Top pediatrician describes “dog cages”. TRANSCRIPT: 7/3/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Neera Tanden, Julie Linton, Mazie Hirono, Bill Weld
Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

 

And I knew you would be doing transcript tonight as soon as we got this

transcript today about what happened in court.  And I have so many favorite

moments, and I thought, if I have to reduce it to one, I think my very

favorite moment is when the government lawyers in the census case says to

the judge, is it possible that we can do this on Monday?  No!  The judge

just flat no, one word. 

 

Judges don`t often give scheduling answers that are quite as clear

instantaneously as one.  It`s really great. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I mean, is it possible that we can do this on

Monday?  The court, no.  Mr. Gardner and again – oh, OK.  The court again

says no!  Are you seriously going to keep talking?  I said N-O.  N-O.  No. 

 

O`DONNELL:  In most other federal courts in America, that would be a

perfectly reasonable request.  I think there`s an awful lot of federal

judges who will be not working on Friday, but this judge is.  Friday, 2:00

p.m. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  He wants an answer.  What is the president up to?  What is the

government doing in this case? 

 

MADDOW:  And does the Justice Department speak for the government anymore? 

Does the Justice Department actually represent what the U.S. government is

doing, or do we just rule by fiat here from what the president tweets and

misspelled on his phone?

 

It`s just a remarkable case.  I`m glad you`re on it, Lawrence.  Thanks,

man. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And who speaks for Mark Zuckerberg?  The other big question of

the day.  Thank you, Lawrence.

 

MADDOW:  Good night, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, tomorrow the president who has never inspired a majority

of the American people will try to do that once again.  He will absolutely

definitely surely fail once again because Donald Trump has no idea how to

speak to a majority of the American people. 

 

It wasn`t always this way.  Presidents of both parties have struck

inspirational notes with the majority of Americans.  At the end of this

hour, we will show you a Republican president who did that at several

points in his presidency, even with people who disagreed with him, but

especially on the very last day of his citizen when in his final speech as

president of the United States, he praised immigrants who he hoped would

continue to come to this country. 

 

And we`ll be joined by a Republican who worked in that president`s

administration and who is now running for the Republican presidential

nomination against Donald Trump. 

 

But we begin tonight with the breaking news of the night.  Federal judge

today demanded that the Trump Justice Department explain a Trump tweet and

the Trump Justice Department admitted that they have no idea what the Trump

tweet means.  Federal Judge George Hazel conducted an emergency telephone

conference with the Justice Department and some of the lawyers representing

plaintiffs in the census case that was just decided by the United States

Supreme Court last week, preventing the census from containing a question

about citizenship. 

 

And as we reported here last night, the Trump administration surrendered to

the Supreme Court yesterday.  They formally surrendered and began printing

the census without a citizenship question as ordered by the U.S. Supreme

Court.  The commerce secretary announced that the census was being printed

without the citizenship question. 

 

And then this morning, the president tweeted the news reports about the

Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the citizenship question

on the census is incorrect or to state it differently, fake. 

 

That sent Federal Judge George Hazel into action, rounding up lawyers in

the case by phone to find out what was going on.  In a transcript of the

conference call today, the judge said: This morning, I saw a tweet that got

my attention.  I don`t know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts,

but I happen to be one of them and I follow the president.  And so, I saw a

tweet that directly contradicted the position that Mr. Gardner had shared

with me yesterday. 

 

Joshua Gardner is one of the Justice Department lawyers in the case.  The

judge asked Attorney Gardner a simple question.  Is the government going to

continue efforts to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census? 

 

Attorney Gardner said: The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of

the president`s position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your

Honor, I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this

juncture other than what the president has tweeted. 

 

No one on that call knew what Donald Trump`s tweet meant, including Donald

Trump`s Justice Department attorneys.  Attorney Gardner did confirm that

the census is in the process of being printed without the citizenship

question. 

 

Another Justice Department lawyer told the judge: We at the Department of

Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward

consistent with the decisions that allow us to include the citizenship

question on the census.  We are examining that, looking at near term

options to see whether that`s viable and possible. 

 

The judge ordered the government lawyers to tell him by 2:00 p.m. Friday if

the government is going to continue fighting the case.  The government

lawyers asked for a delay until Monday because of the Fourth of July

holiday to which the judge as I just said simply said no.  The judge then

told the government lawyers, if you were Facebook and an attorney for

Facebook told me one thing and then I read a press release from Mark

Zuckerberg, telling me something else, I would be demanding that Mark

Zuckerberg appear in court with you the next time because I would be saying

I don`t think you speak for your client anymore. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight, Neera Tanden, the president of the

Center for American Progress, and Eugene Robinson, associate editor and

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post.”  He`s an MSNBC

political analyst. 

 

And, Gene, this was a remarkable, very quick telephone conference today

where the president tweets something and we bring America`s best legal

minds to study it and none of them can figure out what he meant. 

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Right.  And they work for the

president.  So the president is the client and they have no idea.  They

clearly had no idea this was coming.  They thought the issue was settled

and the president tweeted that it wasn`t settle and now, I guess, they

guess try to find a way to unsettle it again and to try to come up with

some rational, which, you know, the judge was clearly not amused. 

 

And they must be scratching their heads saying what are we going to come up

with that`s not going to get us laughed or yelled out of court or whatever? 

And we better come up with it by 2:00 p.m. on Friday or this judge – who

knows what this judge might do if we don`t?  So it was an extraordinary

moment in the life of this country. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and they would have to begin to suborn perjury from the

Commerce Secretary to get him to change his under oath testimony about why

he wanted a citizenship question.  They want to try to figure out a way to

give the Supreme Court a different reason why they wanted one. 

 

But as you listen to or read the transcript of the government lawyers, they

expressed zero confidence that they are even going to come up with a theory

of this case.  They say – basically they are using words like might be

possible. 

 

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Yes, when you read the

transcript, what is clear is that we have a government by chaos, which is

not new, although it seems that we take it to new heights day by day.  And

this is a new height. 

 

Essentially, what happened here is that the Department of Justice, the

Department of Commerce understood last week`s Supreme Court decision as

basically saying they have to go forward with the census without the

citizenship question because, you know, those people live in reality and

the census is supposed to start taking place, you know, months away.  And

we are talking about printing millions upon millions of documents and so,

they live in that reality. 

 

And I don`t know if Fox News or one of the president`s donors or some crazy

right wing news site attacked that position and then the president does

what he often does, which is listen to the far right of his base versus his

own government and put out a tweet.  And there we have the essentially the

Department of Justice scrambling to keep up. 

 

But I think what happened here is the judge in the case recognized that

this is a farce.  I almost feel badly, but not quite, for the lawyer who is

are going to spend the next 36 hours scratching their head, manufacturing

some possible rational.  And they are likely to get laughed out of court

which will just be an embarrassment for them, but hopefully, it will mean

our census is not ridden with racism and xenophobia. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And, Gene, this is a game the president plays.  He has

been defeated like on Mexico paying for the wall and then he continues to

tweet that Mexico will pay for the wall.  This is an instance in which if

you continue to tweet things that aren`t true, there is a judge who can

drag the government lawyers in to court and say, OK, 2:00 p.m. Friday, tell

me what`s going on here.  The tweeting game ends at 2:00 p.m. Friday. 

 

ROBINSON:  Yes.  It certainly does.  This is a whole new sphere.  You can -

- Mexico will pay for the wall, he can tweet whatever he wants and there

are no consequences, but there are immediate consequences here. 

 

These lawyers have to come in and as you say, they can`t just come in with

some ridiculous theory that amounts to suborning perjury or something else

that might get them in hot water with legal associations, with bar

associations.  They have to take this seriously because after all, this is

a federal court.  And you have to take things seriously in a federal court. 

Words have meaning and they have consequences. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So the president is going to have a campaign rally at

government expense tomorrow in Washington, where he will pretend to be

trying to inspire the country, but of course once again, he will surely

only be speaking to people who voted for him. 

 

Let`s take a look at polls that shape the frame that the president will be

speaking in tomorrow.  He will be speaking to a country where according to

Gallup now, 45 percent of the country wants Donald Trump impeached and

removed from office. 

 

In addition that, we have a recent Pew poll that is very relevant to

tomorrow.  And it`s – how do you feel when the president speaks?  What are

your feelings when he makes public statements? 

 

Seventy-six percent are concerned.  Confused, 70 percent.  Embarrassed, 69

percent.  Exhausted, 67 percent.  Angry, 65 percent.  Insulted 62 percent. 

Frightened, 56 percent. 

 

And what the president is going for tomorrow, only 36 percent of Americans

are ever proud of the president when he speaks or feel pride when he

speaks, and only 33 percent have ever felt inspired when Donald Trump

speaks. 

 

And so, Neera, that`s the audience he will be speaking to tomorrow. 

 

TANDEN:  Yes.  I think, you know, the issue here is whether he is speaking

from a teleprompter in which he basically says a bunch of words we all know

he doesn`t mean, or he speak from the heart and creates all the emotions on

the first column.  What I felt reassured by is I have all of those emotions

in one day listening to Donald Trump. 

 

So, I think the reality of this is that the president is going – you know,

we are about a year from this election.  Less than a year from this

election and he is deeply unpopular.  The important issues around

impeachment is that the numbers are moving up.  They were in the 30s and

they are now at 45 percent, perhaps after Robert Mueller testifies it may

be into the 50s. 

 

And I think that`s a new moment in the country where you have a majority

asking for impeachment and removal.  That will start putting some pressure

on Republicans in races like in Cory Gardner`s race and Susan Collins` race

where you see some of them finally feel at least pressure around

impeachment. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Gene, another set of poll that is the president is facing

today, Morning Consult poll, showing his disapproval in swing states like

Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, more higher

disapproval than approval.  Michigan, 55 percent disapproval, 40 percent

approval. 

 

This is a campaign event for him tomorrow.  And those numbers don`t look

good. 

 

ROBINSON:  No, they don`t.  Remember last time in 2016, he had to thread

the needle in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  You look at the

numbers and there is no longer an eye in that needle.  It`s just closed. 

There is no way to get a piece of thread through there. 

 

So, he would either have to change those numbers dramatically or come up

with another theory of how he gets to 270 electoral votes.  I`m not sure

how that would be.  I`m fairly confident that what he is doing tomorrow is

not a good start. 

 

I am biased.  I live in the Washington area.  We here feel certain

ownership and a lot of pride in our Fourth of July celebration on the Mall. 

To have it sort of usurped in this way by any president to give a political

speech is really an outrage and something that some of us have strong

feelings about.  Maybe the president likes it that we have strong feelings,

but we have strong feelings anyhow. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Gene Robinson and Neera Tanden, thank you for starting us off

tonight. 

 

And when we come back, yesterday`s inspector general`s report condemning

the conditions that adults and children are subject to at the southern

border told its story in words and these pictures.  The inspector general`s

team could not be stopped from photographs what they saw because their

authority overrides the authority of the people running those institutions. 

Reporters and members of Congress do not have that authority, generally

have been forbidden from using cameras inside.

 

But some of the children are showing the world the conditions that they

experienced in pictures they have created with crayon and markers.  We will

show you their drawings next and we will be joined by a pediatrician. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Today, we got new insight into the experiences of the children

in custody at the southern border.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has

released three drawings by children recently detained by the Border Patrol. 

The drawings were made by the children after they were transferred to the

Catholic Charities Humanitarian Center at McAllen, Texas. 

 

The most prominent drawings have the cages where they were held reportedly

on cold concrete floors without access to soap or toothbrushes.  The

incoming president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sara Goza,

said in a statement, quote: No amount of time spent in these facilities is

safe for children.  She described what she saw when she visited the border

patrol facility in McAllen, Texas. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. SARA GOZA, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS:  When I opened the door, the

first thing that we – that hit us was the smell.  It was the smell of

sweat, urine, and feces.  I heard a crinkling to my left, and I looked over

there and there was a sea of silver. 

 

And there were young children, boys in there, unaccompanied boys in there,

and they had no expressions on their faces.  There was no laughing, no

joking, no talking.  I describe them like dog cages with people in each of

them.  The silence was just hard to see. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion is pediatrician, Dr. Julie Linton, who

has visited the border facility.  She is co-chair of the American Academy

of Pediatrics Immigrant Help Special Interest Group. 

 

And, Doctor, what should we know about children held in these kinds of

conditions? 

 

DR. JULIE LINTON, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS:  What we know is that

there is no amount of time in detention that is safe for children and the

conditions under which they are held, cage-like fencing, extending from the

floor to the ceiling, lights kept on 24-7 that are disorienting for

children, children lying on mats on concrete floor with nothing but a

crinkly blanket to cover them threaten the short and long-term health of

children. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And what about the medical care?  How much is the gap between

the medical personnel they need and the medical personnel they have? 

 

LINTON:  Well, my colleagues on the border including Dr. Goza who we just

heard shared in the facilities they went to, they saw not a single

pediatrician.  We as the American Academy of Pediatrics are asking for

urgent presence of pediatric expertise at every step of the border.  We

know that our law enforcement agents are there to protect our border and we

as pediatricians are there to protect the health and wellbeing of children. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We had a lot of report this is week about bad behavior by

people working in and around the facilities.  But let`s just for the moment

assume those people doing their very best.  What don`t they know that you

would need to know in order to be able to properly care for children in

these situations? 

 

LINTON:  Well, children are not little adults.  They express illness

different than adults do.  This means their vital signs may be different,

so they may breathe more quickly and they may detect the subtle signs of

illness under a t-shirt. 

 

Children can get sick more quickly than adults.  They require more fluid

for their weight.  We dose medications based on the weight of a child where

an adult has a standard dose.  So, we as pediatricians have expertise in

detecting the differences between a child who is well and a child who has a

minor illness and a child who has a serious illness. 

 

If we don`t urgently change the process we have at the border with

pediatric expertise, I can anticipate there will be more deaths to come. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Julie Linton, thank you very much for joining us.  I really

appreciate it. 

 

And when we come back, Senator Mazie Hirono who visited the institutions at

the southern border will join us next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  “The Atlantic” carries this account of one pediatrician`s

experience with children in federal custody in McAllen, Texas.  Inside the

border patrol warehouse on Ursula Avenue, Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier saw a baby

who had been fed from the same unwashed bottle for days.  Children showing

signs of malnutrition and dehydration and several kids who in her medical

opinion were exhibiting evidence of psychological trauma.  At Ursula, the

children Dr. Sevier examined were totally fearful, but then extremely –

but entirely subdued. 

 

She could read the fear in their faces, but they were perfectly submissive

to her authority.  I can only explain by trauma because that is such an

unusual behavior, she said.  Dr. Sevier had brought along Mickey Mouse toys

to break the ice.  And the kids seem to enjoy playing with them, yet none

resisted, she said, when she took them away at end of the exam. 

 

At some point, Dr. Sevier mused, you are broken and you stop fighting. 

 

Joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. 

She`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and she has visited some

of the detention centers at the southern border. 

 

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate

you being here. 

 

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI):  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And I wonder – were you as Senator Schumer said today, the

Democratic leader of the Senate, about the inspector general`s report.  He

said, the inspector general`s report and details of a secret border patrol

worker`s Facebook group paint a picture of a toxic culture at U.S. Customs

and Border Protection that can only begin to be changed by immediately

firing and replacing top leadership at the agency with law enforcement

professionals who have training and expertise in working with vulnerable

populations. 

 

Do you agree with Senator Schumer on that? 

 

HIRONO:  Yes, of course.  I, in fact, had introduced a bill early, along

with a number of my colleagues who are very concerned prior to all of these

more recent revelations as to the conditions.  I had a bill that would

provide a minimum level of care for the children in these facilities. 

 

And so, these horrific pictures, the trauma that these children are

undergoing – and, by the way, the president saying, oh, they are being

better treated and they are experiencing life better , I`m paraphrasing,

than what they knew before.  So, in that kind of an environment where the

president said such things, where is the incentive to improve conditions

for the children and these people who are in overcrowded facilities? 

 

So, I think it starts at the top and I believe that the president`s

antagonistic attitude toward immigrants, to migrants is manifested in the

7,000 or so people who participated in the secret Facebook where they made

fun and mocked people who are suffering and people who are dying and also

members of Congress who expressed care. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The president defended those people by saying our border patrol

people are not hospital workers, doctors, or nurses. 

 

What`s your reaction to that? 

 

HIRONO:  Well, my reaction to that is, obviously, we do not have a basic

standard of care.  As you heard from Dr. Linton just a little while ago, we

need to have professionals there, such as pediatricians who know how to

take care of children, who are able to recognize various problems and

illnesses that children have.  So, these are not the kind of people who are

in the facility. 

 

So, what we have in these facilities are people who are not trained to do

this kind of work or to take care of these groups of migrants. 

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, if the Inspector General of Homeland Security can go

into these facilities and take photographs, why can`t members of Congress

go in and take photographs?

 

HIRONO: That is a very good question and apparently the day that the

administration does not have a good answer at all. And so, when members of

Congress go, we ought to be able to talk to the people, to take pictures

and I think that they have a lot to hide as they don`t want us to do that.

 

And by the way, they have not been able to point to any legal or statutory

basis on which they are denying these kinds of access to members of

Congress as well as to the press by the way.

 

O`DONNELL: And when the members of Congress come, there is always advanced

notice. The facility always knows they`re coming, so they can improve

things. The inspector general was conducting spot checks that apparently

were unannounced and the inspector general has said, the acting Inspector

General has said, she will continue to conduct those spot checks.

 

HIRONO: I`m grateful for that. And by the way, when the most recent group

of members of the House went to these facilities, it`s pretty hard to clean

up facilities that are so, so overcrowded. There is no way that you can

just move people around so what they saw were terrible enough and those

were announced visits.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, thank you very much for joining

us tonight.

 

HIRONO: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have new polls tonight that show good

news, bad news for Joe Biden and a new front runner in the Iowa caucuses.

That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: It was a day of good news, bad news in the polls for Joe Biden,

a new Washington Post poll shows Joe Biden in a stronger position than any

of the other polls taken after last week`s Presidential debates. The

Washington Post poll shows Joe Biden at 29 percent, Bernie Sanders second

at 23 percent, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris tied at 11 percent and

Mayor Pete Buttigieg down at 4 percent with all of the other candidates

polling below 4 percent.

 

But Iowa is a completely different story. Iowa is the first state where

voters will deliver a verdict on the candidates and in a new Iowa poll

today, Elizabeth Warren is on top with 20 followed by Kamala Harris with 18

in Iowa, Joe Biden with 17 percent in Iowa, Bernie Sanders is polling at 12

percent in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg is polling at 10 percent in Iowa. The last

four Democratic Presidential nominees won the Iowa caucuses.

 

Today, many of the candidates were campaigning in Iowa speaking in West Des

Moines, Senator Kamala Harris used her authority as a criminal prosecutor

in describing Donald Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has

predatory nature and predatory instincts. And the thing about predators you

should know is that they prey on the vulnerable. They prey on those who

they do not believe are strong. And the thing about predators you must, and

most importantly know, predators are cowards. Predators are cowards. And

so, when we look at this campaign and we look at the task before us, it

will be to successfully prosecute the case against four more years of

Donald Trump, and I am prepared to do that.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: In Des Moines today, Senator Bernie Sanders talked about his

opposition to the President`s immigration policies with this preface.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me preface my

remarks by telling you what you may or may not know, that you are looking

here at the son of an immigrant, somebody who came to the United States

from Poland at the age of 17 with very little education, with no money in

his pocket, and who could not speak a word of English. Just the kind of

person that Donald Trump did not want to come to this country, but here we

are, nonetheless.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: After a quick break, Neera Tanden and Eugene Robinson will be

back with us to discuss the latest polling and the dynamics in the

Presidential campaign.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here is the Democratic Presidential candidate who - he was at

the top of the Presidential polls in the Iowa caucuses tonight.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Talk about what makes

the nation great, a nation is great when it lives its values. And right

now, America at the border, America in our immigration policy that is

designed to maximize the terror of families, America. A President that

threatens that next week he`s going to start raids on people who live here

in the United States of America and pose no threat to us, pose no threat to

anyone. This is not an America that lives its best values.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden and Eugene Robinson are back with us and Neera

you`re the Presidential campaign veteran here, which spot would you rather

have in the polls right now the lead in the national polls that Joe Biden

has or the lead in the Iowa caucus poll that Elizabeth Warren has.

 

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT: Well honestly Iowa

matters a great deal. Whoever comes out of Iowa usually catapults into who

the rest of the country. And so, a lot of these things are expectations. I

do think that the polls today are out. The national poll out for Biden was

helpful to him, because I think a lot of people were expecting - may well

be expecting that his trajectory would continue to decline, and that

expectation would be deeply problematic for him.

 

But I think what we`re really seeing with all the information that`s come

out over the last couple of days is that this is a top tier of three

people, Senator Warren, Senator Harris and Vice President Biden and it`s a

compelling race, a lot of people were talking about how the race is pretty

static. I think Kamala today with her prosecuting the case against Trump

and the predator language really is continuing what she did last week which

is to make the case that she is the person who can take this fight to Trump

that really helped her last week. I think she`s trying to keep that streak

going in Iowa said that the polls will flip even more.

 

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Joe Biden said today about what the

President is planning tomorrow in Washington.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think of President Trump`s parade.

 

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he missed the essence of who

we are. This is about, it`s about celebrating why we`re the country we are.

I`m incredibly proud of the military, but this sort of - he misses the

whole point about why we`re the country we are. Everybody knows the most

powerful country in the world politically. I mean physical. But we`re

losing our standing in the world. And I just think we should celebrate

freedom. We should celebrate why we`re the people we are.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: And Gene Robinson, Joe Biden and none of the candidates take

every question that gets thrown at them by reporters. But if you give him a

question about Trump, he`s ready.

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Yes. Because that

was his initial play coming out of the blocks. It got him the big lead in

the polls. He went directly at Trump and the way the other candidates

weren`t doing. And it`s still serving him well. Well, I mean I don`t count

Biden out of this. And then I would add a fourth candidate to nearest top

tier, I would add Bernie Sanders. He`s pretty close in in the polls, second

in some, a little lower and others seems to have faded a bit in Iowa. But

he`s got - he`s sitting on a ton of money and which will serve him well.

 

And there is another candidate who is also sitting on a ton of money that`s

Pete Buttigieg. But he really hasn`t gotten a lot of traction. And this of

course all flows from the debate last week in which Buttigieg didn`t gain

ground, Kamala Harris had a great night. Joe Biden had a bad night. And so,

now he`s got a real race. It never was going to be a coronation. But now we

can see that this is a real race and he`s going to have to start drawing

distinctions between himself and the other candidates.

 

O`DONNELL: The biggest number that Joe Biden has in the new Washington Post

poll and it`s one of the worst numbers that Pete Buttigieg has by the way

is the, which candidate has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump and

Joe Biden gets 45 percent in that one way ahead of everybody else. Bernie

Sanders at 18, Senator Warren 7, Senator Harris 9, Julian Castro 2 and

there is people are just down the bottom at one end. Neera that 45 percent.

That big overwhelming lead in best chance of beating Donald Trump is Joe

Biden`s biggest asset.

 

TANDEN: It has been, and I think Eugene is totally right, when he came out

of the box basically making really attacking Trump on his greatest

weakness, which is his response to Charlottesville, his xenophobia, his

racism. He really was able to unite a disparate party in many ways behind

him. People who even liberal voters have been supporting Joe Biden and you

know one debate it`s very early. He has the opportunity to come back and I

think if he demonstrates in real time that he can make the strong case,

it`ll be a race. But Eugene is right. I don`t count at Bernie Sanders at

all. He has a lot of resources to go the distance and he has very strong

support. That support seems to be falling in Iowa. But it can go the

distance a long time as well.

 

O`DONNELL: Gene, this variance in the poll in The Washington Post poll is

the one that varies the most with the other polls. That`s the kind of thing

that`s going to shake itself out overtime and when we get past the next

round of debates, we will probably have more clarity in the polls by then.

 

ROBINSON: Yes, we probably will. Polls will be all over the map and there

are snapshots and that`s why a lot of analysts sort of average the polls

and try to get a sense of where the race is from that and I think that the

real takeaway is the rise of Warren and especially the rise of Harris into

that firmly into that top tier. They weren`t necessarily firmly there

before the debate but they`re definitely there now and they will be

factors. That`s right.

 

TANDEN: And let me just say quickly, I think Kamala Harris is growth in

Iowa. I mean early on in this race a lot of people thought she wouldn`t

even compete in Iowa. Iowa is an overwhelmingly white state. The fact that

she`s surging there. And she hasn`t even really built out a field operation

yet. Senator Warren has had one for a while. So, I think that there -

you`ll see a lot of change and I think the most important thing about this

race is, it`s extremely fluid. We have had primaries before where

candidates rise and fall, rise and fall. And I think the most important

thing is the level of interest and involvement engagement, the ratings last

week were very, very high. That`s an important signal that people are very

engaged in the Democratic primary and that`s really to the good.

 

O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden gets the last word on the Democrats tonight. Neera

Tanden and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining us. Really

appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, tonight`s episode of It Wasn`t Always This Way,

we`ll show you a Republican President who knew when to drop political

rhetoric and deliver an inspiring message about America.

 

And we`ll be joined by a Republican who worked in that President`s

administration and who is now running against Donald Trump for the

Republican Presidential nomination.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When we

finish this luncheon, I hope you`ll stick around a little while, we`re

having a tag sale upstairs, and everything must go.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That was President Ronald Reagan`s last speech as President, the

day before the next President took the oath of office. On the eve of Donald

Trump`s campaign rally in Washington paid for by the American taxpayer with

the reluctant involvement of the U.S. military, it`s worth remembering once

again that it was not always this way. Before Washington Republicans became

Trumpists. The political figure, they claimed to love the most in American

history was Ronald Reagan. You never hear Republicans mentioning Ronald

Reagan now the way they constantly did before Donald Trump became their

object of adoration.

 

Ronald Reagan was a conservative Republican President who was opposed every

day by everyone who you would expect to oppose a conservative Republican

President. But he did earn varying degrees of respect with Democrats and

great respect with some Democrats who sometimes worked with him, but most

often opposed him on his final day in office. President Reagan gave the

Presidential Medal of Freedom to one of those Democrats Mike Mansfield, who

served as the Senate Majority Leader longer than anyone in history. Ron

Reagan knew what almost every politician in those days knew which was when

to drop partisan rhetoric, something Donald Trump will never learn which he

will once again demonstrate tomorrow. Here is more of President Reagan`s

speech on his final day as President of the United States.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REAGAN: No, tomorrow was a special day for me. I`m going to receive my gold

watch. And since this is the last speech that I will give as President, I

think it`s fitting to leave one final thought, an observation about a

country which I love. It was stated best in a letter I received not long

ago, a man wrote me and said, you can go to live in France, but you cannot

become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey or Japan, but

you cannot become a German, a Turk or Japanese, but anyone from any corner

of the Earth can come to live in America and become an American.

 

This I believe is one of the most important sources of America`s greatness.

We lead the world because unique among nations we draw our people our

strength from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so,

we continuously renew and enrich our nation. While other countries cling to

the stale past here in America, we breathe life into dreams, we create the

future and the world follows us into tomorrow. Thanks to each wave of new

arrivals to this land of opportunity, we are a nation forever young,

forever bursting with energy and new ideas and always on the cutting edge,

always leading the world to the next frontier.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: For our final round of discussion, we turn to Bill Weld former

Republican governor of Massachusetts. He is running for the Republican

Presidential nomination against President Trump. And Governor Weld, you

worked in the Reagan Justice Department. We are now on the eve of a

Republican President using taxpayer money for basically a campaign rally.

We have traveled a great distance in Republican world in Washington from

that final day of the Reagan presidency to what we`re going to see

tomorrow.

 

BILL WELD (R-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Worried about the last point the

President Reagan made there, Lawrence. I think of that one whenever I see

the Olympics. The Italians look like the Italians, the Ethiopians look like

the Ethiopians. The Americans look like everybody. Same point, same point.

 

Yes, I served as an Assistant Attorney General with a great pleasure under

President Reagan. I served him for seven years now. Today, he`s saying that

what the Department of Justice committed to yesterday based on a Supreme

Court ruling has no effect because he`s tweeting. Otherwise, he`s basically

saying there is no law. He`s left any pretense of observing the rule of

law. He`s saying, I the President, I am the law and we`re getting pretty

far down that road of what I would call the death rows of democracy.

 

If you look at ancient Rome you know the generals would go have a triumph

in Britannia, in Germania. They`d come back and have a big triumph, a

parade called a Triumphant Rome. At least they paid for themselves. Even

Julius Caesar did that. He might have had to borrow the money from Crassus,

but he paid for it. And that`s bread and circuses and that`s the road the

President seems to want to take us down.

 

O`DONNELL: Governor, you just made a bunch of references that Donald

Trump`s not going to understand. So, I have to break it down for him. If

you`re trying to get through to him. But I do want to get your reaction to

what we saw in the Justice Department today. This is an extraordinary

moment where a federal judge is saying to Justice Department attorneys what

did the President of the United States say today. And none of the legal

minds involved could explain to the judge what the President meant by what

he said.

 

WELD: Well, of course they didn`t want to even try to do that because the

President said that what happened in the Supreme Court and what his Justice

Department had represented the court, it was fake, if you read the tweet,

it`s in capital letters. The reason it`s fake is because it`s not what

Donald Trump wants to have happen, because he wants the world to conform

with what`s going on in his head and that all too often has very little to

do with the reality of what`s actually going on out in the world with

institutions like the Supreme Court of the United States. The United States

Department of Justice, the people in charge of the border who are holding

children in cages, smelling of feces and urine. Does the President really

think that`s going to improve his image in the mind`s eye of the country? I

think he`s so mixed up in his own head that he really doesn`t even know.

 

O`DONNELL: What happens if the Trump administration defies this. What is

the currently standing Supreme Court order on the census?

 

WELD: Well, if they defy a Supreme Court order, they`re not going to do too

well in the justice system.

 

O`DONNELL: But would they be able to go forward in some way with a census

even when the Supreme Court is saying no you can`t do it that way?

 

WELD: No, they`d run back to the Supreme Court and say, we want a

clarification and you know we want to try to overrule this, persuade you to

do otherwise like a petition for rehearing. But the Department and all its

representatives are committed in court that they were not going to have a

census question that it was you know part of the effort to suppress voting.

This administrations seems interested in suppressing voting in any

jurisdiction where there`s a substantial non-white population.  It`s the

opposite of what they should be doing.

 

O`DONNELL:  Governor Bill Weld gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  Thank you,

governor.  “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END

 

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