Interview with Kamala Harris TRANSCRIPT: 7/11/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. I
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We`ve got a big show tonight. Lots going on.
I`m very pleased to say that California Senator Kamala Harris is here
tonight. She obviously had a huge night at the first Democratic debate. I
have not had a chance to speak with her since that debate, but she`s going
to be here live here in studio with me in just a few minutes. I`m very
excited about that.
And just as a preface to that, I know you know how I feel about spending
too much time on polls and all that horse race stuff, fund-raising, all the
rest, this early on in the campaign. You know that is not my favorite
thing to spend lots of time talking about this early on.
But because Kamala Harris is here tonight, I do want to point out a couple
of really interesting lines in the new NBC News poll that just came out
tonight. Now, this has just come out in the last few hours. You might
have seen the top results in this new NBC poll already among Democratic
The new NBC News poll that is again just out tonight shows Joe Biden on top
of the field with 26 percent. Then in second place is Elizabeth Warren
with 19 percent. Then there is a tie for third place between Kamala Harris
and Bernie Sanders at 13 points each. So, that`s the top tier. That`s the
Biden, then Warren, seven points back for Biden, and then Harris and
Sanders six points back from Warren. Below those top four, we get down
into the single digits. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 7 percent.
Then there are two candidates who are in the 2 percent club. At 2 percent,
we got both Beto O`Rourke and Andrew Yang.
And then there`s an octet of candidates in the 1 percent club. All of
these candidates are at 1 percent. Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Cory
Booker, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Marianne Williamson
and John Delaney. They`re all at 1 percent.
And then there is a zero percent club as well. Kirsten Gillibrand, Steve
Bullock, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, Tulsi Gabbard, all polling
at goose egg in the new NBC poll.
So, again, this is just one poll. It`s very early on. Strategically right
now, basically the most important thing is that all the candidates are
trying to hit at least one or two percent since those are the thresholds
that will help them get into the next two debates.
But as I said, there are a couple of things that I want to show you about
this top tier of candidates as they rate in the new NBC poll. And it`s
sort of on the subject of Senator Harris and her standings right now since
she`s going to be our guest tonight in just a moment. Also, honestly,
because of that top tier of candidates, Senator Harris is the one who
turned in the lowest fund-raising numbers in the last quarter that ended
after the first debate.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg was only at 7 percent. He was ranked fifth in this
current NBC News poll, but in the last quarter, he was first in fund-
raising. He was up around $25 million, Biden was around $21.5 million,
Warren at $19 million, Sanders at $18 million, and then Kamala Harris was,
is obviously polling as a top tier candidate, but she was behind the rest
of those top tier candidates in terms of fundraising at $12 million.
And again, I know it`s easy to get lost in the sauce in the horse race
stuff, right, sort of pointlessly, because it`s too easy to put too much
weight on any one or two metrics at this point early on in the campaign.
But here`s a thing that makes me particularly interested to be able to talk
to Harris tonight, given the dynamics that we can see in the race right
now. And that is the fact that if I sort of put it in broad strokes, is
that as I look at the numbers right now, as I look at the various horse
race metrics, it looks to me like if she can capitalize on what she`s got
going on, if she can grow her campaign to meet the moment right now, Kamala
Harris, more than anybody else in the field, appears to be the candidate in
the top tier right now who has the most room to run, who has the most
interest, the most potential support out there from Democratic voters who
haven`t yet committed to who they like.
And you can tell from the NBC News poll, again, just out tonight, that it
turns out almost no Democratic voters have fully committed yet to who they
like. NBC News asked Democratic voters, is your mind definitely made up?
Only 12 percent said yes. My mind is definitely made up. I definitely
know who I`m going to vote for in the primary.
I mean, people are willing to tell pollsters who they are inclined toward
right now, but nearly 80 percent of them still have an open mind. So, then
the pollsters asked, well, if your mind is not definitely made up right
now, which of the other candidates besides your first choice are you
looking at as your backup, as your second choice? Number one answer from
Democratic voters: Senator Kamala Harris.
Then they tried to get it at, same sort of idea, a different way. They
basically asked the, who are you intrigued by question. This is how they
Quote: Leaving aside the candidate you support or your second choice, are
there any other Democratic candidates who you would consider supporting and
want to learn more about? If yes, who would that be? And again, the top
answer is the same. Kamala Harris.
So, I mean, the top line results of this poll, overall, she`s tied with
Bernie Sanders for third place, behind Biden and Warren. But Senator
Harris is getting more second looks, more interest from people who aren`t
already supporting her than any other candidate in the field right now.
And that translates to room to grow, when she is already a top tier
candidate in terms of polling.
So, I mean, if she can build a capable campaign, if she can run a campaign
and raise the money she needs to and capitalize on that interest and reward
people that come looking to find out more about her, by giving them a
reason to stick with her, if she can do that, she`s got – she`s in a good
position. And one of the most interesting positions, I think, in the whole
And honestly, I think the interest in Senator Harris right now, and the
number of people in the Democratic primary polity who are willing to take a
look at her, right now, it`s likely being driven in large part by the – by
what this question is getting at. Which candidate or candidates in the
debates most impressed you? And by debates, they mean the first two nights
of the first debate which were hosted by MSNBC, NBC and Telemundo two weeks
ago. Which candidate or candidates most impressed you?
Democratic voters tell NBC News their number one answer is Kamala Harris,
by a mile, 15 points north of Elizabeth Warren, who was the second response
given there by Democratic voters.
So, we`re going to have Senator Harris here live in just a moment, at a
really interesting time in the campaign, to be able to talk with her.
She`s obviously turning heads. She made a huge impression with her
performance in the first debate, a commanding performance, if those numbers
are anything to go by.
But, you know, that debate was two weeks back now and the challenge is to
build and grow and take advantage of it. And she`s been rolling out a
bunch of proposals recently, and I`m just – I`m happy she is here tonight.
I`m interested to see how she is doing at this point in the campaign. So,
that`s coming up.
Also though, there is lots of news. Today was frankly slightly nut balls
in Washington. I mean, there`s always a lot going on at once, but today,
there was a lot that was sort of pushing the envelope.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee, for example, voted to authorize
subpoenas to Jared Kushner, to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions,
former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to former White House chief
of staff John Kelly, to Trump`s now awaiting sentencing national security
adviser Mike Flynn, to Trump`s old campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Also, David Pecker from “The National Enquirer” and an editor there, as
well. These are guys that helped the president with his hush money
payments to cover up alleged affairs before the elections. Also, a lawyer
involved in those payments, a lawyer named Keith Davidson, he`s also being
subpoenaed. Of course, Michael Cohen was the other lawyer who was involved
in those hush money payments, too, but he`s already serving federal prison
time for his role in them.
Also, Jeff Sessions` chief of staff, Jody Hunt, who is still at the Justice
Department, who has been the man at the center of this huge debacle for the
Trump administration over this census thing, which we`re going to talk
about in just a moment. Jody Hunt has been subpoenaed, as well. As has
Rob Porter, who was gently nudged out of the Trump White House after
serious domestic violence allegations from both of his ex-wives put a
little flesh on the bones of the story as to why he couldn`t get a security
clearance despite the fact that you really kind of need one if you`re going
to be staff secretary to president of the United States.
So, all in all, a nice bunch subpoenaed today by the Judiciary Committee,
or a nice bunch whose subpoenas have been authorized by the Judiciary
Committee. The Judiciary Committee has been sort of plodding along in this
very deliberate process of requesting testimony and then demanding it and
then still not getting it and then demanding it some more and then
ultimately making noises about how some day they`ll win all of this in
These new subpoenas are part of that slow roll from the Judiciary
Committee, but they also represent an interesting escalation in terms of
who they`re targeting and how close those targets are to the president.
Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler now has been authorized to send those
subpoenas to each of these 12 guys, at will, when he wants to see them. We
will see when he does it and whether we really are going to see any of
these guys in the witness chair in an open televised hearing finally have
to answer questions.
But here`s an interesting twist. The other subpoenas that Jerry Nadler was
authorized to send out today, in addition to the 12 people related to these
allegations of obstruction of justice, potential corruption, potential
abuse of power by the president, the other subpoenas he was authorized to
send out today are about the Trump policy of taking kids from their parents
and their other family members at the border.
We reported earlier this week on a trove of significant incident reports
detailing alleged mistreatment of kids in custody at a border patrol
facility in Yuma, Arizona. You may remember one of the things we reported
was a detailed claim by a 15-year-old girl that she was sexually assaulted
by a uniformed officer inside that facility. And although this significant
incident report about that alleged sexual assault by a uniformed officer
was filed with the Trump administration more than a month ago, was filed
with HHS, a case manager from Health and Human Services filled out and
filed that significant incident report in early June, nevertheless, there`s
been no indication that that matter was ever followed up. There is no
indication that that matter was ever investigated.
After this girl came forward to formally report it, there`s no indication
that matter was ever looked into, until NBC News obtained and published
that incident report earlier this week and called CBP for comment. Now,
finally, CBP says that matter is being investigated.
Today, the chief border patrol official in charge of that facility gave an
interview to a local public radio reporter in Arizona, named Victor
Calderon, in which Calderon questioned him about the abuse allegation
involving that facility that he runs in Yuma.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
VICTOR CALDERON, KAWC REPORTER: Has there been a chance for training for
guards and agents or is it just sort of a do the best you can every day?
ANTHONY PORVAZNIK, U.S. BORDER PATROL AGENT, YUMA SECTOR: We`re not, you
know, child care professionals. I would say that. But in terms of
detention and transport and those things, we are trained for that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`re not child care professional. We are not trained for that.
This is the man running a facility that has been holding hundreds of kids
apart from their parents, apart from any adult relatives, holding kids
alone, dozens of them crammed into cells for days, crammed in there so
tightly they have to take turns sleeping because there`s only enough room
to lie down if other people stand up. He`s been running a facility where
at least one of the kids say that the officers took away the mats on which
the kids were allowed to sleep as punishment for complaining about the
chlorine in the water making it too difficult to drink.
We`re not child care professionals. We`re not trained for that.
So, today, on the child separation policy in general, the Judiciary
Committee was authorized to start subpoenaing the Trump administration for
records and documents about that policy and about the ongoing practice of
taking little kids away from their parents. Today, on the Yuma, Arizona,
allegations, specifically, a key oversight committee in the House announced
that they are opening an investigation into allegations of physical and
sexual abuse of migrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
officers. This is a direct result of NBC`s reporting this week.
As a first, the committee says they want all the significant incident
reports that describe allegations of abuse of these kids by Homeland
Security Department staff. NBC reporter Julia Ainsley who worked on this
story with Jacob Soboroff said this week that while NBC`s reporting this
week was based on nearly 30 of these significant incident reports that NBC
News obtained, she said that there are believed to be many, many, many
other significant incident reports, in addition to the 30 or so that NBC
Now that reporting has caused Congress to demand to see all of them that
allege any sort of abuse. So, Congress should be able to get those. Brace
yourself for that.
Tomorrow, we`re expecting more than 750 vigils and protests around the
country under the banner Lights for Liberty. These are going to be
protests against how the Trump administration has been abusing and
mistreating immigrants in their custody. Most of the protests are going to
be physically right outside detention centers where immigrants and
immigrant kids are being held. Vigils and rallies and protests are going
to be held outside the actual border patrol stations and the ICE facilities
that are holding people.
One of these vigils that is planned for tomorrow is outside that Yuma,
Arizona, facility that we`ve been reporting on all week. That one in Yuma
is expected to be a large event at 7:00 local time tomorrow night. But
again, we`re expecting hundreds of these vigils and protests, these Lights
for Liberty events.
And this comes as the Trump administration is once again threatening that
they are about to start rounding up immigrants and their families all over
the country. And that, of course, has been a repeated recent threat,
including from the president himself, just over the last several weeks.
And to be honest with you, we do not know if the new threats today that
this is imminently about to happen, we don`t know if these new threats from
the administration are more realistic or more serious than all the previous
threats that have come and gone from them.
But – I mean, if their aim here is to try to rattle people, certainly they
are succeeding. If the aim is to scare immigrant communities and to try to
anger people who are upset about the way the Trump administration has
treated immigrants, if they`re trying to do that, it`s working.
Immigration officials announced these raids this weekend would target ten
major U.S. cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los
Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.
The mayors of many of those cities are now speaking out, saying they`re
going to do what they can to block these supposedly impending raids, to try
to protect immigrant communities in these large cities.
The mayor of Chicago, for example, Lori Lightfoot announced today that not
only would her city`s police not cooperate with Immigration and Customs
Enforcement in any of these raids, but she announced that Chicago had cut
off ICE from having access to any Chicago police databases. And she said
that cutoff will remain permanent.
Houston`s mayor, Sylvester Turner, told NPR today that his city`s police
will also not participate and not cooperate in any federal raids. And
that, quote, we are advising people that they have due process rights.
They do not have to answer the door. They do not have to let anybody into
In New York, both the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York
state told immigrant families today that the city and the state would help
them fight for their rights and offered phone numbers for call for anybody
approached by federal immigration agents.
And so, these mayors and some governors and local officials who are
blocking access to police databases and telling local police departments
and city police departments not to cooperate and they`re offering legal
advice to immigrant communities, making clear that ICE is not welcome in
their cities, these local officials who are doing what they feel they can -
- I mean, I think some of the consternation about these threats of imminent
raids is about the fact that the Trump administration seems to be such a
chaos machine on this. I mean, they have multiply threatened these raids.
And so, nobody knows if today`s announcement that the raids are going to
happen is just another threat or if it means that the threats might really
And if they are going to happen, why are they announcing them in advance
anyway? I mean, even today, announcing these ten cities where raids would
take place, right after they announced the list of ten cities, like,
immediately after, ICE then confirmed to the city of New Orleans that
actually even though New Orleans was one of the ten cities on the list, oh,
all immigration enforcement is going to be temporarily suspended in New
Orleans because of the huge freaking tropical storm that`s bearing down on
the city and about to become a hurricane and already causing flooding. It
will be a hurricane by the time it makes landfall this weekend, so maybe
the federal government planning a gigantic immigration roundup in the
middle of that in New Orleans was not a brilliant idea, but maybe the
federal government didn`t notice the weather forecast until today?
So, they announced New Orleans and then immediately announced, no, New
Orleans, not you. Now they`ve changed their plans. But did they have the
plans anyway in the first place? Is it comforting or disconcerting to see
the federal government this confused and this incompetent in even planning
something this controversial and offensive?
So, today, the mayor of New Orleans found herself having to reassure
immigrants in her city that they could safely evacuate the city if they
want to, without fear that they might be stopped by federal immigration
agents on their way out. She told residents, quote, safety first. And a
part of that safety, which is a priority for the city of New Orleans, is
supporting the fact that ICE will not, repeat, will not have a presence in
the city of New Orleans.
But in the midst of this chaos, and demonstrated incompetence, there`s
obviously real concern over what might be about to happen. The White House
has obviously been trying to stoke as much fear and confusion as possible.
Part of their M.O. here seems to be the worse you treat immigrants, the
more you demonstrate cruelty toward immigrant communities, the more you try
to terrify people, the better that is for the country somehow, the more
pain and fear you can instill in immigrant communities, somehow that
redounds to the White House benefit, that seems to be their calculus.
In the midst of this confusion and the ongoing threats from the
administration about these supposedly impending roundup us, local
immigrants rights groups and national organizations, including ACLU, have
been trying in advance of these raids to teach people about their rights.
Basic stuff, like, if immigration comes to your door, do not open the door.
You are not legally required to let them in unless they have a warrant.
Quote, ask why they are there. If you don`t speak English, you have the
right to have an interpreter. Quote: You have the right to remain silent.
Quote: You have entitled to speak to a lawyer.
Local ACLU chapters and local immigrants rights groups are blasting out
rapid response hotlines to call if you are confronted by federal agents.
The national ACLU filed a preemptive lawsuit, attempting to ensure that any
immigrants that are rounded up by ICE are afforded a hearing, detention
hearing before being summarily deported.
But – I mean, this is a multi-front thing. That same ACLU is also in the
midst of, right now, legally completely destroying the Trump
administration, officially, as of today, in what has just been a debacle
from the very beginning, with the Trump administration trying to recast and
rejigger the U.S. census in a way that bluntly appears to be designed to
undercut immigrants and to undercut Latino communities specifically.
The Trump administration lost this in lower federal courts. They took it
to the Supreme Court. They lost it there, too, a couple of weeks ago.
Justice Department lawyers who had been fighting for this for the Trump
administration conceded to the court that they had lost it.
Then Trump made them take that back, that devolved into this bizarre comedy
of errors in which Justice Department lawyers and their Trump-appointed
bosses, their higher ups at the Justice Department were telling the same
judge different stories about what the government intended to do. It was
like these officials from the same department had never met each other and
nobody knew exactly who their client was anymore and what anybody was
supposed to be saying to the court.
Well, today, inevitably, the president announced that they are giving up on
this effort to try to rejigger the census this year. He instead announced
he has an amazing new plan which is better than that, which turns out just
to be doing the census the same way it has always been done. Stomping on
Trump`s decision to give up on his census plan, the ACLU, which has been a
plaintiff in one of the cases that successfully blocked the White House on
this, they put out this, shall I say, stark statement from one of their
lead attorneys today, Dale Ho.
The statement says, quote, Trump`s attempt to weaponize the census ends,
not with a bang, but with a whimper. It is clear he simply wanted to sow
fear in immigrant communities and turbocharge Republican gerrymandering
efforts by diluting the political influence of Latino communities. Now,
he`s backing down and taking the option that he rejected more than a year
ago. Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total
humiliating defeat for him and his administration.
Joining us now is the author of that statement, Dale Ho. He`s the director
of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project and one of the lawyers who argued the
Supreme Court case against the citizenship question.
Mr. Ho, thank you for being here tonight.
DALE HO, ACLU`S VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me,
MADDOW: It`s been a remarkable day.
HO: It`s been an interesting one.
MADDOW: Did you know what happened when the president announced today that
he was going to be making a statement from the White House on this matter?
There`s been so much confusion in the last two weeks.
HO: No, we actually had no idea. I mean, if you look at the statements
over the last two weeks, it`s been this sort of repeated, you know,
incantation, we`re just going to put it back on the census, even though the
Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal. So, we were, candidly, scrambling
to get our legal papers in order to challenge that new decision, to put a
citizenship question on the census and make sure that they didn`t disrupt
the printing process of the census questionnaires, which has already begun.
MADDOW: Why was it so dangerous in your mind, and in the ACLU`s mind, for
the president to go ahead and do this? He has mounted a PR effort, trying
to claim this was a benign question and wouldn`t have a major impact and
it`s a question that, of course, should be asked, and now, he`s saying it
will be asked by other means, even if he can`t squeeze into the census.
Why was it so dangerous to your mind that he might have been able to put it
HO: We haven`t had a question about citizenship on the census for 70
years, not since 1950. And the reason is because survey professionals,
including the experts of the Census Bureau, know that if you put that on
there, it`s going to cause people not to respond to the census. The latest
estimate from the administration itself just about three weeks ago was that
about 9 million people would not respond to the census if that question
were on there.
Just to put that in perspective, that`s more people than in the state of
New Jersey, right? That`s the 11th largest state. If you put them
together, they have 12 seats in Congress and 14 votes in the Electoral
All those people would have just went poof, right? And it would have mal-
apportioned Congress. It would have changed the distribution of votes in
the Electoral College, it would have changed the allocation of over $900
billion of federal funds annually, and it all would have been to the
detriment of immigrant communities.
MADDOW: If the effort to put this question on the census was about under-
counting immigrant communities, undercounting Latino communities in
particular, are you worried that that effect, essentially, will be achieved
by the White House having made so much noise about this, by the president
having mounted the sort of PR effort he has raised here? I mean, if people
now associate the census with the president`s anti-immigrant rhetoric and
sentiment, has the damage been done?
HO: You know, I hope not. We know that people`s willingness to respond to
the government survey is affected by the social and political environment
and it`s not a great one for participation in government surveys by
noncitizens and by people of color. But we have about ten months now to
really try to rally community groups, civic organizations, state and local
governments who all care about full census participation and I think that`s
where our attention needs to go.
MADDOW: In terms of what happens next, obviously, the president did
announce – I wasn`t quite clear what he was intending, but he was
basically saying I`m going to try to get this done by other means, and
going to direct federal agencies –
MADDOW: – to collect this by information by means other than the census.
Are you concerned about that? I`m not quite sure what he wants to do.
HO: Well, he`s said he`s ordering agencies to do what they`re already
doing. The census bureau has already said that it`s going to start
collecting citizenship data from the Department of Homeland Security, the
Social Security Administration in anticipation of the possibility they
would lose this case.
So, you know, they`re already doing what he`s ordering them to do and
declaring victory by ordering them to do what they`re already doing. So,
you know, it`s pretty remarkable situation. I think we`re going to have to
wait to see what the details of that are and see how that data is used
before we pass judgment on it.
MADDOW: In terms of the census, you won. And I know that it was a – it
was a bewildering battle, but congratulations. Good to see you.
HO: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Dale Ho is the director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project.
All right. Senator Kamala Harris is going to be here live in just a
moment. Stay with us.
MADDOW: See if you can spot the pattern. Since the Democratic
presidential primary debate, California Senator Kamala Harris jumped nine
points in CNN`s national polling.
She jumped 13 points in the latest poll by Quinnipiac. It`s three points
when you look at “The Washington Post”/ABC News poll. Eight points up in
the “Politico”/Morning Consult poll. Emerson College shows the same thing,
Harris with an eight-point jump since the debate.
The latest Economist/YouGov poll has her up seven since the debate. A
Univision poll of Hispanic primary voters shows that her support jumped 16
points following the June debate. According to “USA Today”/Suffolk
University poll, she also jumped to second place in Iowa following the
Senator Harris appears to be heading in one direction, and it`s not down.
As I mentioned at the top of the show, NBC News has just tonight released
its first poll of the 2020 Democratic race. So, we can`t talk about a jump
because it`s their first snapshot. But after Biden and Warren ranked first
and second in that national poll, Harris is tied with Bernie Sanders at 13
It is indubitably clear at this point that Kamala Harris is a top tier
candidate in this giant race. With that happening, how do you keep that
momentum going? I mean, there`s a whole lot of race still to be run. How
do you capitalize on recent moves in a horse race like that?
Joining us now is California senator and Democratic presidential candidate,
Senator, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s great to be with
you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: I have not seen you since the debate. Obviously, America thinks
you did well. How has it changed your campaign or how you are doing this?
HARRIS: Well, on a daily basis, it has not changed. I`m spending a lot of
time in the primary states. This past weekend, I was in Iowa, I was in
South Carolina, New Hampshire. I`m going tomorrow to Nevada. We are
building up a great ground game in each of the states. We`re hiring staff.
We`re organizing folks around voting and registration.
And – but there is momentum and the way that I think about it is that it
is steady. And to your point, the trajectory is a good one, but there`s a
lot of work to be done. I`m in this campaign to win it, I fully intend to
win, but it will not be without a lot of hard work and smart work, and I
have a great team.
And so, one day at a time. One day at a time.
MADDOW: One of the other things that happened in the wake of that debate
in which you made such a splash is that some of the attention that you got
from the fringe turned ugly. We saw sort of birtherism-style attacks on
you. These attacks circulating online that you`re not really black.
MADDOW: When the president`s eldest son briefly joined in that attack on
Twitter, for me, that was an “aha” moment that this was what the campaign
is going to be like.
MADDOW: If we thought that was in the past, there`s no reason to believe
that. It made me wonder how you and your campaign approach issues like
that, if you have a strategy for thinking about that kind of really ugly
campaigning now that you have seen a taste of it.
HARRIS: Well, I mean, I have to be candid with you. I was not surprised.
And I found it uninteresting, because it`s just – it`s a revival of an old
playbook that was debunked a long time ago. And so, everyone was used to
it and as you can see, and I really thank my colleagues and other Democrats
who are running in this race who spoke up. I have thanked them and I will
continue to thank them because it was bunk.
And so, we`re going forward. But, look, the stakes are high, Rachel, as
you know. And their – and people are going to play – unfortunately,
people play dirty.
HARRIS: So, we have to be prepared for it, but ultimately, I think
American voters and the American public want that we are going to – those
of us who profess to be a leader and want to be president of the United
States, have to prioritize elevating public discourse and educating the
public about issues that concern them when they wake up at 3:00 in the
morning worrying about their families and their future.
So, that`s how I`m going to focus. And, you know, where necessary, we`ll
also punch back.
MADDOW: Let me talk to you about the sort of strange announcement that we
got from President Trump today concerning the census.
MADDOW: So, as you know, the president and the administration had been
trying to sort of rejigger the census in a way that was expected to
undercut Latino, specifically communities and immigrant communities. They
lost in the courts.
But I was talking with Dale Ho, the voting rights lawyer from ACLU –
MADDOW: – who you just saw on the way in here.
MADDOW: About the possibility that maybe the damage is done. That maybe
Latino communities and immigrant communities have received the message that
the census will be part of the way this administration wants to go after
them, and therefore, they should fear it, they should stay away from it.
They should not respond. That will accomplish what the Trump
administration was trying to do here.
What do you think about that as a worry and what do you think about how to
counteract it if you think it`s based on anything (ph)?
HARRIS: So, he has done incredible work as has the ACLU in general, on
this issue, and many others.
It`s a legitimate point. And we actually started to see that the day after
the election in November of 2016. The number of families where the
children did not want to go to school for fear that if they came back,
their parents wouldn`t be home. The number of families that did not send
their child to the pediatrician, pediatricians were talking about this, for
fear that they would – that the child and the family will have contact
with the government.
We have seen it over and over again. And what we are seeing from then
until today is just constant displays of the fact that this administration
and this president – he is in the business of intimidating and instilling
fear in people. And in particular, those people that he perceives to be
And I look at this issue in particular through the lens of my career as a
prosecutor. I`m going to tell you, Rachel. The best tool in the tool belt
of the predator against an undocumented immigrant is to convince that
victim that if you report the crime against you, rape, child assault,
fraud, it is you who will be treated as the criminal.
So, when he makes these grand proclamation through his big tweets, what he
is doing I believe intentionally is trying to create fear in these
individuals and these families. And that is not the sign of a strong
president. Strength – the display of strength in my book is you lift
people up. You don`t beat them down.
This guy in the White House has a continuous pattern of trying to beat
people down, specifically on this issue on the census. What we know – and
we have always been afraid of this, is that there are a lot of blended
families in America. And by that, I mean on this issue, families where
certain family members will be documented, others not.
So, what`s going to happen? When the census taker comes knocking on that
door, they`re not going to answer the door for fear that this being an
agent of the government might be in the business of deportation.
HARRIS: Or investigating who is in that household for purposes that are
about deportation, not counting people.
The result will be and include that people will not be counted and who in
particular? Immigrants. Who in particular? Specifically in terms of the
largest population that we know has been the target of this
administration`s, you know, fear campaign? Latino immigrants.
So, our legitimate fear and concern is that this census in 2020 will not be
accurate. And the census, the United States census, which is conducted
every 10 years, is done as a reflection of our democracy, which is to say
that we pay attention to who is here. We distribute resources based on the
need and the population of communities. We draw lines and make decisions
about elected offices and jurisdictions based on these population sizes.
So, what this president is contributing to is a faulty census that we will
have to live with for the next 10 years. It is highly irresponsible
because it`s yet another example of this president trying to interfere and
if not weaken our democracy.
MADDOW: Senator Kamala Harris is our guest. If you can stay with us,
MADDOW: – we will be right back. I want to talk to you a little bit
about some of the ways that even local mayors and governors are trying to
fight on this issue.
MADDOW: Some controversial stuff breaking, including tonight.
We`ll be right back with Kamala Harris right after this.
MADDOW: We`re back with Senator Kamala Harris of California, Democratic
Senator, thank you for doing this.
HARRIS: Glad to be with you.
MADDOW: One of the other stories that we are covering tonight and we will
be through the weekend is this threat from the Trump administration that
there are going to be nationwide round-ups of immigrants and their
MADDOW: They`ve announced a list of 10 and then they changed it to nine
major cities in which they say they`re going to target these raids. And we
don`t know if they`re actually going to do them. But it`s been interesting
to see mayors in these cities and some other officials.
I was struck by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago today saying that Chicago
PD will not be allowed to cooperate with any federal raids and federal
officers will not have access to any police databases permanently from here
on out because of this sort of thing.
It is striking to see the federal government be sort of stood up to by
mayors, by local police departments, by local officials.
MADDOW: That sort of conflict is heartening and one way, it`s also a
little bit scary in a way.
What`s your take on this?
HARRIS: Well, I think that – and I assumed that what Mayor Lightfoot is
doing in Chicago, similar to what, you know, Mayor Breed will do in San
Francisco, what Mayor Garcetti will do in Los Angeles, which is to say, we
don`t want the limited resources of local law enforcement to go into the
job that the federal government has got to do and we want our local law
enforcement to be trusted by our community and not be feared by our
Because again, as a prosecutor, I don`t – you know, as a former
prosecutor, but I saw it as a prosecutor, I don`t want a victim of crime to
be afraid to wave down that patrol car when she has been hurt for fear that
if she stops that police officer, she is going to be deported, because I`m
going to tell you something – if she is a mother, if he is a father, they
will endure any kind of abuse they have personally experience to make sure
that they can go home at night and take care of the babies, which means
they will not report bad things that happened to them and therefore to
their community, meaning our community. Because, by the way, a crime
against any one of us is a crime against all of us.
And so, I applaud that mayor saying we`re not going to put local resources
into that. And when we put local resources into something like that, like
we have done in the past, we`re going to go and prosecute transnational
criminal organizations. What are you doing picking up people who by ICE`s
own definition have not committed a crime? It`s a misuse of resources.
MADDOW: When you look at the cities that they announced they`re going to
be targeting today – it is San Francisco, L.A., Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami,
New York. I think, obviously, it`s large cities, right? But it`s also I
think places where they are pretty sure they`re going to have people
outrage and those people are going to be protesting and confronting federal
officers as they try to do this.
MADDOW: A lot of people have suggested and I think I`m partial to this
analysis, that the president may be picking fights around immigration and
sort of displaying performative cruelty toward immigrants and immigrant
communities because he thinks it helps them politically, because he thinks
that it causes Democrats and liberals to stand up for immigrants and that
should be somehow alienating to the electorate in the broad sense that will
him get reelected in 2020.
If that is what he is doing, what do you think the antidote is to that sort
HARRIS: Well, I am with you. I think that throughout this president`s
tenure, he has been throwing flames with, for example, that multibillion
dollar vanity project of his called a wall which, by the way, will never
get built. And he`s doing that with this hand over here by tweet, he
basically institutes a so-called trade policy that has resulted in farmers
in Iowa looking at bankruptcy who have soybeans rotting in their bins
because he has cut off a market they cultivated over 10 years or more in
While he is doing this thing over here to get everyone riled up about
immigration, he on this hand has had a so-called trade policy where it is
by some estimates, hundreds of thousands, as many as maybe 700,000 auto
workers may be out of their job by Christmas.
While he is doing all that, he is passing a trade policy where American
families every month right now are spending $1.4 billion a month, on
anything from shampoo to washing machines. He passes a tax bill that
benefits the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations of this country
while he made this promise to help working people that he has betrayed
He said he was going to deal with infrastructure. There`s no evidence of
an infrastructure plan.
So, the guy has now got to start distracting people from the fact that he
made all these promises that I believe he had no intention of fulfilling.
And he has failed to perform on every level by which we should measure a
president of the United States. Not to mention failed as a commander-in-
And so, he`s going to create, as he often does, this distraction – I agree
with you – and do these raids which is a crime against humanity and I
believe in the way he is coming about this and the way he has been handling
the issue when you got babies in cages, I went down after the debate in
Miami. That next morning, I went down with many of my colleagues who are
running and we went to a place in Florida called Homestead.
And you know why we went there, Rachel? Because in Homestead, Florida,
there is a private detention facility that currently houses 2,700 children.
And as a sitting member of the United States Senate, Julian Castro was
there, others were there, they would not let us in. We walked down – and
I walked down the road and got on a ladder to look over the fence to see
what was going on and I saw children lined up by gender, single file like
they`re criminals being led into barracks.
So, these are the kinds of policies that he institutes as a way to, one,
extend I think what he believes which is that he believes that we are not a
nation that should embrace immigrants, but it`s also to distract from the
fact that he has failed to perform. He has failed to perform.
And so, he engages in this exaggerated kind of response to an issue as a
way to distract. I mean, you talk about commander-in-chief, you know, this
is a guy who takes the word of the Russian president over the word of the
American intelligence community when it comes to the fact that Russia
interfered in the lection. He takes and embraces the worth of a North
Korean dictator over the word of the American intelligence when it comes to
an American student who was tortured and later died. He embraces a Saudi
prince over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes
to a journalist who was assassinated.
And he does not want to be judged in this election based on all of that
stuff, so he distracts the American people.
MADDOW: Senator Harris, we`re going to take one more quick break. I have
one last question I want to ask you before you go tonight.
MADDOW: Senator Kamala Harris is our guest. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re back with Senator Kamala Harris.
Senator, thank you for sticking around.
HARRIS: Thank you.
MADDOW: I have one last question that I want to ask you about something
else that`s in the news.
HARRIS: Of course.
MADDOW: There is this challenge to the Affordable Care Act that appears to
be rocketing its way through the courts. It appears to be on its way to
the Supreme Court. If you won the presidency and the AC was gone, 20
million people been thrown off health insurance because the ACA was
overruled by this Trump administration lawsuit, would that change your
approach to what you want to do with health care? Would you try to get back
what had been lost with the ACA? Or would you still proceed with the
radical reform you have been talking about, single-payer plan for
HARRIS: Well, immediately, one of the things that I think all American
families know that they do not want by any stretch of imagination to lose
is the ban on preexisting conditions being the reason that people can`t
have access to health care. Children being able to be on their parents`
coverage until age 27. That has to come back immediately. There are so
many people who have benefitted from it.
So, there have to be immediate priorities. But ultimately, I support
Medicare-for-All. I think that`s where we are looking at a system where
we`ve got to have people not have cost be the barrier to their access to
You know, I was in Iowa recently and a pediatric – a pediatrician who
works on emergency room, she said to me, Kamala, you know we currently do
have Medicare-for-All. I said, how is that? She said, emergency rooms.
And so, let`s do it in a way that is actually more effective and cheaper,
where people don`t have access to health care because they are in crisis
and we are paying so much more because they are getting in at the latest
stage of their needs. Let`s have a system where we have everyone having
access as a right and not a privilege for just those who can afford it.
MADDOW: Senator Kamala Harris, a leading Democratic presidential
contender, thank you for making the time to come in and spend this time.
HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I really do appreciate it.
HARRIS: Thank you. I appreciate you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. This should be interesting. Tomorrow morning at 9:30
a.m. Eastern Time, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is going to hear oral
arguments over that subpoena that Congress sent to Donald Trump`s long-time
accounting firm, Mazars, when they subpoenaed Mazars to get Trump`s
financial record with the firm.
You might remember back in May, a federal judge ruled that that subpoena
was valid, and Mazars need to comply with it. The president`s lawyers
appealed that decision. Tomorrow is the argument of that appeal.
So, it`s a big deal. There`s a lot at stake. The president hasn`t had to
hand over any of his financials, but federal court judges started ruling
and in this case, he does.
What`s particularly interesting about this thing tomorrow is that the oral
arguments in the case are going to be live-streamed. Usually in federal
court, we don`t get access to anything, but in this case, we`re going to be
able to actually hear the arguments, which means I won`t have to read you
the transcript tomorrow night. I`m so hear for it.
All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the