Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: June 26, 2018 Guest: Steve Kornacki; Gene Robinson; Maya Wiley
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
Those really are strange comments from that judge. It`s as if he is running for a Supreme Court seat that could open at some point.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes, at one point he edit would have been better to handle this matter with a bipartisan commission in Congress rather than appointing a special counsel. It`s like really?
MADDOW: Who asked you?
O`DONNELL: But the important thing is he ruled in favor of the special prosecutor.
O`DONNELL: That`s the important thing.
O`DONNELL: I think what lawyers will tell you is when they encounter a judge who is clearly leaning against them, it just means they have to be so much better in court.
O`DONNELL: They know that if the ball is on the corner of the plate, the judge is not going to call it a strike. He is always going to lean one way. So, they just have to be perfect.
MADDOW: And this is -- this is a performative judge. We know that -- everybody says he really likes to show off. He likes to get headlines. He likes to get his name in the paper.
He has gotten all this praise from President Trump for previous critical remarks he made in court against Robert Mueller and the government`s case. In this case, though, you`re absolutely right. The ruling is squarely against Manafort, squarely for Mueller, but he throws in these potshots at Mueller just sort of for effect.
It will be very interesting to see what that means for the next round in this case.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, today, a majority of the Supreme Court confirmed what they indicated at the end of last year. They were very likely to do. In December of last year, the court allowed the third addition of the Trump travel ban to remain in force while the Supreme Court considered the case.
Today in a 5-4 decision, the court said the travel ban is constitutional because it does conform to a law which since 1952 has given every president the broad authority to restrict entry to this country that the president finds -- and these interest words of the law -- would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. And they leave that finding up to the president.
The majority of the court said it didn`t matter that the president campaigned on the idea of banning Muslims because the executive order that the White House wrote does not mention religion. The minority on the court believes that the ban is in effect a disguised Muslim ban. And we will discuss the law and the politics of that ruling later in this hour.
Also today -- today was the day when Trump voters were hit very hard with another shocking disappointment that most of them have not yet heard about because of the news created by the Supreme Court ruling and the crisis at our southern boarder where the president still hasn`t found the babies, and, of course, developments in the special prosecutor investigation, and the endless stream of angry and irrational presidential tweets that happen every day.
None of those tweets, though, mention what we learned about the national debt today, which is, of course, skyrocketing, to levels only seen during the last World War. And Trump voters don`t know that. They have not heard about that today. And so, we can add fiscal crisis to the list of crises created by the Trump presidency.
But still tonight, none is more pressing, more urgently in need of attention and action, immediate action than the humanitarian crisis on our southern border. And so, we begin once again tonight with the babies. Where are the babies? We still don`t know. Where are their parents?
The Trump government arrested over 3,000 children and babies at the southern border before the president announced a change in that policy last week. And today, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, there are still 2,047 migrant children in federal custody after being separated from their parents. Secretary Azar was scheduled to testify at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the urgent issue of prescription drug prices today.
But the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, Ron Wyden, wanted to talk about something even more urgent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: How many have been reunified?
ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: So they would be unified with either parents or other relatives under our policy. So, of course, if the parent remains in detention, unfortunately, under rules that are set by Congress and the courts, they can`t be reunified while they`re in detention.
WYDEN: So is the answer zero?
AZAR: No. We`ve had hundreds of children who had been separated who are now with -- for instance, if there was another parent who is here in the country.
WYDEN: I want to know about the children in your department`s custody. How many of them have been reunified?
AZAR: Well, that`s exactly what I`m saying. They have been placed with a parent or other relative who is in the United States.
WYDEN: How many?
AZAR: Several hundred.
WYDEN: Of the --
AZAR: Of the 2,300 plus that came into our care, we probably have 2,047.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Twenty forty-seven. OK.
So that means so far this week, Health and Human Services have held in some unknown way exactly six children. Because this weekend, Health and Human Services Department said they had 2,053 migrant children in custody. This morning, the secretary said they had only six less than that, 2,047.
Today, 17 states and the District of Columbia asked a federal judge to bar the Trump administration from separating children and then parents who cross the southern border. "The Washington Post" reports that the state`s attorneys general are asserting in a lawsuit that the practice was an affront to states` sovereign interests in enforcing their laws governing minimum standards of care for children.
Leading off our discussion now, Jacob Soboroff, MSNBC correspondent, and Hilarie Bass, president of the American Bar Association. She observed immigration court proceedings today in McAllen, Texas, and met with parents separated from their children in Port Isabel.
Jacob, your assessment from what you heard from the secretary of human services today and what it means about what`s going on the southern border.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don`t know, Lawrence. If six is actually the right number of children reunited by HHS. We had an absolutely bizarre conference call with HHS today where Lisa Desjardins from the "PPBS NewsHour" asked repeatedly three times in a row of HHS officials, are you still receiving separated kids? And HHS refused three times in a row to answer that question.
So, we don`t know if six means those are the only number of kids who have been reunited. We don`t know if they are actually receiving new children and more children are being reunited than only six.
But, Lawrence, I just want to read you something I got in my e-mail 30 seconds before we went on the air. This is new from HHS. They`re confirming to me that we received separated kids when there is credible jeopardy or criminality. So yes, we will still receive separated kids.
This is not the circumstance under which the Trump administration was separating children. But HHS has just confirmed to me separated kids are still coming in, which is why there is some confusion with the number of kids they still have in their custody. They say it`s 2,047 as of tonight.
O`DONNELL: So, Jacob, just to clarify, even if the Trump policy has been stopped, even if they`ve stopped doing that, there would still be in the normal course of business as there was in the past, some separated children at the border if the parent is found to have a criminal record that indicates that that parent needs to be separated from the child or some other reason.
SOBOROFF: That`s exactly right. So, that`s what they are telling me tonight.
Another fascinating thing that we heard on this call is that number 522 kids who have been reunited so far. It was confirmed, again, to us tonight, that number of children that have been reunited were not actually reunited by HHS. They were reunited by CBP.
So that means the number, again, of children reunited with their parents that were taken away from their parents by this policy may be only a handful by HHS. They may not have reunited any as far as we know until we get this number sorted out with the children that are still being separated coming in versus the children that are going out. Still so many questions that they haven`t answered.
O`DONNELL: And, Hilarie Bass, reunited is being used now, but it doesn`t necessarily mean reunited with a parent. In some cases, they`re talking about having these children go to some other relative in the United States.
HILARIE BASS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: That`s correct, Lawrence. And we also spoke to a number of women today who indicated that they had provided information about sponsors in the U.S. for their separated children. One had a husband who was documented and lived in the United States, and she indicated from the first day that she was brought into detention. She informed them that she had a husband in the United States and that her children should be given to the husband.
And yet despite that, after four weeks of being in detention, there has been no effort to reunite the children with their father. So, there are all kinds of stories that we heard today that really reflect the lack of transparency in this process. These women who are in detention, many of them have not heard from their children. They don`t know where their children are and no one is telling them what the process will be to allow them to be reunified.
Some went so far as to tell us we know we have legitimate asylum claims. We would give it all up if you will just return us to our children. And that`s a scary thought, because that would seem to indicate that people with legitimate bases to be in the United States legally are going to give up those rights just to be prevented just so that they can be back with their children.
O`DONNELL: We have a graphic on the bottom of the screen, HHS: 2,047 separated children still in custody. I would respectfully submit, it should say, HHS says 2,047 separated children still in custody, because, Hilarie Bass, we don`t know. As Jacob Soboroff just said, we can`t trust the numbers coming out. We can report what they say and attribute to them that they have said it.
But, Hilarie Bass, how will we -- is there a legal way, do lawyers have a strategy for trying to amass case data from around the country and figure out an independent source of real numbers?
BASS: Well, as I told these sobbing women today, American lawyers will not rest until every one of them is reunified with their children. And so, we are seeking volunteer attorneys both to represent the parents in South Texas as well as the children in whatever city in the United States they are to evaluate their legal claims and to ensure that there is someone who will be their advocate, to do everything possible to ensure that they will be reunified with their parents.
O`DONNELL: What did you see in immigration court today? Does it look like a changed policy is in place?
BASS: Immigration court, there were 75 people, each of got to spend about two minutes with a public defender to tell them the rights they were waiving by virtue of going through this criminal process and admitting guilt for having illegally crossed the border. But mind you, this is a direct result of a zero tolerance policy. Previously, many of these people would have been immediately deported if they didn`t have a basis for an asylum claim without going through this kangaroo court of 75 people walking in and raising their right hand and all saying, yes, they were guilty of illegally crossing the border. It didn`t accomplish anything.
O`DONNELL: Jacob, do we have a total? Do we have a real total number? Because the media has been using this number, 2,000 -- low end of the 2,000s. That was a June 9th number. And the policy went on for another two weeks after that.
Have the federal government ever released a total number of children who they separated?
SOBOROFF: No. And actually, Lawrence, it`s not just on the back end, it`s on the front end as well. You know, we have been told that that policy before it was announced was sort of unofficially in place. Parents were getting separated from their children for the simple act of the misdemeanor of crossing over the border before the official policy actually was enacted.
And I just want to say something about what you said earlier, about independent verification. I`m back in Los Angeles. I spent the day on the phone here with immigrants` rights groups on the ground. I think the biggest Central American population in the country, if I`m not mistaken, this year, in Los Angeles.
And those groups are not able to independently verify the numbers of separated children that are on the ground in or our facilities here, even the ones that have their numbers on the wall in those facilities in order for those immigrants to be able to make a call to those groups if they need them. That is still being worked out here on the back end by the groups that are supposed to be the ones looking out for these folks.
O`DONNELL: And, Hilarie Bass, at what point might these parents lose their parental rights and lose their children to an adoption process that they cannot control?
BASS: The big concern is that these parents get deported while their children are in some distant city. And since we have reason to believe that these records are not accurate, some of those children may have been identified as unaccompanied when in fact they were accompanied with a parent, but they were separated at the border. And it`s unclear that any of the documentation that the government bureaucracies currently have is accurate in really telling us which parent goes with which child.
O`DONNELL: And, Jacob, when I was in Texas, I saw a sheet handed out by local community organizers who were trying to track this. And the sheet indicated the kind of children who they believe were held at various facilities, the name of the facility, and it would say boys, ages 12 to 17, something like that, or girls.
Has the government handed out any official document of that some kind and indicated where within that kind of outline where babies, infant babies and nursing babies are?
SOBOROFF: No, absolutely not. In fact, really, the only way or one of the only ways we`re able to suss out where folks are and who they are and how old is through the local jurisdictions responsible for licensing these operation. Just like the Texas Department of Public Health, you know, had issued the license to operate casa padre, the giant shelter I went into that was in a former Walmart with 1,500 boys.
You know, for instance, if there is one of those shelters or more of them here in the city or county of Los Angeles, the county or the city health department or some other department would have to license those facilities to operate.
So, if you really want the figure it out, you basically have to call up all of these local jurisdictions, see what these facilities are licensed for and dig deeper based on that limited information we`re able to get at this point.
O`DONNELL: Well, some observers told me at Casa Presidente, for example, in Brownsville that they saw diapers, they saw a large delivery of diapers going, in and they believed that they saw soiled diapers coming out. And that`s the kind of evidence they`re working with down there trying to piece this together.
Jacob Soboroff, Hilarie Bass, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
SOBOROFF: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Trump tax cuts aren`t just unpopular. They are pushing the country towards bankruptcy. The biggest story that Donald Trump does not want you to hear tonight is what Donald Trump has done to the national debt.
And we will have some breaking news tonight in primary elections. Steve Kornacki will join us.
O`DONNELL: OK. We are about to talk about the most important story of the day that Donald Trump doesn`t want us to talk about. Now, every day, there are stories that Donald Trump doesn`t want us to talk about, and he is lucky because we often don`t get to many of the stories, like for example, the rampant corruption in his cabinet from Scott Pruitt to Wilbur Ross.
But tonight, there is one story above all others that is by far the most important story that Donald Trump doesn`t want us to talk about, the biggest story. Remember the $19 trillion?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have $19 trillion in debt going very soon to $21 trillion because we made a bad budget deal. Now, we`re going to have $21 trillion in debt. We don`t have any money.
We have got a mess in this country. We owe $19 trillion, soon to be $21 trillion.
We have right now $19 trillion in debt. So I built some of the great assets, low debt, great cash flow, and I say it for a different reason, because that`s the kind of thinking we need in our country now or we`re not going have a country left. We`re not going to have literally, we`re not going to have a country left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I thought we weren`t going to have a country left if we didn`t arrest enough babies at the southern borders. But OK. So, we`re not going to literally, we`re not going to have a country left because of the national debt.
And so, tonight, Donald Trump has done everything he can to make sure that as he puts it, we are not going have a country left because as president, he has pushed us up to that $21 trillion in national debt, and he is now on track to reach new record debt levels way, way, way above that.
The latest Congressional Budget Office projections of the debt made public today for the first time show that during the Trump administration, the debt will dramatically increase every day, every week, every year with no end in sight. The Trump tax cuts have significantly accelerated what is now Donald Trump`s rush to a fiscal crisis, much worse than anything he encountered in his Atlantic City casino bankruptcies.
The Trump tariffs are doing their part too. They are already costing jobs in the United States, even though Donald Trump believed that the tariffs would save jobs. The Trump tariffs have actually created an incentive for American manufacturers like Harley-Davidson to move production to foreign countries because the European Union has announced retaliatory tariffs against the Trump tariffs on products sold in Europe that are made in the USA. No surprise that they were going to do that.
And so, Harley-Davidson quite logically cannot continue to sell Harley- Davidson made in the USA in Europe thanks to Donald Trump. So they will make them in some other country. And then sell them in Europe.
The Trump response to that, of course, is a series of angry and utterly incoherent and economically illiterate tweets. The Harley-Davidson story has been a bad one for president Trump, but at least, at least no one`s talking about the national debt.
Joining us now to talk about the national debt, Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and former senior aide to President Obama. Also joining the discussion, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and the co-author of the best-selling book "Russian Roulette." He is also an MSNBC political analyst.
Ron, it`s not easy every day to pick what`s the biggest story that Donald Trump doesn`t want us to talk about. But the national debt is it. And it is going to be fascinating to try to see how the Republican Party turns around, as it has on Russia and so many things and decides that debt is good, a higher and higher national debt is a good thing because that seems to be the only way for Donald Trump to address it. Because there is nothing they`re going to do to bring it down.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes. I mean, they`re not only not going to bring it down, as you said, Lawrence, they`re skyrocketing it up. This is the story of a promise broken and an odd promise kept Trump promise head would get rid of all the national debt, total, wipe it out while he was president. Instead he is going to raise to it a record level. That`s a big promise broken.
The promise he has kept is he said his deficit would be nowhere near Obama`s deficit of $400 billion. He has kept that promise. They`re going run a trillion dollar deficit this year. That`s nowhere near what Obama did in his last year.
And so, I agree. They`re going have to turn and run. But in the end, right, the bill will come due. And the horrible thing about this is just last week, the House of Representatives, the Republican house passed a so- called farm bill that cut food stamps, because we don`t have enough money to put food on the table of the people in this country who lack it. But we had a trillion dollars for tax cuts that are rung up the federal debt. That`s just a horrible set of choice.
O`DONNELL: And, David, the largest foreign holder of our national debt, which you can hold simply by buying treasury bonds is, of course, China. So this -- as this debt goes up, as it becomes more burdensome here in the United States, China gains more and more leverage and control over the president.
DAVID CORN, CO-AUTHOR, "RUSSIAN ROULETTE": This is Donald Trump`s big con. You played it over and over again. He made a promise, and he caught the headlines. He will get rid of the debt and have smaller deficits.
Well, you know, the bill will come due. But we`re living in a time now where there will be no acknowledgment of that. Trump will never acknowledge the real numbers. The Republicans will never acknowledge the real numbers.
Where are the Bob Doles of the world? They`ve gone away. No Republican cares about the deficit anymore. And even now, the House Republicans have said that come the fall, they are going to pass or try to pass another tax bill that would make permanent some of the tax cuts in the previous tax bill, and that would even explode the deficit and the debt much more than in the numbers that came out today.
So they are not doing anything except complaining about spending, because that`s the whole goal here. They`re going to use this debt to say, well, we can`t spend money on the food stamps that you just mentioned. We`re going have to squeeze Medicare and Social Security because we`re going to have to be paying for servicing the debt.
O`DONNELL: And anyone up there who has had credit card debt, this actually behaves like credit card debt. It`s the most expensive kind of debt you can encounter, because as this debt goes up, the interest on the debt goes up dramatically.
And, Ron, that interest on the debt eats up in the budget every year. No one mentions it, but it is one of the largest pieces of the budget, getting bigger and bigger every year. And it`s on track to become the largest spending item in the budget, dwarfing all of the discretionary spending in the budget.
And what that means is it wipes out that spending on education, on all sorts of problems, all sorts of issues out there that all have to go into basically zero spending modes just in order to pay your debt.
KLAIN: Yes. It seems like Trump is running a contest between trying to run up the Pentagon budget and run up the debt to see which number can be larger in our budget. Interest payments on the debt or increasingly large payments to the Pentagon.
But look, Lawrence, I think the scariest thing of all is we`re seeing these kinds of numbers at a time of relative prosperity. Sooner or later, the business cycle will turn. And if Trump keeps pressing these tariffs, it will turn sooner rather than later. And that means that the deficit will just explode even more.
We`ll see the Trump recession. It will come. And then these numbers will look worse and worse and worse. And the government will be out of dry fiscal powder to try to stimulate the economy or do something about it. Tonight`s news is bad. But the future news is even worse.
O`DONNELL: It`s a very difficult subject to run campaigns on because the public does not easily grasp it. And it doesn`t have any of the excitement of some of the other things that come out in the course of a day, especially the stream of Trump tweets.
We`re going to have to -- David, sorry, we`re going have to leave there it for now. We`re going to have to go to some breaking news that we have on the campaign trails tonight on the primaries.
David Corn, Ron Klain, thanks for joining us.
We have primaries around the country. We have a Supreme Court case of some real import to consider when we come back. But the Utah primary has just been called. It`s an important primary.
Steve Kornacki is going to join us now. Steve, what do you have on it?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Lawrence. It`s official, if not surprising. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president making his political comeback. He has won the nomination for the U.S. Senate in Utah defeating Mike Kennedy. This makes Romney immediately the prohibitive favorite to win this seat, Utah state, of course, that he won by 50 points in 2012, setting up the scenario next January of a Senator Romney and a President Trump and that dynamic.
So, this result now official. If this one wasn`t unexpected, there was another shocker we`ll tell you about in a little bit here in other party as well. A very busy night all of the sudden, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Steve, quickly, before we take a break here, Mitt Romney has been on a tightrope in this campaign. He has a history of saying very harsh things, accurate things about Donald Trump, yet he is running in a party that supports Donald Trump. And so, during the primary, he has had to be kind of careful. Does this win tonight liberate Mitt Romney to say what he really thinks about Donald Trump?
KORNACKI: It`s interesting. Potentially. And the other element with Utah, don`t forget we say Republican state. As red states go, this one did not like Donald Trump. When Donald Trump ran in the Republican primaries, he got 13 percent in Utah. Remember, Ted Cruz beat him by more than 50 points.
In the general election, Evan McMullin, the third party candidate who ran as sort of a non-Trump guy got 25 percent of the vote in Utah. So, this is still a very conservative state. There are a lot of Republicans who do not like Trump. If there is one red state in the country where it is politically safe for a Republican office holder to come out and express some problems with Donald Trump, it`s Utah.
O`DONNELL: All right , Steve. We are coming back to you after a break.
When we come back, we are going have more from Steve Kornacki and more about that Supreme Court decision today.
We will be right back.
O`DONNELL: It is primary night in seven states, including New York State where we have breaking news. Democratic congressman Joe Crowley who is the chairman of the House Democratic caucus has lost the primary to 28-year-old activist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who has never held elective office.
Steve Kornacki joins us now with this breaking news.
Steve, this is a big upset.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, this is truly shocking. When you say Crowley, the chair of the House Democratic caucus, Crowley, a 20-year veteran of Congress. Crowley was thought to be the next Democratic leader. If and when Nancy Pelosi steps down, Crowley was thought to be the guy who had the votes, who had the relationships who was in position to replace her. And now, just like that, in his home district in Queens in a little piece of the Bronx in New York, he has been defeated soundly in this primary tonight, as you say by a 28-year-old upstart, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortex.
To tell you a little but about her, she was a supporter of Bernie Sanders. She is a member of Democratic socialists of America. She campaigned in particular on an issue we have been talking about a lot over the last week, the issue of immigration, the issue of how to handle the situation at the border. She wants to abolish ICE. That is an issue on the left side of the party that may be getting some traction.
A victory like this for her tonight will probably hasten that issue making its way into the conversation a bit. So Crowley again was thought to be maybe next year the leader of the Democrats in Congress, maybe a speaker of the House. He goes down in his home district.
Absolutely shocking upset here. Nearly by the way a second upset. Yvette Clarke is a 12-year incumbent here in New York. She is barely hanging on. This race has not been called. She does have the lead right now. But she is barely hanging on. That would be two Democratic incumbents going down though the scale wouldn`t be quite as much.
We can tell you as well, we thought this was going to be the biggest story tonight, Michael Grimm, the ex-Congressman trying to win back his seat against Dan Donovan, the Republican there on Staten Island. Actually, Donovan ended up winning this thing soundly tonight. Grimm will not be going back to Congress that turns out not to be the big story. It really is, Lawrence.
This is going to be talked about for a long time about the future of the Democratic Party. Joe Crowley not just a long serving Congress, he was party boss in the old sense, the chair of the Queens county Democratic committee. He had never faced when he got the seat 20 years ago, didn`t have to have an open primary. There was a back room maneuver that put him on the ballot. He was party boss. He got reelected. And look at this. He gets opposition. There is a little turnout. There is energy on this side and that is it for Joe Crowley.
O`DONNELL: Steve, I have to say having been around New York politics a long time, I am not at all surprised that somebody who has actually never faced a challenge. If you don`t have a Democratic primary in that district, you don`t have a challenge. No Republican is going to even bother to show up on the ballot in movement. And so Joe Crowley never faced a challenge. He was never actually tested at the ballot box. And you have a shifting demographic in a district that includes the Queens in Bronx. This is old ethnic politics. The Irish are on their way to giving up that seat, and they give it up tonight. I don`t think they are going to be getting it back.
KORNACKI: You know, this is the district where in show all in the family was set. This was Archie Bunker`s district. It is now 75 percent non- white. There is that changing demographics in this area, changing demographics in the party, changing demographics in the country. That`s a big part of the story. And you mentioned, the lack of -- the famous line for Joe Crowley in New York politics, political folks nationally remember this.
When he got the seat 20 years ago, it was his mentor, the former congressman who retired after the deadline, got the committee party to put Crowley on the ballot with no primary. And they asked Crowley, the reporters came to him and said, you know, is that the right way to really do this? Shouldn`t you have the election? He said you know what? They offered me an ice cream cone and I took it.
O`DONNELL: That`s the way they used to do it, but you can`t do that anymore and the demographic change in that district is what you`re seeing in that vote tonight.
Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate that.
KORNACKI: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: When we come back, today`s Supreme Court ruling is yet another lesson in how Republican voters have been focusing so intently on the United States Supreme Court and the importance of maintaining a Republican- controlled Senate to confirm Supreme Court justices chosen by Republican Presidents.
O`DONNELL: We have more on our breaking news in the New York state primary election tonight.
Congressman Joe Crowley has lost his seat in Congress tonight in New York City in Queens and the Bronx. And he has now immediately endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old activist who defeated the incumbent Democrat tonight in the primary. A very, very low turnout primary here in New York City, 57 percent to 42 percent.
Congressman Crowley just tweeted I want to congratulate Ocasio 2018. I look forward to supporting her and all Democrats this November. The Trump administration is a threat to everything we stand for here in queens and the Bronx, and if we don`t win back the House this November, we will lose the nation we love.
Joining us now this part of our discussion, Maya Wiley, a former counsel to the mayor of New York. Also with us, Eugene Robinson, opinion writer for the "Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst.
Maya, you know these congressional districts here in this city. I have to say, this doesn`t strike me as that big a surprise, that the demographic change eventually caught up with the representation.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I think that`s right. If you watched Ocasio, she actually had the most impressive video. And in her video piece introducing herself to the district and really to all of New York, because many of us watched it even if we weren`t in her district, she starts it by saying, women like me aren`t supposed to run for office. And then she talks about zip codes being determinative of what your opportunities are. She talked about her personal life story of having a Puerto Rican mother and a father from the south Bronx. And she was clearly signaling in that video that she was representing what that district really is now, and she also said very explicitly in that video who is this New York changing for?
So she had these very clear messages that were really about whether or not the city and Joe Crowley by extension was actually serving the population that really is representative of that district now.
O`DONNELL: And Gene, Joe Crowley had the kinds of problems that people who have hung around these offices for too long sometimes pick up, stories about a relative who is a lobbyist and perhaps, you know, gaining some benefits in his lobbying activity because of that. And whenever you have a fresh challenger to an incumbent who hasn`t even had to get in the boxing ring.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. Right.
O`DONNELL: In a couple of decades, it`s always ripe for an upset.
ROBINSON: Right. It has to be sort of a perfect storm and it was. I mean, and obviously, one element of this has to be that Crowley didn`t pay enough attention to this race. But nonetheless, you know, he raised a lot of money and he certainly outraised and outspent Ocasio-Cortez.
And look, she talked about issues that resonated with the voters of that district, or certainly with those who bothered to vote. She talked about universal health care. She talked about abolishing ICE. She talked about the crushing Puerto Rican debt.
You know, in a district that is now about 50 percent Hispanic. And otherwise, incredibly diverse. Those are issues that resonated. And Joe Crowley didn`t, frankly, connect with voters the way she did. And I think that`s a healthy thing for Democratic Party. It`s a kind of renewal.
O`DONNELL: It feels inevitable, if you have been watching New York City politics for a while.
Maya Wiley, Gene Robinson, thanks for joining us in this conversation.
When we come back, the Supreme Court decision that has allowed the President to continue his travel ban.
O`DONNELL: In 1952, over President Harry Truman`s veto, Congress enacted a new immigration law that gave the President very broad authority to restrict entry to this country that the President finds, and these are the words of the law, would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.
Today, a majority of the Supreme Court said that the President used that authority properly in the third edition of his travel ban executive order because the third edition of the travel ban exit order does not mention religion. That was not good enough for the minority on the court. In a dissent written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she said ultimately what began as a policy.
Explicitly calling for a total and complete shutdown of the United States has since morphed unit a proclamation putatively based on national security concerns. But this window dressing cannot conceal an unassailable fact. The words of the President and his advisers create the strong perception that the proclamation is contaminated by impermissible discriminatory animus against Islam and its followers.
And Maya Wiley and Gene Robinson are back with us.
And Maya, I think everyone agrees that if a President had put in this kind of restrictive travel regulation and ban on these countries for national security reasons, without ever mentioning anything about religion at any time during the campaign or at any other time, that it would be constitutional. It would conform to the 1952 law. It`s that question of what does the candidate`s statements mean when the candidate becomes President and that President issues an executive order.
WILEY: And the executive order is consistent with the President`s campaign pledge to ban Muslims. So I think this is the thing about Supreme Court precedent is that we have a long history in this country of saying if you intend to discriminate, if it`s your intent, then it`s not constitutional.
Now, I`m oversimplifying a bit because of course there were several issues in the case. But this is what`s so upsetting about this case is we actually have evidence of intentional discrimination. As a civil rights lawyer, these are the kinds of statements that we would use all the time to establish intentional discrimination. So the fact -- and generally, by the way, when there`s intentional discrimination, there`s still efforts to hide that it`s intentional, which is I think to Justice Sotomayor`s point, right. So you can try to dress up dirt and make it look clean, but it`s still dirt. So throwing in a few countries that are not in the Islamic world in your third iteration, saying that there are national security concerns when two appellate courts said that you didn`t really demonstrate that you had sufficient concern, and you promised to do it. You promised to do it, and you had someone after you were inaugurated saying you were going to ban Muslims. I think we really have to understand it from that standpoint and understand that this is really not normal.
O`DONNELL: And Gene Robinson, this is another one of those demonstrations of how Republican voters seem to be so concentrated on the Supreme Court, both when it comes to Senate elections so that they can -- the Republicans can control the confirmation process of justices and on Republican Presidents, who nominate those justices. And I have many times on this program tried to say that, you know, if nothing else interests you in a Presidential election, there is always the Supreme Court. There`s always the Supreme Court. And I find it a tough sell.
But ever since the 1973 Roe versus Wade decision when the Republicans who are anti-abortion discovered that the power over abortion resided in the United States Supreme Court, they have never, never lost their focus on the Supreme Court, which is to say the Senate and the presidency.
ROBINSON: No, they haven`t lost that focus. And if you think about it, I mean for people who are against abortion, who believe that abortion is murder -- I do not share that view, but for people who do believe that, then obviously the Supreme Court is of supreme importance because that`s where abortion rights were recognized in this country. And that extends to other conservative issues as well. But I think they are all, you know, in a sense riding that wave that began with Roe v. Wade.
Now this latest decision as Maya pointed out also, seems to be wildly inconsistent with the gay rights decision recently from Colorado in which case they specifically looked at the intent of one of the commissioners who decided the case against the plaintiff, discriminatory intent, and said there the baker doesn`t have to make the cake. And in this case they refused to look at the President`s clear intent to discriminate against Muslims, which he proclaimed time and time again.
O`DONNELL: And so, Maya, to your point about the rewriting of your executive order three times does not remove the original intent. It seems to have removed it for the majority of the justices.
WILEY: Well, this is what`s interesting and important about the dissent from Justice Fryer and Justice Kagan, which they were saying, look, if this is -- there`s a question here that we think the courts have to look more closely at in terms of whether the President established a national security concern. We think there`s actually a question here that hasn`t been sufficiently vetted by the court. And so therefore we think we should send it back. That would change it obviously if they had come forward with evidence that, in fact, there was some national security concern. Part of what the lower court said is you haven`t demonstrated it. You have not shown it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s the case we are going to be talking about for a long time.
Maya Wiley, Gene Robinson, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: New York City politics has a new star tonight. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It`s a name we are all going to be learning. She is a 28- year-old activist running for a congressional seat held by Joe Crowley in Queens and the Bronx, and she upset the incumbent tonight. The incumbent Crowley outspent her 18 to one in this race. Here is one of the ways she won. Here is one of her campaign videos that you can see online during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: It`s time to fight for a New York that working families can afford. That`s why I`m running for Congress. This race is about people versus money. We have got people. They have got money. It`s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same, that a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn`t live here, doesn`t send his kids to our schools, doesn`t drink our water or breathe our air cannot possibly represent us.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Winning the Democratic primary in a New York City Congressional race basically means winning the Congressional election. That is tonight`s "Last Word". "The 11th hour" with Brian Williams starts now.
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