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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  April 30, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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having said that, it will take time. we all have to be patient. >> obviously the players, yourself, you are wealthy men. at the same time you are working for a man with these views. how insulting is it to you as a human being to work for a man who expressed these views? >> that's the difficult part. over the next three, four days it's been difficult. you know, doesn't matter the wealth to be honest. you could be making nothing. you want to work for someone that at least shares or respects your sal ares. they don't have to actually share them, but they have to respect them. when you're working and you do your job you have it on your chest. i got to wear a suit and tie the
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other night. but i had a sense that it was hard for the players. they add to wear that. i think that was hard for them. i do. >> doc, you said you were in film, you told them the decision and said what you needed to say. what did you say? >> that would be private, that part. a lot of it was to let them know this is some closure. there is still work to do. you know, i just thought they set a good example around the league on how they conducted themselves. >> doc, you said you expected a good crowd tonight.
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>> maybe i'm hoping. too. i think the mayor has been great, by the way. what he said today -- kevin johnson, i like him again. it's amazing. he's been great. he was great what he said today. i didn't know he could speak so eloquently. my goodness. just that this is not the lakers or l.a., just to support the team. i go back to the 14 guys we dress or that are, you know, players. they did nothing wrong. they need support. i think that will happen. >> doc, would you like to see the clippers' name changed? >> you know, jim. that's been asked. someone asked me today. it's the first time i heard or thought of it.
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i have no idea. i think whatever happens, if there is a new owner or change of ownership i think all those things would be answered by somebody much smarter than me. i'm not smart enough to give that answer. >> i just need clarification on something you said. i thought the union said if they didn't like the resolution by silver the players would consider not playing. >>. mm-hmm. >> did your players consider not playing? >> they hadn't discussed it. i think they had the trust that there would be. i'm glad we don't have to find out. >> doc, you said the players made the riegs decision by not doing anything. waiting. why was that the right decision to not make a major statement or sit out a game? >> i don't know, mark. like i said. i know what i think is right.
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that's all i can go by. there are people who think we didn't do the right thing and people who think we did. all you can go by is what you think you should do. i lean on a lot of things trying to get guys get to the right decision. they did talk about it when it -- not playing. i thought the black socks and the shirts and all that was fine. at the end of the day, for me at least i always try to lean back on people i have learned from. lt are from wayne emb are ries to -- i talked to a lot of people. and my father who is no longer here would have told me to go do my job and don't let anyone stop you from doing your job because of what they think about you. you can make a bigger statement by doing your job well.
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i know my father would have said that. i don't know if he was right. i don't know if i'm right. but the decision i made is what i thought was right for the team. that's all you can do. that's all they can do. again, the burden shouldn't be on them to have a right or wrong response. they didn't do anything wrong. no one should villify my players for making the choice of playing. no matter the choice they made it was the right one. they shouldn't have the burden of making a response. >> last question. >> i'm not drained enough to go out and not coach this game. i can tell you that. we'll be ready. there will be time to get rest. but this is not the time. this isn't a pit question party
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for us. i did tell my players that. >> coach, when was the last time you had a conversation with mr. sterling? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> ballpark it? a week? >> yeah, i don't know. a month? i'm not sure. >> okay. you said earlier -- >> thank you, guys. >> you said i don't know who to call if i need something is. >> yeah. >> how does it play out on the day to day? how do you operate this way? >> i'm going to do my job. whatever it takes with the team. thanks, guys. >> thank you. mutt jackson is on his way in. >> thanks for joining us. we have just seen a remarkable press conference held before the l.a. clippers basketball game tonight to address the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine dropped today on the team owner, donald sterling. you just saw clippers coach doc rivers speak hg in an off the cuff way. he didn't have a prepared statement. then taking questions for a long
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time. this is only an hour and a half before his team's big playoff game at their home stadium in los angeles. when president reagan was first elected in 1980, re elected in 1984, george bush chosen in the the elections in the fall of 1988, so it was january of 1989 when the new president was getting ready to be sworn in and ronald reagan was getting ready to leave office. on his last day in office, it is what he did. this was his last day as president of the united states. >> white house officials said president reagan has given a full pardon to yankees baseball owner george steinbrenner accused of making an illegal campaign contribution to richard nixon. it does not appear the president will are pardon patty hurst or oliver north and john poindexter before leaving office.
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>> sorry, patty and iran-contra guys. after eight years in office, reagan's parting shot was to give this guy a hand. give this guy a pardon. around the time george steinbrenner was aaenging to buy the yankeess from cbs which owned the team in the '7s around the same time he was buying the yankees, george steinbrenner was making illegal campaign contributions to the presidential re will lex campaign of nixon. he got caught for it. >> george steinbrenner who was chairman of the american shipbuilding company and majority stockholder of the new york yankees was accused by the s.e.c. today of not reporting illegal campaign continue bugss. that brings to 11 the number of corporations formally accused of illegal political gifts in 1972.
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>> steinbrenner, the yankees owner was charged with 14 felony counts in connection with the part of the water gate scandal involving richard nixon's campaign fund raising. he was indicted on 14 counts 40 years ago this month. in april 1974. that story simmered all through the hot summer of 1974. by august of that year george steinbrenner had pled guilty. >> george steinbrenner who was co-owner of the new york yankees pleaded guilty toy take a to conspiring to funnel illegal corporate campaign contributions to republicans and democrats. steinbrenner pleaded guilty to telling employees at his shipbuilding firm to lie to the grand jury and the fbi. >> the owner of the yankeess pled guilty to two of 14 felony charges. he was charged a minor fine by the government for things pled guilty to. beyond criminal punishment major
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league baseball as a business association had to decide what to do with this guy as a team owner. the commissioner of baseball at the time was buey cune and he suspended steinbrenner for two years after he pled guilty to watergate-related crimes. two-year suspension. it was supposed to be two years. a year and change into the supposed punishment and baseball decided, oh, forget it. they didn't keep him suspended for two years though that was supposedly the sentence. they waited a year and change and brought him back. >> november 1974, george steinbrenner, owner of the thork yankees, was suspended from baseball for two years. the reason was illegal political contributions by steinbrenner and another of his businesses. today the suspension was lifted. the commissioner said the yankees need him. >> forget the punishment. yeah, 14 felony charges and
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pleading guilty to two and the watergate mess is a pain for the country, but you know the yankees need him. let's are bring him back. so much for the punishment in the business world. then in 1989 ronald reagan took care of his punishment if in the criminal world as well when he pardoned mr. steinbrenner for his watergate crimes. by that time baseball had a new commissioner. fresh off george steinbrenner's pardon as ronald reagan's last act as p president of the united states, fresh off the pardon mr. steinbrenner got in trouble again right after the pardon with the new baseball commissioner. i will show you one more clip from are the old news reels. this one i could not resist. they do not write news like this anymore. it's probably a good thing. this is amazing. watch right to the end of this. i can't believe this exists. >> new york yankees owner george steinbrenner, born on the fourth
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of july. but this birthday may not be a happy one. tomorrow he appear ss before the baseball commissioner to explain some of his activities off the field. activities that could lead to his suspension. >> steinbrenner dictated everything tr how long players can wear their hair to how long managers will survive. not long in either case. >> the only thing that counts to me is giving the yankees a winner. we have done it 14 of 17 years. >> baseball commissioner fay vincent suspects something other than the urge to win motivated steinbrenner's treatment of star outfielder dave winfield. the investigator questioned yankee players and employees about steinbrenner's allegedlied hounding of winfield, harassment that included steinbrenner's payment of $40,000 to this man, howie spira for information harmful to winfield who was traded by the yankees this year. >> you are always concerned going before the commissioner. so, yes, i'm concerned. i have hopes that i will get a fair hearing. >> reporter: even if steinbrenner can convince the
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commissioner his actions were proper he has to do more to satisfy fans that he's restoring the team to former luster. only 1 in 10 approves of steinbrenner's ownership. a dandy of a birthday present for this yankee doodle who turned 60 today. steven frasier, nbc news, new york. >> a dandy of a birthday president for this yankee doodle. sticking a feather in my cap and calling it macaroni, i'm steven frasier. nbc news. why don't we write news like this anymore? a dandy of a birthday present for this yankee doodle? seriously? why wasn't i on the news then? it's so great. that meeting between fay vincent, the commissioner and steinbrenner didn't go well that day. the commissioner found not only had the yankees owner paid this outside guy to go dig up dirt to hurt one with of his own players but the guy he paid was a known big time sports gambler.
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being a professional sports team owner associated with professional gambling on sports is a problem for a lot of obvious reasons. on july 30, 1990 george steinbrenner was banned from major league baseball for life. or for three years, whichever came first. they banned him for life in 1990 and brought him back in 1993. what is a life ban that ends after three years? they reconsidered after three years, caved and brought him back just like his previous two the-year suspension just had fallen apart after a few months. they brought him back because the yankees needed him. if you want to get banned for life for real in american sports the only sure way to do it is to be an actual athlete who plays sports, not a rich guy on the business side of things. tanya harding, the american figure skater was stripped of her 1994 national championship title. she was banned from skating for
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life for her involvement in the lurid plot to hurt her rival skater nancy kerrigan. lance armstrong, the legendary american cyclist was not only banned from cycling for life, he had his cycling titles retroactively disqualified. basically his career annulled when he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. pete rose, one of the greatest hitters in the history of oh baseball, then a manager when he was found to not only be involved in gambling on baseball but betting on his own teams. pete rose was banned from baseball for life if 1989. the commissioner said if there had n't been such grave allegations about gambling corrupting baseball since the 1919 world series when the white sox had eight players not just suspend bud banned for life for their involvement in a plot to throw the world series. if you are a player, an athlete are, involved in the physical performance of the game there are a million ways to get kicked
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out, disgraced, punished, humiliated, suspended, banned for life. but if you're the boss, one of the pun guys, the same standards do not apply to you. if nothing else the president of the united states may step in and save you on his last day in office. the owner of the lakers gets a dui conviction, suspended for two games t. owner of the washington capitals gets into a fistfight with a fan in the stands at one of his games, suspended for a week. the owner of the 49ers neglects to mention his felony conviction in a gambling, fraud and extortion case. he took a season off and came back. the owner of the st. louis cardinals had to go to federal prison for a 15-month sentence for federal tax evasion. baseball didn't see fit to punish him but they found it embarrassing to have the owner of a team in prison. they found that embarrassing enough that they pressured him to sell the team.
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same deal with marge schott of the reds, the nazi memorabilia collection and calling her star players her million dollar n-words. she had suspensions but they gently persuaded her to sell the team to somebody else. players get burned for life, right? they are thrown out, disgraced, barred from are the sport until they are dead. owners get quietly pressured to please cash in. before today the only time any owner in professional sports was banned for life was the joke about george steinbrenner. it was a joke. it was a life ban. he was back in less than three years. today that history apparently changed for the first time with a remarkable, terse and ultimately genuinely shocking press conference by the brand new commissioner of the national basketball association.
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>> i am personally distraught that the views expressed by mr. sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations. and caused could you repeat and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the nba to question their association with the league. to them and pioneers of the game like earl lloyd, chuck cooper sweet water clifton, bill russell and particularly magic johnson, i apologize. accordingly, effective immediately, i am banning mr.
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sterling for life for any association with the clippers organization or the nba. as for mr. sterling's ownership interest in the clippers, i will urge the board of governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and will do anything in my power to ensure that happens. >> unless that turns out to be a fake lifetime ban like baseball handed out to george steinbrenner in the '90s and it only lasted three years. unless this is another fake-out what was announced today is an unprecedented moment in the history of big time sports in the united states. not a player, not a front office employee or a manager, but an owner. one of the bosses. one of the money guys actually being thrown out in shame. the short-term question obviously is what happens next? will the nba owners who have the
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power to do it, will the other nba owners vote to strip donald sterling of ownership of his team, force him to sell the team? that's the other shoe that may or may not drop. lots of the owners today put out statements today suggesting that will be an easy vote. the bigger question here for people who don't care about sports but recognize sports are an important part of oh american culture and it may be a landmark thing that happened here whether or not you know how many basketball teams represent los angeles, the bigger question in terms of american culture, american politics and accountability in our country and our time is why did this just happen? this is an historically significant moment given what else happened if professional sports before this. why did this just happen now? is it something specific to what's going on in sports now or is it a reflection of changing expectations for what's acceptable behavior in american
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big business? donald sterling said offensively racist things about black people in what he thought was a private context. then through some machinations with his private life and his mistress that became public. the owner of the cleveland cavaliers said he didn't want too many black people because if a team looked too black it would be bad for business. he said it openly. he wasn't banned for life. they encouraged him to sell the team eventually but he wasn't banned. neither did marge with her swats ka arm band and "hitler wasn't that bad." the knee jerk analysis is that we are all offended by statements that didn't used to offend us. that's why the team owner was banned for life when nobody before him did. you know what? the cavaliers guy in the '70s offended people by trying to
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titrate the racial makeup of his teams to be business efficient. marge shot offended people -- for real. and george steinbrenner was convicted in watergate. it's not like these things were laughed off. we didn't sud lynn get sensitive to things that didn't used to bother us. what's different is not that we take offense at things that didn't used to offend us. when we are offended, we are bothered, that's being expressed in a way that the huge business interests can no longer afford to ignore. so all of these sponsors fled immediately from any association with this l.a. clippers team which they had previously sponsored once they heard words out of the mouth of the owner of the l.a. clippers and the players themselves turned their warm-ups inside out so as not to show the name of the team that is awarmed up for their own playoff game. immediately after the commissioner's announcement for all of the drama today the true bombshell revelation came after
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this press conference from one of the officials in the nba player association explaining that the players themselves were with ready to express their own offense at what the owner did by boycotting their own games. starting tonight. if the league did not act. it is a multi billion dollar business. if the players stop playing, the business is over. if the sponsors flee, the business is over. for the first time ever an owner has been thrown out because of oh his offensive behavior. that's a story about american business, american power and the expression of american power. the it is a story that's not static, it turns out. changes over time. it takes a long time but these things change. s of reasons. i go to angie's list to gauge whether or not the projects will be done in a timely fashion and within budget.
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additionally, i have reached out to other players around the league and made it clear the players were ready to boycott the games if this type of action was not something that adam silver felt was necessary. we had a timetable from the owners as far as when the vote will happen. we feel confident that with adam silver's urging and obviously we have heard from the owners around the league. we think this could be handled quickly.
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>> that was roger mason today from the nba players association. one of the top players in the player's association. that was immediately following the nba commissioner announcing today that the l.a. clippers owner would be handed a lifetime ban from basketball and that he would be doing everything in his power to ensure that the other owners of teams voted to essentially strip him of his ownership of the clippers. immediately after that announcement there was a dramatic revelation from the players union that there was a real possibility that the players would stop playing starting tonight if the nba didn't take the action they took. joining us now ncaa all american, former nba player, attorney and professor at columbia university len elmore. >> thanks for having me. >> big picture, your reaction to the league's decision today. if you felt it was the right decision and why you think it
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went down this way. >> absolutely it was the right decision. i'm pleased that adam understands that it needed swift, sure and severe punishment to be laid down simply because, again, this constituency was calling for that. adam in his first year as commissioner had to demonstrate his strength and more than anything else it was also a reaction to past years when sterling, without this direct evidence of his attitudeses was kind of coddled. the nba was maybe complicit in helping him succeed and become the owner that he is today. even comfortable in making statements as opposed to stepping down and really clamping down on him earlier >> when you talk about the commissioner today sort of serving his constituency, at least reck are niezing his constituency, do you mean the players, fans, owners? who is his constituency primarily? >> all of the above. he a had to make a decision what
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was the consensus feeling. once he recognized that, he could come down in the manner in which he did. i don't think if any of them had an objection to a lifetime ban are relegating him the to literally a passive investor that he may not have come down as hard. he was able the to exercise his authority. >> the reason i described the press conference today as shocking is not just because of the bottom line, the lifetime ban. for me i was watching in the newsroom. we stopped the news meeting, everyone was riveted. when he listed the handful of pioneering black players from the nba and said, i apologize. first of all, we are not used to anyone saying that. we couch those things so directly. it was a recognition that a wrong had been done to the players, to the people with whom
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-- without whom the league would not exist. that, to me, felt like a new way of talking about the league that i don't usually hear. was that new? should that have struck me as hutch as it did? >> i think so. when you talk historically as you did in the last segment of the different owners who had the same kinds of transgressions. the difference is you have a league that's a majority of color. you have a society now in the post racial era that when something like this occurs people are will take a look because it is so out of the ordinary supposedly now. you don't have a problem with the thoughts. you have a problem with expressing the thoughts. isn't it amazing in the last two weeks we have had cliven bundy and now donald sterling? that environment also had an impact. it's the players and the fans. they are the ones who
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essentially put forth the greatest leverage, more than anything else. let's face it. that's a business. that leverage will impact decisions. for me it was said this is a defining moment for the defining moment for the players. i have never seen the players so unified, so gall are va niezed behind any issue besides maybe collective bargaining before. when you look at other issues that are important that you can never fall on the wrong side of whether it's gang violence, whether it's under education of oh kids, childhood obesity, i would like to see the players exercise that leverage. gather support from corporate world and others to speak out and utilize the same leverage to cure those ills. this is a great sign. >> a quiet discipline and unity exhibited by the players in this. it struck everybody on all sides as remarkable and hopefully a
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sign that they could leverage the power they've got as stars to a lot of different causes. professor elmore one of the greatest players in acc, . thank you for being here. i was trying to embarrass you. i had the to wait for the end. thank you, sir. we have big news including late breaking, disturbing news out of oklahoma. oklahoma was planning to do something tonight they had not done in 80 years. they tried to go ahead with it and it went horribly wrong at the the last moment. we have that for you next. stay with us. vé
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we have breaking news tonight out of oklahoma. i want to warn you that this is a difficult and shocking story. the state of oklahoma was planning to execute not one but two prisoners tonight. the this would be the first double execution many the state for 80 years. the last time they did a double execution in oklahoma was 1937.
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the two executions scheduled for two hours apart. they were supposed to be carried out by lethal injection. you may have read recently state prison systems have found it difficult and in some cases impossible to get the chemicals that have been used for the lethal injection process. the last american manufacturer of the primary execution drug doesn't make it anymore. european manufacturers don't want their drug used for american executions. it's been hard for states to get a supply of drugs to kill tear -- their prisoners with. the state of oklahoma decided that they would keep the source of their lethal injection drugs secret. the two prisoners expected to be executed tonight in oklahoma sued the state over the secrecy saying because they wouldn't reveal where the drugs were coming from the plan for killing them came with a substantial risk of inflicting severe pain.
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last week on monday the oklahoma supreme court in hear ing the objections decided to stay this double execution. they decided they could not allow the executions to go forward until the issues about secrecy were resolved. the day after the ruling a state lawmaker said he would tie to impeach the five justices who voted for the stay and in the governor's office, oklahoma republican governor mary fallon said she couldn't abide and keep her oath of office. she set a new date for the executions, defying the court, for tonight. the oklahoma supreme court decided that they would cave essentially, lift the stay they put in place. the state moved forward with the executions. the first was scheduled for 6:00 p.m. local time tonight. the second for two hours later, 8:00 p.m. local time. when a state executes a prisoner
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it is typical for reporters to cover it and write about it. they don't allow cameras or videotape into the sight of an execution. at least print reporters are allowed to describe what happens. tonight in oklahoma the first reporting from the first execution appeared on twitter. from an a.p. reporter named bailey mcbride. the first tweet said, quote, first execution botched. second stayed. another reporter on the scene said 15 a minutes into the execution the prisoner sat up and said, something is wrong. prison officials say they will try to get mr. lockett to the hospital to resuscitate him. she said he was conscious and blinking, licking his lips, even after the process began. he then began to seize. meaning have seizures. eyewitness reporting from bailey elise mcbride.
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he said the prisoner after being rushed to the hospital suffered a heart attack and died. this is breaking news tonight out of oklahoma. the state scheduled two executions for tonight by le lethal injection. the first didn't go as planned. it appears it went horribly wrong and the prisoner died of a heart attack after the execution was halted. the second execution has been stayed for two weeks. the director of the oklahoma department of directions gave this account of what went wrong. >> those that were inside witnessed, it was determined he was sedated approximately seven minutes into the execution. at that time we began pushing the second and third drug in the protocol. there was some concern at that time that the drugs would not have any effect.
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so the doctor observed the line and determined that the line had blown. it was my decision at that time to stop the execution. i notified the attorney general's office, the governor's office of my intent to stop the execution and stay the execution followed for the afternoon. at 706 hours, the inmate suffered what appears to be a massive heart attack and passed away. >> oklahoma's director of corrections explaining tonight that the condemned prisoner had some sort of vein failure that prevented the drugs from properly entering his body. this is breaking news from oklahoma. this just happened tonight in the last few hours. the state planned to execute two prisoners. the first had to be stopped after it appeared not to be working, after it went on for a long time including the prisoner saying "something is wrong"
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after the prisoner had what they call vein failure. officials considered trying to revive the prisoner. he eventually died of a heart attack. the governor issued an official executive order postponing the execution of the second prisoner scheduled to be killed. his name is charles warner. the stay is for 14 days. the governor ordered a full review of the execution procedure. joining us is madeline cohen, the attorney for charles warner, scheduled to be the second man executed. he's received a 14-day stay after the first kpe cushion was botched. ms. cohen was at the prison at the time with her client when this happened. thanks for joining us. i know this is a hard time. >> hi, rachel. thanks for having me. >> first of all, i have summarized this as best we can tell from here. this is still a breaking news story nationally.
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is what i explained what you understand happened tonight? >> what you reported is what i have heard. i have to say i have spent time with clayton lockett. my colleague is his lawyer. we have spent time with him, we know him. he does not have are vein failure. that's to cover up a horribly botched execution. >> why do you say you know he wouldn't have had vein failure. >> i can't say it for sure without an independent autopsy which should be the next step. he was a guy with healthy, bulging veins. he was not an i.v. drug user. he was not unhealthy, dehydrated. he was a very, very fit, strong guy with big arms, bulging veins. it is just not likely that would have happened.
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>> you filed suit against the state of oklahoma this year around the secrecy about the procedure they want to use to kill prisoners including your client. you argued the new method of execution carried a substantial risk of inflicting severe pain. it's hard for people outside of the direct legal context to get their heads around the idea that there is a are prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment that would still allow for executions. that people could be put to death but there would be reasonable constraints on the way in which people could be killed. did what happened tonight affect your overall understanding of your legal arguments for your own client? and will you refile on the claim? >> well, what we have been asking for all along is for transparency in the process. for information about the drugs being used, where they come
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from. because, as you pointed out earlier, the sources of the drugs have diminished. so the states have turned to, in many cases, questionable sources. this certainly and very, very unfortunately we are concerned about the drugs. are they safe, legal, have they been imported from back alley suppliers as has happened in some cases? are they made by underregulated pharmacies? this is a thing we never want to happen. the reason we need to have complete transparency in the process. >> in terms of -- i just have to ask you tonight with this trauma tonight, the traumatic failure in the process, i have to ask if your client -- your colleague who was representing mr. lockett and your own client, i have to ask about personal reactions to what happened tonight and how you are receiving the information?
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>> it's horrible. it was like watching somebody be tortured. that's the farthest thing from a constitutional execution we can imagine. we have to have an investigation. we have to are have transparency on the process. >> madeline cohen, attorney for charles warner who tonight under incredibly difficult circumstances was granted a 14-day stay of execution. he was scheduled to be killed by the state of oklahoma tonight. ms. cohen, i know this is a difficult time. thanks for being with us. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. much more to come. you tell them how much you want to pay, and they help you find a policy that fits your budget. i told you to wear something comfortable! this is a polyester blend! whoa!
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amid lots of other news tonight, not just from the nba but lots of news tonight, the white house received very, very good news. news that's very good for the white house on its face and that must be terribly frustrating for them at the same time. that news is coming up with nbc's john harwood. stay with us. i procrastinated... on buying a car for... because i knew...
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good news for the white house. turns out what the administration is doing on the ukraine issue is being appreciated by the american people. first, we know the administration's position to not go to war in ukraine, that's very popular. the last polling from pew shows 74% of americans agreeing with president obama that we shouldn't send u.s. troops to ukraine. new polling from pew and "usa today," asks specifically about the things president obama is doing instead of having a war there. the president is increasing diplomatic sanctions on russia. turns out that is popular. 53% of americans approve of increasing sanctions on russia. the president's republican critics like john mccain keep demanding we send weapons to arm the ukrainians. president obama rejected that advice. no, we are not going to send military supplies and weapons to
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ukraine. turns out that decision by president obama is even more popular than the sanctions thing. 62% of americans approve of us not sending weapons to ukraine. so, between the u.s. not starting a new war ourselves, not sending weapons to ukraine, pursuing sanctions instead. all of the policies are popular, popular, and more popular! and here's why stepping into the white house makes your hair turn gray instantly. because even though all of these things that the white house is doing, all of them decisions they have made on ukraine are hugely supported by big majorities of the american people. look, president's handling of ukraine is very unpopular. only 34% of americans approve of president obama's handling of the ukraine even though americans like every specific thing he is doing on ukraine. is it a paradox? it is. does it make the white house
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crazy? yes it does. chart imitates life. joining us john harwood, political writer for "the new york times". thank you for joining us. appreciate you being here. >> hey, rachel. >> the recent polling, assume it makes the white house crazy. do they deal with it by going into denial, refusing to believe that people dislike them even though they like everything they're doing or a strategy for handling the paradox. >> they understand it is measuring two different things. when you ask about specific steps. the same is true of the president's economic plan, they're popular. but when people are asked do you approve his job performance on the issue it is really a question are things going well or not? so, you could support all of the items the president's for in ukraine, or on the economic plan, and say he is not doing well with ukraine or the economy if they don't feel like the situations are being, if events are going well. that's, that's what that question measures.
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>> john, one of the reasons i wanted to talk to you, your own reporting on president obama's strategy for dealing with the last few years of his second term. and how he is trying to handle essentially management issues, within the executive branch. how does that jibe with problems like this that he is facing in terms of his public approval rating? >> the most important things to barack obama is legacy and success and the remainder of his presidency, managing the thing he's has got going. the part of his presidency that is about passing new laws through congress, yes, maybe they could get immigration, it is possible. but that is mostly faded. this as it bout now, making the health care law work. so it can't be pulled out. by its roots. later. making dodd-frank, financial law work. making aspects of the president's policies, climate change. executive orders. if he can dupe those things that its more important than any relations with congress now or the midterm election for that matter. >> john harwood, political reporter, "the new york times," cnbc as well. thank you for joining us. nice to see you.
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>> you bet. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. 
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the breaking news this hour, the state of oklahoma, botching the first of what was planned to be a double execution tonight. good wednesday morning, everybody. right now on "first look," a massive weather system sweeping parts of the u.s. has now claimed 35 lives. and the threat is not over yet. so what's next for the l.a. clippers after donald sterling gets banned for life. we're six months away from elections. and democrats are bracing for a new season. plus, a new list of the world's deadliest animals with surprising top spots. why we won't see a royal wedding anytime soon. and the new cast is officially announced listen to familiar

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