THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
June 25, 2013
Guests: Amy Howe, Peniel Joseph, Faith Jenkins, Kyle Hightower
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The Supreme Court found part of the Voting
Rights Act unconstitutional today.
And the jury in George Zimmerman`s murder trial saw pictures of Trayvon
Martin`s body for the first me. Trayvon Martin`s mother had to turn away
when the pictures were shown. You might want to do that, too, when we show
the pictures later in the show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news from the Supreme Court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decision to challenge part of the Voting Rights
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Supreme Court strikes down the key enforcement
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court struck down the map.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gutting the landmark Voting Rights Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Becomes a game of whack-a-mole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we write the modern map?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It means it punts back to Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is going to have to own this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How likely do you think Congress will do something like
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think they`re mature enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An insurmountable task.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: It took us almost 100 years to get where we
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Renewed four times, most recently in 2006.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time it comes up for reauthorization, we got
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: You have, in many ways, revoked a lot of what was
gain understand the civil rights movement.
GEORGIA: Will it take another 100 years to fix it?
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last time, Strom
Thurmond voted to reauthorize as well. No, I`m serious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The South has changed. It`s changed because of the
civil rights act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the election of the first black president,
means that well, racism is over.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: And with racism, structural problems are fixed.
Perhaps it`s time to get rid of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It stopped the Texas voter ID law. It stopped the
South Carolina voter ID law.
SHARPTON: We just came out of elections that we had to use Section 5 to
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Miami, Florida, waiting as long
as seven hours to vote.
STEWART: That was last year.
O`DONNELL: From the start in this country, black people were treated
differently in our laws. The Constitution said that the black people in
the Southern states, the slaves, should each count as 3/4 of a person in
the census. Then when the slaves were freed, the country did not exactly
welcome them into the voting booths. They were subject to manner of
discrimination and attack, including murder, for simply attempting to
register to vote, never mind actually voting.
Something had to be done but it took the country 100 years to do it.
And in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into
law. It said essentially that in the parts of the country where
discrimination against the black voters was the most extreme, the federal
government would have oversight authority for any changes made in voting
procedures in those areas. The worst offenders being Alabama, Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, and parts of North
Carolina and Arizona.
The so-called coverage formula in section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was
based on where the worst discrimination was occurring at that time. It is
that section that was ruled unconstitutional today by a majority of the
Supreme Court, even though the Voting Rights Act had been renewed by
Congress several times since 1965, including as recently as 2006 by a
Republican-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate, and then
signed by Republican President George W. Bush.
Chief Justice John Roberts, majority Supreme Court opinion, believes that
the Republican congress and that Republican president did not know what
they were doing.
"If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have
enacted the present coverage formula. It would have been irrational for
congress to distinguish between states in such a fundamental way based on
40-year-old data, when today`s statistics tell an entirely different story.
And it would have been irrational to base coverage on the use of voting
tests 40 years ago when such tests have been illegal since that time, but
that is exactly what Congress has done.
Attorney General Eric Holder had this reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am deeply disappointed, deeply
disappointed with the court`s decision in this matter. This decision
represents a serious setback for voting rights and has the potential to
negatively affect millions of Americans across the country. Congress needs
to act to make sure that every American has equal access to the polls.
The department also will work with congress and other elected community
leaders to formulate potential legislative proposals to address voting
rights discrimination, because on their own, existing statutes cannot
totally fill the void left by today`s Supreme Court ruling. And I am
hopeful that new protections can and will pass in this session of Congress.
The Voting Rights Act has always had strong bipartisan support on Capitol
Hill. And today`s ruling should not change that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are MSNBC`s Melissa Harris-Perry and "SCOTUS
Blog`s" Amy Howe.
Amy Howe, the court surprised me today when it decided that the formulas
that Congress was using in legislation in 2006 were simply too old to be
used in legislation in 2006. They -- you have farm legislation that uses
formulas from the 1930s. You have Medicaid legislation that repeatedly
uses formulas that have been set for decades, and one of the reasons for
that is the political negotiations of changing those formulas actually has
a sort of quicksand in it.
So, I don`t -- I`m not aware -- are you aware of any previous case where
the court simply said your political process at arriving at this formula is
something that we just don`t think is workable, based on the dates of the
information you`re using?
AMY HOWE, SCOTUSBLOG: Well, I don`t know that there is any case that says
that. What the Supreme Court said was that back when Congress passed the
Voting Rights Act in 1965, the voting discrimination goes on in the South
and some other places was so pervasive, that the kind of burdens that
Voting Rights Act imposes were justified.
But it said that if Congress is going to impose those burdens today, it
needs to make sure that the voting reflects the current needs and that
Congress can`t use 40-year-old data to do that.
O`DONNELL: But, Melissa, the Congress that voted to impose this included
voters from the members of Congress that represent those areas where the
so-called burden is imposed.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: That is right, and I think we have to be
very careful here, because for folks who are not constitutional scholars or
don`t follow the Voting Rights Act. When we say language like burden, even
though I recognize it`s a legal term, it sounds as though there is some
sort of penalty attached, to being part of preclearance state, that there
is some sort of federal law that comes in.
And that`s not -- that`s not accurate. What pre-clearance did was to put
the burden on states that had a sorry record of democratic -- action. In
other words, rather than acting towards the expansion of democracy, these
are jurisdictions that consistently work to restrict democracy. And as a
result, they had to demonstrate that any rule change that they wanted to
bring had to in fact, meet this test -- a test that in fact, the rule would
not again restrict democracy.
And we have in our Constitution, in the 14th Amendment, a very clear
example of saying that states that have a sorry record have to reach a
higher standard. And that is, of course, that after the Civil War, you
didn`t just get to come back into the Union. You had very specific rules
that had to be followed in order to have full sort of states rights back in
the Union again. And it`s because of what they had done under the context
of the Civil War. The same thing is true here. It is fully constitutional
to treat states differently based on their behavior.
O`DONNELL: Justice Ginsburg in her dissent today said the court`s union
can hardly be describe as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision
making, quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today`s demolition of
the Voting Rights Act."
Amy, this is -- the majority of this court, these Republican appointees,
claimed to be not activist judges who let law stand where written by
Congress whenever possible. This reach into a formula used in the internal
calculation of law does seem to me to be real judicial activism.
HOWE: I think both sides tend to define activism as a decision that you
disagree with. What the majority said, they felt like they gave Congress a
warning shot back in 2009, when it decided another case involving a similar
issue. And in that case, they said current burdens have to be justified by
And they felt like they had given congress a chance to solve the problem.
What they saw as the problem. Congress didn`t take them up on the
opportunity, and they said we have no choice other than to act.
O`DONNELL: And, Melissa, I suppose it is conceivable that it could be
worse. Certainly, Justice Thomas indicates that he would like to get rid
of the whole thing.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I mean, of course, it could be worse. I mean, it`s
part of what`s sort of so ugly about both this decision and affirmative
action decision. In both cases, what this court does is a kind of bullying
move, where what they do is to actually gut or signal quite clearly what
their preferences and positions are, but they`re sort of so cowardly that
they sort of punt it back. So, at this point, what we have is a punt to
Congress that says if you can come up with a formula that we find
acceptable, then, in fact, the fourth section of the Voting Rights Act
could give teeth back to the fifth section of the Voting Rights Act, which,
of course, was not actually touched here.
Of course, the problem is that the justices are pretty notoriously horrible
social scientists. And these are true, not just these justices but far
back, they are lovely in terms of their understanding of the law. But when
it comes to understanding how social sciences work, they actually generally
don`t rely on these sorts of claims. And when they do, they often do so in
ways that are specious.
Just allow them to make the claims they want to make. So to send back to
the 1113th, to now make a new cover formula is frustrating, problematic in
terms of their willingness to punt on this action.
O`DONNELL: And, Amy, if Congress did actually take this up, and they sent
back to the Supreme Court, they actually then voted on exactly the same
formula and sent it back, would the Supreme Court then claim again they
didn`t know what they were voting on?
HOWE: It`s hard to say. They would want to look at the record that
Congress created. I think one of the things that frustrated the majority
was it felt like Congress had arrived at its conclusion that it was going
to renew the Voting Rights Act before it actually compiled the record.
They would certainly take a good hard look at it.
But if there were enough findings in the record, it would depend a lot on
the particular challenges which I`m sure would wind up in court quite
O`DONNELL: Well, Melissa, they had a large number of hearings before this
last reauthorization in 2006. This legislation had as much premeditation
as you could find in virtually any legislation that moves through there.
And Congress made its decision and cast its votes.
HARRIS-PERRY: There was absolutely a mountain of data. And also, even by
-- I mean, our standards now of what counts as bipartisan is one or two
members from the other side. You know, managing to come over.
These were truly bipartisan votes, nearly, basically unanimous on -- in the
Senate, nearly unanimous in the House of Representatives. After a mountain
of data that was presented about not only historical wrongs, but ongoing
attempts. And look, if anyone needs sort of you know, just a clear
recognition of what these states look like, all we need to do is look at
what happened in the 2012 election cycle.
Now there is an argument to be made that many states that were not covered
under pre-clearance were actually some of the most egregious violators.
But the notion of what happened in the voting rights and particularly in
pre-clearance was to stop the sort of things going on in states that were
not covered, is an argument for extending it, not for restricting it.
O`DONNELL: Melissa Harris-Perry and Amy Howe, thank you both for joining
Tomorrow night, another big Supreme Court coverage night on the decisions
on marriage equality. Stuart Milk with us, along with filmmaker Dustin
Lance Black, Jean Podrasky will join us. She`ll be watching, not just
because she wants to marry her partner, but also because her cousin is
Chief Justice John Roberts. And friends of the show, Lennie Gerber and
Pearl Berlin, will be here to react. Together, for 47 years, they have
waited for recognition for all of this time of their relationship. All
tomorrow on "THE LAST WORD`s" coverage.
More on today`s decision with Joy Reid and Dr. Peniel Joseph. That`s
coming up next.
O`DONNELL: A Democratic Texas state senator is in the middle of what might
turn out to be a 13-hour filibuster of a Republican bill that would
severely restrict abortion rights in the state of Texas. State Senator
Wendy Davis of Ft. Worth began the filibuster at 12:18 this afternoon in
order to keep the Republican majority from voting on the bill. She will
have to keep speaking until after midnight, Texas time, when the 30-day
special legislative session ends.
Rules of the state Senate say that she has to remain standing. She cannot
lean on her desk or take any breaks. Let`s see if she can do that.
Up next, the history of voting rights and wrongs in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Today is a triumph for freedom, as
huge as any victory that`s been won on any battlefield. Yet to seize the
meaning of this day, we must recall darker times.
Three and a half centuries ago, the first Negros arrived at Jamestown.
They did not arrive in brave ships, in search of a home for freedom. They
did not mingle fear and joy and expectation that in this new world anything
would be possible to a man strong enough to reach for it.
They came in darkness, and they came in chains. And today, we strike away
the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid, and Peniel Joseph, director
of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, and
the author of "Dark Days, Bright nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama."
Professor Joseph, this is very much a part of the story of race in America,
this decision today. Your reaction to this.
PENIEL JOSEPH, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: I think it is a disgrace for democracy,
because when we think about the Voting Rights Act it will be a cap stone
between 1954 and 1965, that I call the heroic period of the civil rights
movement. So, we think about the Brown decision, we think about Rosa
Parks, Emmitt Till being assassinated, Little Rock, the sit-in movements of
February 1st, 1960, Medgar Evers, John Kennedy`s June 11, `63 speech, march
on Washington, the freedom riders, Civil Rights Act, and then, finally,
August 1965, you get to the Voting Rights Act, and millions of Americans
participated, black, white, Jewish, Latino, to have a multi-cultural,
multiracial democracy and the capstone was that Voting Rights Act.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, the majority opinion today did not seem to have a
grasp of everything that Professor Joseph just described.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, it is a sort of white-washed version
of history that you do hear a lot from Republicans say that was then, this
is now, we don`t want to make these states pay for the sins of the past.
But I think a lot of was so blatantly disingenuous, the sort of godly
language about how the Voting Rights Act succeeded, mission accomplished.
We don`t need that anymore. And then sort of challenging Congress, saying,
well, they should have come up with a new formula.
Well, they`re forgetting the history again. The Voting Rights Act was
challenged almost immediately. 1966, there was already a court case
challenging it. There was another one three years later. You`re talking
about the first time they tried to renew it in 1970, the Democrats worrying
that any change to it could bring the bill down, they wound up giving us
the 18-year-olds ability to vote, bringing down the voting age.
`75, the same thing happened. You have Barbara Jordan heroically trying to
expand the Voting Rights Act to include language minorities, to bring in
Hispanics who are trying to vote in California and New York. And worrying
all the time that just that change, the tweak, could bring the whole thing
down, again. And, this was with Democratic congresses.
So when you think how retching difficult it was to change the formula,
that`s the reason why when they finally did a big extension, it was 25
years in order to solidify it and not have to go through that every five
O`DONNELL: But this is the history of congressional formulas. It`s very
difficult to get them in the 50 states and all those congressional
districts. And that`s true whether it`s the farm bill of the 1930s,
Medicaid, all sorts of things that have these formulas.
And it`s why it`s very difficult politically to undo them. It`s also why
every time you renew one of those laws, you are actually reauthorizing that
particular formula as the best one we can come up with under these
JOSEPH: Yes, and when we think about the whole notion that the formula
needed to be changes, that`s really nonsense, because what the formula did
was preemptively prevent the kind of discrimination that had occurred for
hundreds of years, because remember, 1619 was when the first Africans
slaves came to Jamestown. 1776, we`re founded as a nation. And for almost
the next 200 years, it`s either slavery or state sanction segregation, Jim
Crow. So, the idea that 45 or 48 years later, we can stop because we`re
such a fantastic success is really disingenuous.
But also, I want to talk about Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten,
bloody Sunday, 1965, March 9th, they did turn around Tuesday, and March
15th, you just had a clip of President Johnson. President Johnson made a
heroic speech before a joint address of Congress when he talks about we
shall overcome. And compares the Democrats who are beaten in Selma, to the
patriots who fought at Lexington and Concord.
JOSEPH: So, the whole notion of voting rights, this is millions of people
have put their lives on the line. Congressman Lewis, his skull was cracked
and fractured for democracy.
So, this is a bad day for democracy, and it`s ultra ironic, because they`re
doing it on the 50th anniversary of 1963, when is one of the best years in
the American history because of the progress we made in terms of civil
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Congressman Lewis had to say about this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWIS: I didn`t think that on that day, when President Johnson signed the
Voting Rights Act, that I would live to see five members of the United
States Supreme Court undoing what President Johnson did, those pens. And I
have one of the pens that he used to sign that law at my home in Atlanta.
And when I get home, I would pick up that pen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at Congressman Lewis back then, before he was
in the Congress at that bill signing with LBJ.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: Joy, this Supreme Court majority seems to think that the issues
that were being addressed that day have evaporated.
REID: Yes, they`re using that image as an excuse in Barack Obama`s
election. They`re actually attempting to simply blame the victims.
They`re saying, well, you, African-American, Latino voters, we`re going to
put it on you, you`re coming out proves we don`t need those laws anymore.
And how disingenuous for it to be John Roberts. You know, John Roberts can
talk about 40 years and 50 years had passed, John Roberts had the same
attitude toward the Voting Rights Act in 1982, when he was working for the
Reagan Justice Department. This is a guy who`s been trying to get rid of
the Voting Rights Act since `82, and that was 17 years after what happened,
Bloody Sunday and all these other things not 40 years. So, his attitude
hasn`t changed, his rationale has changed.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, and Professor Peniel Joseph, thank you both for
joining me tonight.
Coming up, day two in the trial of George Zimmerman, and what the jury saw
and heard today about Trayvon Martin`s last moments. They were shown the
photographs of Trayvon Martin`s body. We will be showing you those
photographs and we will be warning you when you were showing those
photographs, coming up.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the state of Florida versus George
Zimmerman, who has pled not guilty by reason of self defense in the second
degree murder of Trayvon Martin. Perhaps one of the most evidentiary
information in the prosecution`s case today is the position of Trayvon
Martin`s body after he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. The
prosecution established this by the testimony of Sergeant Anthony Raimondo.
It was during Raimondo`s testimony that the jury of six women saw for the
first time Trayvon Martin`s body, because of the position -- the body is a
crucial aspect of this case. We are now going to show you three pictures
of Trayvon Martin`s body, the pictures that were shown to the jury today.
These pictures and the accompanying testimony were disturbing enough to
Trayvon Martin`s father that he left the courtroom. Trayvon Martin`s
mother stayed in the room, but she looked away when the pictures were
exhibited. You certainly have that option of looking away now, too. The
first photo is at the very beginning of what I`m going to show you. Here
is the testimony of Sergeant Anthony Raymondo.
JOHN GUY, STATE PROSECUTOR: Is that a fair and accurate depiction of the
way Trayvon Martin`s body was positioned when you approached him?
SGT. ANTHONY RAYMONDO, SANFORD POLICE: Yes, sir. It is.
GUY: Did you see any movement of Trayvon Martin`s body as you approached
RAYMONDO: No, sir, I did not.
GUY: After you rolled his body over on to his back, did you again try to
get a pulse?
RAYMONDO: Yes, sir. I did.
GUY: How did you do that?
RAYMONDO: Same carotid artery, sir.
GUY: And were you able to get a pulse.
RAYMONDO: No, sir. I was not.
GUY: All right. What did you do next?
RAYMONDO: I breathe from Mr. Martin`s (INAUDIBLE), sir.
GUY: Did you hear anything when you performed CPR on Trayvon Martin?
RAYMONDO: Yes, sir.
GUY: What was that?
RAYMONDO: Bubbling sounds, sir.
GUY: And did those bubbling sounds indicate to you?
RAYMONDO: It meant that either air was getting into or escaping from the
chest in a manner that it was not supposed to, sir.
GUY: What do you recognize that as, sir?
RAYMONDO: That is Mr. Martin`s body.
GUY: And is that the way it appeared after he was pronounced and your
efforts and the officer`s efforts at CPR?
RAYMONDO: Yes, sir.
O`DONNELL: Sergeant Raymondo then explained what he did after Trayvon
Martin was pronounced dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUY: Trayvon Martin was pronounced dead. Did you or anybody else put
anything over his body?
RAYMONDO: Yes, sir.
GUY: And what was that?
RAYMONDO: I put an emergency blanket over Mr. Martin`s body, sir.
GUY: And what was the purpose of that?
RAYMONDO: Well, one, it was respect for the deceased, two, is to mitigate
trauma that witnesses or family members may be exposed to if they arrived
on scene. And then, three, was to preserve any physical evidence on the
GUY: Is that how Trayvon Martin`s body appeared after you placed the
medical blanket on top of it?
RAYMONDO: Yes, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Also testifying today was Selene Bahadoor who said she saw what
appeared to be a fight outside her window.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE DE LA RIONCA, STATE PROSECUTOR: And if you could, describe to the
jury what you saw at that time.
SELENE BAHADOOR, WITNESS: I saw what looked as figures and arms split up
RIONCA: Figures, meaning more than one figure?
RIONCA: And at the time you first observed the two individuals, were the
individuals erect, standing? Were they on the ground? Were they grouched?
How would you describe the individuals?
BAHADOOR: They were in a standing position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Faith Jenkins, a former criminal prosecutor,
and from Sanford, Florida AP reporter, Kyle Hightower.
Faith, I want to get to the two photographs we saw there that show the
position of the body. The one that was the undisturbed version, where the
officer arrived, showing Trayvon Martin`s arms under his body. This is a
crucial piece of evidence, isn`t it?
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, it is, because George
Zimmerman has already gave a statements saying that when he -- after her
shot Trayvon, he spread his arm it`s out and spread them on the ground, and
when the officers got there, Trayvon Martin was actually face down lying in
the cold wet grass alone with his arms underneath him. You cannot
underestimate the powerful evidence in seeing those pictures and of those
jurors seeing those pictures. This case became very real for them today.
The second degree murder charge is no longer just a stamp on a piece of
paper. That is someone`s child, someone`s brother, friend and student who
laid down in that grass that night and died alone. And that emotional
aspect of his testimony was so powerful in court today.
O`DONNELL: Kyle Hightower, you were in the courtroom today. As I said,
Trayvon Martin`s father left the room right after that testimony and those
photographs. And his mother, of course, was looking away when the
photographs were shown. Tell us about the feelings in the courtroom at
that time. What was your sense of how the jury was experiencing this?
KYLE HIGHTOWER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, when Trayvon Martin`s father,
Tracy Martin, left the courtroom, several heads actually turned in his
direction to see. It was undeniable, his immediate reaction to seeing, you
know, those pictures. He kicked this glass of those picture when he got up
and he was, you know, tensed eyes. I mean, he was definitely affected.
And several jurors, like I said, looked over in his direction and saw the
motion he was going through.
O`DONNELL: And Kyle, do we know if this is the first time that Trayvon
Martin`s parents saw those photographs?
HIGHTOWER: It is. It is the first crime scene photos that were shown to
the jurors. And as Faith said, they were very impactful, left an
impression on the jury. You know, (INAUDIBLE). They were drawing. They
were writing. They were taking notes. They are also, when the pictures
were shown, they stopped in their tracks and looked at the screen.
O`DONNELL: And Faith, my sense of Sergeant Raymondo is that I felt an
emotional undercurrent to his testimony, too. This was the guy who gave
CPR to Trayvon Martin. He did it literally mouth-to-mouth. He didn`t rush
back to his car to get the protection that they sometimes use, often use
for that. And I -- it seemed like he was delivering himself, an emotional
connection to the scene.
JENKINS: This is a police officer with years of experience who has
probably seen and heard it all, who testified and who has probably
testified hundreds of times in court. And today, he was moved when he
talked about how he tried to revive Trayvon as he lay there, trying to
breathe. Not having any family around him. No one around him. George
Zimmerman walking around, pretty much emotionless, the way they described
him. And this officer tried to save his life, unfortunately, he didn`t.
O`DONNELL: And Kyle, what about the effect of the eyewitness testimony?
She didn`t get into much real specifics other than to establish that she
seemed to see two figures standing, arms flailing, and then she herself
testified she turned away, didn`t she?
HIGHTOWER: She did, and that obviously had an impact on the jury. They
were taking notes. But the defense recognized it, too, I believe. Because
they were, you know, they attacked, you know, her assertion that no, she
heard movement that would seemed suggest that George Zimmerman was moving
away from the vehicle before Trayvon Martin at the top of their encounter.
And that goes definitely in the favor of the prosecution theory that he was
pursuant in following Trayvon Martin. So, the defense definitely have to
attack that assertion.
O`DONNELL: Faith, the judge is considering whether to allow previous 911
calls by George Zimmerman to be introduced as evidence. This was always
the plan and the defense could have objected to this earlier. But they
didn`t object to it until today. What is the significance of it? What are
the stakes for each side in that decision?
JENKINS: In order to prove second degree murder, the state has to show
that Zimmerman operated with ill will or a depraved mind. They are saying
that these tapes going to show to that because the night that Trayvon was
killed, when he referred to him, he talked about him. Trayvon Martin was
alone, remember that. He was walking alone, but Zimmerman talked about him
as if he was with a group of people. These a-holes always get away, more
than one person. These (INAUDIBLE) punks, again, more than one person.
So, he had an attitude about Trayvon. He attribute the attitude to Trayvon
based on experience, if he had with prior people who he didn`t think belong
to his neighborhood.
O`DONNELL: Faith Jenkins and Kyle Hightower, thank you both for joining me
Coming up, there is a new senator from the state of Massachusetts elected
tonight. But I`m not going to tell you who he is. I told you who is going
to win that race months ago.
And in the "rewrite" tonight, the people who are trying to rewrite the law
O`DONNELL: According to my twitter feed, there has been some confusion
about how to sign the on-line petition to have the 501(c)(4) strictly
enforced, which would mean that no political organizations of any kind
would be allowed to have 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, since the law says
that that status is for organizations exclusively engaged in social
More than 11,000 of you did find your way to the whitehouse.gov page after
I asked you to do that last night. If you are on facebook, you can go to
our facebook page, facebook.com/the last word and you can find our link on
our Website, the last word.MSNBC.com, and I will be tweeting the link and
you got to get there and do this. We got this done, I guess by, July 6th.
There is a deadline on this thing.
Coming up next in the "rewrite," Edward Snowden and treason, guilty or not
guilty, tweet me your guesses right now, but please, do not read the
constitution of the United States before tweeting me your guesses. That
would be cheating. That is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You know, Snowden is not guilty of treason in my view, and I
think people throwing that word around treason in his direction have not
read what the constitution says about it. It is the only crime that is
actually specified in the constitution. What he has done doesn`t meet that
level, we`ll get into it at some other time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And this is that time. Since I said that two weeks ago, there
has been no slowdown in people accusing Edward Snowden of treason. It is
one thing for people to do it on twitter. It is quite something else for
who had taken an oath to quote "support and defend the constitution of the
United States." That speaker of the house who actually administers that
oath of office to House members who makes them repeat after him that they
will quote "support and defend the constitution of the United States." That
speaker of the house has called Ed Snowden a traitor. But he is the same
speaker intent for speaker who said someone should go to jail for the way
the IRS processes his application for tax exempt status. He said that
without knowing if anyone had actually committed a crime, and without
knowing the name of the crime he imagined someone might go to jail for he
is a man of such reckless use of language that the political media has
grown so used to it that they ignore it.
From the other end of the seniority ladder in the House of Representatives,
there was this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: You said he committed treason?
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: That`s correct. He made an oath when he
got clearance to get some of the most sensitive information about how we go
after a suspected terrorist, we go after suspected criminals who wish to do
our country harm. And he made an oath, to this country. He was not just a
random employee. When you violate that oath, to our country you commit
treason to this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, first of all, Ed Snowden was a civilian employee of a
private company. So he probably didn`t take an oath to do the work he did
for the NSA. We have not yet confirmed whether he took any kind of oath in
relation to his NSA work.
But even if he did take an oath, even if he was a sworn-in member of the
House of Representatives, and he violated that oath, that would not be
treason. If Ed Snowden was a member of the House or Senate intelligence
committee and he took that oath of office as a senator (INAUDIBLE). And
then he stole classified information from the committees` files and
distributed the way he has been distributing classified information. That
too, would not be treason.
Treason is a very, very difficult crime to commit, perhaps the most
difficult crime to commit in America. And that is the way the founding
fathers wanted it. That the founding fathers wrote the treason law
directly into the constitution so that it couldn`t be changed. They
specified that there must be two witnesses of your treasonable act. The
constitution specifies that confessing to treason is not enough to get you
convicted of treason unless you confess under oath in open court. So you
can confess on TV. And you can confess to the FBI. But those confessions
would mean absolutely nothing in your trial for treason. No specifics are
made for any other crime in the constitution.
And here is what the constitution says treason is. Treason against the
United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in
adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
That sentence as interpreted by the Supreme Court means that it is
impossible, impossible to commit treason, unless the United States is in a
declared war. Not the so-called war on terror, not the cold war, not the
Vietnam War, not the Korean War, because those were not wars declared by
Congress. The last time the United States fought a war declared by
Congress was World War II. And the last person charged with and convicted
of treason was an American who helped the Japanese during World War II.
When the constitution refers to giving aid and comfort to our enemies it
means the enemy identified in a congressional declaration of war like Japan
and Germany in World War II. So no matter how hard you try tonight, you
cannot commit treason against the United States of America, because we are
not in a war declared by Congress against an enemy declared in a
constitutional declaration of war.
China is not our enemy. You might not like China. Russia is not our
enemy, you might not like Russia, but Russia has never been our enemy,
which is why not one of the Americans caught spying for the old Soviet
Union was ever charged with treason. Many people believe that Julius and
Ethel Rosenberg were executed of treason, but they were actually convicted
of the espionage act, the same law that the justice department has now
using as the basis for two of three charges against Ed Snowden.
And please note that none of the three charges against Ed Snowden is
treason. Do you think the justice department would just decide to go easy
on Snowden and not charge him with treason if they could?
That very young congressman you just heard spouting off mindlessly about
treason is sadly a very good representative in Congress for a country which
is so ignorant of the constitution. A country in which for many, if not
most, feelings are more important than facts.
For the speaker of the house and the young congressman and half the people
on twitter, if it feels like treason, it must be treason. It would never
occur to them to check what the constitution says about treason, because
they do not know that it is the constitution and the constitution alone
that defines treason.
So call Ed Snowden what you will, but if you call him a traitor, if you say
he is guilty of treason, you`re not really labeling him, you`re labeling
yourself, you`re letting us know that for you, facts don`t matter. You`re
letting us know that you believe, you get to define treason any way you
want, even though the founding fathers defined it for you very clearly in
the constitution, the constitution that you have not read and do not
understand. You are labeling yourself as a perfectly acceptable member of
the current Congress where they all take an oath to support and defend the
constitution of the United States. But none of them, none of them take an
oath, to read it.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, we have a new frontrunner in the race for mayor of New
York. Anthony Weiner, yes, that Anthony Weiner, and we have a winner in
the Senate race in Massachusetts. That is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I am here by declaring Ed Markey the winner to be in the Senate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was just 180 days ago here on "the Last Word." And
tonight, Ed Markey made it official with almost all the votes counted in
Massachusetts. He is leading Gabriel Gomez 55-45. Here is Ed Markey
addressing his supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks to the opportunities this
country gave me, this son of a milkman is going to serve the state of
Massachusetts in the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, I have been meaning to tell Ed Markey that no
one under 60 knows what a milkman is. That was someone who used to deliver
milk to homes in America. But that son of a milkman is something he has
been saying for a very long time.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: It is interesting. In
1984, Paul Tsongas was the United States senator for Massachusetts and he
was diagnosed with lymphoma. He said he was not going to run for
reelection in 1984. The top two shows and television in 1984 were "Dallas"
and "Dynasty." At that moment, Ed Markey who was a young, up and coming
eight-year member of Congress decided he was going to run. He got into the
race and quickly realized that John Kerry, who was the sitting lieutenant
governor, know the congressman named Jim Shannon and the upper hand. So,
he backed out of the race and said I`m going to wait for another day. And
he waited and he waited and he waited. And 29 years later, after 37 years
in the U.S. house, he is now going to go to the Senate.
O`DONNELL: And he set a record, has it?
KORNACKI: Yes. So, the previous record for longest service in the house
before being elected to the Senate was 32 years to a name Fredrick Julette
(ph) from Massachusetts who gave up being speaker of the house after 32
years to be a freshman in the Senate, served one term and died shortly
O`DONNELL: And with the Markey candidacy, sure, I mean, he has huge
seniority in the House of Representatives. The trouble is he is in the
minority. And the only way for the seniority to matter is for the
Democrats to get the majority back. His move to the senate shows you how
soon they think the Democrats will get the majority.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s right. Now, because remember the last special
election in Massachusetts was `09 and `10. And Ed Markey could have run
then at the Democrats have the majority in the house. Health care was
moving through, you know, you had climate change legislation maybe moving
through. So, Ed Markey did not want to leave the house then. Ed Markey -
- but now it is like you know what? Yes, I got the prerogatives of the
individuals senator versus, you know, the lifetime of minorities.
O`DONNELL: Quick before we go. Anthony Weiner, five points up now with
the lead in the race for mayor of New York.
KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, I got some opinions on Anthony Weiner that had
nothing to do with the pictures or anything. I think this would be the bad
thing for New York City. But I will tell you this. He is the only one who
is showing any life on the campaign trail and I think that is the best --
O`DONNELL: heads up, name recognition is worth something in this town.
KORNACKI: It is the part of it. Yes.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New
York. I`m Chris Hayes. Thank you for joining us on a fascinating,
frustrating new night.
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