Interview with Kamala Harris TRANSCRIPT: 7/11/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Guest: Dale Ho, Kamala Harris

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  I appreciate it.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

We`ve got a big show tonight.  Lots going on. 

I`m very pleased to say that California Senator Kamala Harris is here tonight.  She obviously had a huge night at the first Democratic debate.  I have not had a chance to speak with her since that debate, but she`s going to be here live here in studio with me in just a few minutes.  I`m very excited about that. 

And just as a preface to that, I know you know how I feel about spending too much time on polls and all that horse race stuff, fund-raising, all the rest, this early on in the campaign.  You know that is not my favorite thing to spend lots of time talking about this early on. 

But because Kamala Harris is here tonight, I do want to point out a couple of really interesting lines in the new NBC News poll that just came out tonight.  Now, this has just come out in the last few hours.  You might have seen the top results in this new NBC poll already among Democratic voters nationwide.

The new NBC News poll that is again just out tonight shows Joe Biden on top of the field with 26 percent.  Then in second place is Elizabeth Warren with 19 percent.  Then there is a tie for third place between Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders at 13 points each.  So, that`s the top tier.  That`s the double-digit crowd. 

Biden, then Warren, seven points back for Biden, and then Harris and Sanders six points back from Warren.  Below those top four, we get down into the single digits.  Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 7 percent. 

Then there are two candidates who are in the 2 percent club.  At 2 percent, we got both Beto O`Rourke and Andrew Yang. 

And then there`s an octet of candidates in the 1 percent club.  All of these candidates are at 1 percent.  Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, Marianne Williamson and John Delaney.  They`re all at 1 percent.

And then there is a zero percent club as well.  Kirsten Gillibrand, Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, Tulsi Gabbard, all polling at goose egg in the new NBC poll. 

So, again, this is just one poll.  It`s very early on.  Strategically right now, basically the most important thing is that all the candidates are trying to hit at least one or two percent since those are the thresholds that will help them get into the next two debates. 

But as I said, there are a couple of things that I want to show you about this top tier of candidates as they rate in the new NBC poll.  And it`s sort of on the subject of Senator Harris and her standings right now since she`s going to be our guest tonight in just a moment.  Also, honestly, because of that top tier of candidates, Senator Harris is the one who turned in the lowest fund-raising numbers in the last quarter that ended after the first debate. 

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was only at 7 percent.  He was ranked fifth in this current NBC News poll, but in the last quarter, he was first in fund- raising.  He was up around $25 million, Biden was around $21.5 million, Warren at $19 million, Sanders at $18 million, and then Kamala Harris was, is obviously polling as a top tier candidate, but she was behind the rest of those top tier candidates in terms of fundraising at $12 million. 

And again, I know it`s easy to get lost in the sauce in the horse race stuff, right, sort of pointlessly, because it`s too easy to put too much weight on any one or two metrics at this point early on in the campaign.  But here`s a thing that makes me particularly interested to be able to talk to Harris tonight, given the dynamics that we can see in the race right now.  And that is the fact that if I sort of put it in broad strokes, is that as I look at the numbers right now, as I look at the various horse race metrics, it looks to me like if she can capitalize on what she`s got going on, if she can grow her campaign to meet the moment right now, Kamala Harris, more than anybody else in the field, appears to be the candidate in the top tier right now who has the most room to run, who has the most interest, the most potential support out there from Democratic voters who haven`t yet committed to who they like. 

And you can tell from the NBC News poll, again, just out tonight, that it turns out almost no Democratic voters have fully committed yet to who they like.  NBC News asked Democratic voters, is your mind definitely made up?  Only 12 percent said yes.  My mind is definitely made up.  I definitely know who I`m going to vote for in the primary. 

I mean, people are willing to tell pollsters who they are inclined toward right now, but nearly 80 percent of them still have an open mind.  So, then the pollsters asked, well, if your mind is not definitely made up right now, which of the other candidates besides your first choice are you looking at as your backup, as your second choice?  Number one answer from Democratic voters: Senator Kamala Harris. 

Then they tried to get it at, same sort of idea, a different way.  They basically asked the, who are you intrigued by question.  This is how they phrased it. 

Quote: Leaving aside the candidate you support or your second choice, are there any other Democratic candidates who you would consider supporting and want to learn more about?  If yes, who would that be?  And again, the top answer is the same.  Kamala Harris. 

So, I mean, the top line results of this poll, overall, she`s tied with Bernie Sanders for third place, behind Biden and Warren.  But Senator Harris is getting more second looks, more interest from people who aren`t already supporting her than any other candidate in the field right now.  And that translates to room to grow, when she is already a top tier candidate in terms of polling. 

So, I mean, if she can build a capable campaign, if she can run a campaign and raise the money she needs to and capitalize on that interest and reward people that come looking to find out more about her, by giving them a reason to stick with her, if she can do that, she`s got -- she`s in a good position.  And one of the most interesting positions, I think, in the whole field. 

And honestly, I think the interest in Senator Harris right now, and the number of people in the Democratic primary polity who are willing to take a look at her, right now, it`s likely being driven in large part by the -- by what this question is getting at.  Which candidate or candidates in the debates most impressed you?  And by debates, they mean the first two nights of the first debate which were hosted by MSNBC, NBC and Telemundo two weeks ago.  Which candidate or candidates most impressed you? 

Democratic voters tell NBC News their number one answer is Kamala Harris, by a mile, 15 points north of Elizabeth Warren, who was the second response given there by Democratic voters. 

So, we`re going to have Senator Harris here live in just a moment, at a really interesting time in the campaign, to be able to talk with her.  She`s obviously turning heads.  She made a huge impression with her performance in the first debate, a commanding performance, if those numbers are anything to go by. 

But, you know, that debate was two weeks back now and the challenge is to build and grow and take advantage of it.  And she`s been rolling out a bunch of proposals recently, and I`m just -- I`m happy she is here tonight.  I`m interested to see how she is doing at this point in the campaign.  So, that`s coming up. 

Also though, there is lots of news.  Today was frankly slightly nut balls in Washington.  I mean, there`s always a lot going on at once, but today, there was a lot that was sort of pushing the envelope. 

Today, the House Judiciary Committee, for example, voted to authorize subpoenas to Jared Kushner, to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to former White House chief of staff John Kelly, to Trump`s now awaiting sentencing national security adviser Mike Flynn, to Trump`s old campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. 

Also, David Pecker from "The National Enquirer" and an editor there, as well.  These are guys that helped the president with his hush money payments to cover up alleged affairs before the elections.  Also, a lawyer involved in those payments, a lawyer named Keith Davidson, he`s also being subpoenaed.  Of course, Michael Cohen was the other lawyer who was involved in those hush money payments, too, but he`s already serving federal prison time for his role in them. 

Also, Jeff Sessions` chief of staff, Jody Hunt, who is still at the Justice Department, who has been the man at the center of this huge debacle for the Trump administration over this census thing, which we`re going to talk about in just a moment.  Jody Hunt has been subpoenaed, as well.  As has Rob Porter, who was gently nudged out of the Trump White House after serious domestic violence allegations from both of his ex-wives put a little flesh on the bones of the story as to why he couldn`t get a security clearance despite the fact that you really kind of need one if you`re going to be staff secretary to president of the United States. 

So, all in all, a nice bunch subpoenaed today by the Judiciary Committee, or a nice bunch whose subpoenas have been authorized by the Judiciary Committee.  The Judiciary Committee has been sort of plodding along in this very deliberate process of requesting testimony and then demanding it and then still not getting it and then demanding it some more and then ultimately making noises about how some day they`ll win all of this in court. 

These new subpoenas are part of that slow roll from the Judiciary Committee, but they also represent an interesting escalation in terms of who they`re targeting and how close those targets are to the president.  Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler now has been authorized to send those subpoenas to each of these 12 guys, at will, when he wants to see them.  We will see when he does it and whether we really are going to see any of these guys in the witness chair in an open televised hearing finally have to answer questions. 

But here`s an interesting twist.  The other subpoenas that Jerry Nadler was authorized to send out today, in addition to the 12 people related to these allegations of obstruction of justice, potential corruption, potential abuse of power by the president, the other subpoenas he was authorized to send out today are about the Trump policy of taking kids from their parents and their other family members at the border. 

We reported earlier this week on a trove of significant incident reports detailing alleged mistreatment of kids in custody at a border patrol facility in Yuma, Arizona.  You may remember one of the things we reported was a detailed claim by a 15-year-old girl that she was sexually assaulted by a uniformed officer inside that facility.  And although this significant incident report about that alleged sexual assault by a uniformed officer was filed with the Trump administration more than a month ago, was filed with HHS, a case manager from Health and Human Services filled out and filed that significant incident report in early June, nevertheless, there`s been no indication that that matter was ever followed up.  There is no indication that that matter was ever investigated. 

After this girl came forward to formally report it, there`s no indication that matter was ever looked into, until NBC News obtained and published that incident report earlier this week and called CBP for comment.  Now, finally, CBP says that matter is being investigated. 

Today, the chief border patrol official in charge of that facility gave an interview to a local public radio reporter in Arizona, named Victor Calderon, in which Calderon questioned him about the abuse allegation involving that facility that he runs in Yuma. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

VICTOR CALDERON, KAWC REPORTER:  Has there been a chance for training for guards and agents or is it just sort of a do the best you can every day? 

ANTHONY PORVAZNIK, U.S. BORDER PATROL AGENT, YUMA SECTOR:  We`re not, you know, child care professionals.  I would say that.  But in terms of detention and transport and those things, we are trained for that. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  We`re not child care professional.  We are not trained for that.  You know?

This is the man running a facility that has been holding hundreds of kids apart from their parents, apart from any adult relatives, holding kids alone, dozens of them crammed into cells for days, crammed in there so tightly they have to take turns sleeping because there`s only enough room to lie down if other people stand up.  He`s been running a facility where at least one of the kids say that the officers took away the mats on which the kids were allowed to sleep as punishment for complaining about the chlorine in the water making it too difficult to drink. 

We`re not child care professionals.  We`re not trained for that. 

So, today, on the child separation policy in general, the Judiciary Committee was authorized to start subpoenaing the Trump administration for records and documents about that policy and about the ongoing practice of taking little kids away from their parents.  Today, on the Yuma, Arizona, allegations, specifically, a key oversight committee in the House announced that they are opening an investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of migrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers.  This is a direct result of NBC`s reporting this week. 

As a first, the committee says they want all the significant incident reports that describe allegations of abuse of these kids by Homeland Security Department staff.  NBC reporter Julia Ainsley who worked on this story with Jacob Soboroff said this week that while NBC`s reporting this week was based on nearly 30 of these significant incident reports that NBC News obtained, she said that there are believed to be many, many, many other significant incident reports, in addition to the 30 or so that NBC saw. 

Now that reporting has caused Congress to demand to see all of them that allege any sort of abuse.  So, Congress should be able to get those.  Brace yourself for that. 

Tomorrow, we`re expecting more than 750 vigils and protests around the country under the banner Lights for Liberty.  These are going to be protests against how the Trump administration has been abusing and mistreating immigrants in their custody.  Most of the protests are going to be physically right outside detention centers where immigrants and immigrant kids are being held.  Vigils and rallies and protests are going to be held outside the actual border patrol stations and the ICE facilities that are holding people. 

One of these vigils that is planned for tomorrow is outside that Yuma, Arizona, facility that we`ve been reporting on all week.  That one in Yuma is expected to be a large event at 7:00 local time tomorrow night.  But again, we`re expecting hundreds of these vigils and protests, these Lights for Liberty events. 

And this comes as the Trump administration is once again threatening that they are about to start rounding up immigrants and their families all over the country.  And that, of course, has been a repeated recent threat, including from the president himself, just over the last several weeks. 

And to be honest with you, we do not know if the new threats today that this is imminently about to happen, we don`t know if these new threats from the administration are more realistic or more serious than all the previous threats that have come and gone from them. 

But -- I mean, if their aim here is to try to rattle people, certainly they are succeeding.  If the aim is to scare immigrant communities and to try to anger people who are upset about the way the Trump administration has treated immigrants, if they`re trying to do that, it`s working.  Immigration officials announced these raids this weekend would target ten major U.S. cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. 

The mayors of many of those cities are now speaking out, saying they`re going to do what they can to block these supposedly impending raids, to try to protect immigrant communities in these large cities. 

The mayor of Chicago, for example, Lori Lightfoot announced today that not only would her city`s police not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in any of these raids, but she announced that Chicago had cut off ICE from having access to any Chicago police databases.  And she said that cutoff will remain permanent. 

Houston`s mayor, Sylvester Turner, told NPR today that his city`s police will also not participate and not cooperate in any federal raids.  And that, quote, we are advising people that they have due process rights.  They do not have to answer the door.  They do not have to let anybody into their homes. 

In New York, both the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York state told immigrant families today that the city and the state would help them fight for their rights and offered phone numbers for call for anybody approached by federal immigration agents. 

And so, these mayors and some governors and local officials who are blocking access to police databases and telling local police departments and city police departments not to cooperate and they`re offering legal advice to immigrant communities, making clear that ICE is not welcome in their cities, these local officials who are doing what they feel they can - - I mean, I think some of the consternation about these threats of imminent raids is about the fact that the Trump administration seems to be such a chaos machine on this.  I mean, they have multiply threatened these raids.  And so, nobody knows if today`s announcement that the raids are going to happen is just another threat or if it means that the threats might really happen. 

And if they are going to happen, why are they announcing them in advance anyway?  I mean, even today, announcing these ten cities where raids would take place, right after they announced the list of ten cities, like, immediately after, ICE then confirmed to the city of New Orleans that actually even though New Orleans was one of the ten cities on the list, oh, all immigration enforcement is going to be temporarily suspended in New Orleans because of the huge freaking tropical storm that`s bearing down on the city and about to become a hurricane and already causing flooding.  It will be a hurricane by the time it makes landfall this weekend, so maybe the federal government planning a gigantic immigration roundup in the middle of that in New Orleans was not a brilliant idea, but maybe the federal government didn`t notice the weather forecast until today? 

So, they announced New Orleans and then immediately announced, no, New Orleans, not you.  Now they`ve changed their plans.  But did they have the plans anyway in the first place?  Is it comforting or disconcerting to see the federal government this confused and this incompetent in even planning something this controversial and offensive? 

So, today, the mayor of New Orleans found herself having to reassure immigrants in her city that they could safely evacuate the city if they want to, without fear that they might be stopped by federal immigration agents on their way out.  She told residents, quote, safety first.  And a part of that safety, which is a priority for the city of New Orleans, is supporting the fact that ICE will not, repeat, will not have a presence in the city of New Orleans. 

But in the midst of this chaos, and demonstrated incompetence, there`s obviously real concern over what might be about to happen.  The White House has obviously been trying to stoke as much fear and confusion as possible.  Part of their M.O. here seems to be the worse you treat immigrants, the more you demonstrate cruelty toward immigrant communities, the more you try to terrify people, the better that is for the country somehow, the more pain and fear you can instill in immigrant communities, somehow that redounds to the White House benefit, that seems to be their calculus.

  In the midst of this confusion and the ongoing threats from the administration about these supposedly impending roundup us, local immigrants rights groups and national organizations, including ACLU, have been trying in advance of these raids to teach people about their rights.  Basic stuff, like, if immigration comes to your door, do not open the door.  You are not legally required to let them in unless they have a warrant. 

Quote, ask why they are there.  If you don`t speak English, you have the right to have an interpreter.  Quote: You have the right to remain silent.  Quote: You have entitled to speak to a lawyer. 

Local ACLU chapters and local immigrants rights groups are blasting out rapid response hotlines to call if you are confronted by federal agents.  The national ACLU filed a preemptive lawsuit, attempting to ensure that any immigrants that are rounded up by ICE are afforded a hearing, detention hearing before being summarily deported. 

But -- I mean, this is a multi-front thing.  That same ACLU is also in the midst of, right now, legally completely destroying the Trump administration, officially, as of today, in what has just been a debacle from the very beginning, with the Trump administration trying to recast and rejigger the U.S. census in a way that bluntly appears to be designed to undercut immigrants and to undercut Latino communities specifically. 

The Trump administration lost this in lower federal courts.  They took it to the Supreme Court.  They lost it there, too, a couple of weeks ago.  Justice Department lawyers who had been fighting for this for the Trump administration conceded to the court that they had lost it. 

Then Trump made them take that back, that devolved into this bizarre comedy of errors in which Justice Department lawyers and their Trump-appointed bosses, their higher ups at the Justice Department were telling the same judge different stories about what the government intended to do.  It was like these officials from the same department had never met each other and nobody knew exactly who their client was anymore and what anybody was supposed to be saying to the court. 

Well, today, inevitably, the president announced that they are giving up on this effort to try to rejigger the census this year.  He instead announced he has an amazing new plan which is better than that, which turns out just to be doing the census the same way it has always been done.  Stomping on Trump`s decision to give up on his census plan, the ACLU, which has been a plaintiff in one of the cases that successfully blocked the White House on this, they put out this, shall I say, stark statement from one of their lead attorneys today, Dale Ho. 

The statement says, quote, Trump`s attempt to weaponize the census ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.  It is clear he simply wanted to sow fear in immigrant communities and turbocharge Republican gerrymandering efforts by diluting the political influence of Latino communities.  Now, he`s backing down and taking the option that he rejected more than a year ago.  Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total humiliating defeat for him and his administration. 

Joining us now is the author of that statement, Dale Ho.  He`s the director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project and one of the lawyers who argued the Supreme Court case against the citizenship question. 

Mr. Ho, thank you for being here tonight.

DALE HO, ACLU`S VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT DIRECTOR:  Thanks for having me, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  It`s been a remarkable day.

HO:  It`s been an interesting one.

MADDOW:  Did you know what happened when the president announced today that he was going to be making a statement from the White House on this matter?  There`s been so much confusion in the last two weeks. 

HO:  No, we actually had no idea.  I mean, if you look at the statements over the last two weeks, it`s been this sort of repeated, you know, incantation, we`re just going to put it back on the census, even though the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal.  So, we were, candidly, scrambling to get our legal papers in order to challenge that new decision, to put a citizenship question on the census and make sure that they didn`t disrupt the printing process of the census questionnaires, which has already begun. 

MADDOW:  Why was it so dangerous in your mind, and in the ACLU`s mind, for the president to go ahead and do this?  He has mounted a PR effort, trying to claim this was a benign question and wouldn`t have a major impact and it`s a question that, of course, should be asked, and now, he`s saying it will be asked by other means, even if he can`t squeeze into the census. 

Why was it so dangerous to your mind that he might have been able to put it on there? 

HO:  We haven`t had a question about citizenship on the census for 70 years, not since 1950.  And the reason is because survey professionals, including the experts of the Census Bureau, know that if you put that on there, it`s going to cause people not to respond to the census.  The latest estimate from the administration itself just about three weeks ago was that about 9 million people would not respond to the census if that question were on there. 

Just to put that in perspective, that`s more people than in the state of New Jersey, right?  That`s the 11th largest state.  If you put them together, they have 12 seats in Congress and 14 votes in the Electoral College. 

All those people would have just went poof, right?  And it would have mal- apportioned Congress.  It would have changed the distribution of votes in the Electoral College, it would have changed the allocation of over $900 billion of federal funds annually, and it all would have been to the detriment of immigrant communities. 

MADDOW:  If the effort to put this question on the census was about under- counting immigrant communities, undercounting Latino communities in particular, are you worried that that effect, essentially, will be achieved by the White House having made so much noise about this, by the president having mounted the sort of PR effort he has raised here?  I mean, if people now associate the census with the president`s anti-immigrant rhetoric and sentiment, has the damage been done? 

HO:  You know, I hope not.  We know that people`s willingness to respond to the government survey is affected by the social and political environment and it`s not a great one for participation in government surveys by noncitizens and by people of color.  But we have about ten months now to really try to rally community groups, civic organizations, state and local governments who all care about full census participation and I think that`s where our attention needs to go. 

MADDOW:  In terms of what happens next, obviously, the president did announce -- I wasn`t quite clear what he was intending, but he was basically saying I`m going to try to get this done by other means, and going to direct federal agencies -- 

HO:  Right.

MADDOW:  -- to collect this by information by means other than the census.  Are you concerned about that?  I`m not quite sure what he wants to do. 

HO:  Well, he`s said he`s ordering agencies to do what they`re already doing.  The census bureau has already said that it`s going to start collecting citizenship data from the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration in anticipation of the possibility they would lose this case. 

So, you know, they`re already doing what he`s ordering them to do and declaring victory by ordering them to do what they`re already doing.  So, you know, it`s pretty remarkable situation.  I think we`re going to have to wait to see what the details of that are and see how that data is used before we pass judgment on it. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the census, you won.  And I know that it was a -- it was a bewildering battle, but congratulations.  Good to see you. 

HO:  Thank you so much. 

MADDOW:  Dale Ho is the director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project. 

All right.  Senator Kamala Harris is going to be here live in just a moment.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  See if you can spot the pattern.  Since the Democratic presidential primary debate, California Senator Kamala Harris jumped nine points in CNN`s national polling. 

She jumped 13 points in the latest poll by Quinnipiac.  It`s three points when you look at "The Washington Post"/ABC News poll.  Eight points up in the "Politico"/Morning Consult poll.  Emerson College shows the same thing, Harris with an eight-point jump since the debate. 

The latest Economist/YouGov poll has her up seven since the debate.  A Univision poll of Hispanic primary voters shows that her support jumped 16 points following the June debate.  According to "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll, she also jumped to second place in Iowa following the debate. 

Senator Harris appears to be heading in one direction, and it`s not down.  As I mentioned at the top of the show, NBC News has just tonight released its first poll of the 2020 Democratic race.  So, we can`t talk about a jump because it`s their first snapshot.  But after Biden and Warren ranked first and second in that national poll, Harris is tied with Bernie Sanders at 13 points. 

It is indubitably clear at this point that Kamala Harris is a top tier candidate in this giant race.  With that happening, how do you keep that momentum going?  I mean, there`s a whole lot of race still to be run.  How do you capitalize on recent moves in a horse race like that? 

Joining us now is California senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Kamala Harris. 

Senator, it`s nice to see you.  Thanks for being here.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It`s great to be with you, Rachel.  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  I have not seen you since the debate.  Obviously, America thinks you did well.  How has it changed your campaign or how you are doing this? 

HARRIS:  Well, on a daily basis, it has not changed.  I`m spending a lot of time in the primary states.  This past weekend, I was in Iowa, I was in South Carolina, New Hampshire.  I`m going tomorrow to Nevada.  We are building up a great ground game in each of the states.  We`re hiring staff.  We`re organizing folks around voting and registration. 

And -- but there is momentum and the way that I think about it is that it is steady.  And to your point, the trajectory is a good one, but there`s a lot of work to be done.  I`m in this campaign to win it, I fully intend to win, but it will not be without a lot of hard work and smart work, and I have a great team. 

And so, one day at a time.  One day at a time.

MADDOW:  One of the other things that happened in the wake of that debate in which you made such a splash is that some of the attention that you got from the fringe turned ugly.  We saw sort of birtherism-style attacks on you.  These attacks circulating online that you`re not really black. 

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  When the president`s eldest son briefly joined in that attack on Twitter, for me, that was an "aha" moment that this was what the campaign is going to be like. 

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  If we thought that was in the past, there`s no reason to believe that.  It made me wonder how you and your campaign approach issues like that, if you have a strategy for thinking about that kind of really ugly campaigning now that you have seen a taste of it. 

HARRIS:  Well, I mean, I have to be candid with you.  I was not surprised.  And I found it uninteresting, because it`s just -- it`s a revival of an old playbook that was debunked a long time ago.  And so, everyone was used to it and as you can see, and I really thank my colleagues and other Democrats who are running in this race who spoke up.  I have thanked them and I will continue to thank them because it was bunk. 

And so, we`re going forward.  But, look, the stakes are high, Rachel, as you know.  And their -- and people are going to play -- unfortunately, people play dirty. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

HARRIS:  So, we have to be prepared for it, but ultimately, I think American voters and the American public want that we are going to -- those of us who profess to be a leader and want to be president of the United States, have to prioritize elevating public discourse and educating the public about issues that concern them when they wake up at 3:00 in the morning worrying about their families and their future. 

So, that`s how I`m going to focus.  And, you know, where necessary, we`ll also punch back. 

MADDOW:  Let me talk to you about the sort of strange announcement that we got from President Trump today concerning the census. 

HARRIS:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  So, as you know, the president and the administration had been trying to sort of rejigger the census in a way that was expected to undercut Latino, specifically communities and immigrant communities.  They lost in the courts. 

But I was talking with Dale Ho, the voting rights lawyer from ACLU --

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- who you just saw on the way in here. 

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  About the possibility that maybe the damage is done.  That maybe Latino communities and immigrant communities have received the message that the census will be part of the way this administration wants to go after them, and therefore, they should fear it, they should stay away from it.  They should not respond.  That will accomplish what the Trump administration was trying to do here. 

What do you think about that as a worry and what do you think about how to counteract it if you think it`s based on anything (ph)? 

HARRIS:  So, he has done incredible work as has the ACLU in general, on this issue, and many others. 

It`s a legitimate point.  And we actually started to see that the day after the election in November of 2016.  The number of families where the children did not want to go to school for fear that if they came back, their parents wouldn`t be home.  The number of families that did not send their child to the pediatrician, pediatricians were talking about this, for fear that they would -- that the child and the family will have contact with the government. 

We have seen it over and over again.  And what we are seeing from then until today is just constant displays of the fact that this administration and this president -- he is in the business of intimidating and instilling fear in people.  And in particular, those people that he perceives to be vulnerable. 

And I look at this issue in particular through the lens of my career as a prosecutor.  I`m going to tell you, Rachel.  The best tool in the tool belt of the predator against an undocumented immigrant is to convince that victim that if you report the crime against you, rape, child assault, fraud, it is you who will be treated as the criminal. 

So, when he makes these grand proclamation through his big tweets, what he is doing I believe intentionally is trying to create fear in these individuals and these families.  And that is not the sign of a strong president.  Strength -- the display of strength in my book is you lift people up.  You don`t beat them down. 

This guy in the White House has a continuous pattern of trying to beat people down, specifically on this issue on the census.  What we know -- and we have always been afraid of this, is that there are a lot of blended families in America.  And by that, I mean on this issue, families where certain family members will be documented, others not. 

So, what`s going to happen?  When the census taker comes knocking on that door, they`re not going to answer the door for fear that this being an agent of the government might be in the business of deportation. 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

HARRIS:  Or investigating who is in that household for purposes that are about deportation, not counting people. 

The result will be and include that people will not be counted and who in particular?  Immigrants.  Who in particular?  Specifically in terms of the largest population that we know has been the target of this administration`s, you know, fear campaign?  Latino immigrants. 

So, our legitimate fear and concern is that this census in 2020 will not be accurate.  And the census, the United States census, which is conducted every 10 years, is done as a reflection of our democracy, which is to say that we pay attention to who is here.  We distribute resources based on the need and the population of communities.  We draw lines and make decisions about elected offices and jurisdictions based on these population sizes. 

So, what this president is contributing to is a faulty census that we will have to live with for the next 10 years.  It is highly irresponsible because it`s yet another example of this president trying to interfere and if not weaken our democracy. 

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris is our guest.  If you can stay with us, Senator -- 

HARRIS:  Sure.

MADDOW:  -- we will be right back.  I want to talk to you a little bit about some of the ways that even local mayors and governors are trying to fight on this issue. 

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Some controversial stuff breaking, including tonight. 

We`ll be right back with Kamala Harris right after this. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  We`re back with Senator Kamala Harris of California, Democratic presidential candidate. 

Senator, thank you for doing this. 

HARRIS:  Glad to be with you. 

MADDOW:  One of the other stories that we are covering tonight and we will be through the weekend is this threat from the Trump administration that there are going to be nationwide round-ups of immigrants and their families. 

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  They`ve announced a list of 10 and then they changed it to nine major cities in which they say they`re going to target these raids.  And we don`t know if they`re actually going to do them.  But it`s been interesting to see mayors in these cities and some other officials. 

I was struck by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago today saying that Chicago PD will not be allowed to cooperate with any federal raids and federal officers will not have access to any police databases permanently from here on out because of this sort of thing. 

It is striking to see the federal government be sort of stood up to by mayors, by local police departments, by local officials. 

HARRIS:  Yes.

MADDOW:  That sort of conflict is heartening and one way, it`s also a little bit scary in a way. 

What`s your take on this? 

HARRIS:  Well, I think that -- and I assumed that what Mayor Lightfoot is doing in Chicago, similar to what, you know, Mayor Breed will do in San Francisco, what Mayor Garcetti will do in Los Angeles, which is to say, we don`t want the limited resources of local law enforcement to go into the job that the federal government has got to do and we want our local law enforcement to be trusted by our community and not be feared by our community. 

Because again, as a prosecutor, I don`t -- you know, as a former prosecutor, but I saw it as a prosecutor, I don`t want a victim of crime to be afraid to wave down that patrol car when she has been hurt for fear that if she stops that police officer, she is going to be deported, because I`m going to tell you something -- if she is a mother, if he is a father, they will endure any kind of abuse they have personally experience to make sure that they can go home at night and take care of the babies, which means they will not report bad things that happened to them and therefore to their community, meaning our community.  Because, by the way, a crime against any one of us is a crime against all of us. 

And so, I applaud that mayor saying we`re not going to put local resources into that.  And when we put local resources into something like that, like we have done in the past, we`re going to go and prosecute transnational criminal organizations.  What are you doing picking up people who by ICE`s own definition have not committed a crime?  It`s a misuse of resources. 

MADDOW:  When you look at the cities that they announced they`re going to be targeting today -- it is San Francisco, L.A., Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami, New York.  I think, obviously, it`s large cities, right?  But it`s also I think places where they are pretty sure they`re going to have people outrage and those people are going to be protesting and confronting federal officers as they try to do this. 

HARRIS:  Uh-huh.

MADDOW:  A lot of people have suggested and I think I`m partial to this analysis, that the president may be picking fights around immigration and sort of displaying performative cruelty toward immigrants and immigrant communities because he thinks it helps them politically, because he thinks that it causes Democrats and liberals to stand up for immigrants and that should be somehow alienating to the electorate in the broad sense that will him get reelected in 2020. 

If that is what he is doing, what do you think the antidote is to that sort of thinking? 

HARRIS:  Well, I am with you.  I think that throughout this president`s tenure, he has been throwing flames with, for example, that multibillion dollar vanity project of his called a wall which, by the way, will never get built.  And he`s doing that with this hand over here by tweet, he basically institutes a so-called trade policy that has resulted in farmers in Iowa looking at bankruptcy who have soybeans rotting in their bins because he has cut off a market they cultivated over 10 years or more in China. 

While he is doing this thing over here to get everyone riled up about immigration, he on this hand has had a so-called trade policy where it is by some estimates, hundreds of thousands, as many as maybe 700,000 auto workers may be out of their job by Christmas. 

While he is doing all that, he is passing a trade policy where American families every month right now are spending $1.4 billion a month, on anything from shampoo to washing machines.  He passes a tax bill that benefits the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations of this country while he made this promise to help working people that he has betrayed them. 

He said he was going to deal with infrastructure.  There`s no evidence of an infrastructure plan. 

So, the guy has now got to start distracting people from the fact that he made all these promises that I believe he had no intention of fulfilling.  And he has failed to perform on every level by which we should measure a president of the United States.  Not to mention failed as a commander-in- chief. 

And so, he`s going to create, as he often does, this distraction -- I agree with you -- and do these raids which is a crime against humanity and I believe in the way he is coming about this and the way he has been handling the issue when you got babies in cages, I went down after the debate in Miami.  That next morning, I went down with many of my colleagues who are running and we went to a place in Florida called Homestead. 

And you know why we went there, Rachel?  Because in Homestead, Florida, there is a private detention facility that currently houses 2,700 children.  And as a sitting member of the United States Senate, Julian Castro was there, others were there, they would not let us in.  We walked down -- and I walked down the road and got on a ladder to look over the fence to see what was going on and I saw children lined up by gender, single file like they`re criminals being led into barracks. 

So, these are the kinds of policies that he institutes as a way to, one, extend I think what he believes which is that he believes that we are not a nation that should embrace immigrants, but it`s also to distract from the fact that he has failed to perform.  He has failed to perform. 

And so, he engages in this exaggerated kind of response to an issue as a way to distract.  I mean, you talk about commander-in-chief, you know, this is a guy who takes the word of the Russian president over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes to the fact that Russia interfered in the lection.  He takes and embraces the worth of a North Korean dictator over the word of the American intelligence when it comes to an American student who was tortured and later died.  He embraces a Saudi prince over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes to a journalist who was assassinated. 

And he does not want to be judged in this election based on all of that stuff, so he distracts the American people. 

MADDOW:  Senator Harris, we`re going to take one more quick break.  I have one last question I want to ask you before you go tonight.

HARRIS:  Sure.

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris is our guest.  We`ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  We`re back with Senator Kamala Harris. 

Senator, thank you for sticking around.

HARRIS:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  I have one last question that I want to ask you about something else that`s in the news. 

HARRIS:  Of course.

MADDOW:  There is this challenge to the Affordable Care Act that appears to be rocketing its way through the courts.  It appears to be on its way to the Supreme Court.  If you won the presidency and the AC was gone, 20 million people been thrown off health insurance because the ACA was overruled by this Trump administration lawsuit, would that change your approach to what you want to do with health care? Would you try to get back what had been lost with the ACA?  Or would you still proceed with the radical reform you have been talking about, single-payer plan for everybody? 

HARRIS:  Well, immediately, one of the things that I think all American families know that they do not want by any stretch of imagination to lose is the ban on preexisting conditions being the reason that people can`t have access to health care.  Children being able to be on their parents` coverage until age 27.  That has to come back immediately.  There are so many people who have benefitted from it. 

So, there have to be immediate priorities.  But ultimately, I support Medicare-for-All.  I think that`s where we are looking at a system where we`ve got to have people not have cost be the barrier to their access to health care. 

You know, I was in Iowa recently and a pediatric -- a pediatrician who works on emergency room, she said to me, Kamala, you know we currently do have Medicare-for-All.  I said, how is that?  She said, emergency rooms. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

HARRIS:  Right? 

And so, let`s do it in a way that is actually more effective and cheaper, where people don`t have access to health care because they are in crisis and we are paying so much more because they are getting in at the latest stage of their needs.  Let`s have a system where we have everyone having access as a right and not a privilege for just those who can afford it. 

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris, a leading Democratic presidential contender, thank you for making the time to come in and spend this time.

HARRIS:  Thank you.  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  I really do appreciate it.

HARRIS:  Thank you.  I appreciate you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  All right.  This should be interesting.  Tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is going to hear oral arguments over that subpoena that Congress sent to Donald Trump`s long-time accounting firm, Mazars, when they subpoenaed Mazars to get Trump`s financial record with the firm. 

You might remember back in May, a federal judge ruled that that subpoena was valid, and Mazars need to comply with it.  The president`s lawyers appealed that decision.  Tomorrow is the argument of that appeal.

So, it`s a big deal.  There`s a lot at stake.  The president hasn`t had to hand over any of his financials, but federal court judges started ruling and in this case, he does. 

What`s particularly interesting about this thing tomorrow is that the oral arguments in the case are going to be live-streamed.  Usually in federal court, we don`t get access to anything, but in this case, we`re going to be able to actually hear the arguments, which means I won`t have to read you the transcript tomorrow night.  I`m so hear for it. 

All right.  That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.

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