Beto O’Rourke interview. TRANSCRIPT: 8/7/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Beto O`Rourke, Nan Whaley, Nicole Hockley

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  Much





MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us.  Happy to have you here. 


At this hour, the president is on his way back to Washington from El Paso,

Texas.  The president visited both El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, today – two

cities, of course, that were the sites of this weekend`s back-to-back mass



Not incidentally, these are also two cities that were in large part

resistant to the idea of the president making these visits there today. 

Nevertheless, the president did go to both cities today, although it was

very interesting.  While he made these visits, he kept a very low-profile

in both of these cities and particularly, he stayed away from the public. 


In El Paso, the president went directly from the airport to El Paso`s

University Medical Center, where survivors of the shooting are being

treated and where at least five of the shooting`s victims remain in

critical condition in the ICU. 


Oddly, the president and the White House communication team tried to hype

this hospital visit in El Paso today as if it was like a poll or a rally or

something.  The White House communications team today tweeting about how

they thought everybody they saw at the hospital was very pro-Trump and very

happy to see President Trump there.  The president literally came out to

talk to reporters in El Paso about how wonderful he thought it was that

everybody in the hospital loved him so much, and had so much respect for

him as president. 


That was his remarks.  Those were his remarks to the assembled press about

what was important about that hospital visit.  The president talking about

how much people there liked him.  It was just truly a very strange display

from the president after this hospital visit in El Paso today. 


Just down the street from that hospital in El Paso`s Washington Park, this

was the scene today. 





he`s part of the problem!  He`s not welcome! 


BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We live in a country where we

have a president who demonizes communities like this one, who vilifies



REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX):  There have been words that have been

powerful and painful and full of hate and full of bigotry and full of



O`ROURKE:  El Paso, I am proud of you.  El Paso, I love you!  El Paso, we

are bigger and better and greater than this! 




MADDOW:  El Paso is trying to come to grips not only with the fact that 22

people were killed last weekend in the deadliest attack on the Latino

community in modern American history, but also with the fact that the

shooter, now in custody, apparently uploaded a diatribe online, echoing the

president`s own rhetoric about a Hispanic invasion at the southern border

and describing that invasion as the motive for these El Paso murders. 


Well, in the wake of the murders and the diatribe from the killer about why

he did it, the president`s campaign now says that it will continue to use

the theme of a Hispanic invasion, specifically to use the word “invasion”

in the president`s re-election campaign ads.  Quote, the Trump campaign was

unapologetic about a “New York Times” report – a “New York Times” report

Monday night on its Facebook advertisements, its Facebook advertisements

which use the word “invasion.”  The word “invasion” also featured

prominently in the El Paso suspect`s manifesto. 


When asked in the wake of the El Paso massacre, if the president`s campaign

would change the tenor of its ads, a senior Trump political adviser had a

single-word answer.  “No.” 


And so, the president was in El Paso today, largely against the wishes of

the people of El Paso and their elected representatives.  The most high-

profile of El Paso`s representatives is Beto O`Rourke, who represented the

city and Congress until last year and who is now running for the Democratic

presidential nomination. 


Since the immediate wake of the El Paso shooting, Mr. O`Rourke has left the

presidential campaign trail to instead be in his home city of El Paso. 


MADDOW:  Congressman O`Rourke joining us now live from El Paso. 


Sir, thank you very much for your time this evening.  I know it`s a – it`s

a busy and difficult time.


O`ROURKE:  It`s – it is and really tough time for El Paso but we are

really tough people and just visiting with the families, with the

survivors, with all those that assembled behind me at this vigil right

outside the Walmart.  This community has come back so strong, supporting

one another, loving one another and not just here in El Paso but also in

Ciudad Juarez which lost seven people who are here buying at Walmart before

school starts just like anyone else would.  So the way this community has

come together, this community of immigrants, this very diverse community. 

This community that`s 85 percent Mexican-American, it`s just really

powerful, very beautiful and the best possible answer I think to this

hatred and to the terror that we saw on Saturday.


MADDOW:  And as – as you say, El Paso is a majority Latino population as

you say, 85 percent Mexican-American, very close with it`s sister city of



I am very much still stopped in my tracks by the fact that this was the

worst terrorist attack on the Latino community in the modern history of the

United States of America.  And as a community and as one of the – the

citadels of that community in our country, what do you say as a

representative from El Paso, what do you say to the Latino community?  To

the Latino communities all over the country that really do have terrifying

new concerns about their own safety, about their communities being targets

for homegrown terrorists.


O`ROURKE:  And to some degree they should.  You – you have a president who

has repeatedly as a candidate, once in the highest office and position of

public trust in the land vilified Hispanic and Latino members of our

communities and of this country.  Warned of invasions not just once of

twice but repeatedly bought as you mentioned, Facebook ads warning of that. 

Describes people as an infestation or animals who are coming here.  Send

the United States military to a community like this one, which is one of if

not the safest cities in the United States of America, that gins up

extraordinary fear in America, anxiety and paranoia. 


And when you have Trump at a rally in Florida describing this invasion

saying what is it going to take to stop these people?  And some one in the

crowd yells out shoot them and the crowd roars its approval and the

president smiles.  If that does not send a signal that it`s OK to do this

kind of thing, I don`t know what does.  Now he`s not the original racist. 

Racism has existed for as long as we have been a country but he is giving

license to people to act on that.  He`s making permissible to say awful

things and do terrible things. 


We know for example, on the day that he signed his Executive order tempting

to ban Muslim travel in the United States.  The mosque in Victoria, Texas

burned to the ground.  That shooter who walked in and killed at the Tree of

Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was mouthing some of the same lines that the

president had used about caravans coming to get us and – and to take what

is ours in this country. 


So, this is the result of – of what this president has been doing and

we`ve got to stop it.  We`ve got to stop – all of us stand up not just

Democrats, not just me, members of the press, Republicans alike.  Everybody

standing up – up against this and for an American that respects everyone. 

Treats everyone with dignity.


MADDOW:  That kind of language that you are describing there invasion,

infestation, describing people as animals.  You`ve been very acute in your

criticism of the president for that but also in drawing the historic

analogies there, saying that this is redolent of things that have happened

in the past that have led to genocide and horrific tragedies.  Because

you`ve drawn those historic analogies, do you feel like there are lessons

from history or are there lessons that we should be learning right now in

our country in terms of what can be the anecdote to that? 


In terms of how you defy not only those sorts of characterizations of

people as subhuman but how you mitigate it`s effects.  How you stop those

sort of dehumanizing imagery from infecting the culture and from

propagating more violence?


O`ROURKE:  You know, I think historically people like Donald Trump are –

are dismissed as clowns or are forgiven because it`s assumed that the

economy`s running better.  We have law and order where we didn`t have it

before.  Neither of which are true here in the United States despite what

the president is – is saying but – but – that`s  – that`s what I hear

sometimes for his apologists in Congress or those people even in my home

town who may want to turn a blind eye to things that he`s been saying. 


But – but when you connect the dots, you don`t get kids in cages.  You

don`t lose the lives of seven children who are in our custody who had fled

the deadliest countries in the world who are coming here to seek shelter

and salvation. 


That doesn`t happen unless you had a president who`s described them as

animals, as an infestation, who has dehumanized them to make it OK to treat

them as something less than human.  You don`t get the acts of terror or

violence.  The rise in hate crimes, every single one of the last three

years, unless you have a president who is doing this.  So I guess our

lessons from history is you cannot dismiss this.  You can`t say, well he`s

just a different kind of politician.  Doesn`t know how to talk to the

media.  This is a guy who`s been very open about what he wants to do.


I mean, when in history can we think of in a modern western democracy, when

the leader has talked about all people of one religion being inherently

defective and should be banned from the shores of – of that country.  It`s

chilling, or – or that rally in Greenville, North Carolina.  The chants of

– of send her back to me that is reminiscent of – of Nuremburg something

you would see in Germany.  Not something you`d see in the United States of

America in 2019.


And we can no longer accept it, no longer say that this is an isolated

problem.  This is on all of us and, you know, in El Paso one of, if not the

safest cities in America.  You know, we used to pride ourselves on that but

no matter our geographic distance from the other centers of power and

population, this problem will find you.  This problem of gun violence. 

This problem of hatred.  This problem of white nationalist terrorism, it

will come find you.


So, it`s on all of us.  I don`t care how safe you are in your home right

now.  Unless you stand up and act on it, it – it will come to you as well. 


So, I – I hope that this is what it takes to galvanize us to act on

sensible gun policy on stamping out this kind of hate speech and open

racism.  On ensuring that our social media platforms are regulated so that

when someone is trying to incentivize this kind of behavior, they are

stopped before it is too late.  We have our work cut out for us but I know

as a country we are up to it.


MADDOW:  I want to ask you about something that Congresswoman Veronica

Escobar said before the president`s visit.  She, of course, holds the seat

you used to hold now in El Paso and – and she said in the wake of the

shooting, of course, that she didn`t think the president should come to El

Paso.  And in fact, she didn`t meet with the president on his visit today

but it was interesting. 


I interviewed her on Monday – Monday night and she surprised me when she

said with clear eyes and a clear heart.  She said for all of her criticism

of the president and for all of her belief that he should not travel to El

Paso, that he would not be welcome there now. 


She did say it would matter and it would matter to El Paso if the president

apologized for what he has said in the past about immigrants and about the

border and about El Paso specifically.  The kind of language that you`re

just decrying right now in such strong terms.  She made the case that while

the president has caused a lot of harm, it would materially help if he took

back what he had said. 


If he acknowledged that it was wrong and it was hurtful and he`d say he

wouldn`t do it again.  I wonder, given the sharpness of your criticism on

the president on this, if – if you agree with her.  If you think that

something like that might help from the president or – or do you think

it`s just too late for that?


O`ROURKE:  No.  I think Congresswoman Escobar is exactly right on this

point.  It would be helpful if the president were to renounce the language

that he`s used.  If he explicitly said, immigrants pose no threat to this

country.  In fact, we know that they commit crimes at a far lower rate than

those who are born here. 


If you pointed to my hometown, El Paso, Texas, or McAllen, Texas, or San

Diego, California, and said, these communities of immigrants have crime

rates that are far lower than cities in the in – you know – deeper inside

the United States. 


In fact, their very presence makes us stronger and safer and more secure as

a country, I`m not going to hold my breath but if he were to do that it –

it could – it could only help.  And – and I hope that he or the people

around him can – can help him come to this conclusion.  Help him to say

the right thing because it`s not just an effort to make up for what

happened in El Paso. 


I don`t know that he can.  It`s – it`s an effort to stop this from

continuing to happen in this country and his language right now is so

provocative.  Has found a home with someone like this killer, this

terrorist who literally drove more than 600 miles to bring this hatred and

terror to our community.  So it`s – it`s really important that the

president act while he still has time to.  In the absence of that upon all

of us, regardless of the differences including party, to stand up right now

and be counted on this important issue.


MADDOW:  So, I know that you have cancelled your campaign`s upcoming events

in Iowa this weekend.  You essentially have left the presidential campaign

trail to be at home in the wake of this tragedy. 


I just want to ask if you know at this point what your plans are.  If you

have any sense of when you plan to return to the campaign trail?  If this

is going to change things for you fundamentally?  Are you waiting to see

how things evolve or do you have a plan at this point?


O`ROURKE:  I will return to the campaign trail.  I will pursue the

nomination of our party to serve this country as president of the United

States.  But right now, I`m going to focus on my community, on our family,

on those families who are grieving right now and on those families who have

somebody who`s not yet out of the woods. 


We are daily visiting Del Sol and University Medical Center to be with our

fellow El Pasoans.  Tomorrow, I`m going to Ciudad Juarez to visit with

families who lost somebody from that side of the border but this is the

right place for me to be right now.


MADDOW:  Beto O`Rourke, Democratic presidential contender, former member of

Congress from El Paso, Texas – sir, thanks for taking the time to be with

us tonight.  I really appreciate you being here.


O`ROURKE:  Thank you.


MADDOW:  All right.  Again, Congressman O`Rourke, as he mention there had,

is off the presidential campaign trail right now, although he said

emphatically there, he will be rejoining the campaign trail.  He is in

contention for the Democratic nomination for president in his hometown

grieving El Paso right now, will be there, it sounds, for the foreseeable



This was the scene in El Paso as the president arrived there today.  It was

100 degrees or more in El Paso today.  But Congressman O`Rourke was out

there along with all of these El Paso residents and community leaders and

elected officials.  Veronica Escobar, who I had just mentioned, who

succeeded Beto O`Rourke and is now El Paso`s representative in Congress, an

exceedingly eloquent and intelligence member of Congress, they are lucky to

have her, she was there today as well. 


She declined an invitation to accompany the president on his visit today,

but she was out there in the community.  And there did seem to be this

feeling in El Paso today that the president`s visit wasn`t helpful.  That

in many quarters, it was not welcome. 


And that`s just a remarkable thing for an American city that has

experienced a wrenching tragedy, especially when it`s not, you know, a big

natural disaster where the city just can`t logistically handle a visit.  I

mean, this – in El Paso today was an American city telling the president

of the United States that he`s not wanted there because he was a

contributor to the violence that has just befallen them. 


Here was another thing that greeted the president today in El Paso.  A

giant letter to the president on the front of “The El Paso El Paso Times.” 

Dear Mr. President, quote: For many of us, our parents were born in Mexico. 

We`re proud of that and we are also proud Americans.  America is our

country.  We are home. 


Not everyone who visits El Paso has understood this.  Mr. President, in

your February State of the Union Address, you claimed that El Paso was one

of our nation`s most dangerous cities before a border wall was built.  Mr.

President, that is not El Paso.  Some in our community doubt we will be

able to change your view of our border community, but it`s important to us

that we explain all that is good about El Paso. 


Our people are scared.  Many of us feel our city is still viewed as a

target.  The hatred that came to us came from an outsider.  It did not come

from El Paso. 


Mourners who gathered at a makeshift memorial behind the Walmart where the

shooting occurred in El Paso told “The Washington Post” today that the

president`s visit would make them feel worse about what has already just

happened.  Quote: Now`s not the time, said one man, a veteran`s advocate. 

Quote: We do not need anybody fanning the flames of hate, anger, and

racism.  There`s enough in this world already. 


Quote: Maxine Morales, who was born and raised in El Paso, brought her two

children to the memorial.  She said the president`s rhetoric about

immigration and the border have caused deep wounds in the city. 


At this moment, she says, I am just filled with anger and frustration and

sadness, her voice breaking.  My parents were immigrants and they came here

to better their lives and to make sure that we all had better lives, so

that really hits home.  It really hurts. 


At that Walmart where 22 people were murdered, there will be a more formal

vigil getting underway in the next hour.  As you saw, Congressman O`Rourke

is at that site right now.  We`re going to be keeping an eye on that site

tonight.  We`re expecting a large vigil to kick off at 10:00 p.m. Eastern



But all of that is just El Paso.  The president also today went to Dayton,

Ohio.  This is what it looked like in Dayton, Ohio, when the president got

there.  The president arriving, protesters lining his motorcade, his

motorcade route from the airport to the hospital.  And then some of the

protesters headed over to the back entrance of the hospital, because they

were quite sure that`s how the president would get in and out of that

facility and they wanted to make sure the president would see them on his

way out. 


The mayor of Dayton, Ohio, has not been shy about voicing her disagreements

with the president, particularly in the wake of what just happened there

this weekend, but the mayor of Dayton did meet with him while he was there

today.  You will not be surprised to hear that.  Afterwards, he

nevertheless lashed out at her publicly. 


We`ll be speaking with the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, live, coming up.  Stay

with us. 




MADDOW:  When you are the mayor of a city, you get the calls.  The buck

stops with you.  They call you when there`s a snowstorm.  They call you

when a water main breaks. 


They also call you, God forbid, when a mass shooting erupts near downtown

on a summer weekend night and nine people are killed almost in an instant. 

And your city goes from being familiar, vibrant Dayton, Ohio, to a city

that is reeling, that is grieving, that is anger. 


Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is a Democrat.  She has been outspoken about the

politics that led to this moment and the politics that have followed.  She

has called the president unhelpful on gun policy and said that his rhetoric

has been painful for many in her community. 


But nevertheless, Mayor Whaley did meet with the president earlier today on

his visit to her city.  The mayor met with the president along with Ohio`s

Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. 


Later, the mayor described the visit for reporters. 




REPORTER:  Mayor, how would you characterize your conversation with the

president?  Do you feel like he was hearing you? 


MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D), DAYTON, OHIO:  I think he heard me.  I don`t know if

he will take action.  I`m hoping, for the people of Dayton, that he does,

but we – both the senator and I spoke very directly what we`ve been saying

the whole time about the need for common sense gun legislation. 




MADDOW:  Who knows why, but apparently those remarks from the mayor did not

meet with the president`s expectations for what he wanted said about him

after he left Dayton.  On his way to the next city that was reeling from a

shooting, on his way to El Paso, the president, apropos of nothing, went

online to accuse Mayor Whaley and Senator Brown of totally misrepresenting

what happened during his Dayton visit and slagged off both of them for it`s

not totally clear what. 


The president then kept up that criticism inexplicably, even after he

arrived in El Paso, going back to it again unprompted with reporters in

Texas.  So why is this happening?  This is just what it`s like now.  But

you can add to the president`s accomplishments today, his unsolicited

insults and invective for the mayor of a city that just suffered a massacre

and to whom he was supposedly offering the government`s help and assistance



Joining us now is Nan Whaley.  She`s the mayor of Dayton. 


Madam Mayor, thank you so much for making time for us.  I`m sure it`s been

a hell of a day. 


WHALEY:  It`s been a day, Rachel.  Thank you. 


MADDOW:  Yes.  First of all, let me just ask, how you`re doing?  How you

assess as its leader, how Dayton is doing?  Whether Dayton has what it

needs now three days out from the shootings? 


WHALEY:  Well, I think Dayton is an amazing city.  I know I`m biased as its

mayor, but it has a lot of grit and resilience.  And, you know, Sunday

evening, we had a vigil on the streets of the Oregon District where the

shootings happened. 


And it was thousands and thousands of people coming together.  They were

grieving.  There was compassion, there was hugging, there was tears, and

there was anger. 


And, you know, really, the community shouted “do something” pretty

organically, and it moved the governor, who is a Republican here, Governor

Mike DeWine to take action on some gun legislation here in the state. 

Frankly, I was hoping that would be the same case when the president came

here today, but I don`t – I don`t get the sense that that`s going to



MADDOW:  When the president was in Dayton today, there was some ambiguity

as to what his exact itinerary would be, where he would show up, whether

the public would see him and whether he would see the public.  And you

suggested today in your remarks that maybe it was a good thing that the

president didn`t go specifically to the Oregon District, to the site of

where the shootings happened, and where that vigil was with that powerful

moment with Governor DeWine. 


Why did you think it was probably a good thing on balance that the

president didn`t do that today? 


WHALEY:  Well, even while the president was at the hospital today, meeting

victims and first responders, the tension in the Oregon District was

already very high, and just imagining the president in that with already

the tension between both supporters and folks that are opposed to the

president, I think would be very difficult.  Our community is on

tenterhooks, the minute that the president announced he was coming to

Dayton, people had a lot of opinions.  And it`s kind of sad, frankly. 


Before the president`s announcement on Tuesday, there was a real sense of

togetherness, but I think because of his rhetoric over the past three years

and just hyper-partisan nature, just him announcing has really put the

community on edge.  And, you know, it was a little tough, even in the

Oregon District, while he was in the city, even though he wasn`t at the

Oregon District. 


MADDOW:  And when you say “it`s a little tough,” do you mean that you were

worried about people fighting or there being conflict of some sort of



WHALEY:  Sure.  You know, we didn`t have any arrests or anything like that,

but, you know, some of my city commissioners were also, in the Oregon

District, de-escalating some of the disagreements between pro and anti-

Trump groups.  I mean, I think that is what so tough about this president,

is because his rhetoric is so hot in situations where we`ve seen the

community come together, the community can get so hyperpartisan and

nationalized, because of the president`s actions. 


MADDOW:  It`s striking for me to hear that.  What you`re scribing in terms

of the city being unified and the community being unified, and really, the

country being unified in support of Dayton in the immediate aftermath of

what happened, and you describing that real U-turn, where you have to worry

about this incredible conflict all around the issue of the president and

his behavior, the way that his politics inflect or don`t these mass



It`s – I mean, national leadership should hopefully do the opposite,

right?  National leadership should hopefully – and local leadership, even,

should hopefully be able to take zones of conflict and zones of

consternation and help people see common ground and bring themselves

together.  I wonder, seeing this happening in your city over the last few

days, if you have ideas for how to get past that, to sort of either smooth

over or re-knit the community together, even as you`re seeing these rifts. 


WHALEY:  I think we`ll be fine, now that the president has left.  You know,

we`ve seen some really great movement that`s been very bipartisan effort

around some common sense gun legislation here in Dayton and across the

state.  I mean, one example is the community, you know, really chanting to

Governor DeWine Sunday night “do something,” and on Tuesday, the governor

does something. 


We also saw our Congressman Mike Turner, a Republican, calling for an

assault weapons ban, a man who had a 93 percent NRA record.  You know,

really seeing what the community was going through. 


So, you know, I`m very hopeful about those folks that are, you know,

recognizing that this is really a bipartisan issue.  In the state of Ohio,

you know, background checks are supported by 90 percent of Ohioans.  So,

assault weapons ban supported by the vast majority of Ohioans.  And you

know, when you have an issue like this in your community, and we`re the

250th city that`s had a mass shooting since January 1, it`s really

happening to everybody. 


And so, I do think there`s pieces, if we can really stitch together and get

past some of this hyperpartisan rhetoric that we can actually move

ourselves forward.  And we`re seeing some of that in the statehouse and

here locally.  And that makes me hopeful. 


The presidential visit, while the victims were super excited to see him,

the first responders were grateful, it was hard on the community at large,

because everybody has a very, very strong opinion, either positive or

negative, about the president.  


MADDOW:  Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, Ohio, I really thank you for your

time tonight.  I know there`s a lot of demands on your time.  Please stay

in touch.  Keep us apprised as your city recovers. 


I mea, to the extent you need national attention to things and national

resources, keep us on your rolodex. 


WHALEY:  We sure will, Rachel.  Thank you.


MADDOW:  Thanks very much.


All right.  Coming up, we heard from a couple of the leading Democratic

candidates for president today on this crisis, on the roots of this crisis

in our country, about what ought to be done about it.  This was some pretty

striking stuff.  A lot of people are really rising to the moment. 


Stay with us.  That`s next.




MADDOW:  Democratic presidential candidate and senator, Cory Booker,

visited the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, today. 

That, of course, is the site where a white supremacist who was hoping to

start a race war gunned down nine mostly elderly African-American church

members, inside the church in 2015. 


Soon thereafter, after Senator Booker`s remarks, we also heard today from

presidential candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden, who, of

course, centered his campaign from the day he announced it on the idea that

the foundations of this country are threatened by President Trump`s embrace

of white nationalists.  Vice President Biden gave his own speech today in

Burlington, Iowa, on what he called the battle for the soul of this nation. 


Here`s a little bit from both of these specious today. 





anti-immigrant hatred that we saw this weekend did not start with the hand

that pulled the trigger.  It was sewed by those who spoke the same words

the El Paso murderer did, warning of an invasion.  It was sewed by those

who have drawn an equivalence between neo-Nazis and those who protest them. 


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It`s both clear language and in

code.  This president has fanned the flames of white premise in this

nation.  His low energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him

condemning white supremacists this week I don`t believe fooled anyone. 


American history is not a fairy tale.  The battle for this soul of the

nation has been a constant push-and-pull for 243 years between the American

ideal that says we`re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism

has long torn us apart. 


BOOKER:  Patriotism is love of country, but you can`t love your country

unless you love your fellow countryman and woman, all of them. 






MADDOW:  Cory Booker and Joe Biden both speaking today, both giving major

addresses on the current crisis. 


That was the sort of focus and tone that we heard today from the Democratic

field.  There`s been so much focus on what President Trump himself has done

that may have helped fuel or lead to this point.  Also, tons of focus on

what he has done since these mass shootings, including these inexplicably

divisive statements from him today, even as he visited these grieving



But, you know, for all the focus on the president, it`s clear that this

moment is also helping his would-be opponents find their voice as well. 

We`ve got more on that ahead tonight as well. 


Stay with us. 




MADDOW:  The president`s visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, today

come as both cities, of course, are still reeling from the mass shootings,

the back-to-back mass shootings in those communities.  The country is also,

I think it`s fair to say, rattled.  And as part of that, we are yet again

having another national discussion about gun policy, about the prospects of

gun reform and what gun reform could be and what we should dare to hope for

in terms of those prospects and whether this might be another moment that

might change it. 


But you know, as scary and frustrating and emotional as this is for all of

us in this country right now, this is a different moment entirely for

people who have unwillingly and unexpectedly become sort of public figures

on this issue because of their own deeply personal loss because of gun

massacres in the past. 


Nicole Hockley lost her son, Dylan, in the Sandy Hook shooting that killed

25 other people, most of them little kids, nearly seven years ago now. 

Mrs. Hockley became the cofounder and managing director of Sandy Hook

Promise, which is a nonprofit dedicated to ending gun violence and she

joins us now here in studio. 


Nicole Hockley, thank you very much for making the trip to see us.  I

really appreciate you being here.


NICOLE HOCKLEY, SANDY HOOK PROMISE:  Thank you so much for having me. 


MADDOW:  I think of you and the other Sandy Hook families wherever

something like this happens, because it must be a different thing for you

even when the country is as rattled and upset and emotional as they are by

these back-to-back incidents. 




MADDOW:  Am I putting that on you?  Or do you think that`s a fair –


HOCKLEY:  No, there`s an element of deja vu, and a sense of, here we go

again, I`m experiencing the same trauma and the same conversations happen

and we go through the same cycles and you just wonder, when are we going to

get through this to something positive on the other side?  And it`s



MADDOW:  Do you feel like these same conversations that we keep having,

this sort of playing the tape, this recursive stuff that we keep going

through as a country, is it helpful at all?  I mean, we do have a choice

about how we talk about these things in the wake of them.  We do have a

choice about what to focus on, about what to ask about elected officials,

about what to talk to each other about?  Is this the conversation the wrong

conversation or just the one that we`re stuck with? 


HOCKLEY:  I don`t think it`s the one – I think it`s the one that people

are choosing to be stuck with at the moment because I think there are so

many solutions and ways through out there but people`s ears aren`t open

enough and their minds aren`t open enough.  It`s just still stuck in the

fight for gun control or gun freedom.  It`s these partisan conversations

that aren`t moving forward that are also scaring too many people to get

engaged in the movement. 


Yet, the good thing about all of these conversations is that they are

reaching more and more people and therefore, more and more people are

getting involved in this movement and demanding solutions from their

communities, as well as from their politician. 


MADDOW:  I just spoke with the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, who said something

very striking at the end of the interview, she said, we`re the 250th

community to have a mass shooting since January 1st this year.  And knowing

you`re going to be here tonight, it does make me think that one of the

things that`s happening is that the community of survivors grows every day. 

Literally, every day, people who have been touched by one of these

incidents, and you do speak from a position of moral specificity and moral

power because of your loss. 


But I wonder if – how you see that.  If you feel like you`re in a growing

community or a community that is able to sort of marshal its power and

resources for what you want it to be used for. 


HOCKLEY:  We`re absolutely a community that`s growing far too quickly than

it should and a community that shouldn`t exist in the first place.  And I

don`t think we`re that far away from a point in this country where anyone

knows someone or has themselves been affected by gun violence.  It`s that

dominant in our culture.  It`s that part of our every day. 


I was reading an article today about bulletproof backpacks for school kids. 

And I was like, when did back-to-school shopping become looking for

bulletproof backpacks?  This isn`t – this isn`t the America that we should

be providing.  And I think it`s down to all of us to force the way through

to these solutions. 


MADDOW:  Part of the idea, I think, in Sandy Hook promise, was the idea of

getting past some of the jargon and some of the knee-jerk sort of dyads

here where it`s one thing or the other and nothing in between.  Do you feel

like over these seven years there have been any at least points of

discussion if not points of advancement where you feel like they have given

you hope and they have made you feel like there`s a constructive reason to

keep talking to each other and keep trying? 


HOCKLEY:  Absolutely.  And on the policy front, we have seen progressive

discussion on background checks and extremist protection orders.  I`m

waiting for the action to come from those talks.




HOCKLEY:  And there`s bipartisan proposals in Congress right now, so when

the president talks about pushing these things forward, these are actions

that he can take and encourage both sides of the party to take as well. 

But in addition to that, we all know that preventing gun violence isn`t

just about policy or limiting who has access to guns.  It`s also about

pairing those real policies like community solutions, like education on how

to recognize the signs, then the willingness to stand up and say something,

as well as the tools to report it. 


That`s where we focus at Sandy Hook Promise, but you`d need both.  You need

legislation and you need community efforts, as well, because we can look

after each other. 


MADDOW:  You need that commitment that it`s worth looking at as a community

in a sustained way. 


One other question for you, and again, not get too into the weeds on this

one specific policy.  But I wonder if it has been heartening to you or if

you think it`s been constructive to see frankly Democratic-controlled

states try a bunch of new laws around gun reform?  I mean, California

passed background checks for ammunition. 




MADDOW:  New York state passed a number of different laws, gun policy

reforms after Newtown, after Sandy Hook, that they believe have made a

difference in terms of New York state gun violence.  Seeing, obviously,

every state that does something, it sort of creates a loophole.  Because

when there is ant federal change, that means that you just crossed state

lines and you`ve escaped that new restriction. 


But is it helpful to have blue states experimenting with what`s practical

and what might be effective? 


HOCKLEY:  Absolutely, because then we know what works and what doesn`t and

also how we teach the communities about those laws, so they know what to

do, like extremist protection orders are in effect in a lot of states, but

if you don`t know that that`s state law is available to you or how to use

it or what signs to look for in the first place, then it`s not as helpful. 

So, that`s why the training to go with the legislation is super important. 


But also, it shows ways forward and ways that are still constitutionally

appropriate that people can still be gun owners and engage in these

policies as well, and save lives.  And it points to instances where someone

can`t get a gun in one state and commit a crime from a gun purchased in

another state, then it clearly shows where those gaps are. 


MADDOW:  It essentially creates a lot of pilot programs around the country

for the federal government to considering what would be more meaningful



HOCKLEY:  Yes, good model. 


MADDOW:  Nicole Hockley, cofounder and managing director of Sandy Hook

Promise – again, I really – I know you do not have to do this and I

appreciate you being here in person in particular, but also be willing to

talk about this stuff.  Thanks.


HOCKLEY:   Thank you.  Thank you, Rachel. 


MADDOW:  All right.  More news ahead.  Stay with us.




MADDOW:  If you`re ever called upon to be White House counsel like say John

Dean in the Nixon era, or Alberto Gonzalez, remember him in the George W.

Bush White House, or Bob Bauer under President Obama, or Don McGahn under

the current president, if you are White House counsel, it will behoove you,

always, to keep in mind that you are not a personal lawyer representing the

president.  You are the White House counsel.  You represent the White

House.  You represent the office of the presidency. 


I mean, presidents can hire personal lawyers, too, and they do.  But the

White House counsel, that is a public employee, and you answer to the



Well, today, the Judiciary Committee in the House sued President Trump`s

first White House counsel Don McGahn to compel him to obey a subpoena, to

compel him to show up to testify before Congress.  Don McGahn, of course,

is the key witness in the volume of the Mueller report that`s about the

president potentially committing criminal obstruction of justice. 


So, if Congress is going to get to the bottom of the allegations in the

Mueller report, obviously, they`re going to want to hear from the key

witness in that report who is Don McGahn.  Now, the White House not

surprisingly has told Don McGahn that he can`t testify, that he shouldn`t

testify.  The president beyond that has called Don McGahn all sorts of

names and said he`s a liar and threatened him and threatened his law firm

and incidentally that may itself be illegal witness-tampering to try to

keep don McGahn from talking in an ongoing federal investigation. 


But for his own part, Don McGahn has been trying to get out of testifying

as well, in part, he is now trying to get out of it by saying that if you

think about it, he wasn`t really White House counsel at all.  This is

remarkable, but Don McGahn put out a statement today in response to this

lawsuit filed to get him to testify, put out a statement today claiming

that he was just a lawyer with a client and that client happened to be the

president.  And since the president doesn`t want him to testify now despite

that subpoena to testify, he`s going to respect his clients wishes and defy

the subpoena, unless and until a court order sentences him to do otherwise. 


That would make a lot more sense had he been the president`s personal

lawyer.  As White House counsel – doo wop!


With this lawsuit today in any case, the court may very well order Don

McGahn to do otherwise and stop defying that subpoena.  If this case that

was filed today goes the way Democrats want it to, the Democrats in

Congress think that this may be the lawsuit that basically breaks the dam

and allows Congress to finally get not just Don McGahn but all of the

witnesses they want who testified as part of Mueller`s investigation. 


So, this lawsuit today to compel this testimony, this is kind of the big

one we`ve been waiting for in terms of the House investigating Mueller`s

findings and deciding what they`re going to do about it.  So, we`re going

to be watching this case really, really closely.  I`m hoping we can speak

with the Judiciary chairman about this landmark lawsuit filed today and in

the coming days. 


But one other thing here, while we`re on the subject and while we`re

talking about White House counsel, there`s just one other heads up for you

and something you should keep an eye on in the next few days.  I mentioned

White House counsel for various presidents at the top of this segment. 

Greg Craig was one of the White House counsels who worked under President

Trump.  He was, in fact, Obama`s first White House counsel, although he

wasn`t there for that long. 


Greg Craig is the only Democratic first official criminally charged in any

of the cases deriving from Robert Mueller`s investigation.  He was charged

with two felonies related to his work outside the White House when he was

in private practice.  When he and his law firm helped out in what was

basically a scheme by Paul Manafort to smear a political opponent in

Ukraine of the pro-Russian leader guy who Paul Manafort was working for. 


Greg Craig was indicted in April.  He`s due to go on trial on Monday.  But

just as that Gregory Craig trial is due to start on Monday, the judge

overseeing his case has thrown out one of the two felony charges that

Gregory Craig was facing. 


Now, this is not something that`s happened in other Mueller prosecutions,

but it is worth watching.  Both because this is the only Democratic

official caught up in the Russia mess so far, and because this is the

prosecution that is in the most trouble.  One of the two charges being

thrown outright before the trial starts. 


It`s also worth watching though just because this thing is about to start

in open court, Monday in federal court in D.C.  So, yes, I know there`s a

lot going on right now but honestly there is a lot going on right now.  No

time to waste. 


Watch this space. 




MADDOW:  I have one little bit of my own news to give you tonight.  If you

have been wondering why I`ve aged ten years in the past two years, it`s not

actually what you think.  Turns out what you`re thinking about, that

doesn`t affect me at all.  That just makes me stronger. 


What has actually been killing me the last two years is I`ve been writing a

book in my spare time in addition to doing this show.  The book is called

“Blowout.”  It`s going to come out this fall, on October 1st.  I will say

more about it when it`s about to actually go on sale.  You can preorder it

now if you want, but you won`t actually get it until it comes out on

October 1st.


However, here`s the news.  I did just get confirmation of the dates and the

cities where I`m going to go this fall to talk about the book.  So, here`s

those dates and those cities.  If you`re all interested in hearing about

the book from me in person, if you`re at all interested in seeing me head

to toe instead of at a desk on your TV, these are the dates, these are the

cities that I`m going to be going to. 


And you don`t have to worry about taking a picture of that list.  It is all

online if you want to check it out at because “Blowout”

is the name of the book. 


It is very embarrassing to talk about these things.  I`m still nervous

about the book even though it`s done and written, it`s still killing me. 

But at least now, this part, the itinerary for the book tour is settled. 

So, if you do want to come see me, you can do so.  OK, thank you for



That does it for us.  I will see you tomorrow night. 




Good evening, Lawrence. 







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