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

Guests: Sheldon Whitehouse, Julia Davis, Michele Bratcher Goodwin


Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson won a Senate procedural vote tonight, 53 to 47. MSNBC`s continuing live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Bucha and called the massacre "a war crime." Russian Media Tries to Blame Ukraine for Bucha Massacre.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali. It certainly isn`t the most important news about the war, but that first USA a seizure of a Russian yacht is finally on the books.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: It`s a step in the right direction.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh. It is. Thank you, Ali.

And the breaking news of the night is that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson won a Senate procedural vote tonight, 53 to 47. That means the final vote on her confirmation, which is expected to happen this week, will be that same score. It will be 53 to 47. That is the exact vote count that Judge Jackson got last year in the United States Senate when she was confirmed to the District of Columbia circuit court of appeals.

There is only one difference in tonight`s vote. And that is that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He is not one of the 53 tonight.

Last year, Lindsey Graham was one of three Republicans who voted to confirm Judge Jackson to the Circuit Court of Appeals.

Today, in the Judiciary Committee vote, where 11 Democrats vote for the nomination and 11 Republicans voted against, Senator Graham once again said that he is voting against judge Jackson now because of his disagreement with some, just some of her sentencing choices when she was a trial court judge.

And every single objection Lindsey Graham raised today and in the confirmation hearings involved issues that were already part of Judge Jackson`s record a year ago when Lindsey Graham voted for her. Would didn`t bother Lindsey Graham at all, one year ago, became the reasons to vote against judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson this time.

Our first guest tonight we`ll explain how that happened. How mysteriously funded right-wing organizations mounted a campaign against President Biden`s first Supreme Court nominee, and delivered talking points to the Republican members of the judiciary committee, including Lindsey Graham, for them to use against a judge who Lindsey Graham voted for a year ago.

The new Republican supporter that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson picked up today is Senator Mitt Romney, who is now one of three Republican senators supporting Judge Jackson. Senator Susan Collins announced her support for Judge Jackson last week. Senator Lisa Murkowski announced her support for Judge Jackson today. That is consistent with the support from Judge Jackson last year.

Senator Romney issued a written statement saying, quote, after reviewing Judge Jackson`s record and testimony, I have conclude that she is well qualified jurist and a person of honor. While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the court, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity. I congratulate Judge Jackson on her expected confirmation and look forward to her continued service to our nation.

Now, that is the kind of statement, almost word for word, that over 90 senators used to make, sometimes 100 on Supreme Court confirmations when they were not the partisan circus that they have become. Once again, today, before the committee vote, Senator Cruz and Senator Hawley spent their time saying that they thought the prison sentences that Judge Jackson gave for possession of child pornography in just a few cases should have been longer sentences.

Republicans used hours of confirmation hearing time on this talking point, which was not something that any of the mentioned one year ago when shots Jackson went through the confirmation process.

Today in less a minute, Senator Amy KloBuchar offered a full rebuttal to the Republican talking points.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): If you really want to go deep into the details here. Senator Cruz released a tried saying the average sentencing imposed by Judge Jackson in possession cases -- possession of porn is 29.3 months. But it is based on only four cases, and omits one that would raise her average to 52 months, much closer to the reported national average of 60 months.

And if you are considering all of her non-production cases, possession, receipt, distribution of pornography, and yes, as a former prosecutor, I know these differences. The average sentence imposed was 65 months. I literally cannot even believe that I am going into these details. But I am.


O`DONNELL: Another Republican talking point raised by Republicans including Lindsey Graham was that they don`t like some of the groups who have endorsed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Republicans never ever mentioned the endorsements of Judge Jackson by the country`s largest police organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the International Association of the Chiefs of Police.

Here is Republican Thom Tillis this morning.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I asked there she had any connection with the Arabella Group or Demand Justice, some of these other radical liberal activist organizations, she says she doesn`t. But she`s on her topic list, anywhere you go. Whether it`s Demand Justice short list for President Biden, Sierra Club, a number of the other organizations.


O`DONNELL: Radical liberal organizations. Thom Tillis is worried about the Sierra Club endorsing a nominee for the Supreme Court. Thom Tillis voted for a candidate for president who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and voted for the Klans` favorite candidate was something Thom Tillis enjoy doing so much, that he did it twice. He voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

But the Republican senator from North Carolina is now worried about the Sierra Club. Would he vote for a Supreme Court nominee endorsed by the Klan? He would, if the nominee`s name was Donald Trump.

Judicial philosophy is a concept that was invented for Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and it is not something thought and law schools. There`s no such thing as a judicial philosopher. That`s not an occupation.

If you had asked a judge about judicial philosophy prior to the era of contentious Supreme Court confirmations, the judge would not know what you are talking about and would give you an answer like this.


JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Over the course of my almost decades on the bench, I have developed a methodology that I use in order to ensure that I am a ruling impartially, and that I am adhering to the limits on my judicial authority.


O`DONNELL: Here is what the senior senator from Texas had to say about.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I did ask her about her judicial philosophy. She says she doesn`t have one and hasn`t thought much about it. That`s simply not a credible response, and I believe demonstrates a lack of candor.


O`DONNELL: Thirty thousand five seventy-three is the number of times, according to "Washington Post" calculations, a Donald Trump publicly lied during his presidency. The number of times John Cornyn object that these lies were zero. Cornyn happily voted for a pathological liar for president, twice. And then he came to the judiciary committee this morning to accuse Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson of lying under oath. And his accusation was about the intellectually vacuous concept of judicial philosophy.

Senator Cornyn`s comments were followed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Let`s not pretend about a judicial philosophy is a mutual thing. It is a tool, and when a judge says here she has one, it`s worth looking into. But that doesn`t mean you have to have one.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. He`s is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Whitehouse, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

I`ve been very eager to talk to us only things about this confirmation, including, of course, the most over used two words in any confirmation hearing: judicial philosophy. Let`s begin there because you alone during the hearings pointed out the absurdity of the very concept of judicial philosophy.

WHITEHOUSE: So let me just tee this up by pointing out that the last three Supreme Court judicial selections made by President Trump were picked by this dark money network. So when the Republicans are lighting this dark money network pick their selections, then of course they`re also letting them picked their objections. So where does it turn out that all this judicial philosophy talk.


We heard the word 50 times in the hearing.

It comes from a little group of groups that all share the same address called Independent Women`s Forum, Independent Women`s Voice, Independent Women`s Law Center.

It`s very attached to Leonard Leo, who`s done all the judge picking. And his pair of front groups, 85 funded conquered fund, which are funded by the Kochs and their foundations and the Bradley Foundations and it was run by a Koch lobbyist for years. While she also ran Americans for Prosperity, the big Koch brothers political mothership and surprise, surprise in one of these organizations you will find none other than Senator Hawley spouse working. And they directed everyone, actually before Judge Jackson was even named, it is important that you focus not on the selection process or the nominees paper qualifications but rather on the need to learn more about the nominees and this is italics and bold, judicial philosophy.

So that comes straight out of swamp dark money talking points. And you see the same thing with the sexual predators angle on her child pornography sentencing that came out of another front group, with all sorts of creepy ties including (INAUDIBLE) Cleta Mitchell. And the guy who runs that one was Ted Cruz`s oppo guy in Cruz for president.

So, you`ve got Hawley and Cruz who are saying these things with like family members and staff feeding things to them from these dark money groups. If it weren`t so sickening, it would be funny.

O`DONNELL: And let`s go to that point about the possession of child pornography cases. This is a very simple objection to state if you have it. As a member of the committee to say, there are three in some cases some point to four, child pornography cases where I wish the prison sentences you gave, because you did give prison sentences and all of them, I wish those present sentences were longer.

Now that`s how long it takes to state that. They spent hours doing it and you showed very clearly that the committee that the reason this never came up a year ago, never came up a year ago at her last confirmation process for the circuit court of appeals was because the dark money world had not put together this file for them to hand to them.

WHITEHOUSE: Yep. Yeah, I mean you actually think Ted Cruz was running around that elementary school library pulling books off shelves looking for something offensive. No, this stuff gets fed to them in this case it was his old opposite guy who was doing some of the research.

O`DONNELL: And this was enough to flip Lindsey Graham who a year ago, when all of these issues were present, because all the issues they`re talking about happened when she was at the trial court. And not, I didn`t hear, correct me if I`m wrong, in all the hours of hearings, I didn`t hear one mention of a single thing she has done as an appeals court judge that was raised by a Republican as an objection in this proceeding.

WHITEHOUSE: No, I mean the focus was entirely on the child porn thing, they were obsessed with the child porn thing. And they really misled the public about what was going on and all of that. Because they`re points where that she sends below the southern guidelines, but you can ask essentially any federal judge, the two were sensitive guidelines of the crack versus powder cocaine disparity and this one. So it`s absolutely common for judges to sentence below it because it hasn`t been adapted for the Internet age.

The second thing that they do is they protect the government is the only entity in the room. But in a sentencing, you`ve got the government and you`ve got a sense council who a judge has an obligation to listen to and treacherously, and you`ve got the probation department, that arm of the court, making its own sentencing recommendation and they rather conveniently left out all that. And argued that she was sensing below where the government recommended. Well, the government customarily makes the harshest recommendation so that`s no surprise either.

So they set up a false frame into which to put her decisions in order to make them look like they weren`t -- when they were not.

O`DONNELL: The hearing that was held after Judge Jackson was finished, there was a separate hearing about qualifications. The American Bar Association group testified, had the unanimous fully qualified endorsement from them.


And then there was this golden moment actually provided in your questioning of one of the witnesses who the Republicans called in the hearing that was about the judge`s qualifications. This witness did not say a single thing about her qualifications, they were just generalities against I guess his concept of liberal judges, and I just want to let the audience see this one more time, we ran that night, but let`s take a look at it now -- what happened with this witness and this witnesses credibility when Senator Whitehouse had his chance.


WHITEHOUSE: Is Joseph R. Biden of Delaware the duly elected and lawfully serving president of the United States of America?

STEVE MARSHALL, ALABAMA ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is the president of this country.

WHITEHOUSE: Is he the duly elected and lawfully serving president of the United States?

MARSHALL: He is the president of our country.

WHITEHOUSE: Are you answering that, omitting the language duly elected and lawfully serving purposefully?

MARSHALL: I`m answering the question. He is the president of the United States.

WHITEHOUSE: And you have no view as to whether he was duly elected or as lawfully serving?

MARSHALL: I`m telling you, he is the president of the United States.

WHITEHOUSE: No further questions.


O`DONNELL: Senator Whitehouse, a moment like we have never had in the history of Supreme Court confirmations.

WHITEHOUSE: They had some beauties out for that. Really astonishing, the people they dragged and for the witnesses, usually, it`s a pretty distinguish panel.

O`DONNELL: And going forward, Judge Jackson`s future in the Supreme Court is secured. There are now questions about Clarence Thomas`s future on the Supreme Court and what cases he should be recusing himself from. Given what we now know about his wife`s communications with the White House involving January 6th, should at minimum, Judge Thomas recuse himself from all January 6 cases?

WHITEHOUSE: He should. And Chairman Hank Johnson of the House Judiciary Court subcommittee who is my colleague on the House side and I together sent a letter to Justice Roberts, asking him to apply his forces of persuasion to make sure that that happens. The problem here is you`ve got a judge who tried to interfere in the investigative capability of a commission that with full investigative powers would have discovered that his wife was communicating with people who were involved in the conspiracy to disrupt the election.

So you really don`t get to make a decision like that if you`ve got a family member involved and particularly win the effect of your decision would be to inhibit the investigative reach of that commission.

O`DONNELL: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you very much for joining us tonight, we really appreciate it.

WHITEHOUSE: Quite a time.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Senator.

Coming up, after the massacre in Bucha, President Biden was asked today if what we`re seeing in Ukraine`s genocide and Donald Trump still has not criticized his friend the war criminal, Vladimir Putin. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: And now, everyone agrees with President Joe Biden that Vladimir Putin is a working middle, everyone except on Trump. It took the horrific imagery of mass murder coming out of Bucha and Ukraine this weekend to convince even the French President Emmanuel Macron to use the phrase, war crimes, to describe what he saw in those photographs of the bodies left that in the street. Some with hands tied behind their backs, bullet holes in their heads, and dozens of bodies in mass graves.

President Macron criticized President Biden the first time Joe Biden said that Vladimir Putin was a war criminal, because President Macron quite understandably, was worried that the use of that phrase could complicate his cease-fire negotiations with Vladimir Putin. President Macron was right to worry that Vladimir Putin would have no incentive to negotiate if he isn`t accused of a war criminal, because that means somewhere down the road, when Vladimir Putin is knocked out of power, as he truly will be at some point, he could end up as a convicted war criminal and spent the rest of his life in prison.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You may remember, I criticize from calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter, you saw what happened in Bucha, this warrants him -- he is a war criminal.

But we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight. And we have to get all the details for this to actually have a war crime trial.

This guy is brutal. And what`s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone has seen it.


O`DONNELL: Everyone has seen.

Even Tulsi Gabbard has finally been forced to turn into Vladimir Putin, because everyone seen it. Yesterday, Tulsi Gabbard tweeted, President Putin, not only is your brutal attack on Ukraine reprehensible.


It has been a huge geopolitical error which has already cost Russia dearly. Those costs will get higher every day remain in Ukraine. So it is the best interest for the Russian people and the people of Ukraine that you pull your forces out now.

Everyone has seen it. Donald Trump has seen it. Donald Trump has seen those pictures of those bodies. And Donald Trump has not said one word about it.

Donald Trump, who last week issued a written public statement claiming that he got a hole in one on a golf course, has not dared to issue a statement of one word against Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin was an individual murderer and a mass murderer before he invaded Ukraine. We all knew that about Vladimir Putin.

At the beginning of the invasion, Donald Trump called Vladimir Putin a genius. And he called invasion of Ukraine and act of genius by a genius. And 40 days later, Donald Trump still can`t find a single thing to criticize in his friend, Vladimir Putin, the war criminal, the mass murderer.

Some have called what happened in Bucha, where President Zelenskyy estimates 300 people were killed, a genocide.


REPORTER: Do you agree that it`s a genocide?

BIDEN: No, I think it`s a war crime.


O`DONNELL: The word genocide was first used at the end of World War II to describe Hitler`s policy of extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe. That was Hitler`s ambition. He executed 6 million men, women, and children, 6 million Jews.

The word genocide is a combination of the word genus, meaning race, or tribe, and the Latin world cide, meaning killing. There are 44 million Ukrainians in the official death count of Ukrainian civilians so far in this war. And that is estimated by the United Nations to be 1,417 as of yesterday.

Now, that is surely an undercount that will go much higher. But, so far, the massacres carried out by Russian troops in Ukraine have not reached the level of genocide. When we say war is hell, this is the kind of thing we mean. This is of the hell, massacres of civilians happened in every war.

Lieutenant William Calley was accused in his U.S. court-martial of executing 109 Vietnamese civilians, estimates of the number he actually executed and ordered executed range from 200 to 400. He was convicted in a court martial of executing 22 people. And three days after his conviction, President Richard Nixon ordered him removed from prison and allowed to live under house arrest. William Calley is now 78 years old and living in Florida.

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger tweeted, Russian soldiers are monsters. Yes. Some of them are. Warren made a monster of William Calley.

But Lieutenant Calley was stopped and his murderous rampage by an American our counter-pilot named Hugh Thompson, who saw what was happening, landed his helicopter, and prevented Lt. Calley from murdering hundreds more people.

No one called William Calley`s massacre in Vietnam genocide. It was a massacre by a man who was probably never going to kill anyone in his life if he weren`t turned into a monster by war.

The most important anti-war book of the 21st century and perhaps of all time was written by a German after World War I. "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque. It was published in German and quickly became a worldwide bestseller.

It was written as the official account of a soldier dehumanized by war. Quote: We have lost all feeling for one another. Now we can hardly control ourselves on a glance light on the form of some other men. We are insensible, dead men, who threw some tricks, some dreadful magic are still able to run and to kill.

Here are two residents of Bucha describing the Russian massacre there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Those people were just walking and they shot them without any reason, bang. In the next neighbors good, it was even worse. They would shoot without asking any questions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If you want to get some wood, when all of a sudden, the Russian started shooting. They hit him a bit above the heel, crossing the bone and he fell down. The shooter shouted, don`t scream or I will shoot. And they turned away. Then they shot off his left leg completely. Then they shot him all over the chest.


O`DONNELL: President Zelenskyy went to Bucha today saying, "Today was indeed a hard and emotional day. The bodies of the dead people, the dead Ukrainians were taken from most of the streets but in some yards of some houses the dead bodies remain.

It is especially hard to see the bullet holes on the cars that have children written on them. The occupiers will be held responsible. We are already doing everything as fast as we can to find all the Russian soldiers involved in these crimes.

Everything in order to pay back it will be a mutual work between our country and the European Union and international institutions namely the International Criminal Court. We are providing full access to Bucha and other freed towns for the journalists.

The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth about who killed their fellow citizens, who gave orders, who turned a blind eye to the murders. We will establish all this and make it globally known. It is now 2022 and we have many more tools than those who prosecuted the Nazis after World War II."

Joining us now is NBC News correspondent Ali Arouzi in Lviv. Ali, thank you very much for joining us today.

Has the word spread about Bucha throughout the country into the people in Lviv?

ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It has indeed, Lawrence, everybody here knows about the horrors and the atrocities that have happened in Bucha. Everybody has seen those pictures.

After weeks of fierce fighting by the Ukrainians, they pushed the Russians back into a hasty retreat, revealing a scene of utter carnage that everybody has seen -- rape, murder, torture including children, dead bodies strewn in the middle of the street. Some of them clutching their car keys and their shopping.

The execution of people with a bullet to the back of their heads. Some of them with their hands tied behind their backs.

Zelenskyy, who visited Bucha today, asked how this evil could prevail. How the international community could let it happen.

But now, the Russians have moved north. Some of them to Belarus to regroup, re-strategize. Those are the air raid sirens by the way, Lawrence, telling people to take cover but I`m going to carry on.

So the Russians have now gone to Belarus to re-strategize, regroup, because the focus of their attention is now going to be on the Donbas area. And that`s where they want to capture, that`s where they say they want to liberate. And we`ve seen troop movements through the Donbas area.

There have been also already many separatists that are backed already by Moscow who have been fighting there since 2014.

U.S. Officials say that up to a thousand foreign mercenaries are joining those Russian troops, some of them Syrians who have a wealth of experience fighting with the Russians in places like Aleppo.

So we`re probably going to see a very sustained attack in the Donbas region while the Russians try to capture that area.

And of course, they`re going to look further down south to Odessa which they`ve missiled (ph) a few times. And of course Mariupol, which is the most bombarded, the most destroyed city in this war.

The accounts coming out of Mariupol are horrifying. The Red Cross have been trying to get in for days. They can`t get humanitarian aid in. They can`t get people out.

There`s been a small trickle of people that came out today, about a thousand people in private buses and cars. But the situation there remains dire.

Let`s take a listen to what the foreign minister had to say about the situation in Mariupol.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What you`ve seen -- the horrors that we`ve seen in Bucha are just the tip of the iceberg of all the crimes that have been committed by Russian army in territory of Ukraine so far.

And I can tell you, without an exaggeration, but with great sorrow that the situation in Mariupol is much worse compared to what we`ve seen in Bucha and other cities and towns and villages nearby Kyiv.


AROUZI: And of course, Lawrence, Mariupol is much bigger than Bucha so the scale of the atrocity there is expected to be much, much bigger than what we`ve seen in Bucha.

O`DONNELL: Ali Arouzi we could hear you loud and clear over the air raid sirens. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for that reporting.

Now we really want you to get some cover and stay safe. Thank you, Ali.


AROUZI: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, how Russian television describes the war crimes that we have seen committed at Bucha. You will be stunned at the Russian TV explanation of those Russian war crimes. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: Here`s how Russian TV covered the massacre in Bucha.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the screen people are moving. That means that actors were also involved. And the last thing, before the first reports came out about this film production there were clips of Ukrainian propagandists from Bucha and there were no corpses on the street.

A conclusion out of all of this is that to achieve their media goals, the Ukrainian, Kyiv regime killed its own people.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Julia Davis. She is a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and the creator of the Russian Media Monitor.

Julia, thank you for supplying us with that video. So they, they are claiming that these were actors and this was moviemaking in Ukraine?

JULIA DAVIS, COLUMNIST, "DAILY BEAST": Absolutely. They are actually making so many outrageous claims about this horrific massacre. One of the state TV hosts actually claimed that all of it is just a western media`s invention. And they came up with the idea because the name of town, Bucha, sounds like Butcher. And so therefore this was created as a media provocation.

Other state TV shows were claiming that the corpses were really not corpses, that they were still moving and rolling and getting up and walking away. And as you`ve heard this war reporter, if you can call him that, unfortunately lying and claiming that the Ukrainians have killed their own people after the Russian troops retreated. So the lies are abundant on state television.

O`DONNELL: We have people in this country who believe the same kind of things. Alex Jones, Donald Trump`s big supporter said exactly this about a school shooting of children, first graders and kindergarten students in Connecticut. So we`ve lived through this before here.

Let`s listen to more of Russian television that you`ve helped us collect. These are people being interviewed in the street getting their views of this. Let`s see this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russia and Ukraine, how do you think this all will end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to wipe it off the face of the earth and be done with it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ukraine will become a secondary state that will not be taking part in anything. And we will be taking this land for ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that it`s right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It used to be that way before. Everything returns back to its roots.


O`DONNELL: So there you hear just wipe them off the face of the earth, that`s what that man wants to do. And that young woman says, it used to be ours it`s going to go back to that.

When you see those people speaking. Do they seem to you as if they mean what they`re saying?

DAVIS: I think so. I think that they`re actually convinced that what they`re saying is true. And this is what propaganda does. It poisoned their mind and they are spreading not only lies but hatred.

And that`s actually been very prevalent in their state media lately. It`s claiming that Ukraine has no right to exist at all. And neither does the Ukrainian language or culture. It all needs to be uprooted. That people need to be put in reeducation camps for generations. And be taught to forget everything Ukrainian.

It`s very much a genocidal language that is emanating from the Russian state media which is entirely controlled by the Kremlin.

O`DONNELL: Julia Davis, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, Professors Michele Bratcher Goodman and Melissa Murray will join us to consider Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson`s now certain future as a Supreme Court justice and Clarence Thomas`s future as a Supreme Court justice now that he has a clear public conflict of interest in all cases involving the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. That`s next.




SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): How could they create these caricatures? How could they create these exaggerations? How could they disrespect a person like her who has done everything right in her life and in her journey? How?

How qualified do you have to be, double Harvard? How qualified do you have to be, clerking at all levels of the federal judiciary? How qualified do you have to be, three times confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan manner.


O`DONNELL: That was this morning and then this evening, Ketanji Brown Jackson`s nomination passed a procedural vote in the Senate -- 53 to 47. And now we know, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is going to be confirmed by the senate once again this time to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Joining us now is Michele Bratcher Goodwin, chancellor`s professor of law at the University of California Irvine and Melissa Murray professor of law at New York University and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Professor Murray, first of all, your reaction to what we saw this morning in the judiciary committee`s meeting on this which then preceded this procedural vote on the senate floor tonight where we finally got to see what the final vote count is going to be.


MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well again, I think we saw a reprise of what we saw last week which is the Republicans manufacturing objections to a jurist that many of them voted to confirm just a year earlier.

When I say manufacture, I mean manufacture because they really had to come up with a lot of things in order to justify not voting for Judge Jackson this time around.

She`s an absolutely qualified, superlatively qualified, nominee and it was unfortunate that she couldn`t get bipartisan support out of the committee. But she will go forward and I think it`s likely she will be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court.

So this will have a happy ending but it`s unfortunate that the Republicans could not be a part of this historic nomination.

O`DONNELL: Professor Goodwin, it is all over. It is all over but the final roll call vote on the Senate floor. We now know what that vote is going to be -- 53 - 47. Three Republicans including this time, Mitt Romney.

And so we have a bipartisan vote, it can fairly be called. And we now know who the next Supreme Court justice is going to be. What has it been like for you? What have you learned, what have we learned in going through this confirmation process?

MICHELE BRATCHER GOODWIN, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA IRVINE: As a nation, we`ve learned that we have come far in some ways and yet there are so much further to go. As the clip that you`ve shown, with Senator Cory Booker asking the question, how qualified does a black woman need to be? That was the part that was not spoken.

Historically we`ve heard the language of twice as good as, and here what you saw, in some ways three times as good as. We saw a process that was supposed to be rigorous, but turned out to be disrespectful. We saw a process where not only was there a kind of harsh and harmful conduct towards Judge Jackson.

But we also saw the trampling of the rule of law. Questions about the legitimacy, even questioning the legitimacy of aspects of our constitution. We saw a kind of battering against individuals who had served our country as public defenders and federal defenders.

There`s a lot more to be alarmed by in this than just Judge Jackson`s -- the way in which she was treated by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I think that these hearings represented what we must be concerned about in terms of the future of our American democracy based on the conduct and the questions that were asked which are really quite serious and that implicate reproductive health and rights, that implicate LGBTQ equality, that implicate the First Amendment and so much more.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Judge Jackson said in the hearing about recusal.


SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): So now, you are on the board of overseers of Harvard. If you are confirmed, do you intend to recuse from the lawsuit?



O`DONNELL: Professor Murray, that sharpens the focus on Clarence Thomas not recusing himself from a case that we now know involves his wife.

MURRAY: Or in any of the future cases that will come up involving the events of January 6 and there is another case coming down the pike (ph) involving John Eastman, who was not only a former clerk to Justice Thomas but was actively involved in spinning the elaborate alternative electors profile involving the Vice President and telling then President Trump that this would be a plausible way of securing the election for himself.

There`s a case going forward right now that will likely come before the Supreme Court. I think Judge Jackson very wisely chose to recuse herself from that affirmative action case. She will still be able to take part in its companion case from the University of North Carolina.

But it does beg the question, Supreme Court justices are not required to recuse themselves from these cases. They do so as a matter of prudence. And the question is, where is the prudence on the part of Justice Thomas given the very real optics of impropriety involving his wife and the events of January 6.

This is not to say she is involved with something improper has happened, but that there is the appearance of impropriety and that`s all there needs to be to warrant a recusal.

O`DONNELL: Professor Goodwin, Laurence Tribe has said that Clarence Thomas has absolutely no choice here and the decision he already made in one case should be investigated in terms of what did he know and when did he know it about his wife`s communications.

GOODWIN: So one of the problems that we have here is that Supreme Court justices are expected to police themselves. And we see that they are fallible and that they don`t always do that well.


He`s not the first in that instance but we probably never had in a century a kind of conduct that is so obvious in terms of a person connected to a Supreme Court justice that would implicate the justice.

Let`s remember that very recently, Justice Thomas was the only vote against there being materials that were made open to the United States Senate that involve January 6th. That would also be in the state to think about recusal as being limited just to the January 6 event. The text from his wife implicate any number of areas of our democracy.

O`DONNELL: Professor Goodwin and Professor Murray, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. We always appreciate it.

GOODWIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.


O`DONNELL: Tomorrow at this hour, we will be joined by Sean Penn who will be just returning from Ukraine where he spent time before and after the war started interviewing President Zelenskyy and others.


Sean Penn can tell us what he saw and how President Zelenskyy is defending his country and what he learned from the Ukrainian people in his travels in a country at war.

Sean Penn will join us right here tomorrow night on THE LAST WORD at 10:00 p.m.. He will be my first in-studio guest in two years and two months.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.