Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 4, Episode 25 - Episode #4.25 - full transcript

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Season IV
Episode 25

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.
I'm John Oliver.

Thank you for joining us and
we must begin with Puerto Rico,

where three million
American citizens continue to cope

with the aftermath
of Hurricane Maria.

President's response has been
widely criticized all week

and it still doesn't seem clear
that he understands the gravity.

The loss of life is always tragic.
But it's been incredible,

the results that we've had
with respect to loss of life.

People can't believe how successful
that has been, relatively speaking.

How are you even trying
to take a victory lap now ?

He could've
saved that statement if he added

"I kind of ramble, I know nothing,
I talk because silence sounds weird,"

"try and think of me as a parrot who's
memorized human sounds."

"Yabba Dabba Do,
Jumanji, byebye."

Getting aid to a disaster zone
is a huge challenge.

Trump's rosy assessment of success
has been disputed by many,

like San Juan Mayor
Carmen Yulín Cruz,

who plead for more aid, and got
a depressingly predictable response.

The president tweeting
about Puerto Rico.

Such poor leadership ability
by the Mayor of San Juan

who are not able
to get their workers to help.

They want everything to be done,
it should be a community effort.

Really ? The primary obstacle
to hurricane relief

has been
Puerto Rican "laziness" ?

Anybody can say horribly racist
things about Hispanic people

on a golden escalator.

But it takes real balls to do it
while their fellow citizens are dying.

Trump is saying:
"When hurricanes hit our people,"

"they're not hitting our best,
they're killing poors,"

"lazies and some
have said nice things about me."

This debacle came at the end
of a week of embarrassments,

from the resignation of Tom Price,

to the failure of the Graham-Cassidy
Health Care Bill,

although to hear Trump tell it,
there is a good excuse for that.

One senator in the hospital.
He can't vote because he's there.

- Cochran ?
- He can't vote, he's in the hospital.

I'm almost certain we have the votes.
But with one man in the hospital,

we cannot display
that we have them.

We can't do it now because we have
somebody in the hospital.

Which senator
are you referring to ?

In other words, he can't vote
because he's in the hospital.

Who ?

You probably didn't hear me,

one of our yes votes
is in the hospital.

I can't take him
out of the hospital.

To be fair, he couldn't take
that senator out of the hospital,

because there was
no senator in the hospital.

People thought that he may've
been thinking of Thad Cochran,

who tweeted: "Thanks for the well
wishes. I'm not hospitalized."

Cochran's staff released
a statement saying

he was recuperating
from a "urological issue".

So the president's lies
became so frustrating,

the only way to shut them down
was to publicly discuss the fact

that something may be wrong
with Thad Cochran's dick.

Think about what happened:

the president just repeatedly
said something not true.

That was wrong.
We just caught him in a lie.

In other words, and I have
waited a long time to do this...

We got him !

No, don't... I'm sorry !
He's still president !

I found out he is still president.
We didn't get him. I'm sorry.

I thought that Cochran
thing would do it too.

Thanks for coming in,
I'm sorry, he's...

That was great, thanks,
he is still president.

We didn't get him. I know.

I thought we got him.
I thought he was finished.

I'm sorry about that.
I'm sorry !

The senator
wasn't in the hospital, so...

I guess we've just got to carry on
with the show now.

Let's move on to tax reform,

the concept that gives Grover Norquist
a shattering nor-gasm.

The president has been
promising tax reform all year,

which usually means "a comprehensive
overhaul of the tax code".

In Trump's hands,
become much narrower.

At the very center of that plan
is a giant, beautiful, massive,

the biggest ever
in our country, tax cut.

So to be clear: a tax cut
is not just at the center of his plan.

It basically is his plan.
It's like saying:

"at the center
of this egg is an egg".

Yes, of course, it's an egg.
That's all it is.

While the plan is light on detail,
when the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center

tried to create an estimate,
they found that, by 2027,

it could raise taxes
on many middle-class families

and that 80% of the benefits would go
to taxpayers in the top 1 percent.

Trump's Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin, also known as me,

John Oliver, after waking up from a
surgery to have my morals removed,

he dismissed those concerns.

I don't know how the Tax Policy Center
can publish those figures

since they don't have all the details,
including the brackets.

Tax Foundation and others waited,
which I think is responsible.

Okay, so first: I'm just gonna
say this. I think he's handsome.

Yes, not in a conventional way.
But, you know, he's striking.

It is hard to hear Mnuchin urge
people to withhold judgment,

when this administration has been
out aggressively selling this plan.

Take Trump's Chief Economic
Advisor Gary Cohn,

the answer to the question:

"What if Daddy Warbucks never met
Annie and just kept being an asshole ?"

He spoke to reporters and game out
how a middle-class family

could spend
their hypothetical tax cut.

If we allow a family to keep
another thousand dollars,

what does that mean ?

They can renovate their kitchen,
they can buy a new car,

they can take a family vacation,
increase their lifestyle.

Hold on: a thousand dollars
for a kitchen renovation ?

Or a new car ?
He's talking about $1 000

like a cartoon hobo
from the 1920's.

"If I ever got that kinda money,
I'd buy myself a private island."

"I'd eat caviar three times a day
and my butler would be a seal."

"I'd never have to worry
about nothin' never again."

As for the president himself,
he is insisting that wealthy Americans,

including himself, will not benefit.

Our framework includes
our explicit commitment

that tax reform will protect low-income
and middle-income households,

not the wealthy
and well-connected.

They can call me all they want,
it's not going to help,

I'm doing the right thing and it's not
good for me, believe me.

I don't believe you at all !
And you know why ?

Just one element of the plan,
the elimination of the estate tax,

could save Trump's family
as much as a billion dollars.

So, again: he's wrong. We just
caught him in another lie.

This time, I am going to call it:
we got him !

That's fair. And now, this.

Guy Fieri gives a surprisingly detailed
tour of his favorite place on Earth.

I'm Guy Fieri
and you know what I need ?

I need you riding shotgun.
I'm on my way to Flavortown.

That's a dusty road to Flavortown.

This is a train to Flavortown, dude.
Ravioli train to Flavortown.

That's Flavortown pass forth.
A $10 lift ticket to Flavortown.

You can find that at the library.
Mining for food in Flavortown river.

There's a culinary buoys.
This is a road cone in Flavortown.

A manhole cover in Flavortown.
The community pool of Flavortown.

A punchbowl at the meat buffet.
She threw away the dental floss.

Making a brick at the capital
of Flavortown.

The artillery center
in Flavortown.

This is the first discovered
culinary cave of Flavortown.

The nacho crown
in the kingdom of Flavortown.

That's the definition of stupid,
stupid in the good way.

Moving on. Our main story
tonight concerns crime.

That thing that was almost
solved by a flasher dog in the 1980s.

This story is how we solve crimes
using forensic evidence,

it's that thing that is just
a staple of TV crime shows.

Bullet from the torso on the left,
bullet from the boat on the right.

Two hearts beat as one.

Matches up perfectly.

That's a match.

- We've got a match.
- I just found us a match.

- Visible match.
- Match.

Were you able to determine
which monkey bit him ?

Bite marks matched
the monkey at the scene.

That last one was presumably
from one crossover episode,

where the team from Law & Order
worked a case with the cast

"Monkey Law & Monkey Order".

But on TV and in real life,
forensic science plays

an important role
in criminal convictions.

Prosecutors complain
about a so-called "CSI effect",

where jurors expect to see
forensic evidence in every case.

Not all forensic science
is as reliable as we believe.

A report in 2009
found that many forensic sciences

"do not meet the fundamental
requirements of science."

A report last year by
a presidential science council agreed:

"expert witnesses have overstated
the value of their evidence,"

"going beyond what the relevant
science can justify."

It's not that all forensic science
is bad, 'cause it's not.

Too often, its reliability
is dangerously overstated.

One sign of that
is that forensic experts in court

are often nudged to use
one very convincing phrase.

To a reasonable degree
of scientific certainty.

Within a reasonable
scientific certainty.

To a reasonable degree
of scientific certainty.

You say that within a reasonable
degree of scientific certainty ?

That phrase does have
a persuasive ring to it.

As that presidential council
pointed out:

it "has no generally
accepted meaning in science."

It's one of those terms like
"basic" or "trill"

that has no commonly
understood definition.

Am I trill ? Is that good or bad ?

I do "feel" trill,
so I'm guessing it's awful.

When bad science
is confidently presented,

terrible convictions can happen.

Among the hundreds of people
who've been exonerated

by DNA testing since 1989,
in nearly half of their cases,

there was misapplication
of forensic science.

Santae Tribble was convicted
of murder and served 26 years,

thanks to an FBI analyst
who testified that his hair

matched hairs
found at the scene.

The evidence
was presented as rocksolid.

They said they match my hair
in all microscopical characteristics.

That's the way they presented
it to the jury

and the jury took it for granted
that that was my hair.

I can see why they did.
Because who other than an FBI expert

would possibly know
that much about hair ?

Except for whoever styled
Amanda Seyfried at the 2009 Oscars.

Breathtaking waves, without
losing any of their body or bounce.




Jurors in Tribble's case
were actually told

there was one chance in ten million
that it could be someone else's hair.

He was exonerated.
Once DNA analysis became available,

his lawyer tested
the 13 hairs from the case

and not only were none of them his,
some of what they found was incredible.

Nine of the hairs had come
from the same source

and one was a dog.

Two different FBI agents
who analyzed it

didn't recognize
that it was dog hair ?

It was a canine.
It was a domestic dog, yes.

My personal conclusion was
the dog committed the crime.

So, first: it is amazing
that he is able to laugh at that.

Second: if a dog
did commit the crime,

there's no recourse,
because there is no law

against dogs committing murder
and that's a fact that I learned in

"Air Bud Nine:
Fuck the Paw-Lice."

Tribble is not the only case
where FBI experts

overstated their confidence
in their results.

Innocence Project and Association
of Criminal Defense Lawyers

found from the 1970s through 1999,

in 268 cases where FBI hair
analysis led to a conviction,

257, or 96% of them,
had errors in analysis.

Nine of those defendants had
been executed. Which is horrifying.

You would expect FBI hair analysis
to have a higher rate of accuracy

than your friends' hair analysis of:
"you can totally pull off bangs."

Because you can't.
You absolutely can't.

I couldn't. Just learn
from my mistakes, kids.

Save yourselves.
It's too late for me.

It's by no means just microscopic
hair comparison

which had the reliability
of its results overstated.

Those reports suggest there
is weak scientific support

for blood pattern, footwear,
firearm, and bite mark analysis.

You must be familiar with that
last one, from cool scenes like this.

A little 3D magic for clarity and
I give you the killer's incisors.

No ! The computer
rated it yellow rectangle !

Yellow rectangle
is the highest of match

a computer can give you
about teeth !

In the real world, bite mark
analysis is highly subjective.

The president's council
found the entire discipline

"does not meet the scientific
standards for foundational validity",

which I believe is science-speak
for "bullshit".

People have been sent to prison
on the basis of bite mark testimony

by experts like Dr. Michael West.

The science of bite marks
analysis is very accurate.

When it comes to bite marks,
West considers himself the maestro.

He's found bite marks
on a decomposed body submerged,

on a corpse that had been
buried for more than a year.

He's even used a bite mark taken out
of a bologna sandwich.

Impressive, matching a killer's teeth
to a bite mark in a sandwich.

The defendant in that case
got a new trial,

after an autopsy report
found that the murder victim

had eaten a small amount
of bologna,

consistent with the amount bitten
off the sandwich.

So that sandwich
was irrelevant to the case.

You could even argue that it was
actually Dr. West who was full of,

say it with me... shit.

That is not the only issue
arisen from his testimony,

there are now five cases where
he testified for the prosecution

and where the charges were dropped
or the conviction was overturned.

West himself admitted that
he no longer believes

in bite mark analysis
for identifying perpetrators

and he doesn't think
it should be used in court.

Every time a defendant
has challenged its validity,

the court ruled it admissible.

A key reason for that is that
judges often rely on precedent

to decide what to allow
in front of a jury.

If a particular discipline has
been in court before,

it is likely that a judge
will admit it again.

All of which means that
decisions about the validity of science

are being made by people who
don't necessarily know much about it.

Historically, we had a situation

where two scientifically illiterate
lawyers argue the bona fides

of scientific evidence
for a scientifically illiterate judge

so that 12 scientifically-illiterate
jurors could decide

the weight of that evidence.

That's absolutely terrifying.
Trials can often be a situation

when no one really knows
what they're doing.

It's like a cooking competition
for toddlers,

hosted by a stray cat
and judged by goats.

The tuna was undercooked
and covered in cold spaghetti sauce.

You covered the whole dish
in Honey Nut Cheerios. I loved it.

None of this is not to say there is not
reliable forensic science out there,

fingerprints and DNA
are obvious examples.

While we think of them as perfect,
it is important to know,

they are by no means infallible.

FBI found fingerprint analysis
could have a false-positive rate

as high as 1 error in 306 cases.

A dramatic example came after
the Madrid train bombings in 2004,

when the FBI arrested this
Oregon man, Brandon Mayfield.

He had never even been
to Spain in his life,

3 examiners matched his fingerprints
to one on a bag of detonators.

So he was, at that point,
completely fucked,

until investigators determined
that that fingerprint also matched

someone else, who was
in Spain at the time

and that blew the minds
of fingerprint experts.

We always assumed that fingerprints
are very unique.

But what the Mayfield case

is that parts of the fingerprint
can be so similar

that it's possible for two people to
be identified to be one latent print.

It turns out that two people
can have fingerprints so close

that even experts
can't tell them apart.

We are now this close to finally
proving my theory

that there is only
one Olsen twin.

She's moving fast back and forth.
She confuses your eye.

I don't know how this
new information helps me yet,

but when it does,
the end is nigh, you fraud !

There is DNA, which is the gold
standard in forensic science:

in perfect conditions, it's seen
as the most reliable form of evidence.

But not all DNA tests are equal

and crime scenes can produce
DNA of widely varying quality.

DNA is very fragile and easily mixed
up at a messy scene.

At a crime scene,

you may have a pool of blood
and it may not be one person's !

The more contributors
to that mixture of DNA,

the more difficult it is
to determine whose DNA it was.

It can be difficult to tell whose
blood is whose in a large pool,

which is the premise
of my new game show:

"So You Think You Can Tell Whose
Blood Is Whose In A Large Pool ?"

It premieres on Tuesday night,
and it's already been canceled.

Lower-quality DNA samples
are sometimes presented to juries

as if they are highly reliable.

In 2003, a prosecutor
in a double murder told the jury

that the odds the defendant's
DNA matched a glove at the scene

was 1 in 1.1 billion,
pretty strikingly impressive.

But it turned out, the glove
contained at least three people's DNA

and a later analysis put
the odds closer to one in two.

That's close enough, isn't it ?

People do confuse the numbers
1.1 billion and two all the time.

That's why I'm always saying
my favorite RnB group

is Boyz 1.1 Billion Men.

There is one more factor that
can be impossible to detect

and it concerns the relationship
between law enforcement

and the forensic labs.

You would hope that those labs
would work independently,

taking in evidence
and spitting out results.

But many labs work
closely with law enforcement,

knowing details of the case
they are working on,

which can prejudice their
work, even subconsciously.

Sometimes it's not intentional fraud,
rather something inadvertent,

which is the kind of bias
that can come from feeling

like you're part of a team,
you're attached to the prosecution

and you want to get the bad guy.

Yeah, but that's not their job !
They are supposed to be neutral !

If a referee started participating
in a team's end zone celebration,

you'd have some questions, like
"why have you picked a side ?"

and "how long have you been
practicing the Dirty Bird ?"

A lot needs to be fixed.
Some states have stepped up.

One passed a first-of-its-kind
"junk science" law,

which enables convicts
to request a new trial

if the science used
to convict them was flawed.

And that sounds great !
The pioneering state that did that...

Was Texas !
Yes, I know ! Texas !

Don't expect Texas to lead in science
related criminal justice reform.

But in remembering the Alamo
or naming their children "Football".

I love you, Football, but if you
ever forget the Alamo, we are done.

At the federal level,
progress has been slower.

Although The National Commission
on Forensic Science tried to fix that.

They were founded to advise
the DOJ on how to address

many of the problems
you have seen tonight

and their most recent meeting
featured remarks from Keith Harward,

who spent 33 years in prison for
a crime that he did not commit,

based on faulty bite mark

Some would say,
you're a free man.

I will never be free of this.
There's no possibility.

Excuse me if I get emotional.

I spent more than half my life
in prison behind the opinions

and the expert egos
of two odontologists.

There's a death penalty case
in Pennsylvania that's going on now,

and the judge is going to allow
bite mark evidence.

How many people have to be
wrongly convicted

before they realize that
this stuff's all bogus,

it's all made up ?

That's a good question.
It's also the kind of speech

that could inspire that commission
to do a lot of good work.

Unfortunately, that was
their final meeting.

The commission was shut down in
April by Attorney General

and Xenophobic Boss Baby
Jeff Sessions.

That shouldn't surprise you.
Sessions is a former prosecutor,

and he seem like the kind
who watched "Dead Man Walking"

and was like: "Hurry up !
Let's kill the guy already !"

This movie should be called
"Dead Man Dilly-Dallying !"

We may be actively going
backwards on this issue,

which is dangerous, not only
are innocent people getting convicted,

guilty criminals are being left
on the streets as a result.

If this administration does
not see this as a problem,

then we should do more to educate
potential jurors

about some of the shortcomings
of our system.

One small way
to do that might be this.

In this city,
when the heat rises,

so does the murder rate.

Let's get
this stuff back to the lab.

Chief, no need.
Look what I found.

Bite mark, bologna sandwich.
Now, that's what I call...

Dead meat.

No ! The fuck is wrong with you ?

Dead meat ? This is a murder.
That's a human person.

That is his wife over there.

You're a fucking asshole.

He's a crime solver who
doesn't like to play by the rules.

I get something on these bite marks,
but it's far from conclusive.

There's a reasonable
degree of scientific certainty ?

- No. That's meaningless.
- Right.

And that's a problem
for everyone around him.

Chief ! The hair matches
the victim's wife. Case closed.

Slow down. Microscopic hair
comparison is bullshit science.

I ran a mitochondrial DNA test
on those hairs.

The wife did it, right ?
Case closed.

There were five hairs.
Three were from a coconut.

Two were from the wife.

One was from
a Cabbage Patch Kid.

- And the remaining one...
- The wife.

- This golden retriever.
- So there's our killer, chief.

The victim was shot.
How can a dog fire a gun ?

That's a bad dog right there.

And he's about to face
some... ruff justice.

We're indoors. Fuck you.

And he won't stop asking
the hard questions.

How 'bout, certainly reasonable
science degree-itude ?

- No.
- Yeah, okay.

He's passionate about his job,
despite not fully understanding it.

If we don't have something solid,
DA's gonna have my ass.

Why would the DA have your ass ?
We don't work for the DA.

- What ?
- We don't work for the DA.

- You do understand that, right ?
- Tell us you understand that.

Well, yeah !
I understand that, totally.

There's no way he understands that,
because this guy will not quit.

- How about a certainly...
- Just stop talking.

- Okay. Keep up the good work.
- Okay.

When his team abandons him,
he's not afraid to call for backup.

This better be good.

I brought in some expert witnesses
to help lock in this case.

Take a look. We got
a forensic dentist,

twin boy detectives, an oldtimey
prospector with a divining rod,

sack full of magic eight balls
and the foremost crime-sniffing pony.

None of this is admissible
in court.

Three of them testified in court
before, and they all got convictions.

- Is that the bologna evidence ?
- My God !

CSI: Crime Scene Idiot.

If you want or if you are able
to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico,

you can give here.

That is our show tonight.
We'll see you next week !

Cheers !