Julian Castro interview. TRANSCRIPT: 7/18/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I think we might have heard more from Amy Klobuchar tonight than in the
debate because there are so many people up there in that stage.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Everybody is going to try to maximize their
O`DONNELL: Yes, and then there`s all the interruptions and all of that.
Julian Castro is going to join us in this hour.
O`DONNELL: And he might just get more time here than he ends up getting at
the debate, but it has been fascinating to see even with those constraints
how candidates like Julian Castro and others have been able to have their
moment, have been able to have that spot where they pop in the debates and
the pressure is all the greater on this next round.
MADDOW: I mean, even with just the first debate is the only under our belt
so far, we`ve already seen the impact that that debate can have on the
fortunes of individual candidates. The stakes couldn`t be higher.
O`DONNELL: Two weeks away.
Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, presidential candidate Julian Castro will join us
tonight, as I just said. This week, he has given the strongest and
clearest statement ever made by a presidential candidate about police use
of force. Now, I have been writing about this subject since the 1980s when
I published a book called “Deadly Force”, about police use of deadly force.
And I can tell you that most presidential candidates in our history have
never mentioned the subject, including most modern presidential candidates.
So, Julian Castro does not have much competition for the strongest
statement ever made by a presidential candidate, but he has done that. He
has delivered that. And he delivered it about the Eric Garner case in New
He will be on the debate stage with the mayor of New York City who has
ultimate jurisdiction over the Eric Garner case and what happens to the
police officer in that case. And we will discuss that with Julian Castro
at the end of this hour tonight. We`ll get his reaction to president Trump
today pretending that he disagreed with his rally crowd last night chanting
“send her back”.
Julian Castro will be on that debate stage in two weeks with Joe Biden and
Kamala Harris and seven other presidential candidates. It will be a
difficult stage for all of those candidates. Julian Castro performed
strongly in the first round of debates, and will surely be in the thick of
it the second time around. Julian Castro actually made his national
television debut as a possible presidential candidate on this program when
he announced that he was exploring a presidential run and we are glad to
welcome him back tonight.
And we begin tonight with what the president did today. What the president
did today is news, but it is not new. It is not new to see the president
lying, provably lying as he did today. The president lied knowing
everywhere except the Fox propaganda channel, we would be showing you the
video that proves the president was lying to America today. That isn`t
new. He has done that before.
What is new is the president finding fault with his own supporters, saying
he was not happy with them, doesn`t agree with what they did at his rally
last night when his 15-minute lying rant about four members of Congress
took his audience right up to the edge where they started chanting, “send
her back ” about one of those members of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, if I may, when your supporters last night were
chanting send her back, why wouldn`t you stop them? Why didn`t you ask
them to stop saying that?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, number one, I think I
did. I started speaking very quickly. It really was a loud – I disagree
with it, by the way. But it was quite a chant, and I felt a little bit
badly about it.
But I will say this. I did start speaking very quickly. It started up
rather fast as you probably know.
REPORTER: So, you`ll tell your supporters never to say that again?
TRUMP: Well, I would say that I was not happy with it. I disagree with
it. But again, I didn`t say – I didn`t say that. They did. But I
disagree with it.
REPORTER: But they were echoing what you said in your first tweet, that
they should go back.
TRUMP: Well, I don`t think if you examine it, I don`t think you will find
that. But I disagree with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, Donald Trump knows we are going to examine it and he knows
what we are going to find. Why didn`t you ask them to stop saying that?
Number one, I think I did.
No, he didn`t. And he knows that we are going to find he just lied. That
he did not start speaking very quickly. He did not try to stop anything.
He did the opposite.
He gave the chant the space it needed to fill the room.
Here`s the president last night lying about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar as he
pushes the audience to the logical point of their chant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching
vicious anti-Semitic screeds.
CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!
Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!
TRUMP: And she talked about –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There it is, the proof of the lie.
And a few minutes later last night, the president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Tonight, I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are
constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good
to say. That`s why I say, hey, if they don`t like it, let them leave. Let
them leave. Let them leave.
They are always telling us how to run it and how to do this, how to – you
know what, if they don`t love it, tell them to leave it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Last night, the Trump audience was just following the
president`s lead, saying what they were sure he wanted to hear. They were
simply echoing what they already heard from him.
But today, maybe enough Republicans must have privately found a way to get
the president to pretend that he disagreed with what his crowd said last
night. There has been much comparison today to the John McCain moments in
the 2008 campaign and how much better presidential candidate McCain handled
that moment than Donald Trump ever could or would.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t trust Obama. I have read about him and he`s
not – he`s not – he`s a – he`s an Arab. He is not – no?
JOHN MCCAIN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: No, ma`am. No ma`am. He`s a decent,
family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You just can`t watch that enough these days. John McCain says
no ma`am and reaches in and takes that microphone away.
John McCain has gotten a lot of well-deserved credit for that moment over
the years, but here`s the most important thing. At that time in American
politics, any other response by a presidential nominee was unthinkable,
absolutely unthinkable. What John McCain said then was what most members
of the United States Senate would have said in those same circumstances at
that time. John McCain`s decency level was not higher than average for
United States senators during his time in the United States Senate.
But now that Mitch McConnell has driven decency out of the Republican side
of the United States Senate, it`s hard to remember the way things were
before the Trump-McConnell alliance. But we still have examples of
politicians who know what to do when they don`t like what their supporters
in a crowd are doing or chanting or saying. They don`t make the excuse
that the audience misbehavior started too fast for them to handle and they
don`t lie after the fact about what happened.
Here`s an example of that. Here`s one of the congressmen who President
Trump has been attacking for days and attacked last night. Here`s one of
those congresswomen stopping her own supporters in an audience when she
didn`t like their reaction to someone who was disagreeing with her in a
town hall about climate change hosted by Chris Hayes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we come back maybe to universal basic income a
little bit later?
CROWD: No! No!
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Hey, hey, hey! That`s unacceptable
and that`s the difference between me and Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Decency still lives. Decency lives in the four congresswomen
who Donald Trump attacked for his audience last night, and the
congresswoman who Donald Trump supporters want to send back, actually went
back to her congressional district today and here was the scene when
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar arrived at the airport in Minneapolis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan!
Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan! Welcome
home, Ilhan! Welcome home, Ilhan!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight are Neera Tanden, the
president of the Center for American Progress, and Renee Graham, associate
editor and opinion columnist for “The Boston Globe”.
And, Neera, I want to get your reaction today. I am mystified by two
things. I do not understand why the president disagreed and decided he had
to disagree with his rally audience today. I don`t understand why he was
more orange today than he has been in a long time. That`s a separate point
that I will leave to the mysteries of the Trump world.
But I really don`t get what happened here that made him step back and say I
disagree with that rally audience.
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT: I think we should
take note of this turn of events. For the last several days, we heard a
lot of pundits. A lot of Trump watchers say, you know, he has a secret
plan. This is a perfect strategy. It`s going to help him win reelection.
And like so many things that the president does, it got out of control, you
know? What happened last night, I think he recognized and I think he
recognized only because Republicans who were up for election recognize that
the imagery of this crowd of thousands of mostly white people screaming
“send her back” to about a woman from Africa who was a refugee, a refugee
who was a citizen of the United States and a congresswoman was too much for
them to bear.
I don`t think they had a moral conscious. I think they had a political
reckoning, which is the polls show that 60 percent of Americans think this
is racist. Independents think the president – majority thinks his
behavior is racist and he was looking at a political problem and actually
did an about-face.
So, the idea that he has master strategy should also go out the window this
O`DONNELL: Renee Graham, your reaction to what we saw the president do and
the story as it unfolded.
RENEE GRAHAM, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Well, I think what I
found interesting about it, he made the comment and I tried to stop it.
Unless he was trying to do it telepathically with his supporters, I
certainly didn`t see it. He also doesn`t express disapproval with what`s
going on. He stands there passively for about 15 minutes while this chant
And it made me wonder, was this even spontaneous? You know, the chant has
that same rhythm as lock her up. Are we to believe that the supporters
spontaneously came up with this chant and he knew nothing about it?
He doesn`t seem at all surprised when it occurs. He said I disagree with
it, but I think he is having it both ways. He is trying to seem like
somehow he was innocent in all of this, and that this was just something
that happened with his supporters, while not bothering to acknowledge how
much his rhetoric was ramping them up.
O`DONNELL: You know, Renee, I wonder that same thing. It`s a perfectly
composed chant that comes out of the Trump chant book, the Trump hymnal as
it were, so perfectly balance to lock her up. I listened to this audio
repeatedly and it doesn`t answer the question. You come away from it
saying I don`t know. This could have been organized somehow. And it
backfired on the Trump campaign and they decided to pull it down based on
And, Neera, as you say, we showed that polling. It was devastatingly bad
for the president. They were much more confident about where they stood
last night because what the president was doing there was rare for him. It
was a teleprompter speech for the most part at a Trump rally. Most of what
we heard him say was actually written by the Trump team before he walked
into that audience.
TANDEN: Let`s be honest. The audience is basically saying what Trump has
been saying. I mean, this was what`s so weird. I disagree with what they
said, but I`m the one who said it day after day after day. So, does he
subsequently disagree with himself?
I mean, obviously, this whole thing is ridiculous and absurd. The crowd is
simply giving back to Trump what they think he is saying himself and has
been saying, which is essentially that Ilhan Omar is not a citizen of the
But I think the Trump campaign is trying to otherize people and the
potential of hope here is that the American people recognize that calling
everyone an immigrant – everyone who is an illegal immigrant not American
is itself un-American. And they have lost this policy and political debate
and they have to retreat. We`ll see. We`ll see if he tweets the same
stuff this weekend, but at least for the day, it seems like he recognized
he has gone too far.
O`DONNELL: “The Charlotte Observer” editor board is, of course, saddened
by this event and doubly saddened it happened in North Carolina. They
wrote: Send her back, Donald Trump supporters chanted, without seeing the
irony that it was they who were moving backwards. Send her back, they
cried and it was both a reminder and a warning that here in North Carolina,
in America, going back is not that far a journey.
And, Renee, I thought that was a powerful point they were making. One of
the things we have been hearing people say a lot and I understand
politicians saying it because they take a more optimistic view of things
generally than the rest of us did, we are better than this. We are better
than this chant.
And it turns up, no, we`re not. A minimum of 40 percent is not better than
this. And that`s on display in that crowd.
GRAHAM: Well, you know, I think that`s often the problem, when we have an
incident like this and the first thing is like this isn`t who we are.
We`re better than this.
No, this is exactly who America is. This is exactly who we are. We are
this because we have not dealt with the issues for centuries.
You know, it`s easiest to look at Donald Trump and say this started
November of 2016. It didn`t. It started centuries before and because it`s
unattended for so long, we now have a president who can stand in an arena
in front of thousands of people and encourage his supporters to say “send
her back” about a sitting congresswoman who is an American citizen.
So, there is always this feeling of, wow, we need to be better than this.
Let`s do that. Donald Trump doesn`t become president if we had been better
O`DONNELL: And, Neera, as the news of the day developed, I knew two things
for sure would be in the first minutes of tonight`s program. One, the John
McCain video. The other, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez video that I
remember watching during Chris Hayes` town hall. Those were her people
filling up that hall on climate change.
And when one of the people she was debating disagreed in a way the audience
didn`t like, they started to yell at him. You saw what she did. That
point she made that that`s the difference between her and Trump is so true
and it is the tip of the iceberg of the difference between her and Trump.
TANDEN: Absolutely. But the real difference is leadership. Leadership is
telling your supporters and not just the people you disagree with, but your
supporters that you have to actually hear from the other side. We haven`t
heard that in years from Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden, Renee Graham, thank you very much for starting us
off tonight. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, more members of the House of Representatives now
support impeachment as they showed in a symbolic procedural vote on the
House floor yesterday. One of the Democrats who voted to support
impeachment yesterday on the House floor will join us next.
And is individual one going to get away with committing the crimes that
Michael Cohen is currently in prison for? The Justice Department has
officially closed the investigation of the Michael Cohen case, which means
it closed its investigation apparently of President Trump`s involvement in
the Michael Cohen case.
But former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner says he doesn`t think it`s
over. And that makes two of us.
And, later, presidential candidate Julian Castro will get tonight`s LAST
O`DONNELL: The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote
yesterday on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic
Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president`s tweeted comments that
the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist. The impeachment
resolution had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation and referred
only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that
he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum
seekers as is common with resolutions like that, which virtually every
Democrat agrees with in part.
The Democratic leadership used the procedural device of a vote on tabling
the motion, basically sat – putting it aside so that technically the vote
was not directly on the issue of impeachment. The vote was simply on
whether to proceed with that resolution and send it to the Senate or to
delay the resolution.
Ninety-five Democrats voted not to table the resolution which means we have
a new count of house Democrats in favor of impeachment, 95 is significantly
higher than the number of Democrats who prior to yesterday have taken a
position in favor of impeachment.
And we are joined by one of those 95 Democrats, Democratic Congresswoman
Robin Kelly of Illinois. She`s a member of the House Oversight Committee.
I think there was no surprise about what was going to happen on that motion
to table yesterday, but I was struck by – by the way, many people in favor
of impeachment actually stood and voted against it saying – because what
it would have done is simply sent it straight to the United States Senate
without any judiciary committee hearings on impeachment. But you can also
see in that vote of 95, the frustration of where the House of
Representatives is on impeachment now.
REP. ROBIN KELLY (D-IL): I think that`s exactly what it is. People are
frustrated and they were disgusted by his tweets and his comments. I know
for me, I felt like I had to vote the way I voted because I was so
frustrated and just to send some kind of message to my constituents that
this man needs to go.
And we also realize and even if we do impeach him, that Mitch McConnell is
not going to do anything. That`s how frustrated my colleagues and I are at
O`DONNELL: And today, continuing to show that you can legislate and
investigate and condemn at the same time, the House passed a giant increase
in the minimum wage in history – $15 minimum wage, knowing that Mitch
McConnell will never take it up on the Senate floor.
So, what is the difference between the House Democratic leadership`s
approach to legislation like minimum wage, which they know Mitch McConnell
won`t bring it to a vote in the Senate. And impeachment which they also
know would have troubled to put it mildly in the Senate.
KELLY: You know, I think with impeachment, we are walking a fine line. We
just got back the majority and the reason we got back the majority is
because so many new colleagues flipped Republican seats. So, we have to be
strategic in what we do and we have to make sure we are a tracking the
people we lost. We have to make sure we are attracting independents and so
many people despite the president, they don`t want us to go through the
impeachment. You know, they want us to take care of business.
In fact, on my way over here, the person that drove me saying the regular
everyday person doesn`t care about the things you guys keep talking about.
They care if they have a job. They care about their health care, about
So, you know, I think that`s part of it, too, striking a balance.
O`DONNELL: I want to listen to what Congresswoman Omar said about her
safety given that the president is in effect publicly inviting threats to
her. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you scared for your safety right now?
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): I am not. What I`m scared for is the safety for
people who share my identities. When you have a president who clearly
thinks someone like me should go back, the message that he`s sending to
every single person who shares an identity with me, and he is telling them
– you guys are going to be all right – he`s telling them that this is not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: She says she is not afraid for her safety. Are you afraid for
KELLY: Yes, I`m afraid for her safety and the others also, but
particularly her safety. I`m sure she has some concerns about her safety
also. I hope she does, that of her family also.
O`DONNELL: What is it like day to day now serving in the House where you
don`t know who`s next. You don`t know who is the president going to target
I think you can be absolutely sure he`s going to be targeting Congresswoman
Omar for a long time. He has been targeting.
But this is not something that prior to the Trump era, members of the House
or Senate had to worry about.
KELLY: No, I mean, this is absolutely ridiculous. It`s embarrassing.
It`s almost I would say unbelievable, but he does something new every week.
He as my grandmother is saying, getting into the gutter.
And it`s scary about what happened in North Carolina yesterday. So many
people shouting “send her back” and applauding him, saying he`s not a
racist. That`s very scary that these are citizens of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Robin Kelly, thank you very much for joining us.
KELLY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate you being here.
And when we come back, could individual one be prosecuted for the same
crimes Michael Cohen is now in prison for? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The William Barr Justice Department says it has closed the
investigation of Individual-1, a federal judge in Manhattan ordered the
release of some investigative documents in the case of Michael Cohen now
that the Justice Department says it has closed the investigation.
Those documents detail the timing of phone calls between Michael Cohen and
the President and Hope Hicks and others engaged in trying to cover up
Donald Trump`s relationships with Stormy Daniels and Former Playboy Model
Karen McDougal during the presidential campaign.
Chairman Nadler the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter
to Hope Hicks today demanding that she return to the committee because her
previous testimony “Appears to be inconsistent with evidence unsealed this
morning by a Federal Judge in New York.”
But the biggest mystery about the Justice Department closing the case is
the fact that federal prosecutors in court said that Michael Cohen
committed the crimes he is now in prison for “In coordination with and at
the direction of individual-1” who is of course Donald Trump.
The charges that Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to say that, “He committed
crimes with Donald Trump and at the direction of Donald Trump in order to
help Donald Trump to win the Presidential election in a conspiracy against
the United States of America.”
If Attorney General William Barr shut down this investigation simply to
protect the President, what prevents the next Attorney General appointed by
the next President from reopening this investigation and charging
Individual-1 with exactly the same crimes Michael Cohen is now in prison
For the answer to that, we turn to Glenn Kirschner, Former Federal
Prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Analyst. And Glenn, so glad you could be here. I
have been wondering this all day. If this is William Barr shutting down
this investigation which is only one of the possibilities in front of us,
let`s deal with this one first.
If that`s what it is, shutting it down to protect the President, if just
over 18 months from now, we swear in a new President and get a new Attorney
General, can it be reopened?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It can be reopened Lawrence. It
should be reopened. But here`s the thing. I don`t know that it needs to be
reopened. And here`s why? As you set out in the run up to this segment, we
already have more than enough evidence to prove that together with Michael
Cohen, then candidate Trump broke the law Campaign Finance Violations.
Because we already had that evidence, it has been reinforced and
corroborated by the release of the documents that we saw today. But because
we already had that evidence, I think the only thing stopping the Southern
District of New York from indicting Trump right now is that ill advised OLC
memo that says you can`t indict a sitting President.
So if a Democrat wins in 2020 and a rational Attorney General, one who
actually represents the people and not the President, is nominated and
confirmed, I don`t know that he or she would have to reopen the
investigation. All that person would have to do is tell the Southern
District of New York prosecutors now with all of the evidence that you
collected previously, I want to you prepare an indictment.
That`s what I expect will happen. I can`t speak for the Southern District
of New York prosecutors, but I can speak as a prosecutor for 30 years. What
I see publicly reported would lead me to draft up an indictment for
President Trump, both a conspiracy charge for acting with Michael Cohen and
a felony Campaign Finance Violation charge.
And on the day President Trump became private citizen Trump; I would walk
into the Grand Jury present that indictment and ask them to return those
charges against Former President Trump.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee
who is himself a former federal prosecutor said this today. The inescapable
conclusion from all of the public materials available now is that there was
ample evidence to charge Donald Trump with the same criminal election law
violations for which Michael Cohen pled guilty and is now serving time in
Glenn, let`s look at this in another frame. Let`s presume no William Barr
interference nothing elicit going on and the decisions being made in the
Southern District of New York. How would you explain the closing of the
investigation without introducing a concept of some kind of protective
element for the President?
KIRSCHNER: So here`s how I would explain that. When you read the judge`s
order when he was saying I`ve taken the prosecutor`s position under
advisement and I`m deciding that there no longer is a basis to continue to
have these documents under seal because the public has a right to know.
All that means is the investigation itself has been run to ground. The
prosecutors and the FBI agents working this particular investigation have
done everything they need to do. Therefore there is no longer a risk of
interfering with the investigation if the judge were to unseal the
That, I suggest, Lawrence, is different from somebody concluding that the
Southern District of New York doesn`t have enough to prosecute will not
prosecute now, will not prosecute ever. I suspect the only thing stopping
the Southern District of New York from prosecuting right now is the OLC
I don`t think there is any inconsistency between them announcing okay,
judge, we don`t have an ongoing investigative reason to keep these matters
under seal anymore. But that doesn`t mean we are not going to charge the
President in the future.
I would say stay tuned and I would bet those Southern District of New York
prosecutors, who as you said already announced in open court through
Michael Cohen`s guilty plea that the President participated in these
crimes. I`ll bet they are champing at the bit to move forward. They just
can`t do it because that ill advice OLC Memo says they can`t.
O`DONNELL: Glenn, quickly, could this be the Southern District say in
effect offering up their material to a possible impeachment investigation?
KIRSCHNER: That`s a great point. Because just as Bob Mueller said he
wouldn`t come right out and say the President committed obstruction of
justice offenses because that was up to the Congress. There is a parallel
between that and the Southern District of New York saying okay, here are
all the materials. Our investigation has concluded, but we can`t charge
anybody. So Congress, why don`t you take it from here? Because you are the
one empowered by the constitution to now hold this President accountable.
O”DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I
KIRSCHNER: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, should the next Attorney General
appointed by the next President reopen the case of Individual-1? I will ask
Presidential Candidate Julian Castro, next.
O`DONNELL: Here are some of the Democratic Presidential Candidates
responding to President Trump`s attacks this week on four Democratic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I personally have been
told that go back to where you came from. It is vile. It is ignorant. It is
shallow. It is hateful. And it has to stop. It has to stop.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most racist
outbreak of statements from a President that I have heard in my lifetime
and it must be universally condemned.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was despicable. To stand and
attack those four women in the way he did, talking about them going back
home the racist basic taunts.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is trying to stir
up as much hatred and dissension in this country as possible because it
serves his political ends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is another Democratic Candidate for President,
Julian Castro Former Secretary of Housing Urban Development under the Obama
Administration and the Former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas.
Secretary Castro, welcome to THE LAST WORD and I want to get your reaction
to the President`s tweeted attacks against the four Congress women and what
he had to say about them for 15 minutes at his rally last night. Along with
that the surprise today that he seems to at least want to publicly claim
that he disagrees with his audience chanting “Send her back”.
JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me, Lawrence.
His behavior and his comments are disgusting they are racist. We have not
seen at least in the last 50 years, a politician who has made his career as
successfully as Donald Trump by trying to divide Americans along racial,
ethnic, and religious lines.
This is racial priming. He is the biggest identity politician that there
is. The rally yesterday was one great example of that. These tropes that he
is using about go back and the comments from the crowd about “Send her
back”, this is harkening an era that we thought that we were making good
progress in our country getting past.
But he is bringing us right back. He`s moving this nation backward in a
very tangible way and making life more difficult not only for the four
Congress women, certainly for them, but also for school children that are
out there that may be black or they may be Muslim or maybe Latino or Asian-
But in the classroom they go to, they are the other. Their classmates are
more likely to see them as the other because of this President`s words and
his actions. So he is hurting our country by doing it.
O`DONNELL: Is that something you have experienced anyone saying to you at
any point in the course of your life, go back to where you came from?
CASTRO: Oh, well, absolutely in politics whether it`s e-mails or these days
on Twitter. A few years ago, it was more old fashioned letters when I was a
younger city councilman. Yeah, I think you would be hard pressed to find
many candidates of color or politicians that are minorities that haven`t
gotten some sort of comments along those lines. I have gotten plenty over
But let me contrast that to an experience I had last year. I was at the
Ursula Processing Center, McAllen with a group of activists protest the
Family Separation Policy of this administration. As sad as what was
happening in that center on the border was with children and their
families, what gave me hope is that the activists that were there.
They were white they were black they were Latino, Asian-American and Native
American they are from different parts of the country. So you could see
that the values that people have of basic respect for humanity of
compassion of understanding of love of reaching out a hand to people in
need. Those are stronger than the division and the fear and the paranoia
that this President is trying to stoke for his own political ends.
O`DONNELL: The Justice Department has apparently closed the investigation
of the Michael Cohen case in which federal prosecutors said that Donald
Trump ordered Michael Cohen directed him to commit those crimes and
committed those crimes with him, the crimes which Michael Cohen is
imprisoned tonight. If you`re elected President, would your Attorney
General reopen that investigation and examine indicting Donald Trump?
CASTRO: If I`m elected President, this is what I would tell my Attorney
General. You treat him like you would treat any other citizen. Can I
believe that if he were treated like any other citizen, he absolutely would
be prosecuted? He`d be behind bars.
O`DONNELL: Secretary Castro, we`re going to try to squeeze in a break. So
we can get more time discussing this. I want to discuss your policing
reform proposals when we get back. And what I heard you say this week on
this matter, which is the strongest statement I have heard about police use
of force by a Presidential Candidate ever, which as you know, doesn`t have
a lot of competition. It`s not something a lot of Presidential Candidates
talk about. We`re going to do that right after this break. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASTRO: We saw on video that the officer engaged in excessive force against
Eric Garner, that he used a choke maneuver that is not supposed to be used
by NYPD. He did that for seven seconds it was clear what he was doing. Mr.
Garner said 11 different times that he couldn`t breathe, and so this
officer had plenty of warning. He should have understood what he was doing,
that he was killing Eric Garner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Presidential Candidate Julian Castro is back with us. You are
saying that in reaction to the Justice Department, the William Barr Justice
Department deciding this week not to prosecute the officer involved in the
killing of Eric Garner.
The next stage of this is up to the city of New York, it`s the question of
should that officer be fired? Do you believe that that police officer
should be fired? You`re going to be on the debate stage next time with the
Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. And is this something that you will
bring up at that time?
CASTRO: I absolutely believe that the officer will be fired. I hope we had
the opportunity to speak about the issue of police reform as you know,
Lawrence, I`m the only candidate that`s put forward a police reform plan.
This is one more powerful example of why we need it.
I would just ask your listeners there, how many of these videos do we have
to see, video after video after video of especially young black men that
are treated differently by police, that excessive force is used on before
we understand that it`s – even though we do have great police officers out
there and I worked with some as Mayor of San Antonio, this is not a case of
just a few bad apples.
The whole system is broken, and we need a plan to fix it. That`s what my
police reform plan would do by increasing transparency and accountability,
setting a national use of force standard that says that lethal force should
only be used if an officer has exhausted all other reasonable alternatives
under the circumstances.
It would also create a list of decertified offers, national lists so that
they can`t get decertified because of misconduct in one police department
and then just go down the road and get another job at a different police
department. And it would demilitarize our police.
Because in the last 20 years especially through this program where military
equipment is given to police departments across the country. We`ve really
created more of a military, more aggressive kind of mind-set in our police.
I think that we need to ensure that they have the tools to do their job
effectively, but not create a militaristic police.
So those are some of the things that I think that we can do. And I hope
that folks will go to my website, juliancastro.com and check out the whole
O`DONNELL: What would you do about the Justice Department process here?
They had the Eric Garner case for five years. They`ve been investigating it
for 5 years before they decided the day before the statute of limitations
ran to announce that we aren`t going to prosecute.
CASTRO: Well, look, I know they wrestled with it. They wrestled with it
through the Obama Administration and into this administration. But one
other things I mentioned later in the clip that you played was that the
Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department actually recommended
charges be brought against Officer Pantaleo, and still charges were not
brought and Attorney General Barr made a decision as I understand it, he
was personally involved in making the decision not to go forward.
They should have taken the recommendation of the Civil Rights Division of
the Justice Department and brought charges against this officer because he
deserved it. You know, a lot of times this actually mirrors what happens
with prosecutors at the local level in Counties across the country, is that
they`re skittish. They are reluctant to bring these kinds of charges when
O`DONNELL: I`m going to give you a little debate practice timing here. We
have 45 seconds left for you to answer the question. What is the single
most important thing you want to talk about in the next debate?
CASTRO: What I want to talk about are things that we can do at a-to-make
sure that every family in our country is able to prosper. How we are going
to make sure that you and your family have good health care when you
needed, that your children and grandchildren can get a great education in
our country so they can reach their American dream?
And how are we going to make sure that you can have a good opportunity,
whether you live in a big city or small town? Those are the kinds of things
that I`m focused on. And I look forward to the next debate in a couple of
weeks. We just got the lineups today, so we`re going to look to do a good
job on July 31st.
O`DONNELL: You`re going on the second night of the next round of debates.
CASTRO: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: We will be watching. Presidential Candidate Julian Castro, thank
you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
CASTRO: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian
Williams starts now.
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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