SCOTUS TRANSCRIPT: 6/15/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Marq Claxton, Gerald Briggs, Kate Brown, Dahlia Lithwick, Rebekah Jones

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

The one thing I didn`t want to say when we were in midst of all the coverage of George Floyd was that, of course, this is going to happen again. And here we are this weekend after Atlanta and it`s undeniable and it doesn`t matter how recently the officers were trained. These were recently trained officers.

This is a recurring problem, and at least now there is a sustained campaign to fix it. That`s something we haven`t really had before at this level.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Yeah.

To hear the mayor of Atlanta talk about it the way that she did tonight in our hour, to hear the police chief who just resigned in Atlanta over this incident talk about policing, the need for reform, the need for community trust, the need for things not to happen and then for it to happen in Atlanta where you know what they are trying to do and you know the unified feel that the police chief and the mayor presented on stuff like this, it is very demoralizing. It is -- it is hard to take.

And to see Atlanta sort of convulsing over this, it is understandable and it is upsetting.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Thanks.

Totally unnecessary, that`s what you hear. You hear a witness yelling that at an Atlanta police officer after the officer shot and killed 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks on Friday night in a Wendy`s parking lot. You just shot him for no reason. That`s more of what you hear.

If you watch and listen to Officer Rolfe`s body cam video. You don`t see anything when you hear those words because the body cam has fallen off the officer and it is just staring up at the dark Atlanta sky from the pavement, the same pavement that Rayshard Brooks is lying on maybe a couple of hundred feet away.

The official cause of death, quote, gunshot wounds to the back. Garrett Rolfe is no longer a police officer. He was fired the day after he killed Rayshard Brooks. Other video of the scene clearly showed Rayshard Brooks running away from the officer when he shot him in the back.

The Fulton County district attorney says he expects to make a decision about criminal charges this week. He is deeply disturbed by what he has seen on video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL HOWARD (D), FULTON COUNTY, GA. DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  When I saw that footage that you just displayed, that conversation went on about 22 minutes with Mr. Brooks talking with these two officers, and it`s very difficult when you see it, when you see the demeanor of Mr. Brooks to imagine that some sort time later it ends up with him being dead.

TV ANCHOR:  How do you describe his demeanor?

HOWARD:  I thought that it was cordial. He was very cooperative. He answered the questions that the officers asked. He did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone. And, so, the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Everything about the body cam video from oath officers is deeply disturbing, as the prosecutor said. Even the most innocent and friendly moments, because you know, you always know while you are watching it, that Rayshard Brooks is going to be dead at the end of those videos. Rayshard Brooks was fully cooperative and friendly with the first officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, who he spoke to one-on-one for several minutes.

And then the second officer to arrive, Garrett Rolfe, who he spoke to for well over 20 minutes. Officer Rolfe was called to the scene as the expert to administer sobriety tests after Rayshard Brooks was found after a 911 call from Wendy`s asleep at the wheel of his car at the drive through line at Wendy`s. Kevin Brosnan`s body camera shows Garrett Rolfe beginning a series of sobriety tests by telling Rayshard Brooks to follow his moving finger by only moving his eyes.

And Rayshard Brooks` eyes, in those eyes on that video, you see everything that is at stake in every encounter black Americans have with American police.

Rayshard brooks` eyes follow that finger as if his life depends on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POLICE OFFICER:  Can you see the tip of my finger?

RAYSHARD BROOKS:  Yes, sir.

POLICE OFFICER:  All right. I want you to focus on the tip of my finger and follow it with your eyes without moving your head. Do you understand?

BROOKS:  Yes, sir.

POLICE OFFICER:  Don`t move your head. Do you understand?

BROOKS:  Yes, sir.

(INAUDIBLE)

POLICE OFFICER:  All right. Go down and up. Focus on the tip of my finger without moving your head. All right.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Sixteen minutes later, that finger that Rayshard Brooks` eyes were following so intently pumped bullets into his back and killed him. Rayshard Brooks passed the eye test. He passed the walking a straight line test. He passed the standing on one leg test.

But at the end of all of that, when he was asked to take a breathalyzer test, Rayshard Brooks who already had said he had had a couple of drinks offered to just leave his car right there at the Wendy`s parking lot and walk home to his sister`s house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKS:  I don`t care about -- I could walk home.

POLICE OFFICER:  Why would you --

BROOKS:  I don`t have to --

POLICE OFFICER:  Why would you walk home?

BROOKS:  Because I just don`t want to be in violation of anybody. My sister`s house is right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  I don`t want to be in violation of anybody.

By this time, the officers were in possession of Rayshard Brooks` driver. By this time they knew his daughter`s birthday was the next day. That had come up in conversation already.

And so, this came down to one of those moments in American police work that happen every day, maybe a million times a day in America. Do you give the guy a break? Do you let him walk home to his sister`s house and go to his kid`s birthday party the next day. A lot of people get that break, a lot of people, depending on what zip code they are in and what color they are.

When Rayshard Brooks took the breathalyzer test, it showed he was just a tiny bit over the legal limit. And within seconds of that, he felt his left hand being pulled behind his back and handcuffs snapping on to him and he pulled away and he ran and he struggled and he fell to the ground in a physical fight with both officers. He grabbed a Taser from one of the officers in that fight and somehow pulled himself away from them and started looping away from them like a running back in an open field until he was shot in the back.

A surveillance camera in the parking lot captured it all, all of it, everything I just described. We will show you only six seconds of that video now and stop it before the video shows Rayshard Brooks falling forward with those bullets in his back. This is very disturbing video, and that`s why this network has edited it at that point.

Here is some of that video of Rayshard Brooks running away from the police officers. He`s running out there in front of them. And then he`s shot.

The mayor of Atlanta announced today that she is tightening the deadly force rule for Atlanta police officers and in her press conference making that announcement, the mayor referred to the killing of Rayshard Brooks as a murder, and she said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, MAYOR OF ATLANTA:  I lost my father at 24, and I still cry about my daddy. And I would venture to say when I saw him run, if you all haven`t watched the entirety of that body cam video, he talked about his daughter`s birthday. And the first thing I thought when he ran was that he probably didn`t want to be locked up over the weekend.

And I know that because I know I`ve had family members in that position. They get locked up on the wrong day for something stupid. It didn`t have to end that way. It didn`t have to end that way.

I mean, it`s -- you know, it pissed me off. It makes me sad, and it makes - - and I`m frustrated. And nothing I can do is going to change what happened on Friday.

All right. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Resuming what has become our ongoing discussion of this American way of death tonight are Gerald Griggs. He`s an attorney and the first vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. Marq Claxton is back with us. He`s a former NYPD police detective and the director of the black law enforcement alliance.

And, Marq, let me just start with you. As a police officer looking at the tactics, looking at the way this situation develops, what do you see when you look at all of this video?

MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE DIRECTOR:  An absolutely avoidable death. You know, beyond a tragic death, an absolutely avoidable set of circumstances that ultimately leads to the death of Mr. Brooks. And, you know, I see the mayor`s reaction and the reaction that so many black and brown people have about the empathy about recognizing and acknowledging humanity of people, about prioritizing ourselves.

In law enforcement, I think too often there is a lack of priority in human life, especially as it pertains to black and brown people. And what`s most painful and what`s most troubling, what the mayor expressed and other people have expressed, I have expressed is that in the video of the interaction with Rayshard, I recognize my own vulnerability and vulnerability of the black and brown people in my family, my son`s vulnerability, the community`s vulnerability. And that`s what makes this especially troubling and difficult to deal with.

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Rayshard Brooks` cousin, Tiara Brooks, had to say today in Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIARA BROOKS, RAYSHARD BROOKS` COUSIN:  No matter what the different points of views are of his death, we must all agree to one fact, the fact that he was killed by the Atlanta police department. The fact that someone`s cousin, brother, uncle, nephew, father, companion and friend is no longer in this world. The trust that we have with the police force is broken. And the only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change with the police department.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Gerald Griggs, you are our expert on Georgia Law. When you look at all of this video and the evidence that currently exists in this case, what do you see here from a legal perspective?

GERALD GRIGGS, ATLANTA NAACP FIRST VICE PRESIDENT:  From a legal perspective, I see a killing that was avoidable. I believe that these officers violated Georgia`s law. I believe they used unreasonable force, and I believe that a murder charge is warranted in this case.

It`s quite simple that it was a misdemeanor stop for a DUI. It escalated after Mr. Brooks appeared to resist the officers because he didn`t quite understand why he was being arrested. There was a scuffle. It appears Mr. Brooks got the better of the officers and was in the process of fleeing, and they could have used alternative means outside of using deadly force.

So I believe that this particular case will provide with an arrest and charged as a felony murder. And I believe a trial will be coming.

O`DONNELL:  Marq Claxton, the mayor announced today a significant tightening of the deadly force rule in the department there which seems to be modeled on Georgia law at the moment. But in which it allows for a relatively up to yesterday a relatively subjective judgment by the police officer of the level of danger. And she wants to change that to an objective judgment. That would allow juries to make their own judgment about the reasonableness of force, rather than as they generally have done in the past, except the police officer`s judgment as the controlling judgment.

CLAXTON:  Well, I`m supportive of any training or tactical enhancements of any laws that can add extra layers of protection to the civilian population.

But I want us to be clear about something. These shootings, Rayshard Brooks shooting included is not at all about tactics and shooting. Police aren`t at a tactical training advantage when interacting with civilian population. They react according to the other end of the person they consider to be a perpetrator who is black and brown. And that`s why they react.

It`s not about tactics or training. It`s about the relationship that law enforcement has to black and brown communities. It is about the dehumanizing of black and brown communities. It is about the enforcement in black and brown communities so that they can always use additional training and tactics and enhancements. That`s all fine and good. But this is not about this. Rayshard Brooks is not about that. Mr. Floyd was not about that. Other cases are not about training.

And I`m concerned that sometimes we kind of get off of what we need to be getting on to and dealing with training when we should be dealing with toxic police culture, institutional racism and bias.

O`DONNELL:  Gerald Briggs, when I was reading Georgia law on this today I was a little surprised because it reads a little looser than the Supreme Court standard established in 1985 in the Garner case in which the United States Supreme Court said that the officer is only allowed to shoot if the suspect poses a significant threat to the officer or someone else who was present. They are present.

And the Georgia law, up until now anyway, has seemed a little bit looser than that. Is that why these things are very difficult when you try to bring them as prosecutions in Georgia?

BRIGGS:  I think so. But, you know, Georgia has been successful in numerous cases of presenting cases where officers use force in convicting them and sentencing them. We just had a case in DeKalb County of Anthony Hill where Officer Robert Olsen was convicted and is now sentenced to a 20-year sentence. So I think that the law does need to be tightened up and be more akin to what the Supreme Court says it is.

And I think this particular case can help do that. And I think that the country is now coming to grips with, as the other guest said, the toxic nature of policing in brown and black communities, and we have to start addressing that with convictions so that people understand that you can`t treat one community one way and another community another way.

There was a shooting that happened just down the road where an individual presented a gun at deputies and fired the gun at individuals and he was taken alive. This individual was a white individual. So I think in Georgia, we have to set a standard in all communities by first charging and then convicting these officers when they act out of accordance with the law.

O`DONNELL:  Georgia Attorney General Griggs and Marq Claxton, thank you both for starting us off tonight. I really appreciate it.

CLAXTON:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

And when we come back, Oregon Governor Kate Brown will join us. We`ll get her reaction to the Supreme Court`s historic rulings today and we`ll get a coronavirus update on the situation in her state that has led her to pause reopening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  As of yesterday, it was legal for employees to be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or transgender status. But today, the Supreme Court of the United States handed a major victory to the LGBTQ community by ruling that gay and transgender workers are protected from job discrimination by federal law.

The landmark decision ruled that Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. In a 6-3 vote, the liberal justices were joined by two conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump`s first nominee to the Supreme Court, who also wrote the majority opinion.

An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. I is impossible to discrimination against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex. An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.

Joining our discussion now is the Democratic governor of the state of Oregon, Kate Brown.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Governor Brown. Really appreciate it.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D), OREGON:  Good evening. Thank you so much for having me.

O`DONNELL:  I want to get your reaction to this decision and the surprise that it brought along to Republican nominees to the Supreme Court.

BROWN:  This decision will transform the lives of millions of LGBTQ Americans across the country. This issue is very personal for me. I know what it feels like to go to work every single day, afraid you are going to lose your job because of who you love.

No one, no one should live in fear that they are going to lose their job because of who they are or who they love.

O`DONNELL:  Talk about that fear and your own experience with it. How long was that a part of your life? Did you have to get an elected office before you could kind of live confidently in your position at work?

BROWN:  It was when I was a young lawyer, and it was really unfortunate, and it gave me the motivation and the inspiration to go fight for LGBTQ equality in the Oregon capital. I worked for over a decade and a half to ensure that in this state, in the state of Oregon, we would not discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity.

O`DONNELL:  And this comes with a -- in a Republican presidential administration where they are doing everything they possibly can through the executive order powers to also reverse any progress in this arena.

BROWN:  I was horrified to see the decision by the Trump administration on Friday. The decision to roll back access for the transgender community to health care. It was both heartless and reckless, and absolutely unacceptable during a global pandemic.

In Oregon, we ensure that our transgender community has access to the health care that they need.

O`DONNELL:  Governor, what is the situation with the numbers in Oregon and your sense of where you are in the ability to open up things or possibly close things down again for a period? How are you making these judgments?

BROWN:  Good question. We have done a remarkable job. Oregonians have made tremendous sacrifices staying at home to save lives. We wanted to make sure that we were making decisions here in this state based on science and data. And my decisions have been formed by my medical advisory panel.

As we begin to open up and we`re doing so gradually and incrementally, we`re seeing the case numbers rise. It is obviously concerning, and that`s why last week I put a pause, a yellow, proceed with caution.

We want to make sure before we move forward that we have a clear sense of where these cases are coming from.

O`DONNELL:  And what was the reaction to the pause? There has been a lot of speculation that after successful shutting down of some states once they opened the door at all, they won`t be able to close the door again and even for a pause.

BROWN:  I have to say, folks have been incredibly supportive. The vast majority of Oregonians understand that I am putting the health and safety of Oregon lives at the forefront of my decision-making, and a majority of Oregonians say, yes, we want to be protected. We want to be safe.

And we absolutely must make decisions to protect our most vulnerable communities, our African-American community, our Latinx community, our Pacific Islander communities. These communities bear the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and we have to do everything we can to ensure their safety as well.

O`DONNELL:  Governor Kate Brown, thank you very much for joining us on this important night with this important Supreme Court decision, we really appreciate you being here.

BROWN:  Thank you so much. Have a great evening.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Governor.

When we come back, Donald Trump had another very, very big loss in the Supreme Court today. Dalia Lithwick will join us with that one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump and Trumpism lost big today in the United States Supreme Court in addition to a landmark ruling that we just discussed that guarantees workplace protections for the LGBTQ community.

The Supreme Court decided not to consider two issues that are key to Donald Trump and Trumpism, immigration and gun rights. The court will not even hear the Trump administration challenge to a California Sanctuary Law, which prohibits local law enforcement from aiding federal immigration agents in California.

The Los Angeles Times reports that California`s lawyers "Relied in part on a 1997 opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, which held that federal authorities may not commandeer state or local officials to carry out a federal law."

Even Trump appointed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch refused to hear the Trump administration`s appeal, and the Supreme Court declined to take up 10 different appeals dealing with the Second Amendment in a blow to advocates seeking to expand gun ownership rights.

Joining us now to discuss this big day in the Supreme Court, Dahlia Lithwick, she is the Senior Editor and Legal Correspondent for slate.com and host of the legal podcast Amicus. Dahlia, your reaction to the so called sanctuary cities decision?

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR & LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: I`m struck by something thinking about it, Lawrence, and that is, there is almost two lanes here. One is all the things that Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were put on the court to do, right; guns, abortion, religion, immigration. And then there is all the other stuff that is just churned up by the Trump era.

And I think that in a weird way, and we`ve talked about this before, the fact that every time the Justice Department has lost on anything that Donald Trump has done, they run straight to the Supreme Court. They leapfrog over the intermediate courts.

In some ways, I think the court is just exhausted carrying water, both for the sort of deregulatory regime that they`re all excited to do, the conservatives, but also all this other stuff that keeps coming up. And I think what we saw today was the court just batting away a bunch of issues, particularly guns; they have been desperate to get to this.

The conservatives are furious that they`re not getting to this. We saw dissents today, angry dissents from Clarence Thomas saying, my God, we haven`t heard a gun case since 2010. But I just think the law of Trump is just taking all the oxygen. The court can`t get down to sort of dismantling the things they promised to dismantle.

O`DONNELL: And Dahlia, the irony of Antonin Scalia being relied on by California as opposed to Donald Trump, who has always said that his model Supreme Court Justice was Antonin Scalia. Someone must have told him to say that of course, because how would he know.

LITHWICK: It`s funny. Scalia`s fingerprints were not only all over that sanctuary city stuff, but all over the Title VII cases too. You could see jockeying to who could out-Scalia Scalia on the part of the conservatives in the case and actually some of the groups, the conservative legal groups that are affronted by the decision in Title VII were all invoking Scalia and how he`d be kind of spinning in his grave at the outrageous - outrages heaped upon him.

So today was really a big Scalia shaped hole at the Supreme Court and a whole bunch of places. And also I think you are right, a Rorschach test. Scalia has come to mean whatever anybody who invokes his name wants him to mean.

O`DONNELL: Do you see anything in today`s decisions that might change your notion of what`s on the horizon for this Supreme Court?

LITHWICK: I think you and I have talked about this before. It is always important to look at the whole board. Lawrence, this is I think the most consequential term in my two decades covering the court.

We have got DACA barreling down on us, the rescission of DACA. We have got June Medical, the abortion case. We have those financial records cases. Whole bunch of religious liberty cases. The court was not going to give 5-4 wins to Donald Trump in every one of those cases right before big election year, with possible retirements on the horizon.

So I think the court is giving us something today on the left, sort of an easy, probably relatively easy win; although I think it will sting the Trump administration. And I think it, in some sense maybe this is the cynic in me, it suggests that we need to brace for some big, big losses. I think Trump may win big in some of the other cases that are coming down the pike.

O`DONNELL: All right. We are bracing ourselves. Dahlia Lithwick, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

LITHWICK: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have a new poll showing Donald Trump and Joe Biden basically tied in Iowa, which Donald Trump won by nearly 10 points in 2016. There are no good polls for Donald Trump. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump easily won the State of Iowa by nearly 10 points. And tonight, a new poll released by The Des Moines Register, the gold-standard of polling in that state shows the race now a statistical tie, with Donald Trump at 44 percent, Joe Biden at 43 percent.

Another new poll from The Des Moines Register shows an even larger gap for Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who is running for reelection, and that poll gives Democrat Theresa Greenfield a three point lead over Joni Ernst. That`s still within the statistical tie mode, but that`s very bad for an incumbent.

A national poll released today by the Canadian firm Abacus Data gives Joe Biden a 14 point lead over Donald Trump. That is the same 14 point lead of a last week`s CNN poll, which provoked Donald Trump to have a lawyer send a letter to threaten CNN with legal action if they didn`t retract that poll.

Joining us now is Kimberly Atkins, she is the Senior Washington Correspondent for WBUR Boston`s NPR News station and an MSNBC Contributor. And Dahlia Lithwick is also back with us.

Kimberly, it is at your peril that you discuss a 14 point lead in any poll with Donald Trump on the wrong end of it, because of course the lawyer`s letter comes the next day, if we do that.

Charlie Cook made the point on this show last week about the CNN poll with a 14 point lead that CNN was the last one in the field, and so the next national poll might also show a 14 point lead, and here it is. So the 14 point lead now has been established by two polls in a row.

KIMBERLY ATKINS, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, WBUR BOSTON: Yes, and I think that`s the most important thing and a lesson from 2016, is to treat polls carefully and to read them the way that they are intended. A snapshot doesn`t really tell us a lot, but when you look at polls over time, that gives an indication of momentum.

And if you look at the polls over the last several weeks, you can see that the momentum is certainly going against the President at the moment, and it`s pretty easy to see why. It was sort of a one-two punch in terms of the news.

One is the handling of the coronavirus, which suddenly shifted into the administration`s handling of the mass protests that we have been seeing across the country and the calls for a criminal justice reform sort of had the inflection point outside the White House where the tear gas flew as the President called on troops to be sent to U.S. cities.

So those things are certainly registering with folks very negatively. But one thing that you have to remember when you are thinking about these polls and momentum is just think, three weeks ago it seemed impossible that we would be talking about anything now besides the coronavirus. That`s how quick the news, the news cycle changes. So these numbers can go up and down.

Joe Biden has been doing himself a favor by largely staying away and keeping the focus on the President who was doing things that is registering negatively with polls. But this can change in an another couple of weeks, it`s still a long time - 150 days to the election is a long time away.

O`DONNELL: Dahlia Lithwick, can we just have a quick sidebar here on the days, five minutes before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for President, when the Republican Party was vehemently against what it would call frivolous litigation?

Donald Trump is the most frivolous litigator in history, actually threatening to sue CNN because the poll showed a 14 point lead. Where were all the Republicans objecting to that frivolous litigation by Donald Trump, frivolous litigation threat?

LITHWICK: Lawrence, if we had to pop up all the absent Republicans who don`t object to anything that Donald Trump says or does, we`d be here for a thousand days. I mean, I think that whatever the rules of the game are, at least as far as Republicans and the Senate and throughout Congress and really around the country, the silence is deafening on not just the frivolous litigation, but just one thing after another that would have been career ending up until Donald Trump. So I think the answer is, whatever the rules are, they just don`t attach to one Donald J. Trump.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I can`t wait to hear frivolous litigation from a Republican whenever that happens next time. Let`s take a look at this swing state polls here. We have a bunch of them in which Donald Trump should have substantial leads and he doesn`t have a substantial lead in any of them.

For example, in Texas, he is - it is a tie. It is a tie within the margin of error in Texas. Donald Trump 1.5 points ahead of Joe Biden. He`s 1 point ahead of Joe Biden in Georgia. And so, it goes Joe Biden is ahead of Donald Trump in Pennsylvania.

But these are all basically statistical ties, except for, say, Michigan, Wisconsin where Joe Biden has a significant lead there. But Kimberly, when you see those statistical ties in places like Texas, that means the Trump Presidential campaign has to spend big money in Texas, which is expensive media market, to make sure they win Texas, which will take something away from their effort in some other state.

ATKINS: That`s absolutely right. I mean, fighting on all of these fronts is going to be terribly expensive for the Trump campaign on top of the other spending that it did. I reminded that last week there was a half a million dollar ad buy in the D.C. market just to please the President with the messaging from the campaign.

But, yes, they are going to have to spend all this money elsewhere. And keep in mind, in the Electoral College, Presidential elections are won in the margins; that`s what we saw in 2016. We saw these very narrow margins in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

If the margins grow, if there are that many more margins that need to be fought, and at a time when we`re seeing a very different shift on a lot of issues, Donald Trump won white women across the country. What have we been seeing in recent weeks? We have been seeing Black Lives Matter protests in suburbs, with soccer moms holding Black Lives Matter signs.

It is very different from four years ago when the Black Lives Matter movement was largely marginalized and maligned by most folks. That`s been a huge shift. You see a shift with the Supreme Court ruling today on LGBTQ rights. So if those margins are being whittled away, it is going to make it much more difficult to make it to that Electoral College victory. And that`s something that the Trump campaign should be very worried about.

O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins and Dahlia Lithwick, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

ATKINS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, a scientist who says she was fired for trying to tell the truth about Florida`s coronavirus situation. She has now started her own data website to tell that truth. She will get tonight`s last word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Earlier in this hour, when we were discussing the coronavirus situation with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a graphic on our screen showed that there were no new coronavirus cases today in the State of Oregon.

But that number was actually officially updated during this hour when the State of Oregon reported 443 new cases of coronavirus today in that state. Also today, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Laurie Garrett tweeted this graphic showing the states that are seeing an increase in new cases of coronavirus.

Florida is one of those states. Rebekah Jones built Florida`s coronavirus data web portal, but she was fired on May 18 after refusing to manipulate data to make it seem as if certain Florida counties had met the criteria to reopen.

On her new dashboard, Rebekah Jones publishes the county level data that Florida officials have tried to suppress. It shows that only one of Florida`s 67 counties has met all of the criteria for the next phase of reopening.

Rebekah Jones portal shows that the state is undercounting the amount of COVID positive people by more than 8,000. That`s because Rebekah Jones includes positive antibody test results and non-Florida residents. Rebekah Jones also shows that Florida is inflating the test count because the state is counting every time the same person gets retested.

Rebekah Jones instead counts every person tested, not every test done, which means that Florida has actually tested 337,737 fewer people than what the state claims. Rebekah Jones also includes non-residents in her calculations, which shows 283 more coronavirus hospitalizations in Florida and 92 more deaths from coronavirus than what the state is reporting.

Joining our discussion now is Rebekah Jones, the former manager of data and surveillance for COVID-19 at the Florida Department of Health. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. And how difficult is it for you to get the real numbers and produce these real numbers for Floridians?

REBEKAH JONES, FORMER MANAGER OF DATA & SURVEILLANCE, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Well, luckily for me, it`s not too difficult because I built the original dashboard, so I know exactly where to look.

Other people aren`t so fortunate, and so if they wanted to try to find these things, they would have to download thousands of pages of a PDF report and extract every single table and chart from it and then aggregate it to the county level and then compare it against a whole other set of metrics. And because I built the data in the first place, I knew how to recreate all of that a lot easier than anybody without that insight would be able to do.

O`DONNELL: And what has been the state`s reaction to you basically doing this on your own?

JONES: I don`t really think they are in a position to have a reaction anymore after they fired me from refusing to do something wrong and then publicly defamed me and have since been quieter about it luckily. But I`m a private citizen now. It`s public information. There is no position that they can have on me doing this.

O`DONNELL: Your work has been praised by Dr. Deborah Birx and others. Your credibility has been unquestioned. Has anyone in the state government said there`s a reason to question your credibility about this?

JONES: Yes, there was a period where immediately after the news broke that I had been taken off the dashboard and then fired after that, where I think a few government officials tried to accuse me of not being a scientist or not having access to the data or not having been the architect. But I rebuilt the whole thing in three days, so I think I`ve put that to bed.

O`DONNELL: And what about Floridians` reaction? Are they - is your work being reported in the daily newspapers in Florida? Do they have general access to it through the news media?

JONES: Yes, actually the media in Florida has been amazing, and they`ve spread word about this resource being available. It`s already received millions of hits. The outpouring from the community has been so incredible, and for me really shocking because I didn`t even think anybody would care if I did something like this. And it`s already kind of blown my mind how supportive everyone`s been.

O`DONNELL: I assume you see other states with similar reporting flaws or deliberate mistakes in the way they`re doing it.

JONES: Yes. I`ve kind of had my head buried in Florida for - since January, so I haven`t been paying as close attention to some of their numbers. But places where I have family, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New York, I`ve paid a little bit more attention to.

O`DONNELL: Rebekah Jones, thank you for your invaluable work. This is very, very important work that you`re doing. We greatly appreciate it, and we greatly appreciate your joining us tonight. Thank you.

JONES: Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL: Rebekah Jones gets tonight`s last word. "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

 

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