Jeffrey Epstein charged. TRANSCRIPT: 7/8/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Well, you know, of course, Rachel had to
rest up and take tonight off for what`s coming. This is going to be a
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, “A.M. JOY”: Yes, it will be that. But also, me in
the hallway with a soccer ball –
O`DONNELL: I know exactly where you will be tomorrow night.
REID: It`s going to be exciting.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Joy.
REID: Have a great show. Bye.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Later in this hour, we`ll be joined by one of the Texas reporters who
contributed to the extraordinary “New York Times” front page expose of what
is really happening inside the border patrol station in Clint, Texas. A
team of six reporters from “The New York Times” and the “El Paso Times”
contributed to this in-depth account of what it`s like inside Clint`s razor
Their sources include current and former border patrol agents said they
repeatedly tried to warn supervisors about the inhumane conditions. One
agent who worked at Clint told the “New York Times”: I can`t tell you the
number of times I would talk to agents and they would get teary eyed.
We begin with the attorney general tonight. The attorney general who said
today that he believes he`s going to find a legal way in the next couple of
days to get around a Supreme Court decision that forbids questions about
citizenship on the next census. But on the most important new case
announced today by the Justice Department, the attorney general has recused
himself. The attorney general of the United States did not recuse himself
from decisions involving the investigation of the president who made him
the attorney general of the United States, that would seem to be an obvious
conflict of interest for Attorney General William Barr, but it takes an
awful lot for William Barr to recuse himself from anything.
But he did recuse himself from the biggest case the Justice Department
announced today, the federal sex trafficking case against Donald Trump`s
old friend, Jeffrey Epstein. Here is the attorney general`s explanation of
why he recused himself in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I`m recused from that matter because one
of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm that I
subsequently joined for a period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: By William Barr`s standards, that`s a very weak reason to
recuse himself. Very, very weak. William Barr has another connection to
Jeffrey Epstein that is even closer than the one he mentioned today.
William Barr`s father, Donald Barr, hired Jeffrey Epstein. He hired
Jeffrey Epstein to teach high school students, high school boys and high
Before Jeffrey Epstein became a rich player on Wall Street, Williams Barr`s
father hired Epstein to be a math teacher at one of New York City`s most
exclusive private schools, the Dalton School, on the Upper East Side of
Manhattan, and there was something very, very strange about Donald Barr
hiring Jeffrey Epstein. Jeffrey Epstein was not even a college graduate
and that was and is unthinkable on faculties of elite private schools, but
Donald Barr hired Jeffrey Epstein anyway.
And a year later, Donald Barr resigned from the battle on school after the
board of trustees hired what the “New York Times” called an outside
committee to study the school and to assess its operation under Mr. Barr
and not long after that, Jeffrey Epstein left the Dalton School. He gave
up teaching high school boys and high school girls and went to Wall Street.
But he wasn`t finished with high school girls. Jeffrey Epstein was never
accused of a crime while he was a teacher at Dalton. Today, Jeffrey
Epstein was charged by federal prosecutors with sex trafficking of girls of
high school age. Girls who were in high school at the time or should have
been in high school at the time. The indictment said Epstein intentionally
sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were, in fact, under 18
and including because in some instances minor victims expressly told him
Now, sometimes the indictment of an old friend of Donald Trump`s for sex
trafficking has nothing to do with Donald Trump, but this is not one of
those times, because the Florida federal prosecutor who made a very
forgiving deal with Jeffrey Epstein on similar charges that allowed Epstein
to avoid prison is now Donald Trump`s secretary of labor. Now, we have no
idea if he would have blocked this prosecution if he had not decided to
recuse himself from the case. We don`t know whether William Barr would
have saved president Trump from the problem of having to deal with Labor
Secretary Alex Acosta`s decision to let Jeffrey Epstein off the hook for
the same conduct that the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New
York just indicted Jeffrey Epstein for.
Here`s what Donald Trump said about his old friend, Jeffrey Epstein, in
2002. I have known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He`s a lot of fun to
be with. He`s even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do and
many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys
his social life.
On the younger side. Donald Trump knew about Jeffrey Epstein and what
Donald Trump called the younger side. Terrific guy. That`s what Jeffrey
Epstein was to Donald Trump. To this day, Donald Trump has not said a
negative word about Jeffrey Epstein.
Donald Trump has attacked the leaders of countries that are the strongest
allies. Donald Trump has attacked Congressman Justin Amash this weekend
for leaving the Republican Party. Donald Trump has attacked Elizabeth
Warren, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, he`s attacked me. Donald Trump has
attacked hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people but he
has never once said a single negative word about Jeffrey Epstein, not one
word. Jeffrey Epstein did not see it coming when his private plane took
off from Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Epstein was
arrested this past Saturday evening at the Teterboro Airport aboard his
private jet that had just landed from Paris, France.
Contemporaneous with the arrest of Epstein at Teterboro, agents executed a
search warrant on his mansion in New York City. They recovered and seized
and that was a search pursuant to a valid warrant, agents seized evidence
including nude photographs of what appear to be underage girls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not guilty today.
Leading off our discussion tonight, Berit Berger, she`s a former federal
prosecutor for the Easton and Southern Districts of New York, and an MSNBC
And Tim O`Brien is with us. He`s the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion
and an MSNBC contributor.
And, Berit, your reading of this indictment today?
BERIT BERGER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, this is a stunning indictment to
say the least. I mean, it would be stunning in its own regard just because
here you have very serious charges being leveled against a powerful person.
Given the posture though of how this compares to the case that was
prosecuted or walked away from in Florida, it makes these changes more
stunning, because quite frankly this is what should have happened in
These are the charges that the Florida U.S. attorney`s office could have
brought and probably should have brought. I think this leaves a lot of
open questions about why the federal prosecutors in the southern district
of Florida walked away from these kinds of charges. Why Epstein was
allowed to plead to a minor state charge in that case and why the victims
in that case were intentionally excluded from this whole process. So,
these are stunning charges for a number of reasons and given the posture,
they are more stunning.
O`DONNELL: So, the U.S. attorney answered very few questions today, but
one of them, the most interesting was, why is this case being brought by
the Public Corruption Unit and you`re a veteran of the Southern District,
the office where this is happening.
Does that sound as strange to you as it does to us?
BERGER: So, the answer is it`s hard to tell. So, Geoffrey Berman, the
U.S. attorney for the Southern District.
O`DONNELL: Who is a Donald Trump appointee, let`s recall.
BERGER: Correct. He came out firmly and said please don`t read anything
into the fact that this is being prosecuted by the federal corruption unit
and maybe that`s right. I mean, it`s hard to know.
I prosecuted some sex trafficking cases when I was a member of the
terrorism section in the Eastern District, simply because those charges
came in and I had experience. So –
O`DONNELL: But did it mean they originated through the terrorism unit?
BERGER: No. That`s the thing. Staffing decisions, people can start off
in one section and move to another. So, look, maybe there is a connection
between the Public Corruption Unit and these charges, but it could simply
be a matter of assistants who were working on some aspect of the
investigation. They started in one section, then moved.
So I do think we have to take the U.S. attorney at his word that it`s hard
to read too much into this staffing decision.
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, what is the Trump problem in this case?
TIMOTHY O`BRIEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the Trump problem is there is
possibly other shoes to drop about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
You know, Donald – I spent a lot of time with Donald in the mid-2000s. He
routinely spoke fawningly of Jeffrey. He admired Epstein`s lifestyle, he
admired his freedom, and I think there is a synchronicity between these two
guys. They are not much different.
At one point, Trump and I went – he took me to the Miss Teen America
headquarters on the East Side. He just acquired the rights to it and we
went to the headquarters and he was saying he was glad he acquired this
business to find girlfriends for his son, Eric. And we got up there and he
was very jazzed to show me the different women, young women who were part
of the pageant.
I suspect that`s something tied into Jeffrey Epstein. Trump himself has
not kept that under wraps very much. He likes younger women. He is very
bold face and bald faced about it, and they spend a lot of time together.
Jeffrey Epstein was a member at Mar-a-Lago. And I think what a lot of
people, probably on both sides of the aisle, politically, were connected to
Jeffrey Epstein, are probably worried about what else investigators are
going to find when they examine files in his home in the Virgin Island, in
Palm Beach, and in New York, because there could be sort of a Pandora`s box
of embarrassing information.
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s go to the other side of the aisle. We have a
statement from President Bill Clinton tonight who has been known to
associate with Jeffrey Epstein. I`m going to read it in full. This is a
written statement from his office.
It says: President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey
Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago or those with which he
has been recently charged in New York. In 2002 and 2003, President Clinton
took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein`s airplane, one to Europe,
one to Asia and two to Africa which included stops in connection with the
work of the Clinton Foundation. Staff, supporters of the foundation and
his Secret Service detail travelled on every leg of every trip. He had one
meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002 and around the same time
made one brief visit to Epstein`s New York apartment with a staff member
and a security detail. He has not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade
and never has been to little St. James Island, his ranch in new Mexico, or
residence in Florida.
And that island is a reference to an island that Epstein owns off of St.
Thomas in Caribbean where a lot of this activity is presumed to have
What possibly could Jeffrey Epstein offer to the prosecutors that would –
that might be worth more than prosecuting Jeffrey Epstein?
BERGER: I mean, from where I sit, it would have to be something pretty
extraordinary. As a general matter, prosecutors don`t like to give
cooperation agreement to child sex traffickers for good reason. I mean, it
is the sort of worst of the worst and it would have to be really
extraordinary information for them to take that kind of extraordinary step
into trying to cooperate.
Now, that doesn`t mean he won`t try or there won`t be a discussion, but I
would be absolutely shocked in they offered somebody charged with not just
a one off case, but the pattern of doing this over years with as they say
in the indictment and in the detention memo, dozens of victims in both
Florida and New York. I would be shock if they ended up offering him some
sort of a cooperation agreement.
O`DONNELL: Tim, very thorough statement by Bill Clinton tonight. If any
piece of that proves to be untrue, that would be a big problem, but he`s
never been to the private island and some accused him of being. Donald
Trump, I can`t imagine Donald Trump issuing a statement with that kind of
precision that Bill Clinton issued tonight.
O`BRIEN: Because he couldn`t. Clear and plainly, he couldn`t issue a
statement like that.
I think the reason Bill Clinton is also issuing it is any time an
embarrassing moment comes up for Trump whether it involves the rule of law
or foreign diplomacy or episodes like Jeffrey Epstein, you have Trump
supporters saying, what about Hillary Clinton? What about Bill Clinton?
Either one neither are in office anymore and none have been in the public
scene for quite a long time. It becomes a convenient way to support Trump,
to say that Trump`s critics or the media is not paying enough attention to
Cy Vance`s name came up today in the same regard. If you are going to
criticize people who overlooked Jeffrey Epstein`s misdeeds, why aren`t you
paying attention to Cy Vance? All of this is a distraction from the reason
people are paying attention to Donald Trump.
He`s the president of the United States and he has a skeleton in his closet
that is a mile deep. It includes people like Jeffrey Epstein. People are
asking the question because he is wielding authority and power right now,
and Bill Clinton isn`t.
O`DONNELL: So, let`s take the case down the road, hypothetical road.
Let`s assume you got to a point of a conviction with Jeffrey Epstein. At
that point, he doesn`t have any, in effect, fear of incrimination.
So, could you then take him, if he was convicted of this, before a grand
jury to get under oath testimony from him? If he doesn`t have Fifth
Amendment rights to protect?
BERGER: You could, although theoretically, he may, you know, have some
sort of arguments that there was other rights that he still had, but
absolutely. I mean, I think the issue really is that after someone is
convicted and received a significant sentence, they don`t have a lot of
incentive to sort of play ball.
I mean, look, they may be legally obligated to go in front of a grand jury
and tell the truth, but if he is facing decades in prison at 66 years old,
it`s a drop in the bucket.
O`DONNELL: So, Tim, what would the worries be in Donald Trump`s mind
O`BRIEN: Well, I think he`s going to be worried about what compromising
information Jeffrey Epstein has about Trump and the relationship. The
other big mystery about Jeffrey Epstein is not just the video goods he
might had on different people. No one really knows his sources of funding
other than –
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s sources of funding?
O`BRIEN: Donald Trump or Epstein.
O`BRIEN: So, Epstein is a prominent money manager, but no one ever really
know what his sources of funding were. His original client was Leslie
Wexner, founder of Victoria Secret and other clothing companies. He was a
As far as most people in the press and New York know, Wexner was the only
single large sort of investor in Epstein`s funds. He clearly had a
resources, $100 million in real estate and supported the lifestyle that
came long with that, without any clear indications of how he was raising
his money. That`s very interesting because it`s a similar issue that
Donald Trump has, where do the mystery millions flow into the Trump
Organization and where do the mystery millions fall into the Jeffrey
Epstein`s funds? And I think that`s another thing that will be interesting
as the investigation progresses.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the U.S. attorney today outlining the specifics
of the allegations in the crimes against Epstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The beginning of at least 2002 and continuing until 2005, Epstein
is alleged to have abused dozens of victims by causing them to engage in
sex acts with him at his mansion in New York and at his estate in Palm
Beach, Florida. The victims all underage girls at the time of the alleged
conduct were given hundreds of dollars in cash after each encounter either
by Epstein or one of Epstein`s employees.
The underage girls were recruited to provide Epstein with massages and
often did so nude or partially nude. These massages became increasingly
sexual in nature and would typically include or more sex acts as specified
in the indictment. As alleged, Epstein also paid certain victims to
recruit additional girls to be similarly abused. This allowed Epstein to
create an ever expanding web of new victims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Berit, the details there include what would be statutory rape
in the state of New York and in the state of Florida. But in federal law,
there are no rape charges. So, he is just changed under federal law with
Does this evidence package open up the possibility of statutory rape
charges in the state of New York and possibly the state of Florida?
BERGER: Possibly. I`m not sure what the state of Florida would do, but
possibly New York. I mean, the only incentive to get involve side if they
needed someway that Epstein could sort of cordon of or being pardoned,
right? I mean, the charges he is facing in the Southern District are going
to carry significant penalties. And so much more than a statutory rape
conviction theoretically would in the state.
So, I don`t think it`s not a matter of, you know, he needs to be confronted
with these serious changes, but he`s facing as serious of a charge you can
get right now. So, it`s not a matter of that.
At the end of the day, if they wanted – almost like they did with Paul
Manafort. They wanted the charges that could be part and proof, perhaps
those could be New York state charges. But I think it`s too early to say.
O`DONNELL: Can you imagine a pardon for Epstein?
O`BRIEN: I think Donald Trump can imagine a pardon for almost anyone. So,
as much as I don`t think I can imagine a pardon, for someone like him, I
think Donald Trump could.
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien and Berit Berger, thank you very much for starting
us off. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Attorney General William Barr thinks he has found
the secret way, the secret path to the citizenship question on the census.
Neal Katyal will join us to decode what William Barr said today about the
O`DONNELL: Today, the attorney general of the United States says he has
found a secret way to get around a Supreme Court decision that forbids a
question about citizenship on the census.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: We have been considering all the options that I have been in
constant discussions with the president ever since the Supreme Court
decision came down, and I think over the next day or two, you will see the
approach we are taking. I think it does provide a pathway for getting the
question on the census.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Here is Donald Trump`s version of his conversations with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can do an executive
toward. We`re looking at different things, but there are other
alternatives. And, again, I believe our attorney general, fantastic man.
And I think he`s got it very well under control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Justice Department said the attorney general is going to
assign new lawyers to the case, but the lawyers opposing the citizenship
question in the census filed a motion today demanding, quote, clear
articulation of satisfactory reasons for these lawyers` withdrawals and
unequivocal assurances from defendants that these withdrawals will not
delay the conduct of this case.
And when I heard what the attorney general said today, I was wondering what
is Neal Katyal doing tonight at 10:00 p.m.?
Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general joins us now. He`s the former
acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and MSNBC legal
contributor. He represented the House of Representatives in the census
And, Neal, luckily you can join us. Can you decode for us what you think
you heard the attorney general say today?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, sure. So, Barr is saying he
has a path forward. He doesn`t bother explaining what it is and didn`t
sound persuasive as to whether that path will work. And we know one thing,
which is it`s not persuasive to the lawyers at the Justice Department
because, Lawrence, as you said, we saw something really extraordinary about
four hours ago. I`ve never seen it in my time.
All of the trial lawyer experts at the Justice Department withdrew from
these census cases. I don`t think that happened in my lifetime. I
certainly can`t recall it. And these are the elite federal program
officers, lawyers who handle major administrative and constitutional
litigation against the United States.
And so, now, Trump and Barr are stuck defending this ridiculous census
strategy with lawyers from, I kid you not, the consumer protection
division, which obviously has nothing to do with the census. It has to do
with protecting consumers from, you know, financial fraud or whatever, no
relationship whatsoever to the census.
And, Lawrence, I will say something else. You know, this is the Justice
Department of the United States. This is not the Justice Department of
Donald Trump. And I think it is outrageous that Barr announced this
yesterday and the lawyers withdraw today with not a word of explanation to
the American people about why all of these lawyers are withdrawing and why
they are subbing in their handpicked people.
And, you know, the Justice Department made representation after
representation and the Supreme Court said, we are contrived and wrong. Now
they are doubling down on the strategy and what they are doing is torching
the relationship of the Justice Department to the Supreme Court of the
United States. I can`t imagine something more corrosive or sad.
This is a president who thinks he owns the Justice Department when all of
us who have been lucky enough to serve, we are temporary stewards for an
institution that`s far greater who was set up in 1789, the solicitor
general in 1870. Every solicitor general wants to avoid something like
O`DONNELL: Given what we know, and it`s limited what we know today, is
there any way of guessing, I suppose the word is, or calculating whether
the attorneys who withdraw have all withdrawn of their own volition or
whether they were pushed out? Is there anything in this maneuver that
indicates that one way or the other?
KATYAL: There is nothing that indicates that, but, boy, if they can keep
lawyers on, you would. When I defended the Affordable Care Act, for
example, and indeed any piece of federal legislation, there were one group
of lawyers I always wanted in my side, which was the lawyers at federal
programs. It`s like, you know, literally like going into a war without not
just your generals, but everyone below that down to, you know, the foot
soldiers, you know, being out of the case.
It`s just insane and not something anyone responsible would ever do.
O`DONNELL: Let me get your reaction to what William Barr said today
proudly. He has been on the phone constantly every day since the Supreme
Court decision with the president. Just your reaction generally to the
Supreme Court ruling on the issue of concern to the president of the United
States and the attorney general after that ruling comes out is just
constantly on the phone with the president trying to figure out how to get
around the Supreme Court.
KATYAL: So I have no problem with the attorney general having discussions
with the president about a Supreme Court loss. That happens all the time.
Zero problem with that and zero problem with trying to react to a Supreme
Court decision. I have two problems with this.
Number one is that he didn`t bother telling his own lawyers. Remember, his
own lawyers went in to federal court after the Supreme Court decision and
said, don`t worry. We are going to print the census without this question
and the lawyers even the next day with all these presidential tweets said
we don`t know what`s going on. So, it`s a weird thing for Barr to say I`m
in the loop and not let his lawyers know that he was in a loop.
I mean, that isn`t a way to run a Justice Department or any organization.
And the second thing is, the problem is even if they come up with some
gambit, some reason that they invent, the problem is they have gone to
federal court and the Supreme Court of the United States and said, Supreme
Court, you have to decide this by June 30th. That`s our drop dead date.
Now it`s July 8th and they are trying to add the question.
It`s way too late and calls into question everything this Justice
Department has said not just in this case, but in all the cases. This is
an administration that plays fast and loose with the facts and fast and
loose with the law. And now, the American public and the federal courts
are seeing it.
Chief Justice Roberts called President Trump`s reason contrived. You don`t
see that in Supreme Court opinions.
O`DONNELL: Well, if it was contrived then, what they would be coming up
with next would be publicly contrived. We will have watched them publicly
KATYAL: Contrive squared, Lawrence. Exactly.
O`DONNELL: And, Neal, just underline this for the audience. The fact that
they are changing lawyers in your view is you are losing the A-team, the
very best experienced litigators for exactly this kind of case involving
government interests being decided by the Supreme Court, and they are
moving down the ladder to people who have never handled matters like this.
This is not an upgrade in legal experience handling this case now.
KATYAL: Right. It`s not like you are subbing in the B team. You are
sending in the F team. I don`t mean any disrespect to those lawyers, it`s
just that this is not what they do they do consumer protection. This is
like one of more integrate questions about the census and constitutional
and administrative law. It`s completely, completely outside of their zone.
And I think the most important point here is, Lawrence is, if they are
going to do this, they better don`t tell the American people why they are
doing this. Why are these lawyers all withdrawing all of a sudden?
O`DPNNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us once again on
one of these nights when we needed you Neal, thank you. When we come back,
we will come back to the airports. The airports during the Revolutionary
War. Donald Trump thinks that that`s how George Washington won the
Revolutionary War by controlling the airports. He actually said it when he
was standing behind that rain-covered glass, unable to even see the people
drenched in the rain in front of him. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Here is the perfect picture of the Trump presidential campaign.
It shows how Donald Trump just can`t get through to a majority of voters.
This is just blocked from ever reaching a majority of voters. At the same
time it`s the perfect representation of the inside of Donald Trump`s mind.
That`s where Donald Trump was standing and that`s what Donald Trump was
seeing when he talked about the battle for the airports. Yes, the airports
during the Revolutionary War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: In June of 1775, the
Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces
encamped around Boston and New York and named after the great George
Washington, commander in chief. The continental army suffered a bitter
winter of valley forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and
seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our army manned the airports it
rammed the ramparts and it took over the airports and did everything it had
to do and at Fort McHenry under the rockets` red glare, it had nothing but
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: They took over the airports. They did everything they had to do.
Took over the airports. That is either the most dramatic demonstration yet
of Trump ignorance or the most dramatic evidence yet of Trump neurological
decline. Donald Trump has been posting video edits of his government funded
July 4th event on Twitter to which Stuart Stevens, a veteran of the Bush
and Romney Republican Presidential Campaigns tweeted this is a campaign
add. If the FEC means anything, it should be all over this. Other
politicians have tried the similar in less obvious ways like appearing in
state lottery ads and then stopped.
In 2004 when we were making convention film for President Bush, we were
expressly prohibited from using official White House-shot video and now
Trump White House is not only using video, but paying for full production.
This is probably $500,000 of your tax dollars.
Your tax dollars spent in what is as of now, a losing Presidential
Campaign. We have the latest bad news polls for Donald Trump with Cornell
Belcher and Jennifer Rubin after this break.
O`DONNELL: Another bad new poll for Donald Trump. A new poll shows Joe
Biden with a 10-point lead over Donald Trump. A new “Washington Post” ABC
poll shows that among registered voters, Joe Biden gets 53% to Donald
Trump`s 43%. The rest of the top tier candidates are tied or in a
statistical tie with Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders gets 49 to Donald Trump`s
48. Kamala Harris gets 48 to Donald Trump`s 46. Elizabeth Warren gets 48 to
Donald Trump`s 48. Pete Buttigieg gets 47 to Donald Trump`s 47.
Joining our discussion now, Cornell Belcher a Democratic Pollster and MSNBC
Political Analyst and Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer at the “Washington
Post” and MSNBC Contributor. And let me go to the pollster about the new
poll. Cornell you got an incumbent President he is running 10 points behind
the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Another four or five
candidates are running tied with the incumbent President.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Lawrence, I don`t put a lot in the
horse race number right now. I look at what`s underneath the horse race. If
you go back to 2012 at this time, Obama was not running away with the race
and a horse race either. Underneath those numbers there was some
interesting things where the President certainly doesn`t have his under
waters approval around taxes which was interesting for Republican. He is
under water heavily around health care. He is under water around a lot of
poke book issues as well as immigration in foreign policy.
Overall he is being held down by people disapproving of his job. What I
find interesting in that poll number is that the President hovers around 48
or 47%. He is a guy who won with less than a plurality of the electorate.
To me is really not even about what Donald Trump`s number is going because
he is going to get his 47 or 48 or 46%.
Can democrats get that 50 to 52% and hold that together the way Obama did
in 2012, but what we failed to do in 2016? Can he in fact win again with
less than a plurality of vote and can he win again and say Florida with the
same percentage that Romney lost with in 2012.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, if Donald Trump is reelected, he will be the
only reelected President in history who never once tried to speak to voter
who is didn`t already vote for him.
JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST OPINION WRITER: That`s true. It seems
to be that he is bad at math in addition being bad at history as you
pointed out earlier in this show. He is bad at math because when you don`t
have a majority and you narrow and narrow your appeal, the number gets
smaller and soon you don`t have enough people to go around no matter how
screwy are electoral colleges. They are simply aren`t enough votes.
What was interesting about that poll is he is virtually tied with some of
the candidates who 20, 30 percent of the Democratic Electorate doesn`t know
enough about to offer an opinion. So these people this is sort of, I`ll
vote for everybody with a D after their name kind of a poll in my book. My
sense is that it matters very much for the Democrats, but as the Democrats
will unite to get around anyone who is nominated and then I think you`ll
going to see that number bounce up again to where sort of Biden is.
I don`t think the Democrats can sit back and relax. I don`t think they can
get a poor candidate. I think they have to get someone who is as compelling
as possible. Because Donald Trump certainly compels his voters, but do I
think that if you had to pick the team right now, there is no question
he`ll pick the G team.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s approval and disapproval in this poll is pretty
standard according to the most of the polling that we have seen on that. On
his immigration, he is getting even worse disapproval ratings. He`s getting
57% disapproval and 47% approve. And let`s listen to Kamala Harris who may
be that campaign has been reading this poll because there Kamala Harris is
stepping straight into this issue taking on Trump directly on immigration.
Let`s hear that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m absolutely in favor
of border security. We have to - any nation has to be concerned with that.
And we of course do. We can`t accept a false choice. Yes on border security
yes on comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway towards citizenship.
Yes on protecting our DACA young people and reinstating those DACA
protections immediately including protecting the parents of the DACA young
people. All of that can coexist in the America I think we believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Cornell, that`s what someone who is speaking to 60% of the
voters on immigration sounds like.
BELCHER: All right, that is. But unfortunately Donald Trump started his
campaign beating up immigration and he has been driving that fear of the
other consistently. That`s the core and base of his support. Republicans
have long thought that job one is to energize and gin up the base entangle
chase persuadable voters. When you look at what Trump is doing, he is not
growing or expanding the Republican Party.
The Republican Party is not as large as it was under George Bush. However
again can he get another inside straight and can he win again with 47 or
48%? It`s not a national election it is a state by state election. How is
he looking in Michigan? How he is looking in Wisconsin? Again I think he
will probably get that same 46 or 47% in Wisconsin and Michigan again, but
what can the Democrat pull together that Obama correlation again?
O`DONNELL: Jennifer there is one fascinating item in this poll about Trump
being un-presidential. 65% said he is un-presidential only 28% say that he
conducts himself properly. What that says is, a very large number of Trump
voters think that Donald Trump is un-presidential.
RUBIN: That`s right and it also makes me wonder what is going on with this
28% of Americans. Come on guys. This is the Trump voter. They know he is a
liar in many instances and they know he`s a jerk. He`s their jerk. He is
their pluralist. And so if the other side is going to have somebody tough,
we`re just going to have someone tougher. And that`s the attitude of these
evangelical value voters mind you. But nevertheless it is.
I want to say one thing quickly about immigration. This is a critical issue
for female voters, female white suburban and college educated women. They
hate this issue. You have seen that gap open up in the Democrat`s favor
tremendously since 2016 when 52% of white women voted for Donald Trump. You
are seeing that number turned around and that gap grow. That`s because
women in particular are so offended, so horrified by this, they will vote
for practically anyone other than Donald Trump.
O`DONNEL: And you are identifying the white component of those women
because that was the Trump – so many of them went to the Trump side.
Jennifer Rubin and Cornell Belcher, thank you both for joining us. I really
BELCHER; Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we will be joined by one of the six
reporters from “The New York Times” in El Paso Times who teamed up to
deliver the most important reporting yet from inside the border patrol
station in Clint, Texas.
O`DONNELL: Hungry, scared and sick. A new report from “The New York Times”
in collaboration with the “El Paso Times.” Detailed the conditions inside
the border patrol station in Clint, Texas. The children cried constantly.
One girl seemed likely enough to try to kill herself that the agents made
her sleep on a cot in front of them so they could watch her as they were
processing new arrivals.
One border patrol agent that worked at Clint since it opened told “The
Times” that they were “following orders to take beds away from children to
make more space in holding cells part of a day routine that he said had
The Times reports the agency`s leadership new from months that some
children had no beds to sleep on and no way to clean themselves and
sometimes went hungry. Its own agents had raised the alarm and found
themselves having to accommodate even more new arrivals. Texas state
Representatives Rep. Mary Gonzalez who toured the Clint border patrol
station last week said she heard similar concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. MARY GONZALES, (D) TEXAS: Here is what I did hear on the ground
from my own agents in my district that they have been signaling up the
ladder that they have been in a crisis for months, and that those
conversations have not been heard higher up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Aaron Montes of the El Paso Times who co-wrote this important
story will join us after this final break.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Judy Chu from California is one of the people who
has been inside the border patrol station in Clint, Texas.
REP. JUDY CHU, (D) CALIFORNIA: We went to the warehouse where between 100
to 200 children had been housed and it`s like a gigantic steel shed but at
that time had no air conditioning and the temperature went up to 100
degrees. But I`ll never forget being at the Cinder Block Cells where we did
see the children locked behind it and seeing a tiny toddler just so
miserable but once he saw us smiling and waving at him came and pressed his
little face against the cell door, it was heartbreaking.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Aaron Montes, an Investigative Reporter with
the “El Paso Times.” The “El Paso Times” teamed up with “The New York
Times” on this report. Aaron thank you very much for joining us tonight.
What is your reaction to President Trump saying quote “The New York Times”
story is a fabrication?
AARON MONTES, EL PASO TIMES INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, generally a
journalist can`t share his opinion but in this reference, I`ll just say
that we stand by our reporting, and I stand with “The New York Times” and
“The El Paso Times” in this reporting on this story.
O`DONNELL: And Aaron one of the things that is so special about your
reporting and I think you`ve covered some ground here we haven`t seen
before as thoroughly and that is border patrol agents themselves as sources
and former border patrol agents as sources and we get a wider frame on the
picture of who they are as human beings. They – many of them seem very,
very concerned about what is happening to those kids.
MONTES: Sure. Plenty of border patrol agents are neighbors, many of them
joined the agency here in El Paso and certainly many people in El Paso know
a border patrol agent they know a CBP agent and this reporting, yes, you`ll
see a little bit of take, if you will, of what a BP agent might tell their
family member, what they might talk with their friends after work. But
simply what we`re trying to do is trying to relay the truth, trying to
relay the story of what`s going on in the Clint facility.
O`DONNELL: And the higher up commanders in the department are claiming that
they didn`t know anything about this and the sources you have are all
insisting we`ve been pushing this information up the line but in effect,
they just haven`t cared about it.
MONTES: Well, it wouldn`t be for me to say whether or not they care about
it, however, whenever I talked with the border patrol agent, whenever I
talked with the CBP agent, their first thought about this whole issue and
the border is that they need more resources, that they need help from
Washington from their section leaders and certainly we`ve reported that
many times. It shouldn`t come as a surprise at least for the leadership to
know that their agents are asking for assistance in this particular case.
I spoke with a border patrol agent who asked not to be identified. He
certainly said that some agents had asked for help.
O`DONNELL: Aaron Montes, thank you very much for joining us tonight and
thank you for your extraordinary team reporting. I really appreciate it.
That is tonight`s Last Word. The “11th hour” with Brian Williams starts
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the