The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 8/16/17 Trump’s Charlottesville Response
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: August 16, 2017
Guest: Christina Greer, Rashad Robinson, David Cay Johnston, Ana Marie Cox
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel, it`s the
night of the mayors tonight.
You just had William Bell of Birmingham talking about the confederate
monuments there, we`re going to have the mayor of Baltimore, Catherine
Pugh, who managed to get rid of all of the monuments in Baltimore
MADDOW: Overnight in one stealth move, it was pretty impressive.
O`DONNELL: Very divisive action, the kind of thing that we don`t see in
MADDOW: Also I`m sick of people complaining that local government can`t
get stuff done. I was like you want to see action? Watch that coordinated
O`DONNELL: Right –
MADDOW: Thing, they moved fast and got it done.
O`DONNELL: Well, the mayor is going to tell us how she did it and how she
made the decision, how quickly she moved. She`s going to be –
MADDOW: Right –
O`DONNELL: On the show –
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence –
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel –
O`DONNELL: Well, Donald Trump has become the divider-in-chief. He has
divided this country, he has divided his party.
He has divided the White House itself. And so it was no surprise today
when he did not do what his predecessor would have done.
He did not attend Heather Heyer`s memorial service in Charlottesville, but
Heather`s parents delivered more eloquence and wisdom in their remarks than
this president of the United States ever could.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: If you`re not outraged, you`re not
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not all of those people were
neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists.
BRO: They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You
just magnified her.
TRUMP: I think there`s blame on both sides.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: The president of the United States needs to
condemn these kind of hate groups.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel that under Trump administration, more and
more people are joining your movement?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt, our movement is winning, our movement is
KASICH: They think that they have some sort of a victory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believed that the symbolism of being associated with
that spirited defense of racism and bigotry was just unacceptable.
BRO: I`d rather have my child, but by golly if I got to give her up, we`re
going to make it count.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is the only president who, from the start, has
aspired to be the divider-in-chief.
Thanks to the electoral college, Donald Trump won the presidency by coming
in second with 46.1 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton`s 48.2 percent
of the vote.
You would think that a president who came in second in the vote would
immediately go to work trying to broaden his appeal, to gain more voter
That is what every president tries to do no matter what their winning
margin is. And that is one reason why their approval ratings tend to go up
after election day and after inaugurations.
Not Donald Trump. He held meetings with some people like Al Gore during
the transition that indicated perhaps the Trump presidency was going to try
to reach beyond that minority of voters who elected him, but that`s not
Donald Trump has continued the divisive politics of his presidential
campaign through every day of his presidency.
He has divided the country in his mind between people who voted for him and
people who didn`t. If you didn`t vote for him, he clearly does not care
what you think about anything.
He doesn`t care what you want. If you voted for him, you can do no wrong.
That is Donald Trump`s golden rule.
If you voted for him, you can do no wrong, and that is what is sinking
Donald Trump`s presidency and dividing the country.
If you voted for him, you can do no wrong. White supremacists voted for
Donald Trump. American Nazis voted for Donald Trump.
That`s why Donald Trump will never unequivocally condemn them the way any
other president of the United States would.
Donald Trump knows what white supremacists and Nazis want to hear, and
that`s why, as we reported here last night, David Duke and other white
supremacists gave the president rave reviews for what he said yesterday
about both sides being to blame for the murder of Heather Heyer in
Charlottesville on Saturday.
White supremacists and Nazis were thrilled that the American president drew
a moral equivalence between Nazi racists and people protesting Nazi
We`ve never seen this before, and we say that every night about the Trump
presidency. We`ve never seen this before, but the fundamental political
principle that makes Donald Trump the divider-in-chief is that he is the
only president we have ever seen who has never made the slightest attempt
to win more supporters, to win more hearts and minds, to win more votes.
If you weren`t with him on election day, he hasn`t tried to convert you
since. And we have never seen that before in a president or in a
Donald Trump used to say he`s not a politician, and he`s right, he`s not
smart enough to be a politician. He`s not sensitive enough to be a
He does not have the humanity to be a politician, and that is a very low
bar for humanity. Can`t even fake it, and the result is the divider-in-
His approval rating has been in steady decline since inauguration day, and
this week he had an all-time low of 34 percent.
He no longer has the approval of all of the people who voted for him. He
is the divider-in-chief in his own White House, which is full of factions,
pro-Bannon factions, anti-Bannon factions, pro-Jared, anti-Jared, and there
is the new White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, who is reported
tonight by “The Washington Post” to be, quote, “frustrated and dismayed by
the president`s lack of discipline.”
And according to the post, the president is frustrated with the discipline
that General Kelly has been able to introduce in the White House.
The post reports, one person close to the president described him as a
caged animal under Kelly. Do we have to note here that no president in
history has ever been described as a caged animal by someone in his White
Do you want to think about what that means to have a caged animal as
president of the United States?
If you thought you had an irrational, dangerous, impulsive president before
he started to feel like a caged animal, what do you think you have in that
The same “Washington Post” article reports this, “Gary Cohn, Trump`s top
economic adviser, who is Jewish appeared with Trump at Tuesday`s news
conference standing behind the president in the lobby of Trump Tower as he
suggested there were good people who protested alongside white supremacists
and neo-Nazis who organized the rally.”
Those close to Cohn described him as disgusted and frantically unhappy
though he did not threaten to resign.
As the frantically unhappy Gary Cohn spent the day in search of his dignity
and his conscience, others did resign from Trump world. None of them held
actual paying jobs or did anything meaningful.
They were members of the president`s council on manufacturing who, two days
later, followed the lead of Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, who was the
first to quit the utterly meaningless presidential council that has no real
The members of the council who quit today before the president then
abandoned the council now have to live with the shame of the 48 hours it
took them to follow Ken Frazier`s lead.
Today, the divider-in-chief became too much for the members of the
president`s strategic and policy forum, which is another group of CEOs that
had no function at all.
They all agreed among themselves today to simply quit as a group, and the
president got wind of that before they could publicly do it.
And in a tweet, he disbanded the group just before they could publicly
resign. And it was just moments ago that this president was lying to the
country by saying that these councils of CEOs were hugely important to the
massive job creation that Donald Trump was convincing them to do in their
own companies in the United States.
And now they`re all gone. Don`t need them – gone. Today, the president
announced he would go to Phoenix next week and have one of those Trump
rallies that never have the slightest appeal to anyone who did not vote for
And the divider-in-chief got a message tonight from the mayor of Phoenix,
asking him not to come. An American mayor asking an American president not
to come to his city.
The mayor said, I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a
campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in
But the president of the United States is not still healing from the tragic
events in Charlottesville, he`s all healed.
He`s all ready to go, to continue to be the divider-in-chief. Joining us
now, Christina Greer; she`s a social professor of political science at
Fordham University. Also with us, Rashad Robinson; executive director of
Color of Change which started a petition in January, calling on CEOs to
quit the president`s councils.
Also with us, David Cay Johnston; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who
founded D.C.Report.Org; a nonprofit news organization that covers the Trump
campaign and David has been covering Donald Trump for decades now.
Christina, this is now what some people are calling the turning point, the
new moment. This is – I don`t know, turning point number 35 –
CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right –
O`DONNELL: In the last – I don`t know, year and a half. But is there a
different feel this time for you about where we are?
GREER: It does feel different. It feels a little November 9th to me
honestly, today. But unfortunately, we keep saying that this is the nadir,
He has been so disappointing, and he`s been so selfless and – selfish
because he`s not a public servant, right?
But there is no bottom to this president, and that`s the scariest piece.
So, yes, it does feel a little different because we`ve never had a modern-
day president really support white supremacists and Nazis in front of a
Jewish-American and Asian-American and just have a press conference like
Now we see why he hasn`t had a press conferences. But it feels different,
but unfortunately I think that, you know, there`s more of the abyss with
O`DONNELL: Rashad and Christina, I want to take a look at the front pages
of our local papers here today in New York City.
The “New York Post” and the “New York Times”. This is something we`ve
never seen before, especially in their Trump coverage.
I don`t remember any instance of those two newspapers using the same
photograph on the front page possibly since 9/11 for all I know.
This is a big movement for the “Washington Post” that we`ve been – the
“New York Post” that we`ve been tracking all week.
Rupert Murdoch`s newspaper, there`s been a turn there in the way they are
covering him. And Rashad, that turn is now closer to what you see in the
“New York Times” coverage of Donald Trump.
I don`t know what that means for the future of “Fox News” and other Rupert-
owned operations that have been fully supportive of Donald Trump, but there
could be some movement here.
RASHAD ROBINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLOR OF CHANGE: I think it says
something about the potential that we have for enablers to start breaking
away and really clear ways.
The business council and the manufacturing council were these things, as
you said, that were basically for show.
But in fact, many of these CEOs that spoke out about diversity, that would
sometimes send out tweets throughout the campaign that they didn`t agree
with things from Donald Trump were ready and willing to sit at a table with
him and add their corporate brands.
And now we`re seeing that type of breakaway and we`re also seeing the
breakaway of newspapers. We`re seeing coverage sometimes on “Fox News”
where we have Republicans speaking out against the president after this
So I do think there`s potential, and that`s why the heat and the pressure
on enablers to force them to have to be accountable not directing our march
at Donald Trump, but directing our marches and our advocacy at the people
for who showing up, it actually matters.
To the corporations, to sometimes the allies who need a backbone, to the
media, and that`s what we have to continue to do.
O`DONNELL: Rashad, I want to go to this point about your campaign to get
them to do this. Prior to Charlottesville –
ROBINSON: Yes –
O`DONNELL: There`s a certain case to be made for when – if a dangerous
person is elected to the presidency, we want as many safer-thinking people
in the White House as possible, trying to muffle this person.
And those – some of those executives could have made that case, you know,
that that`s why I am here.
But none of them – or I shouldn`t say none of them. Some of them decided
once we got to Charlottesville, that there was nothing left to cling to in
And what I`m struck by is when you hold a purely symbolic position in a
White House, that`s exactly what you want to resign. It`s something that`s
purely symbolic and actually has no controls over the president.
ROBINSON: Absolutely, you know, when we talked to some of the CEOs or some
of their representatives back in February and March, what they were saying
to us is, don`t you want people like us with our values at the table?
We share some of your values. It`s better to be at the table, clich‚s like
if you`re not at the table, you`re on the menu.
And this is what we heard over and over again. And so the question that we
really posed to them after Charlottesville was, were you at the table when
they made the announcement about affirmative action?
O`DONNELL: Yes –
ROBINSON: Were you at the table –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
ROBINSON: When the transgender ban came in a tweet? Were you at the table
when Trump decided to talk about both sides?
And if you were not at the table for that, what good are you? What good are
you other than adding your brand and allowing this administration to seem
normalized by having people who are part of the mainstream connected?
O`DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, count me among the people who are not even
slightly surprised by anything Donald Trump has said since the events
started in Charlottesville on Friday night.
He has lived a life of divisiveness and appealing only to the people who he
believes already like him. This is someone whose first time he appeared on
the front page of the “New York Times” in his life was in a racial
discrimination case involving him and his father in New York residential
housing here in New York City.
I just have to say I personally have found nothing surprising about a
single word he said.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR & JOURNALIST: No, what he said particularly
about the Nazis, which is the most offensive thing we`ve seen him do so far
and is beyond the pale, all fits with the life of Donald Trump.
The man has been a racist from the get-go, unless your definition of a
racist is you have to go out and hang somebody from a tree, Donald Trump is
a racist, he describes people in racial terms.
He once said to the president of his casino, I don`t want black guys
touching my money, I want short guys who wear Yarmulke and saying, you
know, it`s not the fault of these black people, they just – they`re lazy
and they`re not very good.
That`s been his whole life, and he managed to con people, and I blame
heavily the major American news organizations that did not vet him during
the campaign and failed to tell people about the evil that resides inside
And this is not the end of this. This will get worse from here. You know,
I said a long time ago, Donald will get more and more erratic in office,
Lawrence, and he`s really getting erratic.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and David has been saying this all along that it only gets
worse. And that is because of his temperament and his personality.
For – as a defining moment, you know, who sees this as a defining moment?
Steve Bannon. We have a report tonight saying from –
JOHNSTON: Yes –
O`DONNELL: “Axios” saying “Bannon saw Trump`s now infamous Tuesday
afternoon press conference not as the lowest point in his presidency, but
as a defining moment.”
And Christina, you can only see it as a defining moment if it is your
belief that you don`t want Donald Trump to appeal to any more voters than
he already does.
GREER: Well, let`s be clear. He calls anyone who hasn`t voted for him his
O`DONNELL: Yes –
GREER: So that means well over 50 percent of the nation he considers an
active enemy. And so we`ve always talked about how the presidency doesn`t
change you, it exposes who you are.
This is a man who talks about his good genes. This is a man who talks
about how he has superior genes. He clearly sees people in racialized
We know how he sees women as non-entities. And so he`s dangerous on so
many levels because he`s not intelligent.
O`DONNELL: Yes –
GREER: He`s not beholden to anyone. He`s never been beholden to anyone.
The only person he`s ever had to work for and had to account for was daddy.
Other than that he`s never had a board of trustees. He`s never had anyone
where he can`t be the king. And we know that the constitution is set up so
we don`t have a king.
That also means Congress has to do their job, as do the courts. And we are
seeing a breakdown in Congress. They are not – they`re sort of hemming
and hawing and sending these tweets saying like this is bad.
They`re not calling Donald Trump out by name, none of them are going after
him as a group. And if the bar is so low that someone like Ted Cruz can
say, white supremacy is bad and people start saying, well, maybe he should
run in 2020, that is absolutely the lowest bar that –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
GREER: We`ve seen in quite some time.
O`DONNELL: Rashad –
JOHNSTON: Lawrence, if I could add –
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, go ahead, David –
JOHNSTON: A point just for a moment to Christina, isn`t it fascinating
that much as we should be critical of the CEOs that they were slow to act,
that the CEOs who resigned are showing more moral fiber, strength, and
Americanism than Paul Ryan and the other moral midgets who will not take
the actions they should be taking in defense of our liberty and our
O`DONNELL: And Rashad, Ken Frazier, who I`m sure you probably lobbied
directly to get him to quit, he was the first one to quit.
He was the black member who Donald Trump always made sure was sitting right
beside him in the photographs. And that`s part of what I would assume your
case would be to these people is that to whatever extent he can exploit you
in any way he can, that is why you`re in the room with him.
ROBINSON: And that`s why it was so important. Even in our pressure on the
business council, and Ken Frazier was the first on the manufacturing
But the other council we pressured earlier this year, both Uber and Disney
to back away from those councils.
We pressured on Pepsi and did a full-court press with the recognition that
their CEO has spoken out about diversity as a woman of color.
Has talked about it both here in this country and internationally. And her
visibility on that panel was also sort of sending this message.
These enablers, who are lending their sort of credibility and have made
this deal that maybe Donald Trump will put forth policies that will help
You know, they`ve made the right decision. And to the point around the
Republican Congress, they made a deal that they will hold their nose and be
hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil as long as they can get
policies passed and we are all worst off for it.
O`DONNELL: Rashad Robinson and David Cay Johnston, thank you for joining
us tonight. Christina, please stick around for later.
Coming up, we`ll hear what Heather Heyer`s parents had to say at her
memorial service in Charlottesville today, and we`ll hear from the mayor of
Baltimore who took decisive action and removed all confederate monuments in
Baltimore last night.
O`DONNELL: This is new video from Charlottesville, Virginia, tonight,
where there is a candlelight vigil. There are hundreds of people, it is
This is taking place on the lawn at the center of the University of
Virginia campus. If what happened in Charlottesville this weekend had
happened one year ago, today at Heather Heyer`s memorial service, something
like this would have happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Amazing grace, how
sweet the sound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When Heather Heyer was murdered with a divider-in-chief in the
White House, and so no one expected President Trump to be at that memorial
service today because President Trump believes that there is blame on both
sides for Heather Heyer`s murder.
And so today he would not stand on the side where Heather Heyer`s parents
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK HEYER, FATHER OF HEATHER HEYER: Heather`s passion extended to her
ideas, her thoughts, she loved people. She wanted equality.
And in this issue of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate
and for my part, we just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each
BRO: My child`s famous Facebook post was, “if you`re not outraged, you`re
not paying attention.” She paid attention.
She made a lot of us pay attention. They tried to kill my child to shut
her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.
I want this to spread. I don`t want this to die. This is just the
beginning of Heather`s legacy. This is not the end of Heather`s legacy.
That`s how you`re going to make my child`s death worthwhile. I`d rather
have my child, but by golly, if I got to give her up, we`re going to make
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Ana Marie Cox; contributor to the
“New York Times Magazine”, and the host of the podcast “With Friends Like
Back with us, Christina Greer. And Ana Marie, just a year ago, what
happened today would have been a very different thing.
There would have been a presidential presence, and the president would have
found the right words to say in those extremely difficult moments where the
president is mourner-in-chief.
We certainly do not have that kind of president now.
ANA MARIE COX, CONTRIBUTOR TO THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, and I for one I`m
glad that Trump did not try to go to that eulogy, or did not try to deliver
eulogy, I don`t think anyone in that room was in the mood to hear about
election night or his winery.
I`m pretty sure Trump can`t sing, so I think we were saved a little bit by
him not going. And I also want to say, and this might be controversial,
but I think it might be good that Obama was not there to give eulogy either
because Obama had a way of making people, especially white people, feel
like things were going to be OK.
And especially made white people feel like maybe their work was close to
being done. And our work is not even close to being done and quite
frankly, I`m not sure if everything is going to be OK.
Having a president that we have – and he is our president – should be a
reminder to people everywhere again, especially white people, that we have
a lot of work to do.
And I think everyone who is outraged tonight needs to think about what
Heather Heyer`s mother said.
And I think they need to ask themselves how are they going to make Heather
Heyer`s death count? What are you individually going to do?
O`DONNELL: Christina –
COX: I think everyone needs to ask themselves that.
O`DONNELL: Christina, to this point of divider-in-chief, these are the
moments where the job is unifier-in-chief.
These are these moments, these moments of national tragedy, and that has
become not – and this was not something that I think, you know, political
theorists to 100 years ago would have foreseen.
That has become a presidential function, that there is a pulpit that is
basically there for the president in these kinds of moments. That pulpit
is empty now.
GREER: It`s completely empty, but we shouldn`t be surprised. Any
Americans who have looked at this incident and all of a sudden they are
just aghast, that means they have not been paying attention to who Donald
Trump was during the campaign.
Who he`s been for these past seven months, but also who he`s been for the
past 40 years, right? As we know about the DOJ, we know about the Central
Park five and the full-page ad calling for their death.
We know that he is the architect of the birther movement. But this is also
a man, you know, when we had Obama go to the eulogy and sort of try and
bring the country together, even after 9/11, think about George Bush, he
did not condemn Muslims.
He said we need to think about this as a problem that we solve as a nation.
Donald Trump didn`t say the word “Jews” when he talked about holocaust
He canceled Ramadan, right? He did not recognize June as a pride month for
our LGBT citizens.
So he has systematically tried to cut people out of this country who he
sees as his enemies. So this isn`t surprising.
I am glad he didn`t go. He does not know how to have compassion, and
because he`s not a public servant, he doesn`t know how to put himself in
service of others.
And this is a time where it`s not about him, and we`ve never seen him be
able to put himself in that position.
O`DONNELL: And these moments – some of these moments in the past have had
their political discomforts for presidents.
When Bill Clinton went to Oklahoma City after the Oklahoma City bombing, he
was very unpopular there. He was actually at not a good point in his
polling, but specifically unpopular in places like Oklahoma.
It was not an easy place to go politically. He went there, he handled it,
and he received the respect and the acclaim of that community for doing
I want to move on to another break that has occurred tonight within Trump
world, and that`s “New York Magazine” reporting that Ivanka Trump`s rabbi
has condemned the president`s Charlottesville remarks.
The report says “the rabbi that oversaw Ivanka Trump`s conversion to
Judaism has released a letter to the congregation of Jared Kushner and
Ivanka Trump`s longtime synagogue condemning President Trump`s widely
criticized statements about the violent protests in Charlottesville.
And so Ana Marie Cox, we heard earlier in the program that Gary Cohn
standing there with the President yesterday is now – was outraged by the
comments, but silence from him. But there is obviously going to be a
continued protest of this kind coming out from what he said.
ANA MARIE COX, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Of course. And I guess – I mean I gave
up on Jivanka a long time ago, you know. I mean – she said she doesn`t
consider herself political. There`s a point at which being – there`s a
point at which you are political because of what you don`t do and what you
don`t say. And I think she crossed that line a long time ago.
I just – we need to stop looking to this Whitehouse for leadership, either
from the President himself or from people around him, and we need to look
to each other. I think that`s the only thing we can do right now. Nothing
about this surprises anyone and shouldn`t surprise them. This is not a test
of Trump`s character.
It is a test of this nation`s character. It is a test of each of our
individual`s character, and how we choose to carry on from this moment, and
whether or not we choose to be complicit with what`s happening or whether
or not we choose to take action. I could sit here, and we could talk about
what a terrible President Trump is, and he is a terrible President. But we
have to just work together to move forward from this. We have to work
together to elect people that will hold him accountable, and we have to
work together to get more companies and more business leaders to step away
from their symbolic posts and not so symbolic posts.
We have to isolate and strand this man. We have to make him the pariah that
he already is becoming because this is untenable. We have a moral monster
in the white house, and he will eat us alive. He will if we let him.
O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox and Christina Greer, thank you both for joining
us tonight, really appreciate it. Coming up, how the Mayor of Baltimore
responded to what happened in Charlottesville last night. The mayor will
O`DONNELL: No President has promised more action in his first 100 days
than Donald Trump did. He has so far failed at every one of those promises.
He has not gotten Mexico to pay for a wall.
He has not been able to ban all Muslims for entering the country. He has
not repealed Obamacare. He has not cut taxes. He has not changed one word
of NAFTA or any other international trade agreement.
He`s so far had all talk and no action in his presidency. But that`s not
how it works in Baltimore. After what happened in Charlottesville this
weekend, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh decided it was time to get rid of
all the confederate monuments in Baltimore, and she did that last night.
In the middle of the night last night, they were all removed.
There were no protests, no violence, no problems. Joining us now, Baltimore
Mayor Catherine Pugh. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us tonight,
really appreciate it. When did you decide to do this?
CATHERINE PUGH, BALTIMORE MAYOR: Well, let me just say the conversations
actually began in June when I met with Mayor Landrieu who in that previous
month had removed four confederate statues from New Orleans and had placed
them in confederate cemeteries. And so we knew that we needed to do
something, and as he has said to me, you need to do something quietly and
as quickly as you can. And I say to folks that, you know, if you want to
hear great speeches about why these monuments should be removed, then you
can listen to his speech.
For me, I just felt it was time for action because after Charlottesville,
we did not want to see that same kind of activity occurring in our city
when we had four confederate monuments in our city. And so I had
conversations with local contractors, White and Turner, one of those who
came to my aid quickly. We had conversations. I said to him I thought it`s
best we do this in late hours of night so that it would avoid any
confrontation, traffic problems, and so forth.
And we even estimated the time that it would take to do it, and we figured
if we started around 11:30, and I reminded them last night the contractors
that were working with me, that we said we would finish around 5:00 a.m.
And we finished 4:57 a.m.
O`DONNELL: And you also avoided causing any traffic problems in Baltimore.
PUGH: no traffic problems, no rallies, no confrontations. We just got it
O`DONNELL: And one of the statues was to Chief Justice Taney, one of the
few statues in America to Supreme Court Justices, and he is the author of
what everyone agrees is the worst Supreme Court opinion in history, the
Dred Scott Decision which not only affirmed but strengthened the
constitutionality of slavery. That was one that was surprising.
PUGH: That was actually the first one we removed.
O`DONNELL: I was surprised that existed. I only learned of the existence
of it when you removed it.
PUGH: You know, I don`t even know if people knew what that statue was
about. To know it was right there in Mount Vernon, just a beautiful part of
our city. I want you to know it took us about 45 minutes to remove that
one. That one was one of the fastest ones to remove. The most difficult one
was the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson monument, which took us about
two and half hours to remove.
O`DONNELL: We saw the mayor of Phoenix tonight deliver a message to the
President. The President announced he wants to go to Phoenix next week to
have a big rally. The Mayor of Phoenix delivered a message to the President
saying please don`t come. If President Trump wanted to come to Baltimore
next week for a rally, what would you say to him?
PUGH: Well, you know, I think that America is in need of peace, love,
respect of each other. I`m not concerned about whether the President comes
to Baltimore. I`m more concerned about what we need to do for our city.
We`re right in the middle of just about ending the preparation to enter
into a consent decree. So we need federal assistance. I would certainly
remind him of that. We have infrastructure needs like most urban cities do.
And I`m working with my Congressional Delegation around those kinds of
things. And as someone asked me earlier today, had I listened to the
President`s speech, and my answer was no. I was clearly focused on what I
need to do for my city.
You know as a mayor, you have a job to make sure that you`re protecting the
people of your city. So I thought that the action that we took was around
what need to be done to make sure that our city was safe, that we continued
to move forward, that we attract people into our city that focus on how we
realize that inclusiveness and diversity is part of the fabric of our. And
loving each other and respecting each other is what we should be doing as a
O`DONNELL: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, thank you very much for joining
us after that very late night you had last night.
PUGH: Thank you for the invitation.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the divider in chief divided the Republican Party
during the campaign and has probably earned at least one Republican
challenger in the next Presidential campaign. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: There has been no reaction from the divider in chief today to
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham`s statement about him this morning. Mr.
President, your words are dividing Americans, not healing them. Last night
on this program, former Republican Congressman David Jolly predicted that
Donald Trump has now divided the Republican Party to the point that he will
have a Republican challenger or challengers in the next presidential
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: There`s a lot of Republicans thinking
tonight, if I can`t find somebody to run against Donald Trump, I`ll run
against him myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ohio Governor John Kasich was the last man standing against
Donald Trump in the last Republican Presidential Primaries, and on the
Today Show this morning, as soon as the Governor was introduced, before he
was asked a single question, John Kasich said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KASICH, GOVERNOR OF OHIO: Pathetic, isn`t it? Just pathetic, to not
condemn these people who went there to carry out violence and to somehow
draw some kind of equivalency to somebody else reduces the ability to
totally condemn these hate groups. A president has to totally condemn
this. There is no moral equivalency between the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and anybody
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued
a statement saying, we can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial
hatred. There are no good Neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are
not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Mitch McConnell`s wife,
Secretary of Transportaion Elaine Chao, was standing beside Donald Trump
yesterday during the press conference that John Kasich and Mitch McConnell
have been criticizing. Today, Senator Ted Cruz had no problem saying the
kind of thing that Donald Trump should have said if he had the decency to
actually think these things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The president said that both sides were to blame and seemed to
equate the white nationalists with the counter protesters. Do you agree
TED CRUZ, UNITED STATES SENATOR: You know, the President speaks for
himself. The Klan is evil. They are racist bigots.
Nazis are the very face of evil. their hatred, their anti-Semitism is
completely unacceptable. And I think we should speak unequivocally,
condemning their hatred, condemning their racism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Our next guest is a former republican who quit the Republican
Party when Donald Trump secured the Republican Presidential Nomination.
Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist George F. Will joins us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASICH: You know, this is terrible. The President of the United States
needs to condemn these kind of hate groups. Think about what you have seen.
You know, as one of the reporters said, reminiscent of what we saw in
Germany in the 1930s. The President has to totally condemn this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize Winning
Journalist for the Washington Post and MSNBC Political Analyst. George, we
have Willie Geist, our own Willie Geist via tweet tonight saying sources
close to John Kasich tell me after Charlottesville, there is growing sense
of moral imperative to primary Trump in 2020. Is John Kasich likely to be
the man to take on an incumbent President within his own party?
GEORGE F. WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Not the man, he`ll be among the men I
assume. Ben Sasse has been in Iowa, Tom Cotton has been in Iowa. Now Tom
Cotton is much more sympathetic to Mr. Trump than either Kasich or Sasse.
But the idea he would be close to re-election assuming he`s there and
hasn`t quit in a huff over the rigged system is implausible.
O`DONNELL: I was struck by David Jolly on this program last night
basically saying if I have to run against him myself, I will. Those are
almost the exact words that Gene McCarthy said during after a - during
actually privately during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in
1967 when the Undersecretary of State was testifying about Vietnam and
outraging Gene McCarthy and Bill Fulbright on that committee. Gene
McCarthy came away from that hearing saying privately to his Chief of Staff
if I have to run for President myself to stop this I will. And he did. And
the incumbent President he ran against as of course you remember, dropped
out of the race when he was challenged that way.
WILL: Well see, the Republicans are in this awful position they put
themselves in when they made the Faustian bargain that they would have
protracted routine interactions with Mr. Trump knowing these would be
diminishing and soiling to them. But they would get things done. Well,
let`s go to Washington`s premiere power couple.
You mentioned a moment ago that Elaine Chao, the Secretary of
Transportation, vastly experienced, hugely respected in Washington, stood
there mute next to Mr. Trump during his rant yesterday. She did so because
she was there because we were supposed to at long last talk about the
trillion dollar infrastructure program. Tax reform`s not going anywhere.
Replace and repeal hasn`t happened. But infrastructure was going to
happen. The problem is, Winston Churchill once said of Secretary of State
Dulles that he was a bull who carries his China shop around with him.
That`s what Mr. Trump does.
So there`s no such thing as being on message. There is no message but
chaos. So on the one hand, Elaine Chao is there as a mere ornament watching
another opportunity slip away as the end of the seventh month of this baron
presidency. She of course is married to the Senate Majority Leader.
This week, he has been deeply involved in the Alabama Senate Primary to
fill the seat vacated by Mr. Sessions who is now Attorney General. his
supporting the appointed Senator, Luther Strange, against a man who has
been remove twice from the Supreme Court of Alabama for defying the U.S.
Supreme Court. In the Alabama race, I was down there looking at it in
Birmingham. Trump is hugely popular and McConnell is detested by all three
candidates, the three who entered this in the first round of the voting
saying we`re loyal to Trump and we can`t stand McConnell.
And if you`d look at the polls among the Republican Party, the Republican
base is still loyal to Mr. Trump and by about four to one, they prefer
Trump over Mr. McConnell. So he`s also in a position, of having made this
awful bargain on the assumption they would get something done and it`s a
completely sterile presidency seven months in.
O`DONNELL: There is a report tonight in USA Today saying there was a delay
in McConnell issuing his statement about those comments because he was
livid and his being livid if he was no doubt is related to his wife being
in effect forced to stand there beside the President making those remarks.
WILL: It`s an old saying in politics that you know well. When you`re
explaining, you`re losing. What`s worse is when you`re saying there are no
good Neo-Nazis, you`re really losing. When that is your message of the day,
just think of that. Mr. McConnell was a Senate Staffer before he became an
institutional lifer in the Senate. And the agony he`s going through to be
tethered to this man.
O`DONNELL: George F. Will, thank you very much for joining us tonight,
really appreciate it.
WILL: Glad to be with you
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: At Heather Heyer`s memorial service today, her grandfather
Elwood Schrader said this -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELWOOD SCHRADER, GRANDFATHER OF HEATHER HEYER: As I think about this, I
think of Trevi`s Song and Fiddler on the Roof. The little girl, is this
the little girl I carried? Yes, I think so.
That same passion was beyond childhood. That same passion, that same girl
you`ve met her. You who knew her as an adult, you know her, too. She was
a lady of happiness and great joy and realized that all lives matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Heather Heyer`s grandfather Elwood Schrader gets tonight`s Last
Word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11TH HOUR ANCHOR: Tonight Donald Trump isolated a day
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