinnipiac poll his support among the GOP fell 13 percent in the month after his announcement. But a funny thing has happened in the last 15 months. A Republican senator supporting same sex marriage turned out not to be such a big deal after all. Reaching young voters may help Portman in the general election, but will his support of same sex marriage prevent him from even winning the GOP nomination?
Here to discuss this is my colleague from "The Washington Post", national political reporter, Robert Costa, as well as MSNBC contributor, Josh Barro of the "New York Times." Robert, let me start with you and a poll from the Pew Research Center earlier this year found that 61 percent of young Republicans, not just young voters, young Republicans say they support same sex marriage. Do you think this will even be an issue in the upcoming election?
ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think Portman`s consideration is an interesting one. What he is trying to do here is recognize that the Republicans need to do a better job at winning the general election and to have someone who can perhaps appeal to those voters who are age 18 to age 30. He thinks that though some conservatives may not like his position on marriage it could be a winner in a general election.
CAPEHART: Josh, in the GOP autopsy of the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee even said that it needed to reach out to young voters. This is part of the report. Already there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays. And for many young voters these issues are a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be. So if this is the case, why aren`t more party leaders lining up behind Portman or at least supporting marriage equality?
BARRO: I think it`s in the poll numbers you put up earlier, 61 percent of young Republicans support gay marriage, but it`s under 40 percent among Republicans as a whole and under the -- among over 65s only 1 in 5. Primary electorates skew older. It`s still a party that`s by and large opposed to gay marriage.
When you look at the autopsy report, it`s absolutely right that the party is on the wrong side of young voters on gay marriage, but it is on the wrong side of young voters on a wide swath of issues. I think that report is written by professional Republicans in Washington, D.C., who look at the party and say what can we change about the party to bring it in line with what we already agree with?
Another subset of Republicans that tend to be supportive of gay marriage is people who work for a living in Washington, D.C. as Republicans. It`s the same impulse that says, you know, we`re doing badly with Hispanic voters and Hispanic voters would like comprehensive immigration reform as with the business interests that support the Republican Party and Republicans who are professional elites on the coast.
The Republican Party has also a big young voter issue on economic issues. Young voters are much more to the left on the notion of whether we should have a large government providing more services, more supportive of interventionist government programs, so it`s not like just nominating somebody who is for same sex marriage is going to fix the Republican Party`s problem with young people.
CAPEHART: Robert, I want to read you part of what Senator Ted Cruz who has been rumored to be thinking of a presidential run himself said at this year`s Texas Republican Convention. He said, marriage is under assault. It is under assault in a way that is pervasive. We`re seeing marriage under assault in the courts including sadly the Supreme Court of the United States. We need to rise up and we need to turn this country around. Clearly, Cruz wants to make same sex marriage one of the key issues in the next election. So, Robert, could this actually divide the Republican Party? Is it that big an issue?
COSTA: When it comes to the platform for Republicans I don`t see Portman as an out-and-out advocate for same sex marriage in terms of changing the Republican line.
COSTA: When I interviewed him he said absolutely same sex marriage is helpful for me in reaching out to younger voters. At the same time, he reiterated his antiabortion views so he believes he could navigate a primary because he is not a -- he is still a social conservative in most ways, but he`s not, he wants to appeal to young voters at the same time.
CAPEHART: Josh, we`ve seen, you know, Republican primary voters. You could be with them on nine things, but the tenth thing if you`re not with them they`re not going to be with you. So is this that kind of issue for Rob Portman?
BARRO: It is especially if there is another candidate available who is with them on all ten issues. What Portman is wanting to see here is what Jeb Bush is going to do. It`s clear Chris Christie is on the way out, but he is friends with Christie and needs to be seen as not pushing him out of the way. There is room in the field for one guy who is the guy of establishment Republican Party interests. Rob Portman is very much in line with those sorts of people.
BARRO: Paul singer who is one of the GOP megadonors who Robert mentions in his article meeting with Portman is a key advocate of same sex marriage within the Republican Party so that group of people will be keen on Portman and if there is a space for him in the field he`ll try to slot in there. I think the same sex marriage thing is going to be a significant barrier with social conservatives who matter a lot in voting in these primaries.
CAPEHART: Right. Robert and Josh are staying with me. Next we`ll talk about whether a new generation of Alex P. Keatons is in America`s near future.
CAPEHART: The only constant in politics is change. One presidency gives way to another. Laws are passed or not passed these days. And, yes, the parties in power change, too. During the counterculture of the 1960s freedom riders, Vietnam. It was thought that young Americans behind it would fuel a huge Democratic resurgence.
And then came the Republican -- the Reagan revolution. If Steve were here today I`m confident he`d want to use this as a metaphor. On the 1980 sitcom "Family Ties" Alyse and Steven Keaton were the former flower children of the 1960s and their next generation their son Alex P. Keaton was a fervent Republican, which brings me to this.
In a column this week, David Lenhart of the "New York Times" wrote about how the teens of today might grow up to be conservative. Young voters right now favor same sex marriage and gun reform and path to citizenship and it was this constituency that helped Barack Obama win two terms in the White House.
But the Republican Party has blocked his agenda at every turn and the economic recovery hasn`t reached all Americans. So who will the kids who have been growing up under the Obama administration blame for this? They weren`t even born yet during the Clinton years, and maybe they weren`t old enough to remember that economic collapse came in the closing months of the George W. Bush administration.
So will they recognize the failure of Congress to act or will they see it as President Obama`s problem? Here to help me discuss this, Robert Costa with "The Washington Post" and Josh Barro of the "New York Times" is back at the table. Josh, let me begin with you. There is some great research here, a great premise, but politics is also motivated by emotions and gut feeling and personal experience. Do you buy this idea that America`s teens might grow up to be conservative?
BARRO: I don`t necessarily think the trend that these researchers have established over the last few decades will extend to now. I think there is a very key caveat in this research which is that it applies most reliably to white voters.
BARRO: The thing about the reason that the young voter demographic has been so left leaning lately is only partly about age. It`s partly that the demographic is much less white than the rest of the electorate. And Mitt Romney actually did pretty well with young white voters in the 2012 election. Not as well as he did with older white voters. But it`s really that you have this much larger especially Hispanic and Asian share of the electorate among young voters.
Those are growing segments of the population and they tended to have low turnout than white and black voters. The turnout is improving over time. Even if the trend holds up with young, white voters swinging to the right based on this experience you still have a Republican Party that is failing to connect with non-white groups and I don`t think that this purely economic story can adjust for that.
CAPEHART: Robert, what are your thoughts on this?
COSTA: Well, when you see why young people were really attracted to President Obama when he ran for president in 2008, it was because he inspired them. When you talk to older members of the House Republican conference today, and you ask them about Ronald Reagan, they have the same feeling of inspiration about Reagan in 1980. So the Republican Party challenges, sure, some young voters may be socially, more liberal and fiscally conservative. But how do you really inspire them? I think the Republican Party is still searching for some leader who has the Obama level of inspiration ahead of the next presidential election.
CAPEHART: Josh, in the column he reminded me of a great quote, 35 years ago President Reagan reportedly said Hispanics are already Republican. They just don`t know it. And his point being that as immigrants assimilate and get older they`ll turn more conservative. Yet President Obama has won an overwhelming majority of the Latino vote. So the question is, what should Republicans take away from this? What`s the real lesson for them going forward with this part of the electorate?
BARRO: Well, I think there are two possible stories here. One that Republicans used to say a lot was Hispanics are socially conservative. They have family values we share. And that will draw them to us in the end. When you look at polling now Hispanics are actually somewhat to the left of the overall electorate on abortion, same sex marriage, and other issues. There is no draw there for the Republican Party.
The other thing is that over time groups that were once "other" become white. You saw the Irish a hundred years ago a solid Democratic constituency thought of as ethnically different from Americans of English and German extraction. It`s changed over time. That may yet happen with Hispanic voters, but the Republican Party is preventing that from happening because of the politics of immigration.
It has been othering for Hispanics and reminding Hispanic voters that the Republican Party sees them as this sort of outside group. I think over time it`s possible in 50 years Hispanic Americans will look a lot more, quote, "white" than they do today and, therefore, there may be a barrier broken for them with the Republican Party, but the party is not getting close to that point.
CAPEHART: Robert, one of the questions I ask in the lead-in to this segment was who are the teenagers going to blame? You got Republicans who are yelling at the president for not doing anything and presidents yelling at Republicans for obstruction and the teenagers of today might become the conservatives of tomorrow. Who do we think that they`re blaming for this stuff now?
COSTA: I think the risk for the Democrats is in a post-Obama era a lot of young people even now with regard to the economy and some struggles young people may have, they`re still sympathetic to the president. He was the person as I said who inspired them in 2008. If we go into a post Obama era, maybe Secretary Clinton or another Democrat who emerges as a leader, I think frustration with Democrats at large for being the party of power could come back to haunt them and give Republicans some kind of opening.
CAPEHART: My thanks to my "The Washington Post" colleague, Robert Costa for getting up this morning as well as Josh Barro from the "New York Times."
Up next, the most polarizing story to hit social media this week. It has nothing to do with politics.
CAPEHART: My apologies to pastry plate. My disclaimer at the beginning. We`ve spoken a lot about political polarization this morning. But that wasn`t the only polarization this week. On Monday the gourmet cupcake store, Crumbs Bakeshop, closed its doors. Even though a deal was reached to save the store last night, it doesn`t change the fact if you were on social media this week you probably saw how divided people were about cupcakes.
On one hand you had people who were completely devastated. This Twitter user said he was sad, so very sad. On the other hand, you had people who seems to relish the bake shop`s closing. As this twitter user summed it up, good. Crumbs sucks. If you ask me, I was thrilled to hear about last night`s deal to save Crumbs. They were a big part of my routine every time I traveled to New York by train.
What I would do is buy the chocolate cupcake filled with fudge and vanilla custard and leave it in its chic plastic case until lunch or dinner. I did this so much the train conductor started asking me where`s mine? If this Crumbs deal should fall through there are still a lot of great places to buy cupcakes.
You may have noticed that our typical pastry plate has been replaced by an assortment of cupcakes. There are sprinkles cupcakes. The chain is famous for the cupcake ATM, which I`m not quite sure how it works, but here it is action. You place an order. Swipe your credit card, and voila. Cupcakes are dispensed like an ATM. Incredible.
In a strange, fascinating kind of way. There is also Magnolia Bakery, cupcake made famous by the ladies of sex in the city. Magnolia is right here as you can see here in the middle, chocolate, butter. Right there. And then you look, next to them over here, very similar to the ones from Bill`s Bakery right here. A little smaller than Magnolia.
A little back story there, but I won`t get into it. Then this baked by Melissa`s teeny, tiny cupcakes which are all around here. All around the trim of the plate right here. You got that? Then there`s my all-time favorite which you can only get in Washington, D.C. At the store baked and wired. It is the chocolate cupcake of doom. It`s this one right here. The chocolate. Can you see this? Look at that. Look at the goodness. It`s so good. I cannot wait.
Joining me to discuss all this, dessert enthusiasts, Joy and my guests, and the chef and founder of the pastry shop mad mac and of course he is the judge or a judge on the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars." We`ll start by discussing, what happened to crumbs and whether it`s a sign for the whole cupcake industry. What do we think?
FLORIAN BELLANGER, JUDGE, "CUPCAKE WARS": Well, thank you for having me. I`m not sure if it`s the way they run the business, but as a consumer, as a cupcake fan and a chef, I definitely think that they could have revamped themselves years ago already. I think their business model got pretty old by the offering they have. The quality they have I`m sorry to say, but I speak my mind here.
CAPEHART: What was wrong with their quality? Go on. Speak your mind.
BELLANGER: Well, I can go on.
CAPEHART: Give one thing.
BELLANGER: All right, the size of it. I think the size is not appropriate anymore. That`s a cupcake size we have ten years ago and I think it is not appropriate anymore. We are going into the gourmet size even though we are going to the mini size as you can see. And the size was too big. Their cake was not moist. Most of the time they were very crumbly.
To me it`s an old fashioned cupcake. The frosting was way too sweet. They didn`t innovate anymore and didn`t keep innovating in their recipes and everything. If you call yourself a gourmet shop cupcake and you serve me the same mass market cupcake I can find in my local supermarket, you`re not a gourmet shop cupcake.
CAPEHART: So people have suggested that cupcakes are a luxury comfort food people turn to in the time of recession. We actually have a graphic of crumbs sales per store showing sales were highest at the height of the recession in 2009. Look at that. And started to decline thereafter. I`m wondering if cupcakes are something Americans need as much now.
SMIKLE: I don`t know if they need them as much now but I just want to say, did you notice that he put his finger in all of them?
SMIKLE: You know, I take your point in that there are people that make cupcakes or any kind who take a great amount of pride in their work. Maybe I`m just a universal hater because I support my neighborhood store, make my cake, these are places that would love to have the kind of attention a lot of these bigger companies have had. But I take your point there is a craft to this. If because of scale you stray away from the craft, then this is bound to happen.
CAPEHART: You know, talking about popularity, people say that the cupcake fad started with our ladies from sex in the city in 2000 eating at Magnolia bakery and there was the lazy Sunday Saturday night live sketch in 2005, which I don`t think we can show, Andy Sanburg and Chris Pernell rapped about it. How much that has been influenced?
REID: Also by the diet culture. A cupcake feels like a delicacy that`s smaller. The crumb was so big you didn`t feel like you were getting the cupcake experience because the idea is I want cake, but anticipate little bit of cake. My best buddy in Florida is like a cupcake gourmet. She knows every cupcake, and I`m glad you mentioned cupcake raven because that`s the kind of like small out of the way shop that is really being pushed out by identification. Cake beyond raven is about to come back, for a while it wasn`t there because of the economies and the difficulty of keeping open a small mom and pop shop where you do get the best food.
CAPEHART: We`re running out of time, but we made a list of food fads, and we`re wondering which you think is the next one, the next one to go. Macaroons, frozen yogurt, juices, craft beer, or crescent donut hybrids?
BELLANGER: Let me answer right away. I brought my own macaroons. I brought my own macaroons. Of course the next is the macaroon. But I shouldn`t say that because that macaroon trend is already happening. It`s already happening. And my business is thriving because of that. And I love it, and I think it`s a great delicacy. Not talking about the very next trend that nobody see it coming yet.
And I`m telling you, let`s see within two years if I`m right or wrong, I think the next big trend is the revival of Eclair. Eclair. You will see. It`s happening right now in Europe. Some Eclair-only store opened. Offering 30, 35 flavors of Eclairs. Eclair like you`ve never seen before.
BELLANGER: I think this is what`s happening right now, and I think it`s, it might cross the ocean, might come to the U.S.
CAPEHART: I might be able to get into that. So what did we know this morning that we didn`t know last week? Our answers after this.
CAPEHART: Everyone`s still talking about cupcakes. I want to find out what my guests know that they didn`t know when the week began.
REID: That is right there changed my life. In Florida, redistricting and the people`s voice on redistricting survive adjudge overturned attempts by the Republicans to floor the deposit, good news.
SMIKLE: American Federation of Teachers pushing back against common core. That`s a huge deal. Took about two decades to implement, and it`s running into some serious problems. And if you live in Manhattan, Manhattan hinge tonight is the last day where the sun set meets the Manhattan grid.
CAPEHART: The grids, exactly. The grid. I have to ask you, what`s your favorite savory dish? We have somebody here with us if you haven`t noticed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t mind me. I`m just eating the sweets.
BALLINGER: Macaroon and the cupcakes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love them. I was just saying the Sucrae is my favorite place.
BELLANGER: I hope mine is your favorite now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me try.
BELLANGER: It changes your life. It`s everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the most delicious thing.
CAPEHART: So we don`t lose control of this, thank you. All for joining us today. Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning, at 8:00 when we`ll tackle how Democrats can best position themselves for the midterms, we`ll look at the party`s message with former White House chief economist. The brink of war in the Middle East and the crisis at the border here at home. Stay tuned, Melissa`s next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.