tv Morning Joe MSNBC May 3, 2022 3:00am-6:00am PDT
thanks to all of you for getting up "way too early" on this tuesday morning with us. "morning joe" starts right now. do i have this day an opinion, a personal opinion, on the outcome in roe versus wade? and my answer to you is that i do not. >> do you think there is as fundamental a concern as legitimacy of the court would be involved if roe were to be overturned? >> mr. chairman, i think the legitimacy of the court would be undermined in any case if the court made a decision based on its perception of public opinion. >> so a good judge will consider as precedent of the united states supreme court worthy as treatment of precedent, like any other. >> senator, i said that it's settled as a precedent of the supreme court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis. one of the things to keep in
mind about roe v. wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years. >> as richard fallen from harvard said, roe is not a super precedent because calls for its overruling never ceased. it opportunity mean roe should be overruled. it means it doesn't fall on the handful of cases like brown versus the board, that no one questions anymore. >> we have breaking supreme court news this morning. "politico" drops a bombshell on the u.s. legal and political system with an unprecedented leak from the supreme court, that roe v. wade may be on the verge of being overturned, reversing nearly 50 years of federal protection for apportion abortion rights. the document that could shift history and the leak that rocked the supreme court. plus, the reporter who broke the
story will be our guest. it is primary day in ohio. will donald trump remember the candidate he endorsed? >> he likes them all now. >> because he can't remember the name. also the latest from ukraine. efforts to evacuate the remaining civilians from the steel plant appear to have stalled amid reports that russia may soon try to annex part of ukraine's eastern region. along with joe, willie, and me, we have the host of "way too early" and white house bureau chief at "politico," jonathan lemire. correspondent for bbc news, katty kay. let's dive into the breaking news. a potentially groundbreaking shift in american constitutional law, the supreme court appears poised to strike down the landmark roe v. wade decision. according to a leaked draft opinion published last night by "politico," a majority of the supreme court is prepared to overturn the right to abortion. the leak of the 98-page document is unprecedented in the court's modern history.
the draft opinion was reportedly authored by justice samuel alito and circulated in february. alito writes, in part, this. roe was egregiously wrong from the start. its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. it is time to heed the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives. nbc news has not obtained or been able to independently verify the authenticity of the document, and that supreme court has declined to comment. the final opinion is expected in late june or early july. joe, so many different moving parts here, but, overall, what does this story mean for the supreme court? >> well, i mean, for the supreme court, in a word, illegitimacy. you know, the court has always been guided by the law, but it's also been keenly aware that it is the only unelected branch of american government. they needed to not appear to be
openly contemptuous of public opinion. might makes right approach to the sacking of garland. or the elevation of donald trump's final pick. one more thing, look at this picture from madeleine albright's funeral. the five democratic politicians on the front row won the most votes in the presidential elections of 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020. yet, a half century of constitutional rights supported by over 70% of americans -- let me underline that again. people lying to you on other channels will never say this. over 70% of americans support that constitutional right. it'll be swept away by the presidents not in this picture and the presidents who were outvoted in each one of those
elections over the last three decades. now, americans will rightly conclude that their voices and their votes no longer matter. so what are the implications for the court, for the law, and for american democracy? let's bring in historian jon meacham and also former acting u.s. solicitor general. as kissinger said, i think during vietnam, perception is reality. obviously, the perception for 70% of americans waking up this morning is going to be, most likely, that this is a illegitimate decision by an illegitimate court. >> well, the crisis of trust in institutions has just become universal in a way that is pretty much the nightmare scenario, if you believe in the
ultimate efficacy of the constitutional order to produce a more perfect union, right? so protect the jeffersonian assertion of equality. to protect the rule of law, for all its imperfections. the system has been worth defending for 250 years. right now, if this draft decision, if the court were to go this far, you will have, as you were just saying, an extraordinary number of americans believing that the system, in fact, cannot, is not capable of delivering justice, is not capable of reflecting the popular will, even through the constitutional prism. and i think that, you know, one of the great questions of the era, the great question of the era, is are you and i, are we in this decade, are we up to
democracy? are we commensurate to the task? i'm worried that we're entering the darkest period of that test. because if you have any reservations about the system's capacity to deliver justice, they have just been affirmed. >> neil, again, this isn't actually terribly surprising based on the oral arguments we heard in the dobbs case back in december. but, as joe points out, poll after poll shows this is about a 30% position that the supreme court has taken. it doesn't, obviously, operate on polls. it operates on whether or not they believe this roe versus wade should be upheld, whether it is legal. you've slept on this. you've read through most of the opinion or the draft opinion. what is your first blush reaction, first to the substance of it and second to this leak? >> honestly, i want to cry. you know, i want to cry in so many different ways.
just to start with the substance of this decision. this is as full throated and muscular a decision as could ever be envisioned. yes, after the oral argument, i think we all predicted roe versus wade was on thin ice. i think many thought it'd be another year. i mean, for the last three years, i've been saying, once justice barrett got on the court, roe's names are numbered. to see it in print -- obviously, it is only a draft opinion, but it sure loos like a real opinion. this doesn't look like a deep fake or anything. it uses all of justice alito's signature moves, and it feels legitimate. what it means, just on abortion first, is that states can now pass laws with no rape or incest exception whatsoever, prohibiting abortion, and those are now constitutional. the supreme court will not stand in their way. congress can pass such a law
outlawing abortion in the 50 years. the supreme court will not stand in its way. so that's on abortion. then the reasoning of this decision is so, as i say, muscular, it could reach other rights, as well, including the right of marriage equality, which is just recognized by the supreme court a few years ago. this is an opinion that robert boric would have written. of course, he was rejected from the court because of these views. >> you know, jon meacham, what is -- what appears to be jarring from this decision, maybe a decision that comes out, first of all, anybody that has ever known john roberts and his work, john roberts' work, would suggest, and have long suggested, that there would never be this abrupt of an ending to a half century constitutional right.
again, it can't be said enough, supported by over 70% of americans. yet, here we are. but this is the same supreme court, this is the same federal judiciary that, time and time again, struck down donald trump's most specious claims, held up the election, seemed to be an independent branch. of course, one decision does not change that reality. i think the problem here, though, for americans -- and, again, when you're talking about the legitimacy of the court versus illegitimacy of the court, so many people are going to look at the process through which we nominate, select, vote for, and send people to the supreme court. they will see what happened over the past 20, 30 years. mainly, they'll see what mitch mcconnell and the republican senate did with merrick garland.
oh, no, wait a second, no, no, we have a rule and can't support anyone going into the last year. that was barack obama's last year. of course, in donald trump's last few months, suddenly, that rule didn't matter. what i was concerned about then and what i said then and what i'm concerned about now is the fact that this might makes right approach will be used against republicans. will be used. the court will be expanded. democrats, when they get in power at some point where they have majority, a larger majority, will say, "well, republicans did it, so why can't we?" then you're talking, again, the further illegitimacy of the court that we have to depend on to uphold our constitution. >> absolutely. and the illusion you're making is to abraham lincoln's speech at cooper union, as he was
beginning to run for president. that the principle of right makes might must be upheld, not that might makes right. this is an assertion of raw strength marshalled under the provisions of the constitutions that were not tied to popular -- the popular will in terms of choosing a president, right? that's why. if you look on the opinion, the draft that neal is talking about, three of these justices were appointed by donald trump. one of whom came to power because of the maneuver you mentioned, which was ahistorical, to take that seat. and we cannot ignore that this draft is the fruit of a generations long effort by the conservative legal establishment, conservative legal movement, to bring about
this day. you know, jerry falwell used to tell the story, becoming politics was important on the day he read one newspaper. it was the day in 1973 when lyndon johnson had died. that news was reported and roe versus wade was decided. it took six, seven years for abortion rights to become the center of that movement. but this is a 50-year, 50-year struggle, and i think -- america only works if you agree with both the spirit and the letter of the law. i want to say that again. you have to have a kind of intellectual and emotional assent, agreement with the kinds of ethos you're talking about. 70% of americans believe this is a -- support this as a constitutional right. it is a deep, fundamental, personal, complicated, charged
emotion that goes straight to the definition of life itself. there is arguably no more complicated, charged, emotional, and immensely complicated issue than this. which means probably the last place to deal with it is in a country this divided with a potential 5-4 decision as part of a legal body that depends on our assent to their authority. john marshall kind of made all this up. i'll defer to neal, obviously, on that. but judicial review is a doctrine, ancient in america now, but it requires our believing in the essential good faith of the courts themselves. that the rule of law is, in fact, fairly applied.
>> yeah. >> earl warren -- >> i was just saying, it is fascinating. you talk about jerry falwell. you talk about what's happened since 1973. you've had political and religious sharlitons down to one issue. they're liars. they have no idea what the new testament is about when they do that. it is a strain of ignorant christian nationalism. but that's what they've done. so that's what's happened to not only our political system for people on the right. they've reduced conservatism down to one issue. sadly, there have been those in the christian faith who have done the same thing, who obviously haven't read a single
red letter in the gospels. you can read the gospels and, again, this reduction of american politics, american conservatism, and american christianity down to the issue of abortion, it's just grotesque. i've said it before. i'll say it again. you know, one other thing, willie, jon's right. many people on the right that have been working for decades to bring this moment about, and, of course, that is their right. that has been their dream. let's be very clear, that goal has been to bring america to this point in spite of america, in spite of what americans think, in spite of what the overwhelming majority of the voters think, in spite of what -- so the strategy wasn't, oh, let's just get to a point
where we can overturn roe verse wade. it's always been, let's get to a point where we can overturn roe v. wade, despite the fact that only 1 in 4 americans want that to happen. should the supreme court completely overturn roe v. wade, this is just the latest of polls that have gone back a very long time. 71% say no. 23% say yes. so, yes, this has been a project by many on the right, on the legal right. when you look at every one of these polls, willie, the project has been to overturn a 50-year precedent, despite the fact the overwhelming majority of americans still believe in this constitutional right that has been enshrined in the constitution for 50 years. >> this has been the holy grail, as you know well, for many conservatives for two generations now, two and a half generations, to overturn re versus wade.
as you look at those numbers of 70%, that, by definition, includes republicans, includes independents. this is not a democratic issue if it is a 70% issue. katty kay, as we talk about the practical impacts, if, in fact, this is the final decision. again, this is a reported first draft. 13 states have trigger laws, which the moment this is struck down, if it is by the supreme court, abortion is all but outlawed. it is outlawed outright, but effectively in 13 states. and if you look at most analysis, it could be 24, 25, 26 states that go ahead and outlaw most abortions, as well. so that's what it looks like in june if this decision is, in fact, handed down. >> if you talk about the practical impacts, it increases the divide between poor women who won't be able to travel to a state that's potentially quite some distance from where they
are living in order to get a termination to their pregnancy, and wealthier women who will. that's always been the wrap on abortion. really, the more you restrict abortion, the more you are attacking poorer women who won't have the means to find legal, safe apportion somewhere else. but to the point on the polls, and neal, maybe you can answer this one, what's the impact on the court and on the country if the court were to go ahead and overturn roe verse wade when, as joe has been pointing out, it's two-thirds of the country don't want that to happen? we've been hearing in the last few months, you know, talk about civil war in this country. i find that hard to believe. we've also been talking, some people have said, about california saying, you know what, the rest of america doesn't represent me anymore. we vote consistency democratic. we vote consistently in favor of issues like keeping abortion
safe in this country. what are we gaining from being part of this union? what is the turmoil in the country that would follow a ruling like this? >> well, i think we have never, obviously, been in this situation. having a leaked opinion, for the court to watch the reaction in real time to the draft and then take adjustments. the way the supreme court works is that there's an oral argument. there is an oral argument in the mississippi case in december. the nine justices voted. the senior most justice in the majority got to assign the opinion. here, it looks like that was not the chief justice, chief justice roberts, because he would have kept it for himself. it looks like it was justice thomas who, for many opinions, i suspect, didn't want to write it himself. he gave it to justice alito. justice alito then wrote this draft opinion and circulated it to the rest of the court. but for five justices, that means there was a tentative vote of at least five members of the court saying, this is going to be the law. in the supreme court, counting the five is everything.
it means that they get to write the opinion the way they see fit. so that's the draft that we've seen from "politico." it can be changed. sometimes drafts do change. but on something as momentous as this, it is hard to say i see this as a realistic possibility. there may be a footnote here, a line there that changes, but, you know, i don't think more than that. all these public opinion polls that you were showing is something the court was well aware of before. this is a change in the competition of the supreme court that's led to e versus wade was decision with five of the justices appointed by republican presidents. planned parenthood versus casey in 1992, the linchpin was justices o'connor, kennedy, and sutter, saying the court's
credability is on the maintaining of roe v. wade. >> you may not be comfortable trying to analyze these justices, and i know for kavanaugh and amy coney barrett, obviously, with the latter, there is really not a great deal of information, not a lot of opinions to go by. but i had early on, from everything i had read, i had thought kavanaugh and roberts -- i thought roberts and kavanaugh were walking in lockstep, a more nuanced conservative with the approach to constitutional matters, than, say, thomas, who everyone has known for decades would gladly erase a 50-year precedent whole cloth and not think twice about it.
are you surprisd if kavanaugh ends up splitting from roberts here? >> yeah, in a way. the chief justice institutionalist. i can't imagine what he is going through right now. after justice ginsberg passed away, the chief justice doesn't matter. as long as kavanaugh votes in, as you say, joe, the split way, it's all he needs. justice kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings testified that roe was settled precedent and the like, leading some senators to vote for him. if this draft opinion is right, it looks like that the way he testified wasn't accurate. >> neal and jon meacham, thank you both for coming in to talk about this unprecedented breaking news. we'll have much more on this in a moment. the reporter who broke the story will be our guest, along with
former u.s. attorney barbara mcquaid, on what this could mean for other rights recently protected by the supreme court. we will also talk about the latest out of ukraine, where pentagon officials say russian forces are making very little progress in the donbas region of eastern ukraine. >> they're just still not good. >> that's where -- >> this is not breaking news. the russian army still very bad. >> that's where most of the fighting is focused right now. we'll speak with defense department spokesman john kirby. we're back in just a moment. ♪ ♪ ♪♪ voltaren. the joy of movement. ♪♪
supreme court is prepared to overturn the right to abortion. the draft opinion was reportedly authored by justice samuel alito and circulated in february. the leak of the 98-page document is unprecedented in the court's modern history. joining us now is the reporter who broke this major story, senior legal affairs reporter at "politico," josh gerstein. also with us, former u.s. attorney and an msnbc contributor, barbara mcquaid, with more on what it means. josh, we'll start with you. obviously, never -- this has never happened before. i can't ask you how you did this, but tell us more about what is in this opinion and the timeline. we're looking ahead at june and july for movement here. >> right, mika. so we're probably about two months away from a decision. typically, the supreme court's most important and most
controversial opinions come out by the end of june. occasionally, they drag over a little bit into july. and so these next few weeks are really where the rubber meets the road on this decision. our understanding is, obviously, publicly, this case was argued. it comes out of mississippi on their 15-week abortion ban. the underlying issue is much broader than that. it is the entire federal constitutional right to abortion. it was argued back on december 1st, and this opinion emerged as the first draft majority opinion of the court on february 10th, according to a note that's on the front of the opinion. there's other indications that alito's clerks were at work drafting this in january. so it's been kicking around up there at the court as the sort of main opinion on this particular abortion case now for about 2 1/2 months. it's unclear whether we've seen any dissents at this point or any revisions to this opinion, which we would expect.
based on our reporting from a source familiar with the proceedings at the court, information that both myself and my co-author alex ward obtained, it does appear it has the backing of five conservative justices. that is all five republican appointees on the court, except for chief justice john roberts, who has some reservations, it would appear, about the wording. which if you go through it, mika, it's not terribly surprising. the tone of the opinion is very brash and probably not consistent with the way john roberts typically approaches cases. >> there is reporting from cnn that chief justice roberts will dissent in this. josh, quick process question. given the gravity of this news and of this statement, this opinion that was written, are you certain that it is real? because, you know, there has been some speculation about it, that because this is such a big deal, everyone wants to make
sure it is what it is. because a leak like this is so rare, unprecedented, we haven't seen anything like it. >> well, you can imagine that we took that into consideration. we took a lot of steps -- i'm not going to go into them all -- to try to verify the authenticity of this document. we became convinced after taking those various steps and doing additional research about the procedures at the court, talking to former clerks and other legal experts familiar with the court, that the format, the timing, and i have to say, as much as anything, if you go through the opinion, the rather elaborate way in which it seeks to bring all of the justices, all the conservative justices of the court, with the exception of chief justice roberts, on board, it had a clear air of truth. i have to say most of the experts that i've seen commenting since we released it last night are saying that they believe that it is, in fact, an authentic draft opinion. now, that doesn't mean that over the next two months, as the
justices deliberate, that they couldn't change some of it. we found a few typos, just to bring up a trivial matter, that are definitely going to have to be weeded out. it could change substantially. we've seen justices in history, including on roe v. wade, waiver on these issues and sometimes take a more moderate opinion as they come to the final days of decision. >> barbara mcquaid, so, first of all, what was your reaction to this news, and what happens to a woman's right to abortion given this? and how could this impact other rights down the road? >> my reaction is shock. i think we knew that this was coming based on the tone of the arguments in december, but i thought chief justice roberts might be able to put together a coalition that would at least stop the bleeding at 15 weeks, which is what the dobbs case was advocating for.
instead, they've gone full on in completely removing the right to an abortion. no rape provision. no incest exception. no ifs, ands, or buts. there is no right to abortion in america. what does that mean? in the states where there are these trigger laws that say if and when roe versus wade is overturned, then we will immediately make it illegal to obtain an abortion in our state. there are 13 states with those. another dozen or so states, including my state of michigan, has old laws on the books. 1931 law in michigan banned abortion that became unconstitutional when roe was decided. once roe is gone, that law is back. half the states in america, it'll be illegal for a person to obtain an abortion. what does mean practically? those with the means will probably travel to states where
it is legal. others will revert to back alley abortions. in chicago in the 1960s, there were 4,000 emergency room visits per week in chicago based on emergency medical need for botched abortions. that's where we're headed. >> barbara, let me ask you where we're headed inside the court itself. this decision written in february. we, of course, are in early may. we may not get a final decision released for another month, month and a half. as you know better than most of us, there's still horse trading going on. so-called horse trading, back and forth bargaining, the exchanging of drafts, sometimes late into the process. is it not possible that what we see at the end may be, if roberts can figure out how to
get kavanaugh or barrett or somebody else to take a more nuanced approach, that pays greater respect to the overwhelming majority's opinion on this constitutional right, on this 50-year precedent, is there not a possibility that there may be a more balanced, nuanced approach to this when we get the final opinion released in june? >> yes, you're right, joe. it is possible. that horse trading does occur. you'll see drafts go back and forth. someone will say, i can't sign on to this opinion, but what i could sign on to is one that is the position that the dobbs case was actually advocating for, which is a ban after 15 weeks or later. so we could see that. but what i don't think we're going to see is a complete reversal that says roe still stands, which was the viability standard. so i also -- it really begs the question, joe, who is behind this leak and why?
there are a lot of theories. you know, one is that it is the outraged liberals on the court. the other is that it is some of the conservatives trying to dull the uproar when this ultimately comes out. there is also the possibility that it is somebody who wants to see this case locked in, this decision, because those who care about legitimacy, like chief justice roberts, will be very uninclined to want to change their view after it has been out there in the public domain, less it appears that they are caving to public pressure. so i think that really speaks a lot about what is going on in the internal dynamics of the court here. >> mika, this is an important point by barbara. >> yeah. >> this leak, it could be from people on the left that want to get the base activated, get people talking about it. it could also be people on the right who want to exert pressure, especially on justice kavanaugh, amy coney barrett. john roberts, what he's put
together, often, is a court divided in threes. three on the hard right. three on the center right. three on the center left, the far left. so this could be, actually, a shot across -- you know, if somebody closely connected to alito wants alito's view to rule the day, they leak this document and try to put kavanaugh and coney barrett into position where they can't, as we said, where they can't horse trade with roberts. where they can't come up with something that moves in the direction of the 15-week ban. at the same time, doesn't tell 70% of americans to go to hell. >> right. >> that the right of the governed doesn't matter at all. so who knows? it could be alito's people putting it out. it could be somebody on the left putting it out. >> regardless, it'll be
fascinating to see how this shapes politics leading up to the midterms and shapes the messages of both sides. jonathan lemire, curious about white house reaction to this. president biden is visiting a javelin making plant in alabama today, but, certainly, this will be what he'll be asked about. >> yeah. no public reaction from the white house last night in the wake of the draft report. you're certainly right, mika, that will change today. the president will be asked about this. i mean, certainly, there has been frustration among abortion rights activists, that the president won't use the word "abortion," talking about the right to choose, to the frustration of some. this looks to be an animating issue come this november. even as there had been some surprise that there hadn't been widespread protests among democrats when certain states restricted abortion. likely that will change. we saw a seen at the supreme court last night, protesters gathered there.
barricades were put up outside the building. this is going to be a significant story in the days, weeks ahead, all the way to november. you can see it potentially exciting the bases of both sides. josh, i wanted to first of all congratulate you, again, on what was one of the biggest scoops we can remember in a very long time. and i wanted to get you to talk a little bit more, though, about the internal dynamics of the court. we heard from justice sotomayor earlier this year talk about the stain, in her words, about how politics, she perceived, was creeping into the court. how it was no longer approach -- above the approach. ketanji brown jackson will take her seats in the months ahead. but now, how, in the wake of the leak, are justices going to talk and trust each other? >> well, that's a good question, jonathan. thank you. indeed, you're right, my feeling is that once this opinion is out, it becomes very difficult
to un-ring this bell. it is almost like an observer effect. once we've looked in on this situation, just by looking at it, we've affected it, right? we brought more oxygen into that room maybe than is typically in there. i think it is going to affect the dynamic. i don't think the justices will probably accuse each other of having leaked this. beyond that, i do think it'll affect the trust behind closed doors at the court. as you all have been sort of discussing this morning, it's hard to know exactly how that will play out. will it cause people to become sort of more stiff in their positions and unwilling to change, or will it lead to some kind of an outpouring of reaction that maybe helps, say, chief justice roberts build a more centrist coalition for this case? you know, that's what we're going to see over the next month and a half. i will say that this opinion itself, when you read it, it is very, very strident.
the ibdcatio indication we rece you had five justices willing to go along with it. it seems difficult to back down from. the language, particularly toward the 1973 court, justice harry blackman from the other justices who voted for that, 7-2 decision, not really a close decision in roe versus wade, not treated with a great deal of respect by this alito draft. the language is almost contemptuous toward the thinking behind the 1973 ruling. that's, indeed, part of why it is hard the see justice john roberts, the chief justice, going along with language similar to this, because it does not seem, let's say, terribly respectful toward those justices. of course, all of them -- >> i was going to say -- yeah, i have to say, josh, i also find it hard to believe -- i mean, i could -- obviously, alito writes
this way. obviously, thomas is more willing to write this way. take a more dramatic, conservative approach with less emphasis on precedent. but it does seem, it does seem, i don't know, inconsistent for brett kavanaugh and amy coney barrett to sign on to this sort of opinion. so i guess i have two questions for you here before we let you go. the first one, forgive me for being impolitic, but you guys are sure you're not, like, sitting on the hitler diaries of, you know -- remember 1983 when stern published the hitler diaries, and everybody followed it? like, first of all, you're sure of the authenticity of this document, first of all? the second question is, how do you guys know this isn't just
the draft of -- because it sounds very much like alito -- that it is not just alito's draft that he sends around, which is, again, part of the process. alito may have his draft. kavanaugh has his draft. others have drafts. they share it back and forth and come to consensus. first, again, the legitimacy of it. how sure are you that it is nailed down? second one is, how sure are you that this isn't just an opening draft by alito, to try to pull the other conservatives on board? >> well, i mean, those are good questions, joe, and we're very confident that it is an authentic draft. obviously, we can't say what will happen in the future, right, and how justices may move around. >> right. >> we're confident that this opinion, which is labeled as an opinion of the court. it's not labeled as a discussion document or, you know, a concurrence that maybe justice alito could get another justice to sign onto.
it is our understanding that justice alito was assigned this opinion, to write it on behalf of the majority. and at the moment, it appears that it does have the support of five of the six conservative justices. so we've looked at it. you're welcome to ask your other guests whether they think it appears to be authentic. and the way in which, in particular, joe, i'd say if you look at it carefully, it goes through the justices who might vote for this, with the exception of chief justice roberts. it caters to them in various ways. parts of the opinion caters to justice amy coney barrett. part of the opinion caters to justice thomas and the way he's framed abortion cases in the past. that, combined with a lot of other factors, many of which i'm not at liberty to discuss, contributed to our being convinced that it is, in fact, an authentic draft opinion of the supreme court.
that, you know, of course with the caveat that the process isn't over, and it could change. >> senior legal affairs reporter at "politico," josh gerstein, thank you very much for your reporting this morning. our thanks to former u.s. attorney barbara mcquaid, as well. coming up, the first test of donald trump's influence over this year's republican primaries. we'll take a look at what's at stake today in ohio. plus, a snag in efforts to evacuate hundreds of civilians trapped inside that steel plant in the ukrainian city of mariupol. we'll have an update on the new attempts to get them to safety this morning. we'll be right back.
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♪♪ look at new york city on, mika, what you know is my favorite day of the year for a few reasons. of course, it's the day that willie and i were released from a turkish jail in 1974. i always remember may the 3rd, 1974. >> yeah, good day. >> my release day. very few people know it, willie, but i have the tattoo, 5-3-74. it is why people say, why do you have so much hair? you know, when you have -- when you're shaved -- >> stop. >> -- head in turkey for four years, you put a tattoo up there. then you come back and it's like, i want to hide it. it's liberation day for willie and me.
the second thing is -- by the way, we still haven't been back to istanbul since. >> happy birthday is another way of saying it. >> i can't do it. i can't go there, willie. the second reason, though, of course, willie, and it must be extra special for you, this is your birthday. it is always my favorite. now, we can't remember any of these days from aut 2 to aut 7. we had rough years together, willie. i just want to thank you on this day, now that you can remember it with your very rich background with me, going back to '47 after the war, talk about your birthday. what are you going to do? >> talk about your birthday. i talk about my birthday? >> just horrible. >> listen, we were grateful that day to president nixon. had a lot of other stuff going on, getting us out of the turkish prison. i got my tattooed across my stomach like tupac with "thug
life." it was a bad decision, it melted a little bit. thank you, joe, for the kind and genuine birthday wishes. mika, i wasn't here yesterday, so i owe you a happy birthday, as well. we go back-to-back, so never forget the birthdays. >> get it over with. >> sweet wishes. >> it is very special. i just -- >> joe, what are you doing. >> honey, i have memories from this day. >> what is that yellow towel? that's not -- that's what we use for the table and the screens. stop. [ laughter ] >> please, it's gross. >> it's a bittersweet day. >> there's windex on that thing. >> well, i have to get the tears somehow. katty kay, i know this is moving to you. would you like to wish willie a happy birthday? >> katty is like, leave me out of this. >> willie, happy birthday. have a great day. get presents. erase the terrible memories. i have no idea where that thread was going. but happy birthday. >> yeah. >> now you know.
jonathan lemire, we have allowed the yankees to trounce us in the standings for willie's birthday. it's time the red sox start playing baseball. >> yeah, that was kind. first of all, president erdogan sends his best, willie. secondly, the yankees have ten straight wins. that does seem like a nice celebration for you. in all seriousness, happy birthday, my friend. >> again, just to watch the country fall in love with the yankees bunch, it's been fun to watch. >> that's not been happening at all. >> thank you for the bizarre birthday wishes. appreciate it. back to the news. ohio's primary elections are today, with the republican senate race getting a great deal of national attention because of donald trump. a poll released yesterday shows a tight contest. jd vance, who is endorsed by former president trump, though president trump couldn't remember his name the other night, has a slim lead over a surging matt dolan and josh mandel, who once was considered a frontrunner for the nomination. dolan's family owns the
cleveland guardians baseball team, and he is the only of the three to acknowledge the 2020 election was not stolen from donald trump. the race is widely considered to be a major test of trump's influence on this year's midterm elections. the winner likely to face democratic congressman tim ryan this fall. former president seemed to hedge his endorsement of vance yesterday after, as i said, calling vance by the wrong name during a rally on sunday in nebraska. >> i lost one race, they say trump was humiliated. that's what they're waiting for. they're waiting for one race. you know, we've endorsed dr. oz. we've endorsed jp, right? jd mandel. he's doing great. >> jp, jd mandel. police we reporter for the "daily beast" roger sollenberger tweeted at a telerally yesterday, president trump said he likes all of the candidates. he also called the primary a
mess. let's bring in host and executive producer of the "circus" on showtime and executivd editor, john heilemann. and msnbc political analyst, another of our great friends, eugene robinson. good morning to you both. lay out the stakes today in ohio. if you can, the polls are as fight as can be. effectively a tie there. how does it break tonight? >> man, willie, i don't know. you said it was a mess. it's a mess for sure. not only in the sense that you've seen donald trump obviously forgetting who he endorsed, but you have five candidates there on the republican primary, any of who could win. statistically speaking, two are on the move. vance. donald trump's endorsement gave him a boost in the polls. before, he was not in the race until april 15th or 14th when trump endorsed him and he suddenly shot up. right now, has a statistical
tie. has a lot of the momentum going up. matt dolan, state senator who is, as you said, also the only one of those five who says that the election of 2020 was legitimate. he has been the only one who has been mildly willing to break with donald trump. he still says he likes donald trump and considers himself a supporter of donald trump. that's really what's on the ballot tonight, more than anything. i mean, all five of these candidates to one degree or another are supporters of trump or trumpism or both. the only real question -- and all have what most people would consider some minor strengths and a lot of big flaws as candidates. they've really beaten the hell out of each other over the course of the primary. the thing on the ballot tonight is donald trump's juice, basically, is donald trump's influence in the party. this is the first test where a trump-endorsed candidate, we'll see just how powerful donald trump is as a kingmaker. the only reason it is a test is donald trump tells us all the time that he is a kingmaker in the party. i think it is fair to say that if jd vance doesn't win this
primary, people will not necessarily say trump is humiliated, but they will question whether or not he still has the power within the republican primaries that he's had much of the past four, five years. >> it's kind of a snapshot, isn't it, gene, of the republican party, which is to say, it has been a race in ohio to show how deeply you can pledge your allegiance to donald trump. how low you the bow to donald trump. jd vance technically gets the endorsement. as i said, last night, it was donald trump saying, well, i like all the candidate, hedges in case vance loses. he doesn't have to declare himself a loser along with him. what will you be watching for tonight though? >> you know, you have three candidates in the polling in the 20s there, so that really creates an opportunity, i think, for jd vance, who was nowhere before trump endorsed him, nowhere in this race. he does have momentum. for me, he's kind of favored
tonight right now. i wouldn't dream of saying this a month ago because, as i said, he was nowhere in the polls. i'll be watching for that. if i might, i need to throw in one quick thing about roe v. wade, which is, a person most responsible for this decision, if, indeed, this draft is correct, is mitch mcconnell. mitch mcconnell refused to hold the hearing of merrick garland nearly a year because it was too close to an election and then rushed through amy coney barrett to the court in a matter of days. essentially stole two seats on the supreme court from democrats. this is the result. so elections do matter, including elections for the senate, because it matters who the majority leader is. in this case, mitch mcconnell is about to overturn roe v. wade.
it is just about the top of the hour now. we're going to continue to follow the huge breaking news from the supreme court overnight. roe v. wade poised to be overturned according to a draft opinion obtained by "politico." it would undo 50 years of federal protection for abortion rights and could further harm the legitimacy of the high court. we'll play part of our conversation with the reporter who broke the story. plus, justice correspondent pete williams will join us. later, an update on ukraine from pentagon press secretary john kirby. and in a minute, we'll talk to one of the lawmakers who visited ukraine this past weekend with house speaker nancy pelosi. a lot to talk about this morning, joe. breaking news out of "politico," though, i think will have political ramifications heading up to the midterms. >> i think it will. again, two big questions hang over this story.
first of all, is it -- "politico" went with it. they're confident it's the news. you have "the new york times" that, of course, is leading with it. the "washington post" is leading with it. rupert murdoch's "wall street journal" leading with it, as well. so there is a belief it is legitimate. >> it is still unprecedented this happened. it's never happened. >> if it is, in fact, what "politico" and the news organizations say it is, and i would say it appears to be legitimate, that's part one. part two, though, again, is it's just so striking how harsh the rhetoric is here. you can read opinions by john roberts and tell they're john roberts opinions, or by thomas or alito. this sounds so much like aloe alito. doesn't sound as much from barrett or kavanaugh from the limited looks we've had at their
opinions. >> right. >> again, my only question right now is, is this an early draft or not? josh said that it was not an early draft. it had opinion across the top. but that was written in february. again, perhaps this is the decision that will come out. but there can be a lot of horse trading going on between february and late june, when this opinion is released. i think the bigger question right now for us is the leak. why was there the leak? also, did the leak come from somebody in alito's camp, in the pro-life camp, that wanted to keep amy coney barrett and kavanaugh nailed down, more connected no alito opinion? or was it from somebody on the left who wanted to send it out as a warning? that roe v. wade, a 50-year precedent that 73% of americans support, that roe v. wade is
going to be overturned in the next couple months. those are the questions that hang over this bombshell of a story. john heilemann, we'll get to that in one moment. first, i want to go back. we were talking about this primary tonight in ohio. of course, tim ryan will win the democratic side. tim ryan is about, i would think, one of the better candidates that you could run in ohio in 2022 if you were the democratic party. so it'll be interesting to see who he is running against. let's look at donald trump for a second and why tonight is so important to donald trump. first of all, we look at georgia. you have brian kemp, his number one enemy. public enemy number one for donald trump out of all the governors. hated him so much, he said he'd vote for staey abrams. he'd support stacey abrams before brian kemp. pushed a united states senator to run against the governor. that senator is getting stomped,
getting crushed by brian kemp. a man, again, that donald trump absolutely loathes. told everybody to vote against. then you have mo brooks in alabama who got donald trump's endorsement and did so poorly, his endorsement meant absolutely nothing in alabama. so donald trump withdrew that endorsement. now brooks suddenly attacking donald trump. then we have ohio. very interesting, you have donald trump, again, not even remembering jd vance's name. jp somebody. jp mandel. then yesterday, this bizarre, this bizarre conference call that was supposed to be for vance. he said, you know, i kind of like everybody. it's just a mess. so here you have donald trump starting to flinch. >> hedge his bets. >> you have donald trump starting to hedge his bets. it's donald trump knowing he's lost a had the of juice in the republican party.
this race right now is much closer than it would have been, say, two years ago if he'd endorsed somebody. what do you take out of tonight, given, again, his problems in alabama and georgia? >> well, yeah. look, joe, i think it's those races for sure. you saw not just in the georgia race. you had reports yesterday that mike pence's former chief of staff mark short is now down there working for brian kemp in that race. basically as taken a side in the race against purdue. it reflects also a sense that the former vice president, vice president pence has split with trump recently, senses maybe there is weakness there. there is weakness in the sense that kemp is obviously, right now, easily ahead and the frontrunner to win that primary. you know, the vultures are starting to circle, in some ways, within the republican party. that won't just be a repudiation and weakness of trump, but other republicans who might challenge him or stand in his way from
running in 2024 are seizing on the potential weakness there. second point, pennsylvania. look where trump made another endorsement that a lot of conservatives were upset with. the endorsement in the pennsylvania senate race of dr. oz. dr. oz has got an little boost out of that, but that's still a very close race. a race in pennsylvania that trump could easily lose. very high-profile senate primary. then you have this ohio race, where, you know, there is no doubt that trump's endorsement has meant a lot to jd vance and has given him upward lift. but it's not put him out of reach of any of these other -- like i said before, there's five republicans, statistically, who could win tonight, and three are really in the hunt. he got some lift out of donald trump, but it didn't put him prohibitively ahead. to your point, two years ago, that would have been the end of the ohio republican party, if donald trump laid his hands on vance, it would have caused the others to fall back.
the fact there is suspense about it suggests some of the weakness you're pointing to. but i will say the last thing, right, which is, you know, it is still the case in the ohio race that every one of those republican candidates has raced to embrace donald trump as much as they can. even though he may be showing some signs of weakness, he still has enough power to shape the conversation in every one of these republican primaries we're seeing right now. his endorsement is still seen as worse something, and his positions, especially on the election in 2020, are now mainstream in the republican camp. >> we will keep a close eye on ohio. if you're just waking up this morning, there is major news out of the supreme court. according to a leak draft opinion published last night by "politico," a majority of the supreme court is prepared to overturn the landmark re versus wade decision. the leak of the 98-page document unprecedented in the court's modern history. the draft opinion reportedly was authored by justice alito and circulated in february. alito writes, in part, quote,
roe was egregiously wrong from the start. its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. it is time to heed the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elective representatives. end quote. nbc news has not obtained or been able to identify independently the authenticity of that document. the supreme court has declined to comment. last hour, we spoke with "politico's" josh gerstein who broke that news at "politico," as well as former u.s. attorney barbara mcquaid. we started by asking josh about the timeline for when the court actually might strike down roe versus wade. >> we're probably about two months away from a decision. typically, the supreme court's most important and most controversial opinions come out by the end of june. occasionally, they drag over a little bit into july. and so those next few weeks are really where the rubber meets the road on this decision. our understanding is, obviously,
publicly, this case was argued. it comes out of mississippi on their 15-week abortion ban. but the underlying issue is much, much broader than that. it's the entire federal constitutional right to abortion. it was argued back on december 1st, and this opinion emerged as the first draft majority opinion of the court on february 10th, according to a note that's right on the front of the opinion. there's other indications that alito's clerks were at work drafting this in january. so it's been kicking around up there at the court as this sort of main opinion on this particular abortion case now for about 2 1/2 months. it's unclear whether we've seen any dissents at this point or any revisions to this opinion, which we would expect. based on our reporting from a source familiar with the proceedings at the court, information that both myself and my co-author alex ward obtained, it does appear it has the backing of five conservative
justices. that is all five republican appointees on the court, except for chief justice john roberts who has some reservations, it would appear, about the wording. which if you go through it, mika, it's not terribly surprising. the tone of the opinion is very brash and probably not consistent with the way john roberts typically approaches cases. >> there is some reporting this morning from cnn that chief justice roberts will dissent in this. josh, quick process question for you given the gravity of this news and of this statement, this opinion that was written. are you certain that it is real? there has been speculation about it. because this is such a big deal, everyone wants to make sure it is, in fact, what it is, and because a leak like this is so rare, we haven't seen anything like it.
>> we took a lot of steps into that and verified the document. after taking the various steps and doing additional research about the procedures at the court, talking to former clerks and other legal experts familiar with the court, that the format, the timing. and if you go through the opinion, the elaborate way it seeks to get all the conservative justices of the court, with the exception of chief justice roberts on board, it had a clear air of truth. i have to say, most of the experts i've seen commenting since we released it last night are saying that they believe that it is, in fact, an authentic draft opinion. now, that doesn't mean that over the next two months, as the justices deliberate, that they couldn't change some of it. we found a few typos, just to bring up a trivial matter, that are definitely going to have to be weeded out. it could change substantially.
we've seen justices in history, including on roe v. wade, waiver on these issues and sometimes take a more moderate opinion as they come to the final days of decision. >> barbara mcquaid, so, first of all, what was your reaction to this news, and what happens to a woman's right to abortion given this? and how could this impact other rights down the road? >> my reaction is shock. i think we knew that this was coming based on the tone of the arguments in december, but i thought chief justice roberts might be able to put together a coalition that would at least stop the bleeding at 15 weeks, which is what the dobbs case was advocating for. instead, they've gone full on in completely removing the right to an abortion. no rape provision. no incest exception. no ifs, ands, or buts. there is no right to abortion in america. what does that mean?
in the states where there are these trigger laws that say if and when roe versus wade is overturned, then we will immediately make it illegal to obtain an abortion in our state. there are 13 states with those. another dozen or so states, including my state of michigan, has old laws on the books. 1931 law in michigan banned abortion that became unconstitutional when roe was decided. once roe is gone, that law is back. half the states in america, it'll be illegal for a person to obtain an abortion. what does mean practically? those with the means will probably travel to states where it is legal. others will revert to back alley abortions. in chicago in the 1960s, there were 4,000 emergency room visits
per week in chicago based on emergency medical need for botched abortions. that's where we're headed. >> barbara mcquaid there. let's go to the supreme court where we find justice correspondent pete williams. good morning. you've had a while to digest this, to read through some of the draft opinion. what more are you hearing about it this morning? >> reporter: well, i think it is pretty obvious that this is as far as you would expect an opponent of roe to go here. this is alito basically demolishing all the arguments in favor of roe, saying this was wrong by decided from the very beginning. marshalling all the examples he can think of, of people who presumably supported roe and have always been against it. it is a very far-reaching draft opinion. now, how it is going to come out in the end, we don't know. i mean, typically, majority opinions start out this way. you make all of your big points, then you take into account the dissent and some of the sharper edges get sanded off in the process. but one thing about this,
willie, that puzzles me, is i don't understand the point of this leak. i have been on both ends of the leaking exchange in washington. i'm the former government spokesman. i admit i used to leak stuff in the past. i'm a reporter. i get leaks now. people leak to affect policy, but for the life of me, i cannot understand the point of this leak. i think all nine justices came in to hear this argument knowing how they were going to vote. they voted that way right afterwards. i don't think the argument affected it. it made it clear to all of us they were going to vote to overturn roe. what is the point of the leak? is it possible one of these five members is teetering, and the leaker decided they needed to do this to cement that person in place? or is this somebody that opposed the decision, that was just so furious they wanted it out there? what good would the leak do in terms of affecting anything? i just don't get it.
>> yeah. i've been asking myself the same question. i mean, it's one of two things. originally, at first blush, i thought it may be come from the left, just to warn people left of center what was coming. >> reporter: anybody who wasn't reading the papers in december. >> exactly. just activate them. but then what seemed to make more sense the more i thought about it was that maybe it was from the right. if kavanaugh were waiving or coney barrett were wavering. what strikes me is the harsh rhetoric. it sounds like alito. sounds like his writing and reasoning. doesn't sound like kavanaugh. even though we only have limited exposure to her writing on the supreme court, it doesn't sound like amy coney barrett's writing.
was this somebody on the write trying to keep kavanaugh in place? wouldn't kavanaugh be more likely to be closer to roberts on an issue like this than, say, alito? >> reporter: typically. typically he would. when he first came to the court, he voted with the chief justice more than any other justice. although in the last term, he was in the majority more than any other justice. but during the oral argument, it seemed to me he was one of the roe opponents. he asked repeatedly during the argument, haven't we overturned precedent many times before? just because of the stare decisis, just because this case has been on the books for almost 50 years, isn't there still a lot of examples in the past of where we'd overturned longstanding cases? he seemed to be exploring that. i would have thought he was an opponent of roe based or not argument. joe, i think it is a plausible reading. maybe that's the reason. the fact s we just don't know. >> pete, let me ask you whether
it's your opinion -- and, again, just opinion. all we can do is speculate about this because we're in, obviously, new territory here. even if some of the sharper edges are rounded off from this decision, so it sounds more like a kavanaugh decision, is it your opinion, did i understand you to say it is your opinion that this is still going to end, most likely, based on what you've seen, what you've heard, what you've heard around the court, a 5-4 decision? that this is what we're going to see in late june or early july regardless of how it's written? >> reporter: yes. if you'd asked me that same question 24 hours ago, i would have answered it the same way. that seemed apparent in the argument. the chief justice seemed to be trying to explore for a middle ground, to say, okay, let's uphold the mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks. even though the supreme court's precedents say you can't ban abortion before the age of
viability, which is 23 weeks. he says, let's uphold mississippi. let's not strike down roe. then what would you be left with? well, you'd be left with whether banning abortion at that point is an undue burden. the argument would go something like this. the only abortion clinic in mississippi didn't do abortions after 16 weeks. the argument would go, it's not an undue burden to ban it after 15 weeks. >> yeah. >> reporter: that's where it seemed it was going. i would have said that yesterday, and this appears to confirm this, that he is not one of the five. >> all right. pete williams, thank you so much for being with us this morning. we greatly appreciate it on just a remarkable story, unprecedented leak. john heilemann, obviously, people are going to be talking about the political impact of not only this leak but also of the decision that, as pete williams says, appears to be coming, that's going to strike down a 50-year precedent that
has the support of 70%, 73% of americans. i must say, i expected this to have more of an impact, what happened with mitch mcconnell, merrick garland, amy coney barrett, and basically mcconnell's might makes right approach. the republicans' might makes right approach i expected to have more of an impact in the 2020 election. susan collins showed that was wrong. she was -- she won her state by 9 points after saying she was pro-choice her entire career. that was a state that joe biden won by 9 points. it certainly didn't seem -- the politics of abortion certainly didn't seem to have the impact there that i thought it'd have, or across the country. is this going to be any different? >> look, joe, i don't know the answer. i think it is really one of the most profound and unknowable
questions, unknowable answers to a profound question in our politics, right? i mean, up until now, and all questions related to the politics of abortion, which has obviously been one of the most emotional, visceral, polarizing questions in american politics since roe. we fought about it. it's been the center of supreme court nomination fights. it's been contested in various ways. people get very emotional about it. a lot of money on both sides. the pro-choice side and on the anti-choice side. you see it all the time, right? what we've never had is a world without roe. all these questions about what mcconnell did related to merrick garland, what he was doing related to amy coney barrett, all the things we all said, well, this will make a big difference, i think, for a lot of voters who care about this right. you said 70%, right?
i think a lot of them continued to think of this as an abstract problem. people have said for a long time that roe is in jeopardy. even though republicans put a lot of justices on the court, there have been conservative majorities, roe has stood the test of time, until now, apparently. it's always been a hypothesis. what will happen if roe falls? it hasn't yet. until it does, and it changes the laws in the states, that will then be the real litmus test. we'll see whether or not that 70% majority is activated in a way where they go out and it becomes the center of our politics and becomes an issue that people vote on in a reliable way, and it becomes a rallying cry. in state after state, we see the effects of the ballot box. that is the question. there is no way to know the answer to it because, as you say, even in 2020, when you would have thought, given what happened, it would have had more
of an effect, it didn't in the end. terrible test to run, joe, for the reasons you know. the horror of all this, i think, is that it demonstrated what we have now on the supreme court is not a conservative majority but a radical majority who doesn't care about settled law and stare decisis. and tens of millions of women who rely on expectations, about what they can and can't do in their lives. that's what the court majority is giving the finger to. it is an upsetting thing, i'd say, even if you are a small "c" conservative who cares about what precedent means. >> well put, john heilemann. thank you. on that note, katty kay, let's take a second now and just -- i don't know about you, but i've heard from so many women already this morning about this news. just mind-blowing on many levels. i was wondering what your reaction was and what you think might come out of this?
one of the random thoughts as i was getting ready for the show this morning, i was thinking about hillary clinton and how this just might put her over the edge and make her jump back in. this is the news that rocks your world as a woman. >> yeah. it's so often left to women, isn't it? >> yeah. >> last time i looked at biology, it still took a sperm and an egg to make a baby. yet, in the cases of an unwanted pregnancy, particularly for a teenage girl, it is nearly always the burden that falls on that young girl. it could have been a one-night stand. could have been, god forbid, rape. could have been incest. the man has often left. they've gone after the incident itself. they've disappeared. who is left dealing with the trauma and the financial hit of how to deal with that unwanted pregnancy if they want to get an abortion? now they will have to travel that much further to do so. they will have to do so alone. it is absolutely terrifying.
it costs a huge amount of money, which is why i come back to this idea that this is as much about economics as it is about science. this is a blow to poor women. particularly to poor black women because black women are the women who are getting abortions at a higher rate than any other group. so the supreme court has just dealt them, a group who is already, by many economic metrics, suffering more than other groups in america, they've dealt them another difficult blow. if you look back to times when abortion was illegal in this country, who were the people who died from unsafe, illegal abortions? it was overwhelming black and brown women who died, not wealthier white women. so the ramifications of this are very, very real for women. they're very, very real for poorer women for whom this will mean that abortion is now effectively out of reach. they will have to deal with it alone. i think the politics of this,
there hasn't, in the past, been a great big voting block. maybe john is right and this will change this in the run-up to the midterms. ap did a poll in january saying it was really only a primary voting issue for 13% of democrats. that's democrats. only 13% of them said that abortion was a primary votin issue. i wonder whether this will produce the huge swell of voter turnout in favor of democrats in the midterm elections. we haven't ever seen that happen in america. it may be this time, but i'm a little skeptical about that. mostly, i'm thinking about the poorer women and, particularly, the poorer teenagers who are going to be dealing with this by themselves. >> we'll remind viewers, there are 13 states in the country that have so-called trigger laws, which is to say that if and when roe versus wade is struck down, automatically, abortion is completely or effectively banned in those states. a dozen more would be expected to put in restrictive laws, as well. jonathan lemire, obviously, this
moved just to the top of the list this morning for this biden white house. he's got a trip today on other business. what are you hearing so far from the white house? >> white house aides confirmed we will be hearing from the president on this today, likely as he departs the white house heading to alabama. hard to something eclipsing the war in ukraine on the biden agenda. he is heading to a plant where they're manufacturing the javelins being sent to the war effort there. now, with roe v. wade apparently in jeopardy, he will speak on that, as well. two things. first, the impact of the 2016 election. donald trump got three supreme court justices that day when he lost the popular vote that day. over his four years, able to get three seated, including one in the final couple months of his term. let's remember this, it was a few months ago where senate minority leader mitch mcconnell was asked about the future. if the republicans were to take control of the senate again in the midterms this november.
it'll be democrat joe biden in the white house. mcconnell, if republicans had the senate, would not commit to giving biden's nominee for the supreme court a hearing. that also, as we've been talking all morning about the impact of republican presidents who have lost the popular vote but being able to get their justices on board, joe biden, of course, won the popular vote. elected handily. mitch mcconnell and the republicans already threatening if they win the senate, joe biden may not get another pick for the highest court in the land. >> boy, this takes us right now, jonathan lemire, to the top of the show, where jon meacham, presidential historian jon meacham, talked about the real problems with the way the supreme court has been handled by the republican majority over the past five, six, seven years. it is a might makes right approach. you actually had republicans making up a senate rule, a
senate custom so they wouldn't have to even give merrick garland a hearing. you then had, a couple years later -- that was at the end of obama's term. so they could stop his selection. then at the end of trump's term, they threw that aside, further illegitimizing the process. now, we won't give joe biden's nominee a hearing. this is my concern, because i love the institution of the supreme court and what it's meant to madisonian democracy through the years. it has been very disappointing, very deeply troubling. because republicans have so politicized this process that i fully expect democrat, when they have the opportunity, to do what
washington did and what adams did and what jefferson did and what andrew jackson did and what abraham lincoln did and what republicans did after lincoln died, and change the size of the court. i mean, again, if precedent doesn't matter constitutional i ly, political precedent won't matter. they'll do what founding fathers, abraham lincoln, andrew jackson, and republicans after lincoln's death did. they'll just expand the size of the court. because republicans will be in no position to talk about them politicizing the court or undermining this process. you see, that's where they've led us. then at that point -- and this is something john roberts knows. i pray to god that it's
something that brett kavanaugh understands. at that point, when the supreme court loses its legitimacy, i mean, my god, madisonian democracy is undermined. >> mm-hmm. >> and i say this regardless of my views on this particular issue. what the republicans have done over the past five, six, seven years regarding the supreme court has led us to this point. where you actually now have -- we've seen a draft which we hear from pete williams is most likely going to end up being the net result. where the united states supreme court is going to overturn a constitutional right that has been in place for 50 years. supported by over 70% of the
american people. that's not conservative. that is radical. it is dangerous. it undermines what i believe is the institution that separates this constitutional republic and this madisonian democracy, this form of government we have, from every other government on the globe. it's -- these are troubling times. >> this is consequential. still ahead on "morning joe," new intelligence from the pentagon about the struggles of russian forces in eastern ukraine. we'll get more insight on that from pentagon press secretary john kirby. he joins us at the top of the hour. also ahead, bill de blasio has a message for president biden. quote, learn from my mistakes. the former city of new york city is here with his piece from "the atlantic." >> that's a tease. >> we're back in a moment.
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get unbeatable business solutions from the most innovative company. get a great deal on this limited time price with internet and voice for just $49.99 a month for 24 months with a 2-year price guarantee. call today. hundreds of civilians are still trapped inside the plant in ukraine. a convey of buses was supposed to leave for a safer destination but, quote, something did not work out. there will be another attempt to get people to safety today. local officials say about 200 civilians, including 20 children, still are holed up inside that factory. that's the last pocket of ukrainian resistance in the city. in an interview with greek state television, president volodymyr zelenskyy said the remaining civilians are afraid to board the buses because they think they might be taken to russia against their will.
according to the russian military, system of the people who were evacuated over the weekend went to areas controlled by moscow, while others left for ukrainian-controlled territories. meanwhile, ukrainian officials say russian forces have intensified their attacks on the steel plant. bombing it, quote, all day yesterday. russian missiles hit a residential building yesterday in the port city of odesa, killing a teenager. in his nightly address, president zelenskyy said a 15-year-old boy died and a second miner was injured when missiles hit a dormitory. the president asked, quote, how are these children threatening the russian state? according to a local official, a church also was hit in the attack, losing its roof. nbc news has not yet been able to independently verify that claim. russian forces, meanwhile, making little progress in the donbas region of eastern ukraine, where most of the fighting is focused now. that is the latest assessment from a senior defense official. the official said the russians are still suffering from poor
command, low morale, and bad logistics. the small gains russian forces are making are quickly erased according to the defense official. that's because russian soldiers will move into an area, declare victory, but then withdraw, allowing ukrainians to take back the land. joining us now, democratic congressman of massachusetts. he was part of the congressional delegation led by house speaker nancy pelosi who met over the weekend with president zelenskyy in kyiv. thank you for being with us. tell us and your viewers what you saw on the ground in kyiv in terms of assessing the damage and what you heard in your conversations from president zelenskyy. >> well, i was honored to be part of a delegation that speaker pelosi led, and we went to kyiv. we had a one-on-one meeting with president zelenskyy which lasted over three hours. we heard about the terrible, horrific impact that this war is having on the ukrainian people. the war crimes that vladimir putin is committing on a daily
basis. everything from targeting maternity hospitals, uncovering mass graves, to -- we heard from humanitarian workers and aid workers about young girls being raped in front of their mothers and families. some being put into human trafficking. so the situation is horrific. and the world needs to be there and stand with the ukrainian people. that's the message we delivered to president zelenskyy. >> the american people have stood in awe the last couple month, not just watching the ukrainian president or military, but ukrainian civilians stand up and fight for their country. tell us a little bit about what you saw in the ukrainian people there on the ground. >> this is an incredible people who do not want to give up their independence, their freedom. they surely do not want to be under the rule of vladimir putin. they are vastly outnumbered by the russian military.
not only in terms of the size of their army but in terms of the weapons they have. yet, they have this incredible spirit, and they are pushing russia back. they are winning. it is important that we be there to help provide them the resources so they can continue to win. look, remember one thing. ukraine cannot attack russia. russia has attacked ukraine. the ukrainian people have done nothing against russia. yet, the russian military, under the guidance of vladimir putin, are committing war crimes each and every day. look, we all want this war to end. we want it to end now. the person who could end it is vladimir putin. he can call a halt to this right now, and that will be it. but he is not. since he is not and he is a bully, it is important that we stand up and we provide the weapons, the economic assistance, and the humanitarian assistance. you know, i reminded people at a press conference we did in poland that this war that putin has launched against ukraine is
not just against the people of ukraine. it's a war against the world's most vulnerable and the world's poor. because he is blocking ukraine's ability, which is the ukrainian is bread basket of the world, to get wheat, maize out to africa, the middle east. they're provoking a hunger crisis on top of that. what kind of independent would do that? i continue to believe there is a special place in hell for vladimir putin. what he is doing is horrific. i'm somebody who has fought for peace all my life. i have been against u.s. military interventions in so many places around the world. i've been against the dictators around the world. but here is a case where the ukrainian people are being viciously attacked, and i think the world has an obligation to stand with them and provide them the assistance to be able to prevail and win in this battle. >> congressman mcgovern, good morning. it is jonathan lemire.
i wanted to zero in on president zelenskyy and your conversations with him. did he talk at all about the idea of a negotiated settlement to this war and what he would be willing to potentially bring to the table with the russians, were putin, as you say, indicate that he is willing to end the fighting? secondly, just give us a sense as to how he seemed. he has obviously been -- it's been two months now. he's been in this bunker. you know, he has attracted attention and praise from around the world. how is he holding up in your estimation? >> well, i think he is holding up remarkably well. i mean, it was an intense three-hour meeting with speaker pelosi and our delegation and president zelenskyy. and every minute was substantive. he is hopeful. he believes in his people. he believes that this cause is the right cause and that goodness will prevail over evil at the end. you know, i was incredibly impressed at his composure and
his focus and his mastery of every topic you can possibly imagine. so, look, you know, the ukrainians have said over and over that, at the beginning of this attack by putin, they'd be willing to sit down and negotiate. what the terms of those negotiations would be if they decide to do that, if the russians decide to agree to that, that's up to the ukrainian government and the ukrainian people. understand one thing. every time that the ukrainians or the russians have talked, the russians have backed out or reneged on what they promised. so there is a trust issue here. quite frankly, i don't think the ukrainians trust the russians. i certainly don't. putin is a liar. he is a bully. he's a war criminal. he's now part of an exclusive club that includes kim jong-un. that's where he is right now. he has crossed so many lines in terms of the atrocities he has committed. the world needs to hold him to account. >> congressman mcgovern, i want to ask your reaction to the
major breaking news overnight. the leaked draft opinion published by "politico," that a majority of the supreme court is prepared to overturn the landmark roe versus wade decision. what is the reaction among democratic lawmakers? what are the options? what are they saying? >> well, i'm hearing the news, you know, late last night, as all of you were getting the news. look, i think let me say for the record, right now, abortion is still safe and legal, and people need to know that. if this is accurate, quite frankly, it is disgusting. it demonstrates how politicized the supreme court is. how out of touch with america they are. 73% of the american people, democrats, republicans, independents, believe abortion should be safe and legal. and it shows their contempt for decades of precedent. i mean, this supreme court has this twisted dystopian view of
america. i think they want to turn this country into the "handmaid's tale." they're so out of touch. i think it is a disgusting ruling, if, indeed, it is accurate reporting. look, people need to organize. because these rights can be taken away. that's what the decision would do if, in fact, it turns out to be true. >> congressman jim mcgovern not mincing words there, thank you very much for coming on the show this morning. coming up, one of the leading voices in explaining to americans why ukraine matters for our own security, pentagon spokesman john kirby delivers that message just ahead. first, bill de blasio says president biden is making the same mistake in the white house that he made while running new york city. he'll tell us what it is when he joins us next on "morning joe."
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it's ten minutes before the top of the hour as we take a look at a beautiful shot of new york city, and speaking of new york city, joining us now, former mayor of new york city, bill de blasio. mayor, good to have you back on the show. you have a new op-ed in "the atlantic" titled "joe biden can learn from my mistakes" and in it you write, in part, quote, as the mayor of new york city, i had one of the loudest megaphones in the country and i failed to use it properly. biden's bully pulpit is 1,000 times more powerful. he needs to use it to show he truly emphasizes with everyday americans on the issues they care most about. he then needs to articulate a way forward on each of those fronts and dare the republicans to support him or get out of the
way. i believe they will do neither, which the american people will duly note. i do not just mean a catch-phrase but a vision for the direction of the country under his administration. so how would you propose he say it, bill de blasio, given the fact he's managing the war in ukraine and inflation and gas prices, many different reasons for that here at home, and now, this latest news overnight on the supreme court. >> mika, look, in the end it's all about offense. joe biden has an opportunity here, a powerful opportunity. i say in the piece he's a very good messenger. he is a relatable, likable person. he has an opportunity to say this is where i'm going to take us. now, i use the example of health care, i think it's a very vivid one.
what i would do if i was joe biden is say we're going to get that prescription drug bill passed, lower the prescription drug cost, lower the cost of insulin, make your life more affordable, make your family healthier. that was a simple couple sentences i laid out there. i want to hear him talk about that. i think it's understandable with his life in the u.s. senate that he often falls into government speak and sort of technical insider language. i think it's so crucial that he lay out to people something they can feel in their hearts. and the good news is he's a guy who has lived the lives of everyday americans himself so it's not like he can't relate to people. but i don't hear him using that clean, clear language, this is what i'm going to get done for you. and if republicans stand in the way, then he says, this was my plan. i made it super-clear to you but they stopped it. your drug prices are too high because of them. do the same thing with inflation, do the same thing with other issues, good on the
offensive. >> yeah, we've got gene robinson from "the washington post," and gene has a question for you, mr. mayor. >> yes, mr. mayor, just on your point, i certainly understand the point that president biden should go on the offensive, but, you know, he has been traveling around the country pointing to his projects made possible by the infrastructure bill. he does -- he does get around and he does try to speak to the american people. if that message is not connecting, that's a different story, but it's not as if he's just sort of sitting back, never saying anything. why isn't that? is there some other reason that that connection is not being made? i'm not sure it's a lack of effort. >> i don't think it's a lack of effort at all, gene. i think his effort is extraordinary. and i think part of the challenge, of course, is so much
of his time and energy had to go into the very important noble work of supporting ukraine. but what i would say, what i have seen as a pattern is he goes around the country sort of on one narrow issue or another, one example or another, but there's not that overarching message. i use the parallel in my piece, we had a moment in new york city where the federal government was about to take over all of our public housing, 400,000 residents were going to be affected. i did the work behind the scenes to address that. i did not say to people, here's how we're going to protect you, here's how we're going to make sure you have a place to live that's safe, here's how we will make your life better. i didn't make it vivid and go out among the people and tell that story. my point is if i say to you, gene, summarize joe biden's message for where america is going, summarize what he's going to do to lift the burdens people feel now. i don't know if you could, but i can't. if i were in his shoes i would
talk about lowering health care costs and he has a great plan of taxing the wealthy and that polls strongly. but we're not hearing from him, one issue to another, not a unified, strong message. >> so this begs the question, and i'm sure you get into it in the atlantic piece, what happened to you? and i say this because i know the biden white house watches this, as do a lot of leaders, and i really think they can learn from you. you're a fascinating case study. by the way, my punch line at the end is not positive, you left office with really low approval ratings and yet when you were mayor of new york city over two presidencies, one republican, one democratic, crime was at a 50-year low in new york city for most of your term pre-covid. the economy was at a 50-year high pre-covid when your ratings
were low pre-covid still. so the crime was at 50-year lows, the economy 50-year highs, quality of life was about as good as it had been in new york city. tourism hit record levels. >> that's right. >> you passed universal pre-k, which i heard from new yorkers, i hate de blasio. well, what about crime? what about economy? yeah, yeah, economy is really good. what about universal pre-k? that's kind of changed my life to be honest with you. so i -- this is -- i will be honest with you, this is a question mika and i ask all the time, and say why would -- did this guy leave with such low approval ratings and i ask it this way because there is a lesson for joe biden and every other politician to learn from you, and what is the bottom line of that? why did all of these happen in
new york city? if you ask most people, they couldn't even tell you that. >> joe, you give me flashbacks, first of all. i think your summary is very accurate, because in the end, i didn't bring the pieces together. i didn't give people a clear enough vision of where i was taking them. i didn't answer that essential question, like what does all of this mean? and this is why i emphasize, whatever my failings as a communicator, joe biden doesn't lack of ability to communicate. he has a warm persona. he has a kind of ability to connect with people that's powerful. but what he lacks is the message that tells us where we're going. and this is what i failed to do. everything you said is true, i'm very proud of pre-k for all, i'm proud we had lowered crime to the level of the 1950s but i didn't give people a sense that we were going to sustain it and build on it, and make their personal lives better. i lost that personal connection.
i had it once upon a time, you know, when i ran, i won overwhelmingly, i won re-election overwhelmingly but i lost it because i got lost in the weeds. and this is what really -- this is what inspired me to write the piece. i saw joe biden working his tail off, you know, dozens of calls to world leaders on ukraine, all of the work he's had to do to try to get the senate to move on pieces of build back better. constant behind-the-scenes negotiations, which is natural for him as someone who was a tremendous senator and negotiator, but that's not what people need right now. people are afraid, joe. they're afraid for their families' health, they're afraid for their economic future, they're hurting, they can't make ends meet. they need the f.d.r.-like voice, the sympathetic understanding voice who then says i feel it and now i'm going to tell you where we're going. we're going to do these specific things. he didn't have fdr's congress on his side, right?
that's clear. but i think if joe biden says i'm going to do these things for you and the republicans stand in the way, that crystallizes the argument, that starts to give americans that sense of why they feel he's the right person again, and then that elevates the entire dynamic for the democratic party going to the midterms, let alone the horrific news from last night, which i think will affect the midterms as well, obviously. right now i can't tell you where joe biden is taking us. that's the deadly piece. that's the mistake i made. >> let me ask you about that news before we let you go, mr. mayor. your reaction to it, first of all. are you confident that abortion will remain legal in the state of new york, number one? and number two, what do you expect politically, the ramifications of this? does this spike the vote? does this get democrats out in the fall? >> i'm confident about the state of new york for now, but for now is the crucial point. if you're a voter, particularly if you're a woman who's seeing
her rights stolen before her very eyes, this is now a profound voting issue. i heard the point earlier about polling, that was polling about abstract. this is now a direct affront to women, and it's i think, for a lot of women, going to feel like just a matter of time before further rights get taken away. that's emotional, human, personal, and that's when people vote. i think what's happened here is the map has now been rewritten overnight because it's fair to say democrats might not have been inspired for the midterms, that's often the case. i still think joe biden can do a lot to get them inspired but this supreme court decision lights a match. i think for women all over the country, this is a reason to now come out in the midterms and say no to the extremism that now dominates the republican party. >> it sure is. former new york city mayor bill de blasio, thank you so much. the new piece online now for "the atlantic" by bill de
blasio. eugene robinson, thank you as well. we will be reading gene's latest columns from "the washington post," of course. it is one minute past the top of the hour. we'll just reset right now. we've got the very latest for you on the bombshell reporting from politico overnight. the u.s. supreme court appears on the verge of overturning roe v. wade. ahead, we're going to hear from historian jon meacham about this unprecedented leak and what the draft opinion issued means for the legitimacy of the court. plus, we'll talk to pentagon press secretary job kirby amid the reports that russia is struggling to make gains in the very region where it's concentrating most of its resources. first, nbc news correspondent erin mclaughlin reports from ukraine on stories of survival from evacuees from the steel plant in mariupol.
>> reporter: this morning smoke is rising over the old steel plant in mariupol, the russian assault on the devastating port city is ongoing. the sounds of war after 100 women and children were evacuated from the plant in a harrowing operation orchestrated by the united nations and red cross. but 200 civilians, including 20 children, remain trapped inside and thousands more in the city itself, according to ukrainian officials. "you wake up in the morning and you cry," this woman says. "you cry in the evening. i don't know where to go at all." in the east russia's congress has been slow and incremental. at the outskirts of war-torn kharkiv, they claimed to push back russian forces while the volunteers help the helpless any way they can. this 95-year-old weeps as she says good-bye to her home. i want this putin to be battered, she says, so he feels what we are going through. in the capital kyiv, calls for
justice grow even louder. on monday ukraine's prosecutor general named the first suspect accused of murdering civilians in bucha, the commander of the russian national guard. he's suspected of killing four unarmed men and torturing another. this 61-year-old says both he and his sons were also captured and tortured by russia near bucha. do you think they will be punished? "they will be punished one day. justice must take place. they were not invited here. the only way back for them is true hell." >> joining us now pentagon press secretary, retired rear admiral john kirby. admiral kirby, there are reports russian forces are stalling in eastern ukraine, specific areas they set their sights on taking over. what's the very latest? >> as of this morning we would still assess that their progress has been plotting for sure slow, uneven.
they continue to face a very stiff ukrainian resistance. what they're trying to do, and the only sort of incremental progress they made, mika, is to the north of the donbas region, south of a town where they're trying to push south and to the southeast, to try to push the ukrainian line of contact further to the east. they made some minor progress over the last 24 hours but not much. it's really been give and take for the last 24 to 48 hours. >> admiral kirby, good morning. i want to ask you about the humanitarian evacuations in mariupol. we heard a group of civilians did make it out. another effort thwarted because the russians were not allowing convoys through. and also a question to you about where ukrainian evacuees are ending up. it's one thing to be evacuated but if you're sent to russian territory, that's not the kind of ee vaks most people want to see. >> we think the ukrainians have been clear about this, several hundred it looks like, couple hundred civilians that it are
still at the plant and we continue to urge russia to work with the nongovernmental organizations, red cross and ukrainians, to get them out and get them the ability to move elsewhere inside their own country. the reports that these people are being taken and bused over to russia, that's unconscionable. we have no reason to doubt those reports. if you're going to let people go and flee, let them flee at least to their homes or to family and friends inside their own country. again, we continue to call on russia to do the right thing here. >> admiral kirby, good morning. jonathan lemire. great to see you again. the president is today heading to alabama to highlight the manufacturing of javelins, the missiles that are key to ukraine's defense. give us an update, please, on the status of weapons heading to ukraine, how many more weapons could go through if the $30 billion gets through congress the president proposed, and are there any concerns in terms of weapons we're shipping overseas
to have enough here at home to defend ourselves? >> there's a lot there, jon. i'll tell you, first of all, in terms of our readiness and stocks, look, we've been pulling a lot of things off our own shelves for ukraine and it's the right thing to do and we will keep doing that as long as we can and as fast as we can. every time we do that, we have to make a readiness assessment to make sure our own capability to take care of the nation is not impacted and so far we're comfortable in the amount of material we're providing. and that material flows every single day. more than 80% of the howitzers, 90 howitzers promised, are already in ukraine, not just the region but in ukraine. we're training another third class of ukrainian artillery men on how to use them. more than 100 artillery men of the ukrainian army have been trained and going back into ukraine to train their colleagues on how to use these howitzers. we think the artillery pieces are really important weapons for
the kind of fighting we're seeing in the donbas. back to mika's question, the back and forth and slow progress, the russians are acting according to their doctrine, shelling in advance of the ground movement and they think they're softening up the ukrainians but they're not and ukrainians are able to fight back. these are artillery pieces and rounds with them will be very, very important. i don't know what future packages will look like. we still have an assisting drawdown and you saw the president asked for $5 billion more. we're urging the congress to pass that as speedily as they can. >> admiral, we're less than a week from may 9th, the big victory day celebration, from which we understand putin would like to show something for his efforts in ukraine. there isn't very much to show, we've been reporting on that even in the east of the country. i heard some u.s. officials suggest to me that could make the likelihood of him doing something extraordinary possibly, even some sort of tactical nuclear weapon more likely and not less as we head
into this time period. what's your thinking on what could happen in the next week if putin wants to show something? >> well, clearly, this is a big day in their history and we do expect them to have some sort of statement or proclamation about it regarding ukraine. we're not sure exactly what he's going to do. i heard rumors today he might make an official declaration of war. we're just not sure how he's going to treat that day. what we can tell you is we haven't seen any indications of the use of weapons of mass destruction in the offing. we watch this every day. every day is different. i know that. nobody is making predictions here but we haven't seen anything to cause us to believe wmds are about to be use and something that would cause us to change our own strategic nuclear deterrent posture not only for our homeland but allies. again, we're watching this every day. mr. putin could clearly escalate this but he can end the war
today by doing the right thing, moving his troops out and sitting out with mr. zerlina. i know he's not showing proclivity to do that, i in, that. which is why we're continuing the flow to support that the ukrainians need to defend themselves. >> if that war continues given the illegal invasion by vladimir putin, given the horrors on the ukrainian people, war crimes committed by russian troops and leaders, is it now the pentagon's position, now the administration's position that it's no longer enough for ukraine to survive this war, but instead that russia needs to lose it? >> we have said all along, joe, that we do not want russia to be in a position that they can do this again going forward. so we clearly are definitely putting a lot of effort into making sure that ukraine can defend its sovereignty and defend its territorial integrity and to achieve success on the
battlefield and that is happening in many places, even in the east as this war now concentrates on a smaller geographic area. but we also don't want russia to emerge from this without consequences. we don't want this to be cost free. the economic sanctions and export controls, this is a great example, joe, it's already having a great effect on mr. putin's ability to put together precision-guided ammunitions to actually bible to keep them in production. so take a look at mariupol, for instance. most of the munitions he's dropping on mariupol, including in the last 24 hours, are a lot of dumb bombs because he doesn't have the precision-guided mun igss in his stocks as much as he used to. that is a direct reflection not only of his consumption rate but export controls and sanctions the united states and the west have put on him. we're making it harder for him to wage war. he should not emerge from this stronger and more capable. >> final question, there seems to have been a suggestion in
some news reports the ukrainians may be getting nukes from third countries, we may be moving in that direction. can you tell us anything about that? >> i have seen no indications about that at all, joe. nothing at all. what the west is doing, and you saw secretary austin hold this meeting in ramstein last week, 40 nations, not just from europe but around the world including independent owe pacific and middle east, 40 nations got together to support ukraine in the fight today but also had a very good discussion in the afternoon about defense industrial-based productivity, not just individually but collectively and what we can do to try to support ukraine's defense needs longer term, even post war. but there's no discussion about weapons of that nature. >> pentagon press secretary, retired rear admiral john kirby, thank you very much for being on this morning. >> you're welcome. today marks annual world press freedom day, which brings to mind a powerful moment from the white house correspondents'
dinner over the weekend. >> look no further than what's happening in ukraine, look ought what's happening there. journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what's really happening. you realize how amazing it is, like in america, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. >> at least 14 journalists have died since russia's invasion of ukraine began. >> joining us now, founder and editor in chief of the ground truth project, charlie steadage. he's recently back from reporting in ukraine. charlie, it's great to see you. i want to talk about world press freedom day but let me hear a little about your reporting, first of all. you went in on the ground and got up close to the front lines in kharkiv and looked at some ngos trying to get humanitarian assistance into the hands of the ukrainian people but having
trouble doing it. >> that's right, we were right up where the fighting is in kharkiv and the reports that the ukrainian government is pushing russia back to the border but when i was there, those villages were in great peril. one of the things we consistently heard is no humanitarian was getting through. so great appreciation, you can see the howitzer floating in literally on the road, tanks and howitzers but you did not see humanitarian aid. we work with an organization called save our allies. we sort of embedded with them and went in and they were welcomed with incredible open arms and really great relief that this aid has finally gotten through. >> how are the ukrainian journalists covering this story, as you call it, the story of their lives, the country overrun, fellow citizens, military, president showed incredible courage in the face of this. what is it like to be ukrainian usualists covering this war? >> it is such a powerful moment right now for an independent
free press. we see it in our own country, today is a big news day. free press day today. but there's a sense of history where the independent free press has fought for more than 20 years to really carve out an independent democracy in ukraine. what we learned, i think the most interesting i learned in kharkiv was the collapse of local news all through ukraine has greatly impacted its ability to hear what's happening in these eastern corridors, particularly in the donbas. the reporters who shared with me there this struggle that's very similar to the struggles here in the united states, where we watch local news organizations collapsing right and left. we're left blind about that. we need an independent free press but not just a national free press, but a strong local free press here in america, and also as i learned very much so in ukraine. and we're there to try to work with them to make that happen. so we have a project called "report for the world." we're going to try to be in there to really fund those
journalists in ukraine and poland and elsewhere and today we're announcing a real expansion of the program because it's really needed out there, not only here in the united states but around the world. >> charlie, perhaps the most powerful moment at the white house correspondents' dinner saturday is they paid tribute to the correspondents killed in ukraine and president biden led a standing ovation at the time and there's also talk from both the president and trevor noah about the contrast between the press freedoms we enjoy here in the united states and how they don't have any in russia. give us a sense from your perspective what the state of the press is in russia but also in so many of these authoritarian countries around the world. >> i that you trevor noah asked a riveting question and you could feel the humility in the room when they were trying to grapple with his question, are we doing enough with the press freedom we have? look, it's an honor, privilege, but what are we doing with it? i think it's the biggest question of our time now, yes, we have this robust free press but we're not strong enough particularly in local communities. that to me is the big connection
here on world press freedom day is we struggle because we don't have local eyes, we don't have ground troops in these local, local communities and we're not there on the ground. i think this feeling is rippling through the world, brazil, india, ukraine certainly, hungary. can you go around the world and see where this incredible need for a stronger free press is happening, but i think the place where we begin to rebuild it is locally and that's the whole focus of our organization. here in the united states we work with ap, we're very proud supporters of about 325 reporters in more than 200 newsrooms here in the united states, so trying to shore up local news here. but i think the new frontline, the new battle is going to be to really look at how these same problems are happening around the world and we're going to ask in sort of honor to trevor noah's great question to the media, what can we do? we're going to be out there trying to support local news wherever we can around the world. >> how do we get that back in
america, charlie, on the local level? as you say we watched beloved local newspapers evaporate. the last 20 years, local news stations, television, radio as well taking national news and repurposing it. they don't have the resources to report. that means city council meetings going unattended, school board meetings, everything that needs eyes on it. how do you begin to get that back? >> the way we're doing it is working with local communities to say work with us so we can find really inspiring new generation of journalists who we can put in there and do that work covering planning for us, covering city hall and boards of education. and doing the kind of work that's not only important to serve the community for its fact-based needs, they need trusted local information but it's also this way in which it binds us together as communities and i think it's the glue that holds the democracy together is the local news. how do we get it back? look, we're trying through our program to report from america, that's one way. public policy can play a role in
this as well at some point, it will need to. we already have public policy through cpb and other ways we support local networks through public media. i think we have to see a much more ambitious effort made and greater record of its importance. we can do this. there are exciting digital news organizations out there changing the landscape and doing great work. public radio is very strong. you're right about these beautiful newspapers, many of which i love, admire and some of the places i actually worked are fading. they need support from people who care about news. you've got to be aware of just how important an independent free press is, especially on this day, world press freedom day. >> one of the ways to get it back is support the ground truth project, charlie's organization and mike barnicle, one of the greats, "the boston globe," charlie sen ot. we will be reading the piece in the globe, "the story of their
lives: how ukrainians are keeping democracy afloat." still ahead on "morning joe," we will look at the end of roe versus wade and how it may impact the high court, other laws and american democracy. also this hour police say a murder suspect who escaped from jail in alabama had a little help from someone on the inside. details on that investigation. and coming up in our fourth hour, steve kornacki will be at the big board breaking down that republican senate primary in ohio, as the trump-backed candidate has a slim lead in the race. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. i look back with great satisfaction on my 32 years of active duty. i understand the veteran mentality. these are people who have served, they'e been in leadership positions, they're willing to put their life on the line if necessary
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breaking news. a potentially groundbreaking shift in american constitutional law, the supreme court appears poised to strike down the land mark roe v. wade decision. according to a leaked draft opinion published last night by politico, a majority of the supreme court is prepared to overturn the right to abortion. the leak of the 98-page document is unprecedented in the court's modern history. the draft opinion was reportedly authored by justice samuel alito and circulated in february. alito writes in part this, "roe was egregiously wrong from the start. its reasoning was exceptionally weak and the decision has had damaging consequences. it is time to heed the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the peoples elected representatives." nbc news has not obtained or been able to independently verify the authenticity of the document and the supreme court has declined to comment.
the final opinion is expected in late june or early july. joe, so many different moving parts here but overall, what does this story mean for the supreme court? >> well, for the supreme court in a word, illegitimacy. you know, the court has always been guided by the law but it's also keenly aware that it's only unelected branch of american government, they needed to not be openly contemptuous of public opinion. that would be especially true today given the gop's might makes right approach of the sacking of merrick garland's elevation or donald trump's pick. look at this picture from madeleine albright's funeral. the five democratic politicians in the front row won the most votes in the presidential elections of 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020.
and yet a half century of constitutional rights, supported by over 70% of americans -- let me underline that again because people lying to you on other channels will never say this, over 70% of americans support that constitutional right. and it will be swept away not by the presidents in this picture but the presidents outvoted over the last decade. americans will rightly conclude that their voices and their votes no longer matter. so what are the implications for the court, for the law and for american democracy? let's bring in historian jon meacham and former acting u.s. attorney general, neal katyal. jon, let me begin with you.
perception is reality, so the perception for 70% of americans waking up this morning is going to be most likely that this is an illegitimate decision by an illegitimate court. >> well, the the crisis of trust and institutions has just become universal in a way that is the pretty much nightmare scenario if you believe in the ultimate efficacy of the constitutional order to produce a more union, to protect equality and the rule of law for all of its imperfections, the system has been worth defending for 250 years. right now if this draft decision, if the court were to go this far, you will have, as you were just saying, an extraordinary number of americans believing that the
system, in fact, cannot and is not capable of delivering justice, is not capable of reflecting the popular will, even through the constitutional prism. i think that one of the great questions of the era, the great question of the era, is are you and i, are we in this decade, are we up to democracy? are we commensurate to the task? i worry we're entering the darkest period of that test. because if you have any reservations about the system's capacity to deliver justice, they have just been affirmed. >> neal katyal, again, this isn't actually terribly surprising given the oral arguments we heard in the dobbs case back in december. but as joe points out, poll after poll shows this is about a 30% position the supreme court
has taken. it doesn't obviously operate on polls, it operates on whether or not they believe this roe vs. wade should be upheld, whether it's legal. but you slept on this. you read through most of the opinion or draft opinion. what is your first take reaction first to the substance of it, and second, to this leak? >> honestly, i want to cry. you know, i want to cry in so many different ways but just to start with the substance of this decision, this is as full-throated and muscular a decision that could ever be envisioned. yes, after the oral argument, we predicted roe versus wade was on thin ice, but many thought it would be another year. for the last three years i have been saying given once justice merritt got on the court, roe's days were numbered. honestly, it's only a draft opinion but it sure looks like a real opinion. it doesn't look like a deep fake
or anything like that. it's all of justice alito's kind of signature moves. so it really does feel legitimate. and what it means, just on abortion first, is that states can now pass laws with no rape or incest exception whatsoever prohibiting abortion and those are now constitutional. the supreme court will not stand in their way. congress can pass such a law outlawing abortion in the 50 states. the supreme court will not stand in its way. that's on abortion. them the reasoning of this decision is so, as i say muscular, it could reach other rights as well, including the marriage right of equality just recognized by the supreme court a few years ago. this is an opinion robert bore bjork would have written, not most justices of our lifetime and robert bjork was rejected frrt court because of these
views. >> you know, jon meacham, what appears to be jarring from this decision, maybe the decision that comes out, first of all, anybody who has ever known john roberts and his work, john roberts' work, would suggest -- and have long suggested that there would never be this abrupt had an ending to a half century constitutional right. again, it can't be said enough, supported by over 70% of americans. and yet here we are. but this is the same supreme court, the same federal judiciary that time and time again struck down donald trump's most specious claims, held up the elections, seemed to be an independent branch. of course, one decision does not change that reality. i think the problem here though for americans, and, again, when you're talking about the
legitimacy of the court versus illegitimacy of the court, so many people will look at the process in which we nominate, select, vote for and send people to the supreme court, and they will -- they will see what happened over the past 20, 30 years. but mainly they will see what mitch mcconnell and the republican senate did with merrick garland. no, wait a second, we have a rule and we can't support anybody going into the last year. that was barack obama's last year and in donald trump's last few months, suddenly that rule didn't matter. i was concerned about what i said then and what i'm concerned about now is the fact that this might makes right approach will be used against republicans, will be used. the court will be expanded, democrats when they get in power at some point where they have majority -- a larger majority,
will say, well, republicans did it, so why can't we? and then you're talking again, the further illegitimacy of the court that we have to depend on to uphold our constitution. >> absolutely. and the illusion you're making is to abraham lincoln's speech at cooper union, as he was beginning to run for president, that the principle of right makes might must be upheld and not that might makes right. this is an assertion of raw strength marshalled under the provisions of the constitution that were not tied to popular -- the popular will in terms of choosing a president, right? if you look on the opinion that the draft neal's talking about, three of these justices were appointed by donald trump. one of whom came to power because of the maneuver you
mentioned, which was ahistorical to take that seat. and we cannot ignore that this draft is the fruit of a generations' long effort by the conservative legal establishment, conservative legal movement, to bring about this day. you know, jerry falwell used to tell the story about he decided that becoming part of politics was important on the day he read one newspaper. it was the day in 19d 73 when lyndon johnson had died and that news was reported and roe versus wade was decided. and it took six, seven years for abortion rights to become the center of that movement. but this is a 50-year -- 50-year struggle. and i think america only works
if you agree with both the spirit and the letter of the law. i want to say that again. you have to have a kind of intellectual and emotional assent, agreement with the kinds of ethos you're talking about. 70% of americans support this as a constitutional right. it's a deep, fundamental, personal, complicated charged emotion that goes straight to the definition of life itself. there is arguably no more complicated charged, emotional and immensely complicated issue than this. which means probably the last place to deal with it is in a country this divided with a potential 5-4 decision as part of a legal body that depends on our assent to their authority. >> jon meacham, thank you.
neal katyal, thank you as well. coming up in our 9:00 a.m. hour, our conversation with the politico reporter who broke this news overnight. >> also ahead this hour, an arrest warrant has been issued for an alabama corrections officer who disappeared along with a murder suspect who escaped from jail. the latest on that investigation is next on "morning joe." ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪
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>> reporter: the warrant with white's name on it, charges her with permitting aiding the escape of the 6'9", 270-pound casey white, no relation, who's already serving 75 years for a series of violent crimes, and now is facing capital murder charges. >> i think we're all shocked in the sheriff's office. vicki was an exemplary employee, 17 years, unblemished record. >> on the same day she was set to retire, sheriff rick singleton laying out events including that white arranged for multiple vans to be moved tort courthouse, using two deputies in each car per protocol. then breaking policy, white claimed she was the only one left to take the suspect to a mental evaluation that was never actually booked. >> we have not confirmed any relationship. >> sheriff, just to be clear, you have received information
from other inmates that there was a relationship there? >> we have. >> reporter: one woman who served time there expressing disbelief that the prospect of vicki white's voluntary involve the. >> she's a great woman, very nice. >> reporter: authorities say vicki white sold her home weeks ago and then moved into this house next door with her mom. her mother telling nbc news her daughter never mentioned she was retiring. the police pinpointed the pair's last-known location to a parking lot where the car they escaped in was abandoned. >> that was nbc's sam brock reporting. coming up, remembering singer and songwriter naomi judd, not just for her remarkable music career but also her tireless fight to raise awareness about mental health. that's next on "morning joe." jo.
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the death of country music icon naomi judd is putting renewed focus on something that affects so many people, depression and struggles with mental health. nbc's joe fryer has more. >> reporter: this morning new details in the death of country music legend naomi judd. "people" magazine reports the star died by suicide, citing multiple anonymous sources. nbc news has not been able to confirm the cause of death. judd's rep did not respond to our request for comment. on instagram monday night, ashley judd posted a video of naomi's house of more than 30 years larry strickland honoring her memory through song. ♪♪ and sunday ashley and wynonna honored their mother as the
judds were inducted into the country music hall of fame. >> it's a very strange dynamic to be this broken and this blessed. >> reporter: naomi's daughters announced they lost their mother to the disease of mental illness. >> and i'm sorry that she couldn't hang on until today. >> reporter: other artists at the ceremony performed some of the you judds' biggest hits. country icon dolly parton offered her condolences writing, naomi and i were close. just know that i will always love you. naomi talked openly about her pain and lifetime battle with depression, speaking with savannah in 2017. >> savannah, i'm trying to start a national conversation about depression and anxiety because i may be just one little country singer right here but there are 43 million who suffer from depression and anxiety. >> reporter: a year later she co-wrote a letter published in "people" calling for more research on suicide. >> the only time i don't feel
afraid or lonely or fearful is when i'm up on that stage. >> reporter: those were naomi's words just last month before taking the stage with her daughter at the cmt music awards. not knowing it would be her final performance. performance. ♪♪ >> nbc's joe fryer reporting for us there. we have more to cover this morning. we'll go live to cnbc at the start of another busy day on wall street. plus steve kornacki is the at big board to preview today's republican primary in ohio. and we will go live to the white house for reaction to that blockbuster reporting that the supreme court is poised to over turn abortion rights in the roe v. wade decision. "morning joe" is coming back in a moment.
it's 6 minutes before the top of the hour. vice president kamala harris returns to work in person today. after testing negative for covid yesterday. according to her office. harris, who is vaccinated and boosted, became the first to test positive for the virus last week. her office said she will wear a mask around others for ten days per cdc guidelines. this comes as covid cases are arising again in just about every state. and health experts are keeping an eye on new variants emerging abroad. nbc news correspondent emilie ikeda has more. >> it is climbing coast to coast and it is not just the number of
cases, hospitalizations in parts of the country are starting to tick up too. the cdc now urging residents in 56 high risk counties to mask up. two-thirds of those areas are in the state of new york. >> i'm not here to say we're looking at shut downs, i'll protect the health of new yorkers. >> reporter: case loads are only a fraction of what we saw in the winter. the new york city recent numbers rival last year's delta surge. still, the upward trend isn't stopping the season's most watched formal events. from fashion's biggest night at the met, to the weekend's white house correspondence dinner and missing was the top dog when he said we're out of the pandemic phase. >> that does not mean that the pandemic is over. by no means is it over. >> reporter: a possible sign of the future, south africa where omicron first popped up. research there which has not yet been peer reviewed shows new
subvariants are dodging previous infection. >> it is not going to disappear. we're going to have to learn to live with this virus as we do with influenza. >> so what is important to know about the cases we're seeing right now and the severity. >> the cases we're seeing now are not severe. for the most part, if you're still unvaccinated, you could get a new case. >> reporter: a mutating virus blurring the path to normalcy. >> there is news this morning on the investigation into the january 6 attack on the capitol. a new york city police officer was found guilty after salting an officer with a metal flagpole during that attack. this is as the committee, the select committee asked more republican lawmakers to testify about the attack. nbc news capitol hill correspondent ali vitali has the latest. >> reporter: they find thomas webster guilty on six counts
including assaulting a d.c. police officer on january 6. this as new details emerge from the house select committee about republican lawmakers possible roles in the insurrection. the house select committee sending letters to three house members asking for their cooperation. mo brooks, andy bigs and ronny jackson. >> it is not just gem gosh woed like to know what is your on your mind, but specific areas of inquiry. >> reporter: members talked about protecting jackson f. anyone inside, cover him, he has critical data to protect. the committee saying biggs attempted meetings about efforts to illegally over turn the election rilts and also allegedly sought a presidential pardon for those activities. both jackson and biggs saying they wouldn't participate. and in georgia, the legal battle begins in whether trump and others tried to illegally influence the 2020 election. >> you have shown --
>> reporter: prosecutors seating a special grand jury and more requests still could tom. >> we will ask more than three people? >> any senators? >> yes. >> that is a first for committee. still grappling if they're willing to subpoena their colleagues. >> it is not off the table. i don't see how a member of congress could not uphold the constitution in light of what occurred on january 6. >> nbc's ali vitale with that report. it is really incredible to watch this all play out. accountability is hard to come by. >> accountability is hard to come by from people who get lekked to congress and made an oath on the constitution of the united states that they would uphold that constitution laws of this country. and yet they actively worked in a way that was hostile to american democratic elections. to american constitutional norms. to one of the things that most
constitutional scholars and historians understand is one of the most critical things that separates the united states from autocracies and that is the ability of the side that loses to accept a peaceful transition of power. you know, there are so many times when i was growing up and learning history and even in college, people say, you know what separates our country from every other country is that when we -- when power is exchanged from one side to another, that instead of tanks rolling out into the streets. >> right. >> we actually just have a peaceful transition of power. people vote. and the loser recognizes that and accepts it. this still is not happening in the trump wing of the republican party. and it's anti-democratic. it is hostile to american democracy. it is hostile to constitutional