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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/1/22

Guests: Keith Gessen, Heather Long, Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Colin Allred


A Humanitarian Aid Brought by Red Cross Intended for Stranded Civilians in Mariupol Were Forced to Turn Back When Russian Forces Blocked Them. Russia Accused Ukraine of Hitting an Oil Depot in Their Own Soil But Ukraine Refuse to Admit That They`re the One Responsible for Such an Attack. Vice President Kamala Harris Touted the Achievements That the Biden/Harris Administration Has Done Even Without Republicans` Help in Passing Key Legislations. On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to advance Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson`s Supreme Court nomination. A full Senate vote is expected shortly thereafter with Democrats looking to wrap up her nomination, before a two-week Senate recess begins on April 11th.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: All those cats has relocated to the top of the refrigerator, whether this will be a Bavaria, the dogs forever home, or whether he`s reunited with his original people, for now, this is a happy ending for everyone except possibly the cat.

That does for us tonight. I will see you again in the morning from here from Lviv on my show Velshi. Celebrity turned activist Jose Andres will join me from Kyiv. That`s tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.

And now it`s time for THE LAST WORD. Jonathan Capehart is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, my friend.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali. Thanks very much. And I`m just going to say, I like dogs, but I`m team cat. Just putting it out there. Stay safe, Ali.

VELSHI: So, noted, my friend. Have a great show tonight.

CAPEHART: All right.

Ukrainian forces are ramping up pressure on Russia`s struggling military, as the humanitarian crisis gets worse in Ukraine by the day. Today, a Russian blockade prevented the Red Cross from delivering aid and facilitating a mass evacuation of civilians trapped in Mariupol. They were forced to turn back and to try again tomorrow.

A spokesperson for the Red Cross called the situation quote, "horrendous and deteriorating." Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia resume virtually today. Russia`s foreign minister said some progress has been made, but added, talks will quote, "inevitably have to continue."

There are more air and missile strike near Ukraine`s capital today, despite Russia`s claims of deescalating its attacks there. Ukrainian forces continue to fight back, reclaiming several villages in the area, in areas surrounding Kyiv, and Chernihiv. Kyiv`s mayor is warning the situation is still very dangerous, but says he is surprised by citizens who are willing to fight.


VITALI KLITSCHKO, MAYOR, KYIV, UKRAINE: I tried every day, I go to every district of our city. I stop by (Inaudible) post and civil defense. I am very surprised the people with very peaceful profession. For example, musicians, actors, doctors, right now they stay with the uniform. They never expect to take the weapons in their hands. But right now, they want to defend his city.


CAPEHART: Meanwhile, inside Russia, a regional governor claims two Ukrainian helicopters attacked this oil depot over 20 miles from the Ukrainian border. Ukraine`s defense ministry is refusing to confirm or deny involvement. If confirmed, this would be the first time Ukraine executed an attack on Russian soil.

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin ordered the drafting of 134,500 new conscripts into the army. Russia claims that they won`t be sent to Ukraine. In a new video tonight, President Zelenskyy warned those drafted in Russia against joining the war. Speaking in Russian, he said, quote, "warn every such conscript, their parents, we do not need new dead people here. Protect your children so that they would not become the villains. Do not let them join the army. Do whatever you can to keep them alive at home."

Joining us now, NBC News correspondent, Ali Arouzi in Lviv. Ali, what`s the latest on the ground tonight?

ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Jonathan. Well, starting with that helicopter attack, the Russians are saying that the two Ukrainian helicopters attacked an oil depot just across the border. The Ukrainians haven`t confirmed or denied it. But if they did, it`s fairly significant. It will be the first time in this war that the Ukrainians penetrated Russian airspace and launched an attack over there. And it would be in a brazen attack.

It was done in early hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness. The Ukrainians would have found it very low altitude, just above tree level, hitting that oil depot and then flying back into Ukrainian territory.

And it`s also significant because it would hit an oil depot that the Russians are using to send fuel to the troops on the other side of the border. And it`s a big morale boost for the Ukrainians. It shows that their air force is functioning and capable of carrying out this sort of attacks. But the Russians said that that attack might complicate further peace talks.

But further down south, the news isn`t so good. There is a cascading disaster still in Mariupol. There was meant to be a big humanitarian rescue operation there guided by the Red Cross. They were going to take a convoy of buses and humanitarian aid into the besieged city of Mariupol, where around 170,000 people are hemmed in by the Russians. That didn`t happen. No aid got in. No civilians got out.


CAPEHART: Ali Arouzi, thank you very much. And please, stay safe.

Officials estimate more than 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes since Vladimir Putin`s war began. Of those who have been displaced, four million people, half of them children, now have left Ukraine. Many did so by traveling through the western city of Lviv.

Keith Gessen was in Lviv`s train station, as many of these Ukrainians arrived. He writes in the New Yorker, quote, "some of the people who got off the train knew where they wanted to go and how to get there. Most did not. There were volunteers inside the station and outside of it, but there were too many people coming off the trains. The scene was chaotic. Many people wanted to get to Poland, others to Germany, Spain, Greece. Some wanted to stay in Lviv, at least for a little while. Others hadn`t thought that far ahead. These people had not lost their rights, but they had lost their homes. And they were adrift now in a sea of deprivation, cold, fatigue, confusion, despair."

Joining us now, Keith Gessen, contributor for The New Yorker. And then assistant journalism professor at Columbia University.

Keith, what was it like being in that train station as people were literally fleeing for their lives?

KEITH GESSEN, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORKER: It was, it was -- it was harrowing. I mean, it was, you know, every -- about every hour, a train would pull up, and just people would still out of it. And it was -- it was women and children. The men stay home. The men are not allowed to leave the country.

So just seeing, you know, whenever a train comes in, people going out, again most of them as you read at the top, you know, they don`t have time to make a plan about where to go about -- you know, where to stay. And where they would end up.

So, you know, a lot of them were in real distress, kind of from a journalistic perspective, I try to talk to the people who, you know, looked like they are -- they were in a place where they can talk. And just, you know, these people, this was about, it`s about a week ago, eight or nine days ago, so a lot of these people who would actually try to stay.

These were not people who have left right away. They hid in basements, in subway stations. They have really tried to kind of wait it out. And you know, for most of them, there came a point where they just, you know, either the Ukrainian army came and said, look, you must leave now. Or they just reached a conclusion that they just couldn`t take it anymore and they were going to, you know, leave their homes behind.

There were people there who really did not want to leave because they have already been evacuated. There was a woman who said, you know, I really hang on, as long as I could, because I was evacuated from Chernobyl in 1986. And I didn`t want to go through that again.

So, you know, you kind of learn a lot of history of the country just by -- just by being there and talking to people. But it was, yes, it was really hard.

CAPEHART: You mentioned that you learned a lot about the history of the country by being there and talking to the people. But one has the reporting revealed about the Ukrainian spirit? What do people say about how they feel about Russia?

GESSEN: People were -- people don`t feel good about Russia right now. I mean, you know, it`s it`s a catastrophe. It`s a catastrophe for Ukraine. It`s a catastrophe for Russia. You know, the kind of irony or paradox of it is that these people are coming to Lviv, which is the most Ukrainian speaking city in the world, it`s a city where Ukrainian culture has deep roots. It`s a city where Ukrainian culture took refuge, you know, when it was being oppressed in as far as Russia.

So, but the people fleeing, a lot of them were free fleeing from the east. They were -- a lot of them are Russian speakers. So, these are the people who ostensibly, certainly in Russian propaganda, are the people who are sympathetic to Russia, who want close relations with Russia. And these were the people who were fleeing Russian bombardment and you know, Russian devastation. So, they were not doing very positive about Russia for sure.

CAPEHART: Keith Gessen, thank you very much for being here tonight. And for your reporting.

GESSEN: Thank you.


CAPEHART: Joining us now is Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. He is an MSNBC international affairs analyst. Ambassador McFaul, Ukraine didn`t comment on that attack in Russia. But how significant of a development would that be, if Ukraine shows it can reach Russian soil?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, whenever I hear a senior government official say, I can neither confirm nor deny, that sounds like they`re actually confirming. Because otherwise, they would have denied it. So, it sounds like they did complete this operation. It sounds like they wanted to demonstrate that they have that capability.

And I think that they wanted to demonstrate that a war is war, and if you`re going to fuel your planes, and you`re going to fuel your weapons, your trucks across the border from Kharkiv, we`re going to strike you where you are fueling your weapons and your trucks and your automobiles that are striking us.

CAPEHART: Any concern, Ambassador, that the Russians will view this attack on Russian soil, by Ukraine and say, OK, war is war. But where those weapons come from. And of those weapons came from the west, use that as a reason to lob bombs into Poland, for instance?

MCFAUL: Well, first, those weapons didn`t come from us from the reporting. So that`s good news. The second, I think that`s highly, highly unlikely. We keep hearing about, if you do that, if you do that, there`s going to be escalation.

Well, let`s define escalation. Russia, the Russian armed forces are having an incredibly difficult time fighting against an army that is not as well equipped as it should be. And has nearly, not nearly the capacity of the NATO alliance, let alone the most powerful military in the world, the United States of America.

So, in this moment right now, I think it`s highly unlikely that Putin would say, I want to expand this war. I want to get NATO involved. And I want to get the United States of America involved. I don`t think that`s going to happen.

But I do think that what they`re doing is they keep using those words, they keep saying those things, precisely, to make the NATO alliance, including the United States worried about arming the Ukrainians. And I think we should be strong here, and just do what we said we`re going to do, continue to arm them.

I applaud what the Pentagon just announced a few minutes ago, $300 million more in military assistance. The only way there will be peace in Ukraine is if there is a military stalemate. And until there is not a military stalemate, Putin will continue to attack. And therefore, if you want peace, you got to get help bring about that stalemate.

CAPEHART: One more question for you, Ambassador McFaul, speaking of the Pentagon, the Pentagon canceled a missile test launch over concerns Putin would view it as escalatory. Was this the right call? What should the U.S. be doing right now? You talk partially about that, to defeat Russia without escalating the situation. But talk about the cancellation of that missile, that missile test.

MCFAUL: I think that`s fine. You know, I used to work at the White House for President Obama, we used to do that from time to time, in terms of when there were tense moments. And it`s about misperceptions that we are worried about. So, I think that`s a prudent move.

We do not want to escalate. We do not want to get into a war with Russia. I completely 100 percent, support the president when he says we`re not going to enforce a no-fly zone, because that`s tantamount to declaring war. But anything short of that, I think we need to be doing as much as we can.

CAPEHART: One more question for you, Ambassador McFaul. Given what we learned this week about Putin being misinformed by his advisors, and now reporting that Putin is conscripting 100 plus thousand new conscripts, what does this tell you about how things, how things might get worse for Putin`s war?

MCFAUL: Well, I`m a little skeptical about that reporting that he was misinformed. You know, we have no way to check our intelligence community. But I wonder about that. And you know, maybe that some disinformation game we`re playing about him, and maybe he wants to signal that that he`s upset with his generals.

And most certainly, the reporting I read from Russian sources that he`s very upset with the way the war is going. But I think you raise a very good point. The draft just happened. You know. This is normal standard operating procedure. Russia, April 1st, it`s one of those days. And I think it has been a tremendous success by the Ukrainian military so far.

And at this same time, Russia has tremendous military capacity still left. And that makes me worried, and frankly, you know, concerned that this was going to go on for a long time.

CAPEHART: Former Ambassador, Michael McFaul, thanks for joining us tonight.

MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.


CAPEHART: Coming up, today brought another blockbuster job support and a milestone for the Biden/Harris administration. In just two years, nearly all jobs lost in the pandemic are back.

Plus, the good news about wage increases. That`s next.



KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Not one Republican voted for the American rescue plan, which brought $1,400 checks to people when they needed it most. When we had millions of people out of work through no fault of their own.

Not one voted when we were extending the child tax credit, and working parents, now what that meant and what it meant in terms of helping them get through the days and the month and satisfy their basic responsibilities to parent their children.



CAPEHART: That was Vice President Kamala Harris in an interview today with my colleague, Joy Reid. The vice president had more to say about the accomplishments of the Biden administration.


HARRIS: When we look at what we achieved in terms of putting in place a system around getting vaccines for people, so now over 200 -- I think it`s in 15 million people have been vaccinated in our country. And as result, we`ve been able to reopen our schools, 99 percent of them are reopened. Businesses are reopening.

These are the achievements that were made possible in spite of the fact that one Republican in so many of these policies voted. So, I`m not going to get caught up in kind of an internal firing squad.


CAPEHART: Today, the Biden ministration is also celebrating what President Biden is calling an historic discovery. The United States added 431,000 new jobs in March, with the unemployment rate falling to 3.6 percent. A pandemic-era low. And 93 percent of the 22 million jobs lost at the start of the pandemic, they`ve been recovered.

Joining us now, Heather Long, editorial writer and columnist focus on the economy for The Washington Post. Heather, great to see you again at this hour. What jumped out to you from today`s jobs report?

HEATHER LONG, EDITORIAL WRITER AND COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: This was undeniably good news. I don`t care if you`re Republican, Democratic, independent, we have a really strong job market. The gains were across the board, in the retail, in the restaurant sector, in manufacturing. Even in things like childcare, that I was really worried about at the end of last year. We saw some employment coming back there. Even in dry cleaning, and in healthcare, in K through 12 education, in performing arts.

So, the other thing that really jumped out at me, it was another -- another decline for the Black unemployment rate. So, we are seeing widespread gains going, not just to the top, there was also big gains for women in March. A lot of us were very worried about the she session were women going to be able to return to the workforce after this pandemic, and we`re starting to see a lot of encouraging signs.

The last time that looks really strong is wages continue to tick up. The average hourly earnings with pay is up 5.6 percent in the last year. Now that obviously comes with a big asterisk, because inflation is up 7.9 percent.

So, we are, people are still falling behind overall, although the biggest wage gains are coming from leisure and hospitality workers. They have seen nearly a 15 percent wage gain. So, they are outpacing inflation. These are workers who were paid less than $15 an hour before the pandemic. Now, their average pay is 1,750. That`s still not great, but it`s really moving in the right direction.

CAPEHART: Well, speaking of inflation, you know, as you said, wages are up 5.6 percent, but inflation is at 7.9 percent. So, can we expect to see inflation cool off anytime soon?

LONG: I wish I had good news there. I don`t think we`re going to see inflation cool off anytime soon. Obviously, we continue to see gas prices and energy prices remaining high. We continue to see a lot of problems getting various food products to grocery stores and continue to see a lot of supply chain glitches that just aren`t going away.

Economist and business leaders kept saying, it will be better by Christmas, it will be better by Easter, you know. Now we`re saying it will be better maybe by this fall. And it just hasn`t happened yet. I am very worried that we could see potentially a 10 percent inflation rate, at some point this spring.

So, Americans are definitely worried about this, and this is why it reflected in the poll numbers. I think the good news, that we`re seeing today, is that the job market remains strong. People are able to get a job. This is one of the best times ever to go ask for a raise. You are likely to get one right now. And that`s encouraging, and it certainly does not look like a recession is immediately on the horizon, which some people were worried about earlier this week.

CAPEHART: We`ve got less in a couple minutes left, but I`m just wondering, Heather, do you know, does the Biden administration have a strategy to deal with the fears about inflation?

LONG: Well, they`re certainly trying a lot. And we saw this week, they`re doing the biggest ever released from that Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try and help bring down gas prices, or at least prevent them from going even higher than where they are now. They`re sitting in about $4.20 a gallon per average.

So, we`re starting -- they`re doing pretty much everything they can. Unfortunately, what really needs to happen next is for the Federal Reserve to raise those interest rates to make it more expensive to get the mortgage, to get a car loan, to get a business loan.


And you know, that`s starting to hurt people. We`re starting to see a cooling off in the housing market, as those interest rates rise.


LONG: And unfortunately, in the past, when those in interest rates rise a lot, sometimes it tips us into a recession. So, it`s a very tricky path in the next two months.

CAPEHART: Heather Long of the Washington Post, thanks for joining us tonight.

LONG: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Coming up, Justice Clarence Thomas has more power on the court than you probably realize. And it could do lasting and outsized damage to our democracy if he does not recuse on cases involving the attempts to illegally overturn the 2020 election results that his wife participated in. We`ll talk about that next.



CAPEHART: On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to advance Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson`s Supreme Court nomination. A full Senate vote is expected shortly thereafter with Democrats looking to wrap up her nomination, before a two-week Senate recess begins on April 11th.

The soon-to-be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, will be joining the court, not only facing its biggest scandal ever courtesy of Virginia Thomas but also shifting power dynamics in the conservative wing of the court.

Justice Clarence Thomas is not just any Supreme Court Justice. He`s the senior associate justice and ranks second behind only Chief Justice John Roberts.

As my colleague at the "Washington Post", David Von Drehle points out, we could soon be looking at a scenario where it`s Thomas who`s calling the shots among the conservatives. Von Drehle writes, "Given changes to court personnel in recent years, a solid majority of five conservative votes can now be assembled without Roberts. Should that happen, Thomas decides who will write the courts opinion.

Suppose the breakfast and the conversation at the Thomas household is half as overheated as Ginni Thomas`s exchanges with Meadows, that`s a lot of loopy nonsense in which to marinate a supposedly impartial justice. The seasoned jurist goes to work with influence over authorship of controversial Supreme Court decisions. Uh-oh."

Uh-oh is right.

Joining us now is Michele Bratcher Goodwin. She is a chancellor`s professor of law at the University of California Irvine. And Glenn Kirschner is a former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Professor Goodwin, I`m starting with you. Last night on this show, Lawrence played a clip from a 2018 interview with Clarence Thomas. Talking about how it would be impossible to be a Supreme Court justice without Ginni Thomas.

I want to play another clip from that same interview, to start off our conversation. Watch this.


JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: To be able to know that you have done what you`re required to do, that you have been truthful, that you`ve not deceived people, that you can put your head on your pillow and sleep soundly. My grandfather always talked about the sort of peace that you had when you did what was right.

And so, there is nothing that the critics can either give me or take away that`s a value to me. They can`t take away sort of what I think about what I do, because they have no input into that.


CAPEHART: Professor Goodwin, does that sound to you like a man who cares much about the controversy his wife has pressed (ph) the Supreme Court into?

MICHELE BRATCHER GOODWIN, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA IRVINE: Well to be clear, that`s a statement from a few years ago. But he certainly should be concerned, and so should every member of the United States Supreme Court and as well as members of our Congress. And members of the Congress are now deliberating about imposing, setting law that would impose ethics rules to be apply to the United States Supreme Court.

It is our one branch within law where there are no ethics rules.

And lawyers are held to a very high standard of ethics. In fact, before students are able to sit for the bar they have to take an ethics bar exam. The fact that the United States Supreme Court justices do not have to abide by a set of ethics rules is really antithetical to justice itself.

And the Supreme Court right now has the lowest approval rating by the American public in almost 50 years. And so all of this is disconcerting, especially the content of the texts by Ginni Thomas. And the fact that Justice Thomas could be sitting while there are cases that come about, due to the January 6th insurrection.

It`s caused a lot of problems, including the fact that most recently, he was the only no vote, when it came to questions of releasing information relevant to the investigation of the January 6th insurrection.

CAPEHART: Glenn, here`s how Frank Bruni put the situation in an op-ed for the "New York Times".

He writes, "What a terrifying moment in which the wife of a serving Supreme Court justice unabashedly exploits her insider access, ignores the idea of checks and balances, promotes conspiracy theories and essentially endorses insurrection.


"Her conduct isn`t some passing curiosity. It`s a sign of the times, and it`s a warning to us all."

Glenn, what do you think it says that these crazy theories have now essentially made it to the highest court in the land?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Jonathan, it says that we have a crisis at the Supreme Court. A crisis of legitimacy.

And one thing that I think we have learned by Justice Thomas`s failure to recuse, remove himself from a case where it sure looks like he has a conflict. You know, you could be called upon to decide, for example, whether his wife`s own texts, which really are inappropriate at best and incriminating at worst, he would be in a position to decide whether they should be disclosed to the J-6th committee and by extension to the American people, or hidden from the J-6th committee.

You know, there is a crisis at the Supreme Court. And it seems like there are a number of fixes that need to be seriously considered. As the professor says, we need a code of conduct. Because the Supreme Court has shown, it can`t be trusted to police itself.

So Chief Justice Roberts better take this seriously, because I think confidence in the court is at an all-time low. It continues to erode. So there needs to be a code of conduct. There needs to be an enforcement mechanism to make sure that this situation doesn`t recur and to deter future misconduct by the justices.

And then, there needs to be a serious inquiry, a public inquiry about what Justice Thomas did, what he knew, why he failed to recuse. And I`m not saying, let`s rush to impeachment, but I am saying, let`s rush to transparency so the American people can see what went on, and can see that the institution is taking seriously the need to fix this problem.

CAPEHART: Well Professor Goodwin, let`s talk more about this transparency that you have both -- you have both mentioned. I mean Chief Justice Roberts just talked about Congress adopting a code of ethics for the Supreme Court. That`s not likely to go over well with the chief justice because here`s what he wrote in his year-end report.

"The judiciary`s power to manage its internal affairs insulates courts from inappropriate political influence, and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and coequal branch of government.

What do you think, Roberts is going to do here, particularly with him not being able to force Thomas to do anything he doesn`t want to do?

GOODWIN: Well, let`s be clear that the court is not above the law, nor is the court beyond being fallible. It has been, we can see overtime with rulings from the Supreme Court, that biases influence what the court does, whether we`re talking about Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, cases that still stand as some of the worst jurisprudence in the courts history.

And Justice Roberts may have been resistant to this, but now with these texts, with the actions of the justice himself, with information that has been revealed about Ginni Thomas, it would be a huge mistake for justice Roberts to ignore this.

And I will say one thing really quickly here. Which is that, there have been times in which the justice`s hand has been moved, when he was pressured during the Trump administration saying that these are Obama judges who are ruling against me.

The chief justice came out and was pressured by other federal judges, to say there is no such thing as just Obama judges, Bush judges, et cetera. We are one unified court.

And so, his hand is being pushed, and I believe he probably will respond. We may not see it. It may be behind closed doors. But I imagine this is something that is very bothersome to them.

CAPEHART: Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Glenn Kirschner, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

Coming up, what Vice President Harris said when asked how she felt watching conservative senators disrespect Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in her confirmation hearing. And what that has to do with the slap? That is next.



CAPEHART: Earlier tonight, we witness a remarkable and hopeful moment watching the first black woman primetime cable news host interview the first black woman vice president about how it felt to watch the confirmation hearing for the first black woman Supreme Court nominee. But - - and you know there has to be a but -- it couldn`t only be about Judge Jackson`s qualifications and performance and ignore the headline making disrespect shown to her by some conservative white senators.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: We all sat and watched the Ketanji Brown-Jackson hearings, in which she very calmly sat through what`s, I think a lot of -- particularly black women, let`s just be honest, that was brazen disrespect from senators like Lindsey Graham, Senators like Tom Cotton, Senators like Josh Hawley. What did you think when you watched that hearing?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you, Joy. I experienced great joy when I watched this brilliant, phenomenal black woman jurist be so smart and just cut through the political gamesmanship that they were attempting to incite. And she just was composed, and as far as I`m concerned, was taking a whole lot of people to school.


And I watched that with incredible joy because it was just brilliance being displayed for the entire country to see. And I cannot wait to see -- that will only be matched by the joy that I experience when I see her take the oath to be the next justice on the United States Supreme Court.


O`DONNELL: Vice President Harris is right. There was great joy in watching Judge Jackson, because she did keep her composure and she didn`t allow the Republican attempts to incite her to succeed. She didn`t succumb to the political gamesmanship, as Vice President Harris diplomatically put it.

But her response is additional evidence of a phenomenon white people have been watching play out on national television in the last two weeks. Starting with Judge Jackson`s Confirmation hearing and ending on the slap.

No, we`re not done talking about it. I wrote about Will Smith walking on stage and slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars for the "Washington Post". And the column opened by reflecting on this hilarious vignette from comedian Wanda Sykes`s 2009 HBO special, "I`m a be me".


WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: When I was growing up, my mother, she wouldn`t even let us dance in the car. You know, just sitting in the car, a good song come on the radio -- my mom`s like she would stop the car. Do you want to dance or do you want to ride? Because you aren`t dancing in my car. White people are looking at you.

Wait, ha? White people are looking at you. I`m like, oh damn.


CAPEHART: White people are looking at you. Sykes goes on to say black folks, we always got to be dignified. Yes, because we know if we screw up, we just set everybody else back a couple of years, right?

Among the many reasons to be upset with Will Smith, what I keep hearing is that his violence did damage to us. Us, being African Americans who are mindful that the foibles of one person often and unfairly affect us all.

Some African Americans will slam this as the worst of respectability politics. That notion that there is acceptance and safety in speaking and acting in ways that make white people comfortable.

We know that`s not true, but respectability is the tax we African-Americans are forced to pay, as we try to live out our versions of the American dream.

It is an exorbitant and unfair tax, but it exists, nonetheless. We saw it levied every single time we watched Donald Trump`s and crudeness and said imagine if Barack Obama -- dot, dot, dot. Remember President Obama`s anger translator was a running gag during the Obama presidency.

He didn`t get to be the first black president elected twice by letting himself be provoked by giving the bigots what they want.

And then there`s Judge Jackson, who had to publicly endure a torrent of racist nonsense because she wants to be, and she will be, Justice Jackson.

Now, President Obama, Vice President Harris and Judge Jackson are bound by the expectations of American politics, which may be higher than Hollywood, but maybe not.

Tonight, Will Smith issued this statement. "I have directly responded to the Academy`s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct.

My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful and inexcusable. I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the board deems appropriate.

Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason."

Coming up, a federal judge in Florida has struck down most of the Republican voter suppression law in Florida in a blistering decision. Citing Florida`s quote, "grotesque history of racial discrimination".

Congressman Colin Allred, a voting rights attorney, will join us next.



CAPEHART: There is bad news for Governor Ron DeSantis and his fellow Republicans trying to suppress the vote in Florida. A federal judge blocked the state from enforcing most of the measures in its voter suppression law. What is even more remarkable is the judge`s blistering critique of the law.

Senate bill 90 in what can only be described as a "scorched earth" ruling. Across 288 pages, federal Judge Mark Walker notes Florida`s grotesque history of racial discrimination. He says the plaintiffs in the case, alleged the law runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters. All to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power.


The party in power in Ron DeSantis` Florida is, of course, also known as the Republican Party. Judge Walker points out that the court reviewed thousands of pages of evidence, thousands more pages of briefing, and has heard two weeks worth of testimony from 42 witnesses.

He then concludes, "This court finds that for the most part, plaintiffs are right", mincing no words. Judge Walker says, "This court recognizes that the right to vote and the Voting Rights Act particularly are under siege."

In the final pages of his lengthy ruling, Judge Walker wrote, in Florida, white Floridians outpace black Floridians and almost every socioeconomic metric. In Florida, since the end of the civil war, politicians have attacked the political rights of black citizens. In Florida, though we have come far, the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go.

And if that last line sounds familiar, he`s quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. who said in a 1967 interview, "Some of the old optimism was a little superficial. And now, it must be tempered with solid realism. And I think that the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go."

Joining me now, Congressman Colin Allred, Democrat of Texas, who`s also a civil rights attorney. Congressman Allred, always great to see. I love your reaction to Judge Walker`s ruling.

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Yes, well, I think that is the young people say Judge Walker understood the assignment. He understood what was at risk here, and he called out other judges, he called out the Supreme Court. He called out the state of Florida and he said and spoke the truth.

And not only did he strike down these provisions, but he also bailed Florida back into preclearance, which is really, really important. Because if that ruling stands, then any changes Florida tries to make will have to be preclear, because Jonathan, as you know, they can try to restore that provision with the overall voting rights act. But there is another way to get into it, and that`s why being bailed in, because of your activities, and judge found activities rose to that level.

CAPEHART: Yes, I mean that was a huge part of the ruling. You know, Republican leaders in the Florida legislature blasted the decision. And a Tallahassee Democrat reports, Governor Ron DeSantis said he expected an unfavorable ruling from Walker, an appointee of President Obama, calling it quote, performative partisanship.

Congressman, that sounds like the governor is projecting, don`t you think?

ALLRED: It does. And you know, when I got involved with voting rights, I really didn`t see it as a partisan issue. I never asked somebody, who they`re going to vote for when I was registering them registering them to vote.

When the Voting Rights Act was re-authorized in 2006, and I know you`ve discussed in the past. It passed in the Senate, 98 to nothing.

You know, my constituent President George W. Bush or Republicans. The one who signed it into law -- this is a relatively reasoned thing where it has become just used purely for partisan gain and so openly.

So to project this and to say that trying to protect Floridians voting rights, it was a partisan act. I mean obviously we know that`s not true. But you know, I have to say, our democracy is at risk and it`s under attack.

We see in Ukraine these brave Ukrainians fighting for their democracy. I`m hopeful that at some point we can understand that we have to reinvest our democracy here at home. And that starts with preventing laws like this from going into effect.

CAPEHART: Do you think this decision, could have some impact on other voter suppression laws?

ALLRED: You know, I hope so. I hope that other judges will see Judge Walker`s, you know ruling, and follow it. I would love to see a similar ruling in Texas. Obviously, you know, we had an election just now, a primary election, in which 13 percent of our mail-in ballots were rejected -- 13 percent. When the previous election, it was just 1 percent. And that`s because of a change to voting by mail that Texas Republicans, passed specifically just to try and satisfy Donald Trump. and so this is happening across the country. And you know, what we`re seeing is that this is happening at a primary election in Texas. And I`m really worried about what we`re going to see in a general election, when we have more lower information voters being involved.

So we got to stop this. We have to, you know, protect our democracy, understand that it`s not about helping Democrats. It`s about keeping our systems in place.

CAPEHART: All right, we`ve got less than a minute. But I got to ask you about this, because the House passed a bill today that would legalize marijuana nationwide, establishing procedures for expunging previous convictions from people`s records and impose a tax on the sale of cannabis products. You voted for the bill Congressman. Real quickly, in 20 seconds, tell us why.

ALLRED: Well, 37 states, the District of Columbia, medical marijuana. Eight states plus D.C., they don`t use recreational use as legally. We got to bring the federal government into line with that.


Also, we recognize that this is something who`s time has come. It`s a civil rights issue. Drug use is equal across racial groups. So we see only certain groups being prosecuted under it.

CAPEHART: All right. I had to ask you about that. But we got to go. Congressman Colin Allred, thank you for joining us tonight.

I am Jonathan Capehart. I`ll see you on Sunday on "THE SUNDAY SHOW".

But right now, stay tuned because "THE 11TH HOUR WITH STEPHANIE RUHLE" starts right now.