John Paul Stevens, has died. TRANSCRIPT: 7/16/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
Do you need any more time? Because I wouldn`t dare try to do that.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I threw out half my show and then I ended with
singing on TV. Do you know how messed up all of this is?
O`DONNELL: The Rachel greatest hits of singing on TV. Another very
important entry. How long will we have to wait for the next one, Rachel?
MADDOW: Have I ever sung on TV before?
O`DONNELL: Not to me, no. That`s why it`s – so that`s been almost ten
MADDOW: Well, you got a birthday coming up, you know.
O`DONNELL: There we go.
MADDOW: La! Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, during the presidential campaign, Republican Congressman Kevin
McCarthy, who is now the leader of the Republicans in the House of
Representatives, said behind closed doors that he believed that Donald
Trump was actually a paid agent of Vladimir Putin. He said he thought
Putin paid Trump.
Now, Kevin McCarthy is a public worshipper of Donald Trump and he would
attack anyone who said anything like that. Might even attack me for
reminding the world that Kevin McCarthy said that.
The Republican senators who ran for president against Donald Trump – Marco
Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham – they all called Donald Trump a con man
repeatedly on the campaign. They called him a liar during the presidential
campaign. And now they are all public worshippers of Donald Trump.
How did that happen?
The first best answers to that question will be found by future historians
in Tim Alberta`s new book, “American Carnage.”
This is the perfect night to have Tim Alberta join us, as he will later in
this hour, after a day in which Republicans once again fell in line with
Donald Trump and defended the indefensible. But this time there were four
defenses. That means President Trump has four new members of the House of
Representatives to attack.
The four Republicans who voted to condemn Donald Trump`s racist attack on
four Democratic members of the House of Representatives, all of whom are
women of color, the four Republicans who stood on the right side of history
in tonight`s vote are Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas, Brian
Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Susan Brooks of Indiana. Those
Republicans saw Donald Trump`s tweeted defense today, and in their votes
tonight they said, no, we don`t believe Donald Trump.
Every other Republican who voted not to condemn the president but voted in
effect to condemn themselves, they did that, they voted to condemn
themselves in history as actively complicit in the president`s racism.
Before the vote, the president tweeted: Those tweets were not racist. I
don`t have a racist bone in my body. The so-called vote to be taken is a
Democratic con game. Republicans should not show weakness and fall into
I don`t know why the president capitalizes the “R” in the word “racist” the
way religious people capitalize the letter “G” in “God” out of reverence
for that word.
Is it Donald Trump`s reverence for the word “racist?” is that what he is
signaling to racists with that upper case “R” for “racist?” is that what
Every Republican showed weakness and fell into Donald Trump`s racist trap
today except those four Republicans who voted against Donald Trump`s
Why is it always the bones? Why do racists always talk about their bones,
as in I don`t have a racist bone in my body, says the president of the
United States. Does he say it that way because even Donald Trump knows
what it would sound like if he said, “I don`t have a racist thought in my
mind, I`ve never had a racist thought in my mind”?
It could not be easier in this House of Representatives to know how to vote
on a resolution condemning racism because 79-year-old John Lewis of Georgia
is still a member of the House of Representatives. John Lewis is, of
course, a scarred veteran, literally scarred veteran of the civil rights
movement beginning in the 1950s when he was a teenager.
He was in the march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 with the
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. John Lewis was nearly beaten to death
that day by the government officials with badges who wanted him and Dr.
King and all of those marchers to go back, to go back away from that
bridge, to go back away from progress, to go back and live in submission to
their governmental authority.
Donald Trump`s go back to where you came from rant against Congresswoman
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman
Rashida Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is the 21st century Trump White
House version of what police did to John Lewis on that bridge in Selma and
he knows it. John Lewis knows it.
On days like today, if you listen to one speaker in the House of
Representatives debate, it should be the Honorable John Lewis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I rise with a sense of righteous indignation to
support this resolution. I know racism when I see it. I know racism when
I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there`s no room for
The world is watching. They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we
have lost our way as a nation, as a proud and great people. We are one
Congress and we are here to serve one house, the American house, the
Some of us have been victims of the stain, the pain and the hurt of racism.
In the `50s and during the `60s, segregationists told us to go back. We
were protesting for our rights. They told ministers, priests, rabbis and
nuns to go back. They told the innocent little children seeking just an
equal education to go back.
As a nation and as a people, we need to go forward and not backward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congresswoman
Debbie Dingell of Michigan, someone who was on the House floor today. Also
joining us, Karine Jean-Pierre, chief public officers for moveon.org and a
MSNBC contributor, and Suzette Hackney, director of opinion and community
engagement for the “Indianapolis Star.” She wrote an editorial entitled
“Trump is an unhinged racist and Indiana`s congressional members wimpy
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, I want to start with you. You were there.
You were on the floor. It took awhile of parliamentary haggling to get to
this vote, but it turned out that there were four Republicans, and only
four, who joined you in this vote.
Justin Amash, recent Republican, now an independent also joined you in this
vote. And I guess we are now awaiting the tweet attacks at minimum that
Donald Trump will deliver – will deliver to those four Republicans.
REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, all four of those Republicans as well as
Justin are good friends, and yesterday they spoke up and spoke out against
this hatred. The president of the United States` job is to unite us and
those tweets are dividing us as a country and it`s got to stop, and at some
point, you`ve got to speak up and speak out.
O`DONNELL: And, Suzette Hackney, your article came out before this vote
and it may be that you moved one of these votes in the Indiana delegation.
SUZETTE HACKNEY, THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR DIRECTOR OF OPINION: Yes. Susan
Brooks, who has the political freedom, she is not running for re-election,
she did – she did make a statement saying that the comments were
inappropriate, but most of the Indiana delegation did not do so, and I did
write and I said that we all needed to speak out about this. It did not
matter which political party.
O`DONNELL: Karine, your reaction to what we saw in the House today.
KARINE JEAN-PIRRE, CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, MOVEON.ORG: So what we
saw in the House outside these four very break Republicans because now,
like you said, they`re going to be attacked by Donald Trump any minute now,
any second now, is that you have Republicans who decided that they were not
going to call out Donald Trump`s blatant racism and what did they do
instead? They attacked Democrats for bringing forth a very simple
resolution to call out that said racism.
And here we are in 2019, you have one party that has the Senate, that has
the White House, that refuses to call out racism. But we shouldn`t be
surprised, Lawrence, because I`ll say this, we knew Donald Trump was a
In 2011, when he decided to be the grand wizard of the birther movement,
what happened in 2015? They nominated him. They elected him. And now,
they encourage him. And this is where we are today in 2019.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Dingell, Nick Ramsey, who is one of the producer
of Brian Williams` “THE 11TH HOUR,” pointed out on twitter today that what
the president said looks like a violation of federal law under the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission`s rules which say examples of potentially
unlawful conduct include insults, taunting or ethnic epithets such as
making fun of a person`s foreign accent or comments like “go back to where
you came from,” whether made by superiors or co-workers.
So, it is possible that anyone else working in the federal government could
have been fired for what Donald Trump said, it`s just that the only way to
fire the person in Donald Trump`s job is through impeachment.
DINGELL: If that were to have been – his tweets were to have been said at
any workplace across America, it would have been an instant firing
You know, I want to speak beyond these four colleagues of mine, but I
represent – it was xenophobic as well. I represent wasn`t of the largest
Muslim populations in this country. This man does not understand what he`s
doing to little children. I go into the grade schools there and I have
children grabbing my legs, telling me they are afraid that someone is going
to come into their house in the middle of the night, take their family out
and never be seen again.
This is the United States of America in 2019. This is not Germany. And we
need to think about the message that we are sending to people. We are
trying to divide this country with fear, hatred – it`s divisive and not
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Donald Trump in the past in the way he
describes himself as not being a racist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`re racist, you`re
racist, you`re racist. They keep saying it.
INTERVIEWER: Are you a racist?
TRUMP: Absolutely not. So many of my friends who are black, they say, you
are the least racist person.
I am the least racist person that you`ve ever met. Believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Suzette, your reaction to the way Donald Trump defends himself
HACKNEY: Well, he started by saying – he might as well have just said “I
have many black friends.” It`s just laughable at this point.
O`DONNELL: Karine, I am the least racist person that you have ever met.
JEAN-PIERRE: Basically that`s what racist people say.
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, it`s exactly that.
O`DONNELL: That is in and of itself a badge of racism. He is saying he is
less racist than you.
O`DONNELL: He`s saying he is less racist than John Lewis.
O`DONNELL: He is taking a higher moral ground for himself than John Lewis.
JEAN-PIERRE: Exactly, and like I said, that`s what racist people say. My
best friend is black. Or, you know, I have – I have – not one racist
bone in my body, which I don`t even know what that means. Please tell me
where that would be, that racist bone in your body.
By the way, what does a nonracist bone look like? I mean, it`s – look,
Donald Trump is who he is. He has shown us that over and over and over
again in his policies, the way he talks about black people, the way he
talks about Mexicans when he first entered the race. He is who he is.
And the problem is, Lawrence, the reason he continues this behavior is
because Republicans do not hold him accountable. They do not call him out.
So what does he do? He doubles down and he triples down and he`s not going
to stop because he believes it works.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Speaker Pelosi said on the House floor
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Every single member of this institution,
Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president`s
racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our
values and a shameful abdication of –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suspend.
PELOSI: – our oath of office to protect the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Dingell, what did it feel like on the House today
– on the House floor, the overall sensation of that full experience on the
DINGELL: You know, it was tense at times. You know that it broke down
when Republicans were trying to get process votes that didn`t get at the
substance. They were trying to – they`re learning tactics from President
Trump, which is divert from the attention on the issue that`s really at
But our caucus was united. I have not seen our caucus this united in
standing up to hatred. That we simply cannot tolerate anymore. President
Trump gave us a gift on Sunday. He united our caucus in a way it hasn`t
been in months.
O`DONNELL: And, Suzette, what is – what is – what do you see in these
four votes, these four Republican votes? Going to you on this.
You`re in Indiana. It`s a very Republican state. One of the members of
the Indiana delegation who you pointed out specifically in your column
before this vote voted against the president today. She is a retiring
member but she`s an important member of the House.
Is there something in this for future possible cracks of Republican support
for the president?
HACKNEY: Absolutely. I think that Republicans are going to have to start
listening to the American people.
Yes, I live in a very red state. I have heard from so many readers who
reached out to me today on both sides of the aisle and they said this is
unacceptable. We as Americans cannot allow this – this kind of division
to happen any longer.
And I think that if these Republicans are going to represent their voters,
they are going to have to start listening to their voters and Americans are
very unhappy. I`ve gotten tons of emails from Republicans who say I`m a
Republican all my life, but we cannot continue to go down this road.
O`DONNELL: And, Karine, the president had an opportunity to move on from
this. He is the one who kept it alive. He is the one who started tweeting
– started his day tweeting about this every day for the last three days.
So, this is clearly a decision of his to keep this going.
JEAN-PIERRE: Right. He believes that it works. He thought that he was
going to continue the divide, right? Just think about what we were talking
about on Saturday or early Sunday, which was Nancy Pelosi versus the squad,
as they`re called, right?
And what he did, it`s so true, what the congresswoman did, he delivered a
gift to Democrats because he thought – he thought he could get in there
and divide the two sides and – into the Democratic side even more, and all
he did was unify them and it backfired on him, what he did. Bringing in,
inserting racism actually hurt him more because the majority of the people
do not want to hear that.
That`s what we saw in 2018 when he doubled down with the caravan, when he
doubled down on immigration. People – people came out and voted against
what Donald Trump was about. It was a referendum on him.
He did not learn his lesson. He`s thinking now I`m going to triple down
and it didn`t work. And now, you see a unified Democratic party and they
are where the majority of the people are.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Dingell, take us inside the party caucus meeting
before this vote. In situations like this, generally as many – if not the
entire party gathers behind a closed door to talk about what`s going to
happen on the house floor today. What was that meeting like today?
DINGELL: You know, it was candid conversation, but frequently when you`re
in meetings like this there are a lot of different opinions and there
wasn`t anybody who didn`t know that we needed to take this vote, that we
needed to stand up. I think that we want to make sure that we stand up to
hatred, we stand up to division, but at the same time we can`t let him
divert us every single day. We`ve got to get back to doing the people`s
business. We`ve got to deliver for the people.
So we`ve got to get back to health care, which he`s not delivering on.
He`s not lowering prescription drug prices. We have to get back to talking
about the environment, to infrastructure, so we`re also focused on how we
got to get back to working for the people, which he would like to keep us
off that message every day. That`s what he does.
And we cannot let him keep us from delivering for the people that we
promised to. By the way, he`s got to deliver for these people, too. He
got elected in Michigan because he talked about many of these issues. If
we haven`t done something about it, he`s going to have problems in this
O`DONNELL: Suzette, as a member of the press, how do you see the challenge
for journalism in this, in how to cover these kinds of outbursts by the
HACKNEY: Well, first of all, we just have to cover the truth. And we have
to call it what it is. We can`t dance around it. It`s racist. It was
And those are – and that`s why you saw many publications that came out
with very hard-hitting editorials and columns like mine calling it what it
is. We have to stand up for America.
We are – we guard America. That is our job. And that`s what we will
continue to do.
You know, there`s the fake news that`s thrown around and, you know, he gets
his based all ramped up talking about us and booing us at his – at his
rallies and such, but I think we`ve done nothing but proven that we are
here to cover this administration, to cover this president, to uncover the
truth, and that`s what we will continue to do.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Karine Jean-Pierre, Suzette
Hackney, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. Really
DINGELL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: When we come back later in this hour, Ezra Klein will be here.
We will discuss what Suzette was just talking about and what this means in
both political journalism and the presidential campaign going forward.
Also tonight, Neal Katyal will join us with his memories of Justice John
Paul Stevens, retired Supreme Court justice, who died tonight at the age of
O`DONNELL: Today, four Republicans broke with the president and voted to
condemn Donald Trump`s most recent racist comments, but that`s four more
Republicans than usually break with the president. But Donald Trump has
taken complete control of the Republican Party is obvious to everyone. How
he did it is not.
That story is told in the new book “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of
the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump” by Tim Alberta.
It tells the story of Paul Ryan`s public subservience to the president, in
Paul Ryan`s own words. Quote: I told myself I got to have a relationship
with this guy to help him get his mind right, because I`m telling you, he
didn`t know anything about government, so I thought I can`t be his scold
like I was. I wanted to scold him all the time.
What I learned as I went on, to scratch that itch, I had to do it in
private, so I did it in private all the time and he actually ended up kind
of appreciating it. We had more arguments with each other than pleasant
conversations over the last two years, and it never leaked.
Today, the man who took Paul Ryan`s place, House Majority Leader Kevin
McCarthy, insists that Paul Ryan never said that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You`re quoting something based upon a book
that I have not read and in talking to Speaker Ryan, I know that`s not the
words of what he would use because I`ve been in rooms with him and the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And joining us now is the author of that book, Tim Alberta.
He`s the chief political correspondent for “Politico” magazine and the
author of “American Carnage.”
Tim, so, Kevin McCarthy says your book is false, Paul Ryan never said it.
TIM ALBERTA, AUTHOR, “AMERICAN CARNAGE”: I`m happy to give him the
audiotape. I`m not sure what else to say –
O`DONNELL: So, you should have brought it tonight. So it happens to be on
But this is the very same Kevin McCarthy who during the campaign was quoted
from behind closed doors from a secret staff source, Republican staff
source saying he believed Donald Trump took money from Vladimir Putin. And
there he is today doing exactly a public execution of the transformation
that this book describes for Republicans. Going from Trump takes money
from Putin to I don`t believe Paul Ryan would ever have said that about
ALBERTA: How dare he?. Why would he say that about the dear leader?
ALBERTA: Look, Kevin McCarthy is just one of many Republicans who as you
noted, Lawrence, has essentially fallen in line behind President Trump.
And they do so in any number of reasons, political self-preservation, a
fear of backlash from the president and the president`s base, and I think
what`s so fascinating in surveying this modern Republican Party is how far
it has come in such a short period of time.
This was not a Trumpian entity as recently as ten years ago. George W.
Bush`s presidency for its many failings was a presidency built upon these
ideals of compassionate conservatism and, you know, refugee resettlement
was a huge priority, re-entry programs for prisoners was, you know,
education in urban environments. These were the bedrock domestic policy
goals of the Bush administration. Of course, we know that they spent tens
of millions of dollars trying to alleviate AIDS in Africa. The list goes
The point is, what you`ve seen is nothing short of a wholesale
transformation of Republican Party in the last decade, and there is a lot
that goes into that, it`s a long story, obviously, but what you`re seeing
today and specifically what you would see over the last 96 hours in terms
of the Republican Party`s response to Donald Trump`s remarks or in most
cases their lack of response to his remarks speaks volumes about where the
party is and how firmly Donald Trump has taken the party of Reagan, the
party of George W. Bush and turned it into the party of Trump.
O`DONNELL: Yes, there is no previous Republican president who would have
stood for any of this. I`m fascinated by the policy switches on things
like international trade and other things. It is stunning to me, because
that happened over a very short period of time. People who had completely
different views of international trade during the presidential campaign,
just over two years ago, guys like Chuck Grassley and others completely
going along with these tariffs that they would have never gone along with
ALBERTA: It`s one of the best stories that got no attention at the time,
very little attention at the time, was that in the heat of the 2016
campaign, Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz, who did not get along, these two guys
wrote a joint op-ed in “USA Today” endorsing TPA, basically the legislation
that would have given then President Obama the ability to negotiate trade
O`DONNELL: Trans Pacific Partnership.
ALBERTA: Yes. And Ted Cruz, about three weeks after this op-ed published,
and, again, he`s in the middle of this, you know, hotly-contested primary
against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and his team, who are very smart, they`ve
got their ear to the ground, they`re watching what Trump is doing and
they`re seeing this appeal that he is achieving with the electorate and he
is obviously shattering Republican orthodoxy in so doing and Cruz says to
his guys, look, I think we need to have a change of heart here, I think we
need to publicly disavow that stance that we just took with Ryan a couple
of weeks ago, and his guys said, are you crazy? We just wrote this op-ed.
And basically, the decision was, look, do we get accused of being a flip-
flopper now or wear that for a couple of weeks and take a beating, or do we
allow Trump to bludgeon us on the issue of trade for a next year a half?
Now, that`s a small anecdote, but it speaks volumes about where people were
at that point in the party because, again, you spoke to it a second ago.
The rate of change is what is so whiplash-inducing at this point.
ALBERTA: This didn`t happen over a period of 30 or 40 or 50 years. It`s
really happen – you can even consolidate it down into a period of 36
months in which some core bedrock Republican principles that had been held
since the Reagan era have essentially been thrown out the window.
O`DONNELL: Everyone marvels at the Trump relationship to evangelical
voters, who in Donald Trump`s own words are privately referred to in your
own book at the f-ing evangelicals.
ALBERTA: It`s a term of endearment. I should note.
You know, so it`s fascinating. Obviously, we`re all transfixed on this
relationship between the – the white evangelical Republican voter and
Donald Trump. And obviously, this is a group of voters who had spent years
demanding a certain degree of moral leadership from the highest office in
the land and really from all government officials and people want to know
how could they have possibly forged this partnership with this guy, this
thrice married philanderer who paraded the, you know, the pinups and the
porn stars after the tabloids?
And I think the answer, Lawrence, is really quite simple, actually. It`s
transactional. We know that Donald Trump is transactional.
I think what we don`t fully appreciate about evangelical voters is many of
them felt let down by the George W. Bush presidency. They felt like we had
elected one of our own, a guy famously said in that debate that Jesus was
his role model, a guy who sits in the pews with us but he didn`t do all
that much for us.
Remember, on a lot of these social issues, a lot of conservative movement
felt that George W. Bush was kind of weak in the knees. So, by the time
2016 rolls around and these people feel like they`ve been trampled under
Barack Obama and the left for the last eight years and they are under siege
from forces of culture and politics.
They`re looking for somebody to get into the arena and start throwing
haymakers. And Trump, again give him credit, he`s prescient. He sees this
and Trump goes to them and basically says, look, you know that I`m not one
of you. I can`t speak your language. I don`t agree with you probably on
half these issues, but I`m willing to go to war for you guys in a way that
none of the rest of these Republican Parties are willing to.
They may talk a good game, but when the going gets tough, they`re going to
fold because they`re all creatures of political convention. I am not. I`m
beholden to no one. It is impossible to articulate just how appealing that
message was to these evangelicals and essentially it became this
transactional relationship. They would give him undying allegiance and he
would give them everything they didn`t get out of George W. Bush.
O`DONNELL: Tim Alberta and the book is “American Carnage.” And it is the
single best explanation of how we got to Trumpism in the Republican Party.
Tim, when the book store slows down I need you to come back to do this one
question which I think will take an entire segment and that is when the
next President of the United States takes the oath of office, does Trumpism
disappear? You have some time to think about it and we`re going to do a few
minutes on it next chance you get to come by.
ALBERTA: It`s good homework.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Thank you, Tim. And when we come back, the house vote today
was a turning point, perhaps, for four House Republicans, and it has
definitely been a turning point for American journalism. We will have more
on that later in this hour with Ezra Klein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and
that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It doesn`t concern me
because many people agree with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein tweeted that that exchange summarized Donald Trump`s
entire political career which of course begins with Donald Trump telling
racist lies about President Obama`s birth certificate. Today the Columbia
Journalism Review officially gave its permission for the news media to call
racism, racism. “Go back to where you came from is textbook racism. When we
contort ourselves to dance around that fact, the truth is injured.” This
does seem like a turning point for the American news media, much like
September of 2016 when “The New York Times” first used the word “lie” to
describe something Donald Trump said.
But by that time Donald Trump had already lied his way to the Republican
Presidential nomination and was a couple of months away from lying his way
with some help from Russia to an Electoral College victory. Today “The
Arizona Republic`s Editorial Board” published an editorial entitled
“Trump`s racist tweets are a wake-up call for Republicans and Democrats.”
The editorial says there is a great deal of denial going on in America.
We`ve seen enough over the transom to know that plenty are making excuses
for Trump. Here`s some free advice don`t. Yesterday “The Tampa Bay Times
Editorial Board” published an editorial entitled “Trump`s racist ramp
requires a collective response”.
The editorial says Trump`s unrelenting attacks on these four minority women
who are all young and freshmen house members are a new low for this
President. They fit his pattern of racial demagoguery and appeals to white
nationalists. “The Houston`s Chronicle Editorial Board” published an
editorial entitled “The President is a bigot: Patriots can`t stay silent on
racist remarks. This editorial says, “Let`s not mince words they are the
racist rantings of a bigot - not an American patriot who truly believes in
the Constitution he swore to defend as President”.
After this quick break we`ll be joined by Ezra Klein and Karine Jean-Pierre
will be back to discuss what the news media`s new condemnation of Donald
Trump`s racism adds to the House of Representatives condemnation that
passed the house tonight.
O`DONNELL: Here is Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Kamala Harris
in Davenport, Iowa today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve personally been told
that, go back to where you came from, you too, and I bet if we took -
everybody raised their hands.
HARRIS: Right. And in the back, people are raising their hands too. It is
vile. It is ignorant. It is shallow. It is hateful. And it has to stop. It
has to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Ezra Klein, the Editor-at-Large of
VOX and the host of the podcast “The Ezra Klein Show” Karine Jean-Pierre is
back with us. And Karine, let me start with you, have you been told to go
back to where you came from?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER: Absolutely. My
parents have been told to go back to where they came from. I have. My
parents are Haitian American. They`re clearly immigrants in this country.
They`ve been here for decades.
O`DONNELL: You were born here?
JEAN-PIERRE: I was born actually in Martinique -
JEAN-PIERRE: –so I am an immigrant myself. I`ve heard it all my life. I
think if you`re a person of color living in this country, you`ve heard that
awful, historical, nasty, racist talking point that Donald Trump threw out
there in a tweet on Sunday and doubled down on Monday, and it is hurtful.
And it basically is saying to you, you do not belong - we do not want you
here. Even though you are as American as anyone else, even though you give
to society, this is the only place that you may have known, like myself.
And what he did really, really lays out who he truly is.
O`DONNELL: And Ezra, other populations throughout our history, immigrant
population, Jewish population, Irish, Italian, they all heard this at a
certain point after their arrival and as they continued through American
light - life to go back to where you came from.
EZRA KLEIN, VOX EDITOR-AT-LARGE: This is classic racism. I mean, it doesn`t
get more classic than this. And its Donald Trump`s fundamental career has
always been founded on, the idea that he is out there saying what - what
many people agree with, is the way he put it.
I think the hard question with Trump constantly is not whether we in the
press should call racism, racism. Of course we should. The question is
whether or not we should let him dominate the political agenda with it
whenever he wants.
The thing that I always worry about with Donald Trump is that he has
understood on some gut level, I don`t know that it`s strategy, but it`s
certainly at this point intuition, that if he loses control of the
conversation, he can always say something outrageous, something offensive
and then it is at least back along the divisive lines that he prefers
arguing around. It is at least back under the argument that he wants to
have. Not the arguments that he is uninterested in or doesn`t want to have.
Again, the point is not that it is strategy or even that it is wise, but he
has figured out that there is this hack of just acting outrageously and
offensively. As Kamala Harris says, it would be nice for it to stop, but
it`s not going to stop it`s his core political move.
And I think that`s one of the real challenges here to the press, not just
how - what do we call it? But when do we choose to cover it or say that`s
just Donald Trump insulting people again. He doesn`t get to control the
nation`s agenda every time he does it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s such an important point. And Karine, the - one of the
arguments that`s been put out there is that by covering this the way we do,
we give it more volume. It`s one of the - I try to take as much care as I
can in this. I don`t show Trump video unless I absolutely have to.
I am using the fact that I`m trusting people know everything that Donald
Trump - or a lot of what Donald Trump has said about this. And what I`m
emphasizing tonight is what John Lewis has to say about this and what
others have to say about it, so it does present a challenge, a serious
challenge in how you cover this.
JEAN-PIERRE: It`s been a challenge for everybody. It`s been a challenge
clearly for Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. It`s been a challenge
for the media on how do you deal with a Donald Trump? Because what is
happening is he is not normal, and what we`re doing is we`re treating him
kind of in the guidelines of the rules, right?
Like, oh, yes, he`s not normal, we`re going to have the same protocol we`re
going to follow the same rules as with any other President. What I think we
have seen in the last 24/48 hours with press, with Congress is that they
are seeing, okay, enough is enough. We are not treating this guy like he`s
normal anymore because he is not.
So what Donald Trump does is he overwhelms the system intentionally. He
throws controversy after controversy and hopes something sticks. We just
can`t allow that to happen, as Ezra was saying. We need to be able to
separate the signal from the noise and I think this is the moment we`re in
right now and I hope that it continues, but that`s what`s been going on for
the last two years.
O`DONNELL: Ezra and Karine, can you both stay with us? I`d like to squeeze
in a commercial break here. When we come back, Ezra, I just want to go with
the question of, is this a turning point, is this a turning point for
journalism, what we`ve been through the last couple of days? We`re going to
do a quick break here. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Ezra Klein and Karine Jean-Pierre. And Ezra,
this feels to me like a turning point in media coverage. I remember vividly
September of 2016, the first time I saw the word “lie” in “The New York
Times.” It was actually in a headline, the first time they used it about
Donald Trump was after he got the Republican nomination. And now it`s every
day. News media has been completely converted to Donald Trump is a liar.
They use the term. Is that where we are now with Donald Trump and racism?
KLEIN: It might it might be if we`ve not already figured out that Donald
Trump is racist. I don`t know what more is needed here. This does not feel
like new information to me, but it might be.
O`DONNELL: Karine, a quick LAST WORD.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes I think, what we have the way we have to look at it going
into 2020 is Donald Trump wants it to be a choice, 2020 to be a choice on
the election. We need it to be a referendum on him. That`s what we need to
do just like we did in 2018, make it about him, make it about changing
where we are and looking about who we are and what we want this country to
be? It has to be a referendum.
O`DONNELL: So that`s what Democratic Candidates should be doing?
JEAN-PIERRE: I think that`s what Democratic Candidates should be doing, but
also it plays into what the media should be doing as well. It`s like, okay,
turn it on its head. Don`t play on his turf right. Play it the way you want
to play it. Because he`s going to continue to play all of us if we follow
his lead, if we go down that rabbit hole. So it`s a little bit of both,
what media should do and also what candidates should do.
O`DONNELL: We`ll leave it this for tonight. Karine Jean-Pierre and Ezra
Klein, thank you both for joining us. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back Neal Katyal will join us on Former Supreme Court
Justice John Paul Stevens, who died tonight at the age of 99. He was active
in his retirement, and even though he was appointed by a Republican
President, he said that he believed Brett Kavanaugh was not fit to serve on
the United States Supreme Court.
O`DONNELL: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the third
longest serving justice in the history of the court died tonight of
complications following a stroke. He was 99 years old.
Justice Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975 by Republican
President Gerald Ford. He served on the court for 35 years. Although a
registered Republican, Justice Stevens often sided with the liberal wing of
the court he insisted that it was the court and the Republic - it was not
him but it was The Republican Party not his views that shifted over time.
He supported a woman`s right to choose abortion, he voted to reinstate the
death penalty, a decision he later said he regretted. During the Clinton
Presidency, he led a unanimous court in ruling that a sitting President
could face a civil lawsuit while in office. He offered a blistering
dissenting opinion to the court`s ruling in Bush versus Gore which decided
the Presidential Election in 2000.
He retired in 2010 at the age of 90 and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by
President Obama, the country`s highest civilian honor, but he remained
active in his retirement. After the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in
2018, Justice Stevens called for the repeal of the second amendment. And
last year he called then Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh unfit to
serve on the Supreme Court.
In a statement tonight, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Justice Stevens
devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme
Court. He brought to our bench an in inimitable blend of kindness,
humility, wisdom and independence. His unrelenting commitment to Justice
has left us a better nation”.
Joining our discussion now Neal Katyal, Former Acting U.S. Solicitor
General and an MSNBC Legal Contributor. Neal, we feel especially like you
to have you tonight. You actually argued cases in the court and argued
cases to Justice Stevens and your reflections tonight on his career?
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I think all of us
in the Supreme Court are heartbroken. And I think the Chief Justice
captured the man well. I mean, I had the privilege of arguing, I think,
over two dozen cases before him, and every single time it was always the
He asked just a couple questions to us. They were always the devastating
ones, the ones that you really practiced and hoped no Justice would ask.
And he was just a towering intellect and a prince of a man, just the
politeness, the courteousness and the diligence and the nonpartisanship way
in which he approached the job. When people think of the rule of law in
this country and going back and the phrase in the Massachusetts
constitution of 1780 that we are a government of laws not of men that
describes Justice Stevens.
O`DONNELL: And he was a Republican, but he did not like what he saw
Republicans do in recent years. He said the Senate absolutely should move
on the confirmation of Merrick Garland in the Supreme Court in the last
year of the Obama administration.
KATYAL: Yes, I mean, it`s a striking thing to see the news tonight. Justice
Stevens, the horribly sad news about his passing. At the same time, as the
house has voted to condemn the President for his racist tweets. I mean,
Justice Stevens really was a proud member of a Republican Party that stood
for something, that stood for American values that stood for decency and
respect to all.
And I think you just see with a vote tonight like that party moving in an
absolutely different direction. You know, my hope is that people, all
Americans will reflect on Justice Stevens` legacy and realize that there
are fundamental values to this country and you can disagree with people on
the left or right, but we have to treat people civilly and equally, and
that`s what his entire life`s work was about.
O`DONNELL: A Justice`s career has both ruling opinions and dissenting
opinions, and his dissent in Bush V. Gore is one of the most memorable that
most of us have ever read. He wrote, “Although we may never know with
complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year`s Presidential
Election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation`s
confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law”. That
was a very tough experience for him and others on the Supreme Court.
KATYAL: Yes, and also as litigants, I was one of Gore`s lawyers in that
case, and it was heart-wrenching to see the decision come down. And for
every loss that Justice Stevens had, he had a number of enormous wins. With
the very first case are against Supreme Court Horndon (ph) versus Raw
Misfeldt (ph) in which I represented actually Osama-Bin-Laden`s driver,
Justice Stevens wrote the opinion cast the deciding vote to say we have to
protect the constitutional rights of people, even in Guantanamo, even
accused of doing the worst crimes imaginable.
Justice Stevens himself he served in the navy. He understood the values
that this country stood for, including the Geneva Conventions. And so,
again, it`s just a really important lesson, particularly at this juncture
in time, to think, you know, there are things - principles and important
points that transcend left versus right. Justice Stevens stood for that.
O`DONNELL: As is perfectly appropriate for this program, Neal Katyal gets
tonight`s LAST WORD on Justice Stevens. Thank you very much for joining us
tonight. We really appreciate it.
KATYAL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian
Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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