June 28, 2013
Guests: Kendall Coffey, Joseph Haynes Davis, Dana Swickle, Seema Iyer,
JOY REID, GUEST HOST: A good day for the defense or a wash?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Joy Reid, in for Chris Matthews.
And leading off tonight, the final seconds. What happened in the last
moments before the shooting death of Trayvon Martin? In court today, one
of George Zimmerman`s neighbors, John Good, said he heard what sounded like
a fight that night and stepped outside his townhouse to see what was going
What he saw, according to the neighbor, was what appeared to be
Zimmerman lying on his back with Trayvon Martin straddling and punching
him. He used a mixed martial arts term, ground and pound, to describe what
Martin was doing.
Good also testified that there was a call for help, likely from the
man at the bottom, who he believed was Zimmerman. Now, that was different
from the testimony we heard from another neighbor yesterday who thought it
was Zimmerman who was on top.
And joining us now, Arise News legal contributor Seema Iyer, criminal
attorney Joseph Haynes Davis, former federal prosecutor Kendall Coffey, and
criminal defense attorney Dana Swickle.
All right, let`s get into this question of who was on top.
Seema, yesterday, we had testimony from a neighbor, a woman who they
played back her very tearful 911 call. And she testified that she thought
the bigger man, the larger man, meaning George Zimmerman, was on top.
Today, you have John Good testifying that he thinks that it was George
Zimmerman -- does this become -- that it was George Zimmerman on the
bottom. Does this -- is it a wash?
SEEMA IYER, ARISE NEWS: No, it`s not.
And what I don`t understand is don`t people realize that during the
wrestling, they could have switched positions? Why isn`t this being
brought out? And I think it`s a reasonable explanation for the differing
And, Kendall Coffey, that is a good point, because John Good testified
that he saw only about 10 seconds of the fight that was taking place. And
so you do have these sort of canceling-one-another-out questions about who
was on top. But why would the prosecution call a witness in the case of
Mr. Good who seems to be backing up the defense`s contention that Zimmerman
was the one on the bottom of the struggle, at least at a certain point?
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the prosecution knew
this witness was going to be testifying. They obviously knew it wasn`t
going to be helpful for them. They very widely put -- wisely put him in
their case kind of in the middle of it so that he doesn`t become the
critical showpiece part of the defense case later on, accomplishes a couple
First of all, the prosecution isn`t hiding anybody. That`s valuable.
Second, though, he is somewhat in the middle of it. The prosecution is
hoping that, as other things happen, the jury is going to spend less time
thinking about this witness, because one thing is for sure. If during the
verdict and the time of the deliberations for the verdict, if the jury
keeps asking for the testimony to be read back to them of this witness,
that`s not a good sign for the prosecution.
REID: OK. Really just quickly, I want to play John Good`s 911 call,
or at least part of it, so our viewers can take a listen. Go ahead.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: You can hear somebody yelling for help?
JOHN GOOD, WITNESS: Correct. I`m pretty sure the guy`s dead out
here. Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
911 OPERATOR: OK. We have several people calling in also. Anything
else that you heard?
GOOD: No, a guy yelling help. Oh, my God. No, there is a guy with a
flashlight in the backyard now. I think there`s flashlights and there is a
guy. I don`t know if that`s a cop. Oh, my God.
911 OPERATOR: OK. We have had several calls. You just heard -- you
sure -- did you hear -- when you heard voices that it was just one
GOOD: There is two guys. There is one -- there`s two guys in the
backyard with flashlights.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
GOOD: And there is a black guy down. It looks like he has been shot
and he is dead.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
GOOD: He is laying, and there is multiple people calling right now,
911 OPERATOR: OK.
I have several officers going out there, OK?
GOOD: OK, thank you.
911 OPERATOR: Thank you. Bye-bye.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: OK, and now I want you guys to take a look at another piece of
sound from John Good. And this is where it gets a little bit murkier.
This is where he is attempting to describe who was hitting whom. So let`s
see if we have that sound about who was punching who in that fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Now, let`s go to this
case that night that you saw. The person who you now know to be Trayvon
Martin was on top, correct?
O`MARA: And he was the one who was raining blows down on the person
on the bottom, George Zimmerman, right?
GOOD: That`s what it looked like.
O`MARA: OK. And I said a moment ago you were literal, because you
couldn`t actually see fist hit face, right?
O`MARA: Because it was blocked by what?
GOOD: I didn`t say it was blocked. I said it was dark out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now defense attorney Mark O`Mara also asked Good about who he
thought was yelling. Here is that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`MARA: Do you think that it was the person on the bottom who was
screaming for help?
GOOD: Rationally thinking, I would think so.
O`MARA: As a matter of fact, I think you said in response to Mr. de
la Rionda`s question, had it been Trayvon Martin screaming for help, since
his back was to you, it would have had to be going -- the yell would be
going away from you, and I think you said it would have to bounce off the
wall before you heard it?
GOOD: And I think it would sound different.
GOOD: That`s why in my head I thought it was coming from the person
on the bottom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, Joseph, I want to ask you about that, because it sounds
like he is saying logical inference, that`s what it could have been based
on the position that he saw Trayvon Martin in. He did not say the words
I`m sure I heard that it was the guy on the bottom, Zimmerman, screaming
And Mark O`Mara seemed to be trying to lead him there, but he didn`t
get him there.
JOSEPH HAYNES DAVIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes.
And, plus, you have to remember, that night, it was raining. It was
dark. It`s a tussle. It`s a fight. It`s a rumble, as we say. So that
witness did the best he could. I remember him testifying that his wife
didn`t really want him to go outside. So he didn`t want to go outside. He
was doing the best he could to recollect as to what was going on.
The other thing I want to point out, that also contradicts the young
lady from Miami who worked for the construction company who testified at
the end of the day the day before, which was yesterday, of course, that --
by and through an interpreter that all she could see was red and black, or
something red and dark.
And I`m paraphrasing her, because -- and she saw that on top. In
other words, that would lead one to believe that she may have saw -- may
have seen Mr. Zimmerman on top. And, again, sometimes when testimony is
being conducted through an interpreter, some type of -- some communications
can be misconstrued.
REID: And, Dana Swickle, the other thing about John Good, although he
did sort of on the first blush appear to be better for the defense, he
testified to what he thought were punches being thrown.
But the defense has all along made the claim that Trayvon Martin was
straddling George Zimmerman and banging his head into the ground. We still
have not heard any witness so far in these two days of testimony say that
they saw that. Is that a problem for the defense?
DANA SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don`t think so,
because when you listen to what he was saying today, the pounding -- you
know, the ground and pound, and that he saw his back facing him, and he
believed George Zimmerman was on the bottom, and then you look at George
Zimmerman`s injuries that are consistent with that, what that sounds like.
If you recall those photos of George Zimmerman`s head, they look like
he got scratches on the back of his head. One could think that it was when
his head was being pounded against the ground. That`s what it looked like.
It didn`t look like someone punched him in the head. It looked like
something dug into the back of his head, scratched his head, and that`s why
blood was dripping down.
And there wasn`t a big punch mark or a big bruise or swelling like one
would get when it was hit. So I think the injuries, if they tie it
together, they pull it together with the injuries and the consistency of
the injuries with what one could believe took place, I think it`s fine.
REID: Well, except for here is the problem with that, Dana, because
today we had Lindzee Folgate, who is the person who actually treated George
Zimmerman. And she didn`t quite say what you said. She testified to only
seeing small contusions, two small contusions. And I think the prosecution
-- and, Seema, maybe you can respond to this -- was pretty effective
arguing that certainly didn`t look like life-threatening injuries.
IYER: And they weren`t life-threatening injuries, because if they
were life-threatening, he would have gone to the hospital right away. If
they were life-threatening, then he would have displayed some other
physical signs that would have caused him to go back for medical care.
REID: OK. Just to reinforce that, let`s play Lindzee Folgate
testifying, just a little bit of her testifying today about what injuries
she saw on George Zimmerman the day after the shooting death of Trayvon
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on your observations and review of those
lacerations, did you feel there was anything -- anything additional that
need to be done regarding this, like any kind of stitches or anything like
LINDZEE FOLGATE, WITNESS: That determination is based on how well the
skin edges are what we call approximated, which means how well are they
together to begin with, they -- and how deep is the laceration itself.
Based off of the approximation of the skin margins and the depth of
the lacerations, I did not feel that sutures were necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK. And, later, defense attorney Mark O`Mara used photos to
ask Folgate about the severity of the head wounds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see an area up here that seems to be
FOLGATE: In the photograph, yes, I see that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Would that also be an area of swelling?
FOLGATE: It`s normally an area of swelling. We call those scalp
hematomas, where blood can pool under the skin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me how that occurs. How does a scalp
FOLGATE: A hematoma can occur through trauma, so some sort of trauma
to the head that resulted in the collection of blood there or fluid there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So, Dana, no sutures, two lacerations, potential for it to be
caused by head trauma. But that doesn`t sound like what you were
describing as injuries that were so grave that they could have resulted in
death. It doesn`t seem that this witness who treated him...
SWICKLE: Well, wait a second.
SWICKLE: But that`s not -- but that`s not -- but that`s not what I
You had asked me, does the injuries or was there pounding -- were they
able to prove that he was pounding his head against the ground?
REID: And that`s what she didn`t seem to reinforce.
SWICKLE: Yes, but you have to also understand that there was also
punching to the face as well. He had a huge broken nose, blood coming out
Listen, it`s not a matter of did the injuries cause him to believe
that he was in grave death? It was a combination of everything. Taken all
into consideration, it`s a total package. If someone is on top of you,
they`re pounding you in the face, they`re taking their head and they`re
pounding your head into the ground, sure, there may not be huge injuries on
-- excuse me -- on the back of his head. But if someone is punching him in
the face and pounding him in the ground, you look at that a hole, not just
the individual injuries themselves.
REID: Seema, Dana obviously is buying into the entire theory of the
REID: But, Kendall, did you have a different view or Seema?
SWICKLE: Well, I`m a defense attorney.
IYER: But I think what Dana is trying to say is that at least the
injuries on the back of Mr. Zimmerman`s head are consistent with his story.
So I think that`s what Dana is getting to.
SWICKLE: Yes. Yes.
IYER: And I think also what Dana is trying to illustrate for the
viewers is that these -- these elements go to the self-defense charge and
what the defense has to show to get that charge submitted to the jury.
REID: And, Kendall, what is your response to that? If the person who
treated George Zimmerman essentially testified to injuries that are real,
that she did actually see injuries, she did treat them, but she is not
testifying to anything more than no stitches, two contusions, is that
helpful at the end of the day to proving a self-defense claim?
COFFEY: Well, let`s combine it with the fact that Zimmerman didn`t go
to the hospital on the critical night of the shooting. So, hard to think
that he really thinks he was anywhere near death. And was he facing
serious bodily injury? Not so sure.
He goes in the next day. He doesn`t need stitches for the contusions
to the back of his head. And let`s not lose sight of we`re looking at
injuries. Yes, he was injured. But he is a guy who took a gun and put it
right to the chest of an unarmed person and shot and killed him. So when
the jury balances out Zimmerman`s injury, they`re going to see there was a
fight. They`re going to see, yes, Zimmerman was getting hurt a little bit.
But he killed a guy.
And is that enough injury, enough to justify self-defense? I don`t
think the defense is there yet. They scored some points today, but I
certainly don`t think they`re out of the woods.
Well, on that note, we will be back with the panel to talk about
Rachel Jeantel`s testimony and the way race and culture are playing in how
people reacted to it.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: After the Supreme Court`s decision this week that effectively
struck down California`s ban on same-sex marriage, the big question was
about timing, and when gay marriages could resume in the nation`s largest
Today, we get the answer, immediately. That`s the word from a federal
appeals court, which has dissolved the stay blocking same-sex marriage from
proceeding. And look what California Attorney General Kamala Harris just
tweeted. "On my way to S.F. City Hall. Let the wedding bells ring."
Harris says she will be marrying the Prop 8 plaintiffs, Kristin Perry
and Sandra Stier.
We will be right back.
REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A focal point of the George Zimmerman trial so far has been Rachel
Jeantel, a friend of Trayvon Martin`s, who has been described as the
prosecution`s key witness. She was on the phone with him just before he
Defense attorney Don West spent hours over the course of two days
trying to discredit Jeantel. And while he did succeed in poking holes in
some aspects of her story, such as whether she told an attorney for the
Martin family that she heard Trayvon Martin yell "Get off, get off" during
the confrontation, the core of what she said all along has remained
consistent, that on the night of his death, Trayvon was being followed by a
man who turned out to be George Zimmerman.
Still, a lot of the attention on Jeantel has had to do with her
demeanor, her diction, and the slang she used. And that has raised some
tough questions about the role race and culture will play in how the jury
And for more on that, we`re still joined by our panel of experts,
Seema Iyer, Joseph Haynes Davis, Kendall Coffey and Dana Swickle.
And I will start with you on that, Seema, because this did sort of
create a lot of buzz on social media. There was a lot of conversation
about the way Rachel Jeantel sounded. How important is that going to be in
this case? Because, forgetting all the social media talk, the jury has to
evaluate her too.
IYER: Race, culture, politics always come into play when picking a
jury and when presenting your witnesses.
What disturbs me is that there is so much negative attention around
this young lady, and we are not giving these jurors enough credit, because
the conversation, at least on social media, is this divide, this lack of
connection between those jurors and that young lady.
Why do we assume that just a bunch of white people can`t connect with
Rachel Jeantel? Why are we thinking so little? This -- so -- her demeanor
is arguably good for the prosecution, bad for the defense, or vice versa.
Her demeanor is her. She was authentic. She was honest. And just because
you tell a few lies outside the courtroom, like we do every single day,
doesn`t mean that you`re not being honest inside the courtroom.
I don`t think any of us in good conscience can say that that young
lady was not presenting herself honestly.
REID: But Kendall, at the same time, now, she did stick to the core
of her story, which was that it was Trayvon Martin who was being followed,
that he was not the person who confronted George Zimmerman. That part
But it is problematic that the way she comes across could simply cause
whatever she said to be rejected by the jury? And was it a mistake
therefore for the prosecution not to try to get more ethnic balance on that
jury during the voir dire?
COFFEY: Well, I think the prosecution got the best jury they could
under the circumstances.
Jury selection is not just a game of guesswork. It`s a game of
chance. And the folks come through. You do the best you can. But here is
what is different about a murder trial. This is not a jury that is just
going to shut off because there is a key witness that is maybe different
than most of the folks that they know.
I think this jury was working very hard and very attentively to get to
the bottom of what she was saying. They know how important this is. And
as you noted, the essential elements of her testimony stayed together and
I think where this jury is right now after the first week is, they`re
probably uncertain about a lot of things. They may not be sure what to
really make of Rachel Jeantel. But they believe that Trayvon Martin was
followed, was pursued by George Zimmerman and that whatever else happened
after that came about because George Zimmerman ignored a dispatcher and
went looking for this guy.
REID: Now, because of the focus on Jeantel, I want to play just a
little bit of sound from it. So, let`s take a look at this exchange with
the defense attorney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON WEST, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Of course, you don`t know if
he was telling you the truth or not.
RACHEL JEANTEL, FRIEND OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Why he need to lie about
WEST: Maybe if he decided to assault George Zimmerman, he didn`t want
you to know about it.
JEANTEL: That`s a little retarded, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m sorry
JEANTEL: That`s very retarded to do that, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, Dana, there are some people who criticized Don West for
being really tough on Rachel Jeantel in the way that he questioned her.
How do you decide as a defense attorney how tough to go, given the age
of the person that is on the witness stand and given the way that you as
the attorney as well as the person on the stand has to come across?
SWICKLE: I think as a defense attorney as it relates to each and
every witness, you start off with a game plan. You start off with, I`m
going to go this way, I`m going to not be difficult, I`m going to be
difficult. If they give me a hard time, I`m going to try to keep my cool.
But we are talking about a murder trial here. We do have a man`s life
on the line. And I think what really went on is, I think he intended to
start off being not necessarily nice, because that`s not his job, and you
know what? It is his job to be somewhat tough on her. And it is his job
to try to catch her in lies and make her probably make mistakes on the jury
And you know what? Maybe a part of his job is to get the jury to
dislike her. So I think what happens is, as you`re questioning a witness,
depending upon how it`s going, I think that`s when you do your game
planning or you manipulate her, you maneuver along the way.
I don`t think he was too hard on her. I think he did what he needed
to do. I think he tried his best. And, you know, with this particular
witness, you either love her or you hate her. You either think that she
was authentic or you thought that she was rude. But it just depends on
each and every juror. And you would be surprised what the jurors are
probably thinking. We all think we know what they`re thinking, but I
guarantee you they`re thinking other things.
REID: But -- and that`s a really good point, Joseph, because there
really were polarized reactions to Rachel Jeantel. There were some people
who thought, look, she was really authentic. She was being herself. She`s
not a native English speaker. Her first language I believe was Creole and
she also speaks Spanish, so English was sort of the third language she
She is not sophisticated, but she certainly wasn`t dumb because she
was listening to what she was being asked and sticking to her story. But
is race really the elephant in the room in the way that people perceive
this young woman?
HAYNES DAVIS: Well, race is indeed immutable.
But you have to remember also the judge, Judge Nelson, Debra Nelson,
who is just an outstanding judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit of Seminole
County, issued an order that race could not be used in this trial in terms
of using it to -- quote -- "talk about the profiling effect."
Now, with that being said, we don`t know what is going on in the
jury`s mind. Again, we`re not psychologists, psychiatrists and so forth.
And to not give credit to folks who are sworn to carry out their duties as
jurors, I sometimes have a problem with that, because I still believe in
the individual citizen of this country to do their sworn duty to look at
the evidence solely, what is admitted solely, and that is it.
REID: Well, and, Seema, not to have you play social critic here, but
this has actually gone beyond the jury. The jury is sequestered. They`re
not seeing sort of all of the other stuff that is going on.
REID: But on social media, you had Olympic runner Lolo Jones come out
IYER: I read that.
REID: ... that she is like Madea, who is the Tyler Perry character,
that he dresses in drag. You had some really insulting things said about
her as a person.
IYER: Right, some harsh, harsh criticism.
And now can we please understand why Rachel Jeantel spent so much time
hiding from this case? Look at what it`s done to her. For any of us to be
in the spectacle, not just of the nation, the world is actually watching
this case, and look at what -- her life at this point is irreparable.
There is nothing that she can do to get over the stigma of what this case
has done to her.
So now we should forgive so much of all of the inconsistencies at this
point that the defense is trying to bring out.
REID: And, Kendall...
HAYNES DAVIS: I just want to jump back in for one thing that I was
not able to say, Joy.
The fact of the matter is, all of those critics, find any of those
critics who are able to say and set forth that I speak three languages. I
have spoken three languages since a child. I think I speak three languages
I mean, you know, you can act like I`m great because I speak the
king`s language and have that air about me, but demonstrate that you are
not bilingual, trilingual in this environment, and I think that`s
representative of the multicultural environment that South Florida and
Miami presents to the world in terms of those of African descent, because
you have African-Haitians, Afro-Cubans, Afro-Venezuelans, Afro-Jamaicans,
It`s a cultural melting pot that is actually beautiful and it adds to
the diversity and beautiful of this great -- the beauty, I should say, of
this great nation. And that should be embraced.
REID: OK. OK.
We`re going to have more on the Zimmerman trial in a moment with our
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We have talked about the demeanor of witnesses. Now let`s look at the
demeanor of some of the attorneys, particularly Don West and Mark O`Mara,
both for the defense.
First, here is West with Rachel Jeantel yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANTEL: Trayvon got hit.
WEST: You don`t know that, do you?
JEANTEL: No, sir.
WEST: You don`t know that Trayvon got hit.
JEANTEL: He could...
WEST: You don`t know that Trayvon didn`t at that moment take his fist
and drive it into George Zimmerman`s face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please lower your voice.
WEST: Do you?
JEANTEL: No, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And contrast that with the defense attorney Mark O`Mara today
as he began questioning witness Jonathan Good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`MARA: Good morning, sir.
O`MARA: You don`t really want to be here, do you?
GOOD: I guess it has to be done.
O`MARA: Sure. You were very reluctant to be involved in the case at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: How does an attorney`s demeanor affect not just how the jury
sees the attorney, but more importantly, how the jury views the witnesses?
We`re back with Seema Iyer, Joseph Haynes Davis, Kendall Coffey, and
And, Dana, you talked about this a little bit before. Does it seem
that the two defense attorneys, Don West and Mark O`Mara, are playing a
little good cop/bad cop, or was this a question of witness we like, witness
we`re not so cool -- we`re not so keen on?
SWICKLE: Well, you know, I think that`s possible. I think that Don
West had a job. I think he tried to do what he could. Did he seem a
little bit aggressive? I`m sure he was. But he was trying to get the
point across that most people I think could be missing at this point
because they`re focusing so much on everyone`s demeanor.
No one really knows what happened when they confronted each other. No
one knows who threw the first blow. No one knows how it escalated. Nobody
knows. And no one can say that. And I think that`s a very important
And I think probably by the time he was questioning her at that
moment, he probably just got so frustrated and was just wanting to pound
that one point home. She didn`t know if Trayvon threw the first punch.
She didn`t know if it was Zimmerman who did. She didn`t know. And so what
seemed to be aggressive might not have been.
And then you have a Mark O`Mara. It was a completely different
witness. So, I think what that witness was testifying to could have helped
So I don`t think that they were good cop/bad cop. I think it`s just
once again how you treat a witness because how things are going and what
REID: And whether they`re helpful to you.
JOSEPH HAYNES DAVIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And I hate to butt
in. Let me just say this for the viewers. The fact of the matter is that
witness was a defense witness. The young man, Mister --
REID: Well, he was called by the prosecution.
DAVIS: He was called by the prosecution because the prosecution
wanted to take the air out of a defense witness. But when on cross by Mr.
O`Mara, because it`s his witness, you know, the fact of the matter is he is
going to treat him differently.
On the other hand, with my esteemed colleague Mr. West, he has an
ethical professional duty to zealously advocate for the accused. That`s
the cornerstone of our Constitution.
Now, would I have liked to see him be light were Ms. Jeantel? Of
course I would, because I`m human like everybody else.
But at the end of the day, we have the accused. The accused has to
prove nothing. The prosecution has to prove everything. And he is
entitled to a zealous defense, and that is indeed what he is getting.
REID: Seema, Don West may have been trying to do something else too
we were just talking at the break about. He asked Ms. Jeantel on the
second day, on day two of her testimony, you seem a little different. Your
demeanor seems different.
What do you think was going on?
SEEMA IYER, ARISE NEWS LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Everybody wanted to know
what was behind that question. I will tell you. Mr. West was trying to
get at whether Rachel Jeantel was coached by the prosecution that evening.
Now, here is the rule. Prosecutors cannot talk to their witnesses
when they`re on cross-examination. Same thing for the defense. The bottom
line is if you -- if you`re testifying, Joy, and you`re on cross, and I
called you to the stand, I cannot talk to you when you are on cross.
What we think happened is that Ms. Jeantel`s lawyer, he probably said
to her, OK, let`s bring it down a few notches.
IYER: Throw in a few more "sirs", stay calm, and just be prepared for
a long time.
REID: And I`ll give the final comment to you, Kendall, because we are
talking a lot about the demeanor of the attorneys because it does sort of
play into the end result with the jury. They have to at some level trust
at least if not like the attorneys. And it`s interesting, because this is
a case that is sort of in reverse, where you have the aggressiveness really
coming from the defense, not from the prosecutors.
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, jurors don`t have to
love lawyers. They have to find that they`re credible. And I think,
frankly, all the lawyers in the courtroom are doing that so far.
As lawyers, we all talk about the lawyers and are they being lovable
and are they being clever or glib. But at the end of the day, this jury is
trying desperately to get it right. This is in many ways certainly the
most important, highly visible decision they`ll ever make in their lives.
So they`re paying a lot more attention to the witnesses and trying to
find out what really happened on that night.
REID: And, Kendall, one other quick question to you about Rachel
Jeantel and the way she was prepared by the prosecution. They interviewed
her before. Bernie De La Rionda had interviewed her before. They knew she
had limited English proficiency is. Would it have been smarter for them to
use an interpreter with her rather than allow her to go on the stand for
those two long, excruciating days of testimony?
COFFEY: I don`t think so, because interpreters seem to create just
such a barrier. For better for bitter, she came off as real. And I think
ultimately on the essential points of her testimony, she was believable.
I`m not sure where the jury is on her statement that it was Trayvon
who said "get off", but the rest of what she had to say that was
significant, I think the jury believed her.
REID: All right. Well, thank you very much, Seema Iyer, Joseph
Haynes Davis, Kendall Coffey, and Dana Swickle.
And coming up, the far right still can`t believe the Supreme Court
struck down DOMA. Pat Robertson`s baffled reaction next on the side show,
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: Back to HARDBALL, and now to the sideshow.
First, an unlikely winner in the 11th hour filibuster we saw this week
from Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis, who took to the Senate
floor to stall a vote on an extremely restrictive abortion bill. So, Ms.
Davis is getting a lot of praise these days, but as it turns out, so are
the sneakers she wore that night. Amazon reviews have been through the
roof. Not only do they provide support for your arches, they support a
woman`s right to her own body. They make a real statement. I`ll be
ordering a second pair and third.
Or think about your daughters, about your sons who will love other
women`s daughters and keep these shoes available for them so that they can
choose when and where and how to wear them.
Next, last night in the Senate, the Senate passed a sweeping
immigration reform bill, that creates a path to citizenship for millions of
undocumented individuals in the United States. The final tally was 68-32
in favor. But it was almost slightly different, thanks to this slip-up
from Kansas Republican Jerry Moran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Moran.
SEN. JERRY MORAN (R), KANSAS: Aye -- I`m sorry, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Yes, Jerry Moran almost wound up on the winning side of the
vote, entirely by accident.
Twitter was all over the gaffe with journalist Ryan Teague Beckwith
saying, "Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas can now argue on immigration that he
was for it before he was against it.
Next, it`s a question many of us have been struggling with for years,
or at least the "Sesame Street" fans among us. Bert and Ernie, gay couple?
The "New Yorker" magazine seemed to think so.
Check out this latest cover. Bert and Ernie watching the Supreme
Court justices on TV and snuggling it. The image is called Bert and
Ernie`s moment of joy. Aww.
Now, I should note that the folks at "Sesame Street" have maintained
that as puppets, Bert and Ernie are without a sexual orientation, important
Now to the flip side of the Supreme Court decision on DOMA. Far-right
televangelist Pat Robertson for one is flummoxed by the news, particularly
the fact that Justice Kennedy was on the side of striking down DOMA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: Let me ask about Anthony Kennedy. Does
he have some clerks that happen to be gays?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Robertson`s guest wasn`t sure, but for the record, there is a
decent chance that Kennedy does have LGBT employees on his staff, just like
several of his colleagues. As "The New York Times" reported earlier this
month, openly gay law clerks are now common in the chambers of liberal and
conservative justices. So, as Pat Robertson suggests, the Supreme Court is
basically the same as every other workplace.
Also, it`s 2013.
And this may have been my first time doing the sideshow, but it`s the
last time for sideshow producer for Mary Alice Amon (ph) who is moving on
to bigger things. We wish her the best of luck.
And when we come back, why so many House Republicans think it would be
good politics for them to kill immigration reform once and for all. This
is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
REID: We`ve got new polling from the key swing state of Ohio, and it
looks like a tight race for president in 2016.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard.
According to a new poll from Quinnipiac, Hillary Clinton is tied with
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a hypothetical matchup in the Buckeye
State. It`s Clinton, 42, Christie, 42. And against Senator Rand Paul,
Clinton has a four-point lead, 47-44.
If Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee, he would lose to Rand Paul by
nine, 49-40, say it isn`t so, Joe. And look at this, Chris Christie would
beat Biden in Ohio by 18, 50-32. Ouch.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The bill is generated a level of
support that we believe will be impossible for the House to ignore.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To our friends in the House, we ask
for your consideration, and we stand ready to sit down and negotiate with
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To our friends in the House,
I understand that you may have a different approach. Speak with your
voice. Speak in a way that you feel comfortable. Just don`t ignore the
issue. That`s all I ask.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
REID: Welcome back.
That was just a sampling from members of the Senate`s gang of eight
reacting to the passage of their immigration bill late yesterday. As you
saw there, Republican Lindsey Graham is urging his Republican colleagues in
the House to make their voices heard when it comes to the Senate bill.
Well, here is what they`re saying about it: House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor says he can`t even tell you what is in the bill. Representative
Mick Mulvaney from South Carolina says the House should "fold it up into a
paper airplane and throw it out the window." Ted Poe, the chairman of the
House Immigration Caucus, is calling the bill "irrelevant". And deputy
whip Pete Roskam says it`s a pipe dream to think the bill is going to the
Jonathan Allen is the senior Washington correspondent at "Politico",
and David Corn is an MSNBC political analyst with "Mother Jones".
Thanks both of you for being here.
JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO: Thank you, Joy.
REID: I want to start with you, David.
The House doesn`t have, obviously, the same political incentive, the
same sort of personal incentives to embrace immigration reform that the
Senate does, right? House members are in districts that are largely
homogeneous. They could actually survive without immigration reform.
So what leverage do senators have to get the House to even take up the
bill, let alone pass it?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: I think almost none. They have the power
of persuasion, that`s it. Remember, on the Senate side, while it seemed to
be an overwhelming victory with 68 votes, only 14 Senate Republicans felt
any pressure, pressure from GOP elites who want this taken care of,
pressure from back home to go along with this compromise to give
Republicans what they wanted in border security. A majority of Senate
Republicans said no. And if you can compare the House Republicans to the
Senate Republicans, you`re going from like Neanderthals to Homo sapiens.
So you`re getting further to the right, further towards crazytown,
further towards more extreme conservatism. So, I don`t really see them
looking at the vote in the Senate and saying, oh, because John McCain and
13 others, you know, went for this, I feel pressure. And as you noted,
they`re not getting a lot of pressure from the districts that they come
from -- thanks to gerrymandering.
REID: Right. And, Jonathan, even when you look at the Senate, I was
struck by the pictures of all of the senators coming out. You had Chuck
Schumer, you had Lindsey Graham. You, of course, had John McCain, who has
kind of taken over as the face of the bill. But you didn`t see Marco
Rubio, for whom this was supposed to be a defining issue.
Where on earth is Marco Rubio, and why isn`t he taking a victory lap?
ALLEN: A couple of things on that. If this is a defining issue for
Marco Rubio, it`s going to make it hard for him to win a Republican primary
in 2016 should he choose to do that.
And number two, like the senators had asked President Obama to stay
out of this so that it wasn`t politicized as they tried to get a deal, I
think Senators McCain and Schumer would do best to stay out of trying to
persuade House Republicans, because those are the two of the senators that
House Republicans like the least.
ALLEN: If they want to get a deal done, Chuck Schumer and John McCain
aren`t the face of getting John Boehner and Eric Cantor and others off the
REID: Jonathan makes a really good point, who the salesman is really
does seem matter, right? Initially, it was thought Marco Rubio was the
right salesman because he himself is Latino, because he was a Tea Party
favorite at one point. He was seen as the right salesman as long as Barack
Obama didn`t go anywhere near him.
But, now really who in the Senate is credible? The Rand Pauls and Ted
Cruzs of the world didn`t vote for the bill. Is there anyone in the Senate
since it`s not those guys who can actually sell this bill?
CORN: Look at the Senate leadership. Mitch McConnell and others,
they all ran from this bill, too. A, I don`t know if there`s anyone in the
Senate who House Republicans truly respect. But, B, if there is, that
person didn`t vote for the bill.
So this bill from the house Republican perspective, I think you saw
that reflected in the quotes you put forward, is sort of an orphan. You go
to a house which is fractious and there`s no strong leadership coming and I
feel like "Games of Thrones" here, the house of Boehner, it can destroy
things but it cannot build. And that`s what we`re going to see as the
House turns to immigration.
I don`t see Boehner being able to sort of put together anything that`s
comprehensive, that brings, you know, two sides, let alone, a side and a
REID: All right. I want to read a quick quote from Jonathan Chait in
"New York" magazine. He writes that there`s a way around the House
immigration problem, it`s called the discharge position. If 218 members of
the House sign one, the bill automatically comes to the House floor for a
So, Democrats only have 201 votes, so they need 17 Republicans to join
them plus every single one of the Democrat.
Is that the way that Boehner can actually get this done, Jonathan?
Can -- can we find all the Democrats getting together and 17 Republicans
who would go for a discharge position and force this thing on to the house
ALLEN: There are two procedural issues that I think people who are
watching this debate are going to become very familiar with very fast. One
of them is the discharge petition. House Democratic leaders and members of
the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are talking right now about possibly
forwarding a discharge position, according to my sources. However, if they
were to get Republicans to sign on to that discharge petition, what we`ve
seen in the past is the majority leadership, whether it`s Democratic or
Republican, would then put that bill through the rules committee have an
amendment process, and it wouldn`t look anything like that Senate bill.
You would have, again, something that looked much more like Boehner wanted.
The other procedural issue you`re going to hear a lot about called a
blue slip. Under the Constitution, all revenue measures must originate in
ALLEN: And you`re starting to hear House Republicans say, look, the
Senate bill has got some penalties, some fines in it that constitute
revenue measures and the House ought to reject it, send it right back to
the Senate because of those. That`s going to be something for the
parliamentarians to figure out, for the House to potentially vote upon.
I think you`re going to hear about the blue slip and the discharge
petition, particularly, you asked about the discharge position. I don`t
see it coming up the way that Jonathan suggests.
REID: But, Jonathan, wouldn`t it be easier for the house to write a
ALLEN: Yes, I think that`s exactly what`s going to happen. What`s
going to happen is the House is going to write several bills and none of
them are likely to have the path to citizenship or certainly not the type
of path to citizenship that the Senate has. Once the house passes
anything, even if it`s just a border security bill, then the two houses can
go to conference.
I think that`s why you heard Senators Graham and McCain and Schumer
say they just don`t want the House to ignore this. Please do something.
ALLEN: Because once they do something, they get into a conference,
you move the process along and it`s harder for the House to stop it.
CORN: And I say what`s interesting here, there are so many House
Republicans, at least enough House Republicans who block -- who don`t want
to see what I`m calling the Marco path or Rubio path. They may not vote
for any bill, even without one because they don`t want to go to conference.
So, there`s a whole interesting dynamic with that, because they feel
that the House Republican leadership might sell them out in conference.
CORN: So there are a lot of permutations to come here. If you had a
discharge position, those 17 Republicans would really be -- it would be in
essence a mutiny against John Boehner. I don`t see it happening. At the
same time, if it did happen, the Democrats would get all the accolades and
credit for passing this, and the Republicans would still be in the doghouse
with Latino voters. So it doesn`t help the Karl Rove problem.
REID: And it will be mutiny that might bring down John Boehner,
because you have Republicans on the right saying this could cost him his
speakership because, David, I think you`re right. They said they don`t
want any bill at all.
REID: Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate it, Jonathan
Allen and David Corn. And we`ll be right back after this.
REID: Let me finish tonight with this:
Decision time for the GOP.
The Supreme Court and the United States Senate this week put an
historic menu of options in front of the Republican Party.
First, the court. By eviscerating the Voting Rights Act, and slamming
the door on 50 years of federal protection of this fundamental right of
citizenship, the court has left it to Congress to decide which states are
interfering with voting rights, and which states are not. Many states are
already rushing to enact voter ID laws and redistricting plans that will
disadvantage black and Hispanic voters.
Will Republicans in Congress step in, and salvage what`s left of the
Voting Rights Act, or let it die?
Also, by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and California`s
Prop 8, the court has created two kinds of gay marriage.
One for the 12 states, soon to be 13 with California, where gay
couples can enjoy the full rights and responsibilities of marriage, fully
recognized by the federal government, and 38 that are separate, and
Republicans, who are in charge in many of those states and who control
the House, will have to decide whether they can build their party with
young Americans without evolving on marriage.
On immigration, the Senate has passed the baton of reform to the
House, where the Tea Party is in control of John Boehner, instead of the
other way around.
Can Boehner, and the sane wing of the GOP get around the refuse-niks
and let their party embrace immigration reform, and give their party a
fighting chance with Hispanic voters?
After all, at some point, Republicans have got to demonstrate that
they`re more than the party of repealing Obamacare and legislating women`s
reproduction, if they want to survive as a national party.
And that`s all for HARDBALL this week. Chris Matthews will return on
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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