Death row inmate's claim goes to the Supreme Court

President Trump visits tank factory in Ohio, analyzing the president's recent social media attacks and tunes added to the National Recording Registry.
26:14 | 03/20/19

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Transcript for Death row inmate's claim goes to the Supreme Court
And. Everybody welcome to the British term I've ABC's Devin Dwyer Washington with our. Senior a Pennsylvania Avenue producer just an official on this Wednesday a lot to cover today from the Supreme Court to the White House the president out of town but let's start. With the report everybody's waiting for here Washington we know a lot of Americans. On both sides of the political while waiting to hear about this is well Robert Muller's report all signs Justin indicate. That he is very close to wrapping up. Yeah in any day now we expect this I mean beef is finished. What do you what's your read odds mean. The truth is we really don't know but I must say to give real insight here were bracing for in the news term any day now I mean we. We are ready to go I think the president's very go I think everybody. Is ready for this thing can be delivered back to friends. Answers tiring of getting asked about it he has asked on the South Lawn just a few minutes ago on his way out the door to Ohio. While what he thinks of the report when it's coming and whether he thinks the public should see all of it Nicholas. But there's. The public upper right. The poll report. We're going tonight. The president pretty confident I think he wants people to see it suggests he's feeling pretty good about what's in there. Right but the trick is seen bill Barr his attorney journal is going to be the one who decides in the beginning what congress is gonna see and perhaps what everybody else is gonna say self. This is a Condit could come back to him we could say mister if there's ever fight about a town roads and Mr. President you said you wanna be able to see it. It'll be inching to see what his attorney general says about it. The attorney journal remembers for writing it a summary of it sending it to congress and then from there were not sure who's gonna see. Aren't so we await that the president's away and he wants you to be able to see it but meanwhile he's out on the road he's talking about the economy today in fact shining a spotlight when his favorite. Activities shining a spotlight on manufacturing jobs. He's in Lima Ohio that is where the only remaining tank production plant in America it is you see the tanks. Behind him there on stage Lima Ohio in the western part of the state almost Illinois. Storied history Justin you are student of tanks to current pentagon they need tanks there since World War II. Down to a trickle during well on the administration they're only making one tank a month until Crump came and I'm in. And there were cuts brought an end this is an in the president's criticize Obama for heavily but. Do they weren't used tanks or conventional weapon. This storied history that since monetary. They are not a weapon of counter insurgencies which has been the fight that that we've been in most commonly recently. And so frankly it did go down to a trickle. And now the president says general dynamics which makes the tanks there in Lima houses are making 34 tanks I'm months of the president at. Celebrating that fact today but it brought many a lesser and the manager to be asking do we still meet tanks. Anymore and that's what the question we want to put to Michael Hamlin he's a senior fellow at Brookings Institution joins us now also military. Defense analyst Mike great to see use so how do you answer that question we still need these tanks rolling off the line. We still need tanks the answer to that is yes. We can debate whether we still need to be upgrading more Abrams tanks today. As you folks know that you say that but thank facilities been there for a long time we've been making or modifying Abrams tanks since the 1980s it was the signature. Accomplishment in ground combat of the Reagan administration which built the so called Big Five. Of which the Abrams tank was one so we've been either building or modifying that same vintage. You know upgraded but nonetheless that same basic concept in a tank. For about forty years. But when I got I've got my primary way to say I thought we were talking about cyber warfare that we're talking about. Countering China we need a big navy you when are we ever any use these tanks. I don't know that we'll get it use them but I think one of the things we're trying to do is deter Russia from having any anticipation or aggression. Or ambition towards the Baltic States. Whether we need more thanks to do that can be debated. But I think that's one theater certainly Korea is another theater where if heaven forbid. Things deteriorate to where they weren't when he seventeen you could imagine sustained ground combat operations there as well. But I'm sort of what I'm trying to do was talk out of both sides in my mouth tanks are needed. We may however have enough as things stand and I think the army would emphasize its desire for the next generation of vehicles more than it would prioritize. Modifying let's say a 165 more tanks in the 20/20 budget proposal it just came out. Couple weeks ago so when all is said and done we need tanks I'm not sure week crucially need the ones that are being modified right now in Lima. And certainly Justin there are some political implications for the president not asked to throw little candy did. Then where have I know question and how it's keeping jobs there this is an area of Ohio that he won handily in the last election however just next door where the GM plant is shattering. He knew almost one Myers slight slight margin and churn up he's out there calling for tickets you limit your discipline screen there are speaking at GM let's talk to somebody now who lives in that used to live in that community grew up in that community are. A jury on Matt Furman he's a reporter for us out of Los Angeles Matt great to see who you are from. Lima Ohio. You British inside that community how important is this tape manufacturing. Facility from your firsthand experience. It's really crucial to the community you know I grew up in in the ninety's in the NAFTA age where a lot of manufacturing in the city was just evaporated. I think the city law something like 8000 jobs from 1970 to 2000. And that's the exact time we started building these tanks and mass it was really in its heyday in the eighty's and ninety's and then in the gulf war. And so is almost like when every other sort of manufacturing was leaving this was really thriving. So when you come around to after the Iraq War when we don't need as many new tanks and do we really need to be building tanks. This was a really important plant to the community. Two bed that economy in the area. I mean the area also has a four engine plant and like we've seen with GM that's the sort of thing that you always cross your fingers every time you hear that plants are moving to Mexico or leaving that area and and luckily that one hasn't been shot down yet but. But it's a very important thing to the community and no one really wants to see it get rid of and an ever when there's very happy to see that employment nearly double lane just in the last five years. Yeah that is certainly good thing for them Matt Furman thanks so much for that perspective as well want to go back to. Michael hellish shift gears a limit might because the president was on his way out the door to Lima Ohio today speaking as a place that perhaps could use some tanks. He was talking a lot of and about Syria the war in Syria right now and and got a little more definitive than he has in the past he said. That crisis will be gone by tonight. What's your read on the situation there now you've been tracking map pretty closely. First of all and very glad the president has been gradually reversing course when he first promised to get out in December of course that. Contributed to the resignation of secretary madness who was upset by mr. Trump's apparently impulsive decision to just abandon our interest and allies there. But now president trump has largely roll back that decision he still wants to streamline our presence which has been around 2000 troops on the ground in Syria. And he wants to get down now to about a thousand so you know it's not a pretty way to watch the sausage get made to hear him. Say zero and then go to 29400. Now back to a thousand but it's better. Then getting stubborn about his initial position making that mistake and then just deciding to double down on a wrong. Policy outcomes so I'm glad we're gonna keep a thousand forces there it gives us some leverage in the northeast of the country some ability to help protect our Kurdish partners there. And a try to sort of interpose ourselves between Turkey and those currents so it's a good decision on balance but ice this is not going to be gone for good. Its territorial holdings may be largely gone but ice is sort of has infiltrated into communities throughout much. Central and eastern Syria and we're gonna have to stay engaged in this region to make sure it doesn't come back. And I think Mikey had on a really big point because. I think a lot of the people on the Pentagon now a lot of his generals want those 1000 forces but today it I would point out as he departed. He was back to saying I want. 200 forces there he wants is streamlined amateur honored that's memory said today and they said 200 some moral. And he went on those 400 it do whatever the number and he has been shifting under number he did come out of this intelligence briefing and receive picturing your favorite president. Mike is apparently holding up a classified document he used black sharply I think to cross out the words they last a five we assume because there's over that time we're would normally say to your point Mike he's trying to show that the territorial. Holdings devices have diminished significantly but. They really just dispersed some of these fighters the threats are gone right. Exactly aren't might got O'Hanlon with Brookings Institution senior fellow also military analyst rich as you Michael as appreciate you coming in just around the corner from here thank you so much. Shifting gears all of a just and you know with so much at stake in the fight against nicest it's sort of baffling to see the personal mudslinging and petty politics that have that this town has 24 hours a lot of it coming from the west wing and involving my swing first there was this extraordinary. Twitter brawl between the president and the husband Ned Kelly Kellyanne Conway is righteous advisor that was seen all this back and forth again. Over Senator John McCain in just a short time ago senator Johnny Isaacson Republican. I'm Georgia it came to McCain's defense and took a pretty extraordinary and in usual swipe. At the president himself pickles. It's deplorable what he said. Spice that's what I called him from the floor of the senate and seven months ago. There will be deplore what deplorable seven months from now if he says the end and Powell continues speaking out because one thing that we've got to do. You may not like immigration human and I like this man that may be a republic in May not be a dart or all America. So it's not so that we see from Johnny Isaacson is very much of the mind of Mitch McConnell they don't attack the president but the fact that he did this is. Telling that the McCain attacks continue to resonate with many name I'm a Republican he's. Are not a hard statements for many of these Republican senators to think. But to say they're difficult because. You're putting your neck on the line with the president you're risking their relationship with the president and the president seems to revel in that control he has let's remind control he of that that. That message control he has he's daring people. In his own party to come out and say define me on this and on marquee name in. It's not clear much of the country is paying attention to the eagle one agency wobbles and mean. You go out there and talk to my famine Minnesota they're not paying attention to what the president saying about George Conway area and really John McCain you're a parent though yes and one of the issues that we talked a lot about here when we see this squabbling on Twitter on both sides is the impact it's having on young people we have our First Lady is taken up. This cause I want to bring into the conversation now Kathy slackened in she's a parenting consultants. And president of priceless parents united based in Seattle was also someone who followed. First Lady Maloney Trump's recent visit the heard it promote positive behavior. On social media so very timely topic Kathy great to see you so. We're talking here we may tune this out as adults but it does this comes up doesn't go unnoticed by kids. Right right they actually get noticed what adults are doing and he. It's a perfect opportunity for us to have some conversations with our kids about what's going on in real life and what we feel a lot. You know we've seen so much of this on both sides and you and I were speaking before the show about the Conway incidents where president trumpet John McCain in the whole life but. You know what impact does that have doesn't have an impact in the work that you do there could recruit good to consulting with parents about social media use. On kids are deep picking up any of this. This bitten you know patty banter between our elected officials. Well kids certainly aren't noticing I'm it is no wait for us to have a conversation our kids about what we expect from them. Because a lot of what we're seeing. Our elected official due on social media are things that. Our kids are gonna get in trouble at school if they do the same kind of thing. So we're not they're not allowed she knew my. Name calling it bullying and saying you know only bad thing about other kids hit it's just inappropriate in so. One way parents can use at their kids are bringing it does it it didn't discuss that and say gap adult are doing this and yeah we don't agree with. My you know it's funny Kathy IE I had kids they're very attuned to that though the rhetoric being used as they watched the news that night. What dots and an anti worried that not so much that. They're gonna pick up on it because from from those people on social media they know what's wrong but I worry that they're gonna pick it up from. Other adults who are influenced the pocket he's a world leaders. And is that a problem. Did you go pick it up art else that they kids are being influenced by their parents and other people were being influenced by then president. Yeah that's only concern and it goes back to guess what kind of people we want to be how me. Want to treat each other. And I think with big current. Significant issues our earliest release we need your. Be raising the bar on how weak communicate with each other and how we. Accepted and listen to each other and name calling definitely mean. Is not the way we want to be going and now. Yes kids can get our hot and sometimes. In that they do the same kinds of things under when they're playing their games are on social media. And it's hurtful and in. Not helpful. And and king Kathy before let you go the First Lady was just in your community. Just a couple weeks ago talking about. The perils of social media I'm bullying if you will and you were closely following that involved in some of those conversations. What's her appearance helpful do you concur initiative. Is shining angered spotlight on this. I think any spotlight we can shine on I'm treating other people's respect and not pulling is great. I'm. I don't know she kind of flew into not here got to see Microsoft active see some of the parental controls and some of the new things that. Are available for parents and so that's helpful I was troubled at how the conversation per share. Have those conversations gonna vice Kathy flatten didn't apparent in consultant president price's parent teen. Based in Seattle thanks so much for your time great to hear perspective and appreciate it thanks Kathy. Thanks for having me. Well now we back here in Washington turned to the Supreme Court and welcome in one of our guests with us today some are free market of American public media she is a senior producer with a pod cast in the dark. Which is tracking one of them significant case is that was before the Supreme Court today as Tamara. Focusing on racial bias in the criminal justice system an incredible case Justin and I were talking about it this morning. This is the case of Curtis flowers who is a forty year old Mississippi man on death row been there for 22 years. And he alleges that in the six count them six times he's been tried. For the same quadruple murder in 1996. He faced which he calls racially biased juries because of in his words. The the prosecutor Doug Evans. I was involved in some discriminatory behavior in picking those jurors you were in in their courtroom today at the Supreme Court how were the justices responding to his argument of racial bias. Well you know it's can be hard to tell what this isn't thinking they ask you'll want to predict too much based on their questions that. I think it's safe to say that he seemed pretty troubled by the history of this prosecutor so as you mentioned this is a case that is had not just one pilots had six. And over the course of the six child which is a person. I as far as we can tell it's in this Seth has contracted to say that yes this is not comment has just in the trials for the same crime. Same prosecutors same dependent. So over the course of these trials the prosecutor Doug Evans has been cot. Coming all kinds of prosecutorial misconduct including striking by actors because they're black which is unconstitutional is actually been caught Ford in two previous trials. And I think you could tell from the questions today at the court that many if the justices were deeply troubled by this. Including potentially justice Clarence Thomas who we should note just as an aside asked his first question. In the courtroom in three years someone who is famous for being silent so remark an indication of the significant to the case. I do want to bring in her Supreme Court analyst Kate shop for all of a more in this conversation because as Tamara. Which is mentioning Kate. At issue here is the jury selection process in criminal trials. And the use of these techniques called peremptory challenges which are allow both lawyers on either side in a case to strike jurors for any reason. Help us understand a little bit more about that process and how it may be prone to abuse it. Sure I'm so great either side of the case has the opportunity to remove jurors without explaining why writes about called a peremptory challenge. I'm an only if the other side breezes and objection to the challenged the up to put forth your reasons. A so the other side says hey you've now struck. You know three prospective jurors all our black why do you strike them then decide that need the strikes to come forward with an explanation. And it needs to be erased neutral explanation and up but the problem is sometimes race neutral explanations are offered. But just to conceal what are actually racial motivation and on and so that's what we've seen in several v.'s prior cases. Court's finding that this prosecutor Don Athens I did in striking black jurors he of course didn't come forward and yes I struck these prospective jurors because of race he offered other explanations weld in new one of the witnesses or. The victims or on. Or had a connection to the defendant or you know may provide some kind of explanation. But a lot of those explanations applied equally to the white jurors who weren't struck on but it's a tricky process because. You still are allowed to do this thing out called peremptory challenges and some people think that. Those should shouldn't be allowed it shouldn't be able to remove someone who's a prospective juror. Without giving some explanation out front I and it's prone to abuse into manufactured explanations and up in basic backgrounds. Yet and it makes a very complicated. Have fact pattern in this case some merit because in the first trial it was an all white jury second trial. Almost all white jury each of those cases it was tossed out because the Mississippi Supreme Court said whether or some misconduct there may not fair. Third trial same thing fourth and fifth trial. Aren't sure it's more diverse juries and they were gray box they didn't convict him and then they got among the six trial results eleven to one lemon what I want right you're a black jurist. So today's no one of the things that's justices grappled with was the context. Of Doug Evans the prosecutor's behavior. I think we have the numbers American public media Europe for podcast in the dark which is a fabulous listen everybody should download it. I did an analysis in Mississippi you spent a lot of time they're looking at 418. Cases or more. Of the this prosecutor in his his practices of using peremptory strikes you found. Foreign have to five times higher strikes against black jurors and wagers that Traci think you would think. This might be the kind of thing that was tracked because it's an important constitutional issues so you would think you might be able to. Go to computer and look up how many black people does my local prosecutor strike off of Jerry's think it's very difficult to do that very few places actually track that's so. To answer that question the question of we wanted to answer about Doug Evans and has office. Intel this month's. Long almost yearlong data project for it has digging literally arc you track town transcript in a court houses. Old men's bathrooms abandoned storage containers all jails Enron's documents are kept in some crazy places. I'm just. But assembling all of these transcripts a 1151000. Pages of records. Performing some data magic on all of that at coating it entering and covered this patter and at the end of today. Or the year. We are able to save we have found that Evans strikes lectures a four and a half times agree that the justices like catch catch on to that today we did they put much water on the so that information was included in briefs that we're piled to the Supreme Court as part of Chris flowers petition. And but that the justices are were very narrowly focused today specifically on what happened. In the six trial though again in this larger context of the bid actions and the prosecutor over the past. Almost three data. Must face Morrison who just started looking at this case today what's replete passing aside from these issues of race this sort of this seeming lack of evidence for me I mean that Tehran is up isn't on the substance that's what draws you into the case as well. Yen now saying the Supreme Court is not here to assess the evidence against Curtis flowers that's not its rolled right. That's something that we did. In the podcast and that the evidence against ours ours is very no witnesses no murder weapon of physical evidence and the one person who says there was a jailhouse confession was sort of a suspect that your. And Clinton. There isn't there is no physical evidence the cases almost entirely circumstantial with the exception of this one jailhouse informant. Who said that Curtis flowers to confess to them when they weren't part from prison together. And our podcast we were able to reach this informant a Dell com and on contraband cell son from his cell in fresh from prison and he told us that that was a lie he admitted up to add get a break as it was. Isolated act and come forward if there was a seventh trial and I want to put that to cage shop before we wrap up here gate. You know depending upon its does sound like from this tomorrow is reporting that the justices were sort of inclined. To its hit two to strike down this conviction of Curtis flowers. Dan could open potentially a seventh trial for this man yeah. You know it seems totally possible one at the back of the court took the case up at all it doesn't typically take a case like this is to a firm with the Mississippi Supreme Court did which was to allow the conviction to stand. And and I'll also say that this is an area of law in which even the supreme court's conservative justices. Sometimes will side with the criminal defendants so Roberts wrote an opinion two years ago. Finding abouts in violation that is discrimination in a juror strike. Alito wrote an opinion in 2008. I'll also throwing out a conviction because there had been racial bias and removing jurors so. This is a case where you might not even see you know a 54 outcome but it seems at least conceivable that you might hound you know 67 or eight votes in favor of defending the case back for seventh trial and I will say. I would be very surprised at the state of Mississippi allows Evans to go forward again as the prosecutor because despite being reverse time and time again he. You know previously had been given the opportunity to retry the case. Seems like the questionable choice on the part of Mississippi I don't know if they would make it again the case back for sap and her. We should hear their opinion I think by the end of the term here should be and engineers. January and checking to see some air I think he's so much ministry not an American public media and in the dark podcasts. And of course the Federalist Kate shop our Supreme Court analyst who joins us in a very busy Wednesday thank you so much Kate. And finally today as we kick the show a little bit of good news for music fans if you're. And lover of some of the greatest hits in American music history just and I know you are evil turn up those tunes while you're driving on here. A number of them were inducted today into the national recording registry at The Library of Congress what is that we'll be preserved. Some of America's greatest songs for posterity and government archives that means if a meteor strikes the earth. Those things will be in a vault somewhere preserved forever you're seeing some of the great ones they're September. You nothing is knows how will not be singing on the show today but really where we can hear a little bit of her sweet Caroline which was added Neil diamond's 1969 hit and believe her driver fan of schoolhouse rock. Yeah that got inducted today two incidents recording registry would have a little better than that for years because he's not a fan. Schoolhouse rock that's going into the again Library of Congress it's a full list check out all those songs. On The Library of Congress website. Twenty of them at a two day. Ponce de. They will be added in their one day and the. Okay you don't understand that we preserve for posterity hey guys we're here every day 3:30 eastern time. I'm ABC news live download the ABC news after the latest on these and all this Jersey talked about today including the Supreme Court case that is so fascinating. I'll can be back here with us tomorrow for justice official on Devin Dwyer with senior staff. I'm a lot of sense to get this capitol building here in last and in. True then send them Stefan favorite news. BO yes I'm only bill. I'm Jacqueline. Oh yeah oh well.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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