Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: June 25, 2018 Guest: Mike Murphy; Ron Klain; Austan Goolsbee, Peter Schey
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I`m still trying to work with the image of the Constitution sleeping on the bathroom floor.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes, after having dragged itself in there and barfed and then decided to stay. Yes, I know.
O`DONNELL: So, something has come up I think in our coverage Rachel and we`re going to -- I`m going to share that video again tonight that you showed of these kids in the New York City facility -- and we blur their faces.
Now, that`s what we would do if we were in a New York City public school room, for example, and we were not -- didn`t have the permission of the parents everyone involved to show the children`s faces. But these are missing children. We used to have the faces of kids on milk cartons in this country because we were trying to reunite these missing children with their parents who are trying to find them.
I don`t know what the answer to this is, but I`m wondering whether we should be blurring those faces or whether we should be showing those faces so that perhaps the parent or the cousin of the parents of one of these people somewhere out there in the country sees one of these faces and is able to tell someone in the family she`s in New York. She`s in New York City, I just saw her on TV.
I don`t know how we should handle it.
MADDOW: It is a very difficult, very difficult thing.
Obviously, in our -- you know, we are under the NBC News umbrella. We follow NBC News standards and as a matter of course, somebody who can`t consent to having their image used in a video, we don`t use their image in a video. It`s particularly something that we`re super careful about when it comes to kids.
But what you are saying dovetails absolutely. This new reporting from the Washington Post that one of the things they`re thinking about doing with kids is essentially by taking mug shots of all of these kids, mug shots which is insane because they`re not criminally implicated at all. Taking mug shots of all of these kids, immigration attorneys who have apparently seen some of the initial mug shots say that the images are of crying children in these mug shots.
But apparently, the government has some idea that they`ll use pictures of these kids somewhere in the reunification process if they ever get that process up and running. It -- I mean, I know what we had to do in terms of getting that video in a way that I feel ethically sound about, but what you are saying is absolutely true.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And you and I saw that video without blurred faces.
O`DONNELL: And it is a more powerful video without slurred faces.
O`DONNELL: It has much more impact. But I`m just raising the question and I`m raising it with you and everyone else in this business and I -- and I think what the Washington Post is considering is something that is very much worth considering.
O`DONNELL: It`s a complicated set of issues.
MADDOW: Yes, and it`s -- and you`re right about the unblurred video and just that little girl that little girl Jessica crying our eyes out talking to the talking -- talking to that woman who`s trying to help her, it`s just --
O`DONNELL: And being able to actually look into her eyes makes a lot of difference.
MADDOW: You`re right, absolutely.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Well, the question remains tonight, where are the babies?
The president of the United States ordered the arrest of mothers in babies, including infants in the first months of life who are breastfeeding, and the president cannot answer the question where are the babies? No one can answer that question, even senators. United States senators who have gone looking for the babies can`t find them.
Nevada`s junior senator, Democrat Catherine Cortes Masto, was in Texas today looking for the babies and the girls,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CATHERINE CORTES MASTO (D), NEVADA: And you see what they want us to see, so we don`t know where girls are, we`ve never seen any of the babies of the young kids, we`ve seen the boys in one facility and it`s outrageous.
Red flags go up everywhere, right? That they`re trying to hide something or something is happening here that they don`t want the public to know, and I think that to me is more concern than anything I`ve seen so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Elizabeth Warren had a bit more luck and it was just luck that she managed to see some of the girls and exactly one baby in McAllen, Texas, this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It`s a disturbing picture. There are children by themselves. I saw six-month-old baby, little girls, little boys. They`re all on concrete floors, in cages. There`s just no other way to describe it. They`re big chain-link cages on cold concrete floors, and metal blankets handed out to people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Some people working in these facilities are trying to secretly deliver the message of what is happening in them and the video you are about to see was first shown by Rachel in the last hour. It is reportedly from a facility providing daytime care for some of these children in New York City. These are incarcerated children. They are not free to leave this is not like your kid going to daycare you dropping your kid off at daycare.
The source of the video is reportedly someone who worked in that facility who then quit after making this recording last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Are you hungry?
Why are you crying?
You want to speak to your dad?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: With my mom.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: You want to speak with your mom? You want me to call your worker? Yes? What`s your name?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Jessica.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Jessica? OK, Jessica, don`t cry.
Did you come with your mom? No? You come alone?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: With my sister.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: With your brother?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: With my sister.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: With your brother? And how old is your brother?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Ten.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Ten?
And where is your mom?
Is she in immigration?
No? You don`t know where she is?
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: You don`t know where she is? Huh?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Over there in the States.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: In the States? You don`t know what state?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Oh, in Virginia. But have you spoken to her? Do you want to speak to her again? When was the last time you spoke to her?
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Last week? You haven`t spoken to her this week? They haven`t come to see you so you can talk to her. OK, so I`m going to send the message. What`s your name again? What?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Jessica.
UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Jessica. And what`s your last name to tell him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The eyes are the window of the soul and if you could see those little girl`s eyes as we were able to before that video was blurred, you would see the tears, you would see the pain, you would see much more of who that little girl really is.
That little girl Jessica is yet another voice that we have now heard from inside the Trump jails holding children. We heard another voice that has been inside the Trump cages this weekend when "The Washington Post" released the tape of a phone call that a six-year-old little girl in the United States was allowed to make to her father in his village in El Salvador where the phone call was recorded.
It is a phone call we should all listen to in its entirety and you can do that at `The Washington Post" Website. But here is the moment when she asked her father who she has not seen since they were separated at the southern border when he was coming to get her.
And up to this point, their conversation had a normal rhythm of question and answer to each other but then came a very painful and long silence as her father tried to think of the right thing to say to his daughter when she asked that very simple question, when are you coming to get me, Daddy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAUGHTER: Papa? When are you going to take me out of here?
When are you going to take me out here?
DAD: They`re going to bring you soon, my love.
DAD: Soon. They have to fix the airplane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: They have to fix the airplane. That was the best he could do then he quickly changed the subject.
This weekend, the president who has arrested over 3,000 children at the southern border played golf at a Trump golf course as he does most weekends, and he did not spend one minute looking for the babies, not one minute, which is why my response to every one of his inane tweets now that have nothing to do with his job as president of the United States is, have you found the babies yet?
Joining us now from El Paso, Texas, are Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and host of "A.M. JOY", weekends on MSNBC, and Cal Perry, NBC News and global news editor, is also joining us.
And Peter Schey is back with us. He`s the president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
And, Joy, you and Cal managed to get inside one of these tent facilities that they have on a military base down there today. What did you see?
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I`m -- we took a tour. There were 23 reporters in total. We were walked through this facility.
It`s a -- it`s a military camp is that sort of no better way to describe it. There are various tents where the children do very structured activities, we saw kids lining up to go in and use the phone room. They`re allowed to make 10-minute phone calls a week that are monitored very closely by a staff member.
There`s a showering tent. There`s a tent I like a mess tent. It`s all extremely militaristic. It looks like any sort of military camp that you might see.
We were able to see one sleeping tent, Lawrence, for some of the boys which had five rows of bunks on either side, very neatly made bunk beds with a blue blanket and a pillow. There was a little table when you first walked in where I saw some crossword puzzle books and some other books.
One of the things that struck me, and Cal and I both talked about this with each other afterwards that was really striking, there were crayon drawings on the wall of this particular bunk. Children -- it`s not clear who drew them, obviously somewhere in English, somewhere in Spanish.
There was one that struck me that it was drawn in crayon and in Spanish, it said, (SPEAKING SPANISH), don`t be afraid, (SPEAKING SPANISH) which means we have heard your voice and below it, it said Genesis 21:17. That`s a bible verse that is about the handmaid`s tale. It`s about the story of the Egyptian slave who was given to Abraham and me to bear a child for him and his barren wife. That bible verse was sitting on one of the walls.
There was another sign in English in crayon on the wall that said, if you work hard, good things will happen.
Like there were these signs on the walls and it wasn`t clear who drew them, but the last thing I`ll say before I go back to you is that what struck me just as a as a mom, as a parent, we were allowed to see the children, we weren`t allowed to talk to them. We could say hi. We were encouraged to smile at them.
We were told that they were made nervous when other -- when the delegation of -- you know, when members of Congress came through we were told to smile we could say hola, we can say, catal, we could say, you know, (SPEAKING SPANISH), how`s the food? And that`s it.
But talking to the boys were thirteen to seventeen and some are really small, but, you know, 13 to 17 age boys are a certain type of kid, right? They`re teenage boys. They`re not very verbal necessarily, some were a little bit more willing to talk and to smile back than others.
Some looked really distant (AUDIO GAP) was able to do to talk to little Jessica is what I wanted (AUDIO GAP) to ask them questions, how are you? Where is your mom? Like, where`s the last time you saw her?
It was very hard to resist asking those questions but we didn`t want to cut short that -- you know, have the tour cut short.
O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, I want to get your observations of that -- of that visit.
CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it felt like a forward operating base that you would see in Iraq without the mortar fire or the exceptional security around the outside, although we were told if these kids were to run from the camp, that they would be pursued.
I thought like Joyce said, you know, all of the things that you see in your own house with your own kids are magnified when you see these kids being walked from tents labeled alpha 1 and alpha 2, and the dining facility is the defect, the orders of the day are given in a schedule in a very militarized zone.
It`s all the things that you see in your own kids, you know, at that age, 13- to 17-year-old boys. They`re completely different sizes, right? They develop very differently, so you`ve got on a soccer field kids that are that are completely different sizes from each other.
I was struck by seeing the girls. We weren`t able to go into the girls tent but individually two girls came out and again, this look of shell- shocked, this looked like they were almost sort of no longer blinking, and it you just you just sort of looked at them and what did they go through walking here. And now, what are they going through in this military facility.
I -- one of the drawings that struck me was one from this girl who said she walked all the way from Honduras. I think the other thing that I was struck by is that I think this is where this story is coming. I think the U.S. government is disappearing kids. They`re doing it in the middle of the night.
And I think what we`re going to see now is this administration is going to see this video that we just played out, and they`re going to move these kids to a military base and they`re going to become military detainees, these children and we`re just going to lose complete access. And we`re going to have to rely on whistleblowers who know that now is the time to be standing up and counted, Lawrence.
REID: Yes, Lawrence, and I just said really quickly that you know to amplify Cal`s point, these kids had already been moved. These were not kids who were detained at the border and were brought to this facility it was just stood up. I mean, the soccer field was brand-new saw that they had just laid.
It only has a 30-day mandate. It`s supposed to shut down July 13th. We didn`t get a clear answer on where those kids are going to go after that, but these were kids who were already had been scattered around the country at one of these hundred facilities in 17 different states.
And when one of the babies, you keep talking about where are the babies, when a baby had to be moved in or a toddler or a little kid and the facility in the -- in the -- under the tent was not appropriate for a little kid, they had to give up their bed and be moved from wherever they were in the country to that facility. So, one of the things that was really confounding to me is how, we could have been told that they know exactly, the HHS knows where all the kids are.
These were kids who already been moved, at least once, so they`re being moved around the country and they wound in that in tent.
PERRY: And kids who have very few belongings but we were told that they are so aware of the situation of how they`re being moved around the country that some kids some children are leaving behind the very few belongings that they have for the next children who`s going to come in into that camp.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, I just want to get -- I want to cover one point here which may be semantics, it might be more than semantics and that is what do we call these places? Some of the places we look at, we`ve been shown pictures that are controlled by the federal government and submitted publicly by the federal government. We have no idea when they were taken. We don`t even know what year they were taken necessarily in some cases.
But people are struggling with what to call these places. I`ve heard people call them jails. I have called them jails because what I`ve seen has most resembled in my experience jails, temporary incarceration. They are all incarcerated in that they are being held against their will and they are not free to leave, and they are -- and that is true no matter where they are in the course of this process. I`ve heard Jonathan Alter called them "Trump`s cages".
What should we be calling these places? When I hear detention, I remember high school when I was sent to detention, which meant I had to stay and late that day before I was then free to leave. I don`t think we found the language for what we`re looking at.
REID: Well, I mean, I think American history gave us the language which is internment camps. I mean, these are military-style camps. They`re not being run at the moment by the military. They`re going to become literally military internment camps apparently when the Pentagon opens these two facilities, one for entire families and one for children.
But these -- what we saw, what Cal and I walked into today was a military- style camp, but it`s being run by a non-profit, right, a company that either bid or just was awarded a contract to run this facility for the HHS Department, but with the Department of Homeland Security literally next door. So, to Cal`s point, if a kid were to try to run, they`re not going to get away.
They`re in the middle of the desert. There were signs that said beware of rattlesnakes and they would run right into the arms of DHS. They are -- it is internment. Some of these kids had been there.
We were told the average, 57 days. Why is it take 57 days to find their family and give them back?
O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, quickly before we got to squeeze in a break here, with your experience around the world, what would you call these facilities?
PERRY: Internment camps are black sites. I visited some of those sites in Baghdad where we held some of the, quote/unquote, biggest terrorists in Iraq, and that the similarity there is that you`re putting someone into a camp and you`re not allowing them to look outside but you`re allowing people to look inside.
And when we were in that emergency operations trailer, the cameras pointed at all different directions pointed at the kids watching their every movement the way they were walked from one tent to the other, it reminded me of a black site, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there.
And, Peter Schey, I`m going to ask you to please stay with us over the commercial break into the next discussion block because you`ve had more experience with these facilities than any of us, and I want to get your view of what you call them and what your experience -- your experience as a lawyer in them tells you about them.
Joy Reid, Cal Perry, thank you for joining -- initiating our discussion tonight really appreciate it.
When we come back we will be joined by Mike Murphy and Ron Klain. They will talk about the politics of all of this. They will talk about what the president had to say tonight in South Carolina.
And Peter Schey will join us. He is the lawyer who is handling the legal case that controls the way children are treated in these facilities that legal case has controlled these rules for decades now, and the federal government is trying to change those rules. They will have to go through Peter Schey in federal court in order to change those rules.
We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Here`s the president today talking about his frustration with judges in immigration cases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to change our laws. We have to make them sensible. They came in to see me last week they said we`d like to hire 5,000 more judges -- 5,000, you ever hear of a thing like that, judges. Well, we`re appointing judges here and everyone goes through this extreme vetting process.
They said about 5,000, where do you find 5,000 people to be judges? And you know what it leads. It leads to graft. It leads to a lot of other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Attorney Peter Schey. He`s the president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
And, Peter, as our viewers should by now know, you have been in charge of the Flores case, this federal lawsuit that in its settlement established the rules for treating children being held in these conditions that they`ve been in for the last few weeks on the southern border. And I want to get your reaction today to the president`s comments about the judges and about due process. He issued a tweet saying he would like to be able to just turn people away from the country and turn them right around using no judges or court cases and bring them back where they came from.
Your reaction to that?
PETER SCHEY, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS & CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Lawrence, I really think that it`s astounding especially since this whole policy that he`s had come up with was a zero-tolerance policy for alleged lawbreakers. And yet, every step of his policy has involved breaking either federal law or international. In this particular case, he`s saying we should return them immediately with no judges, no hearings.
The United States is a party to the 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees. United States Congress ratified that in international agreement in 1968. There is no way under that -- under our obligations, under that international treaty which becomes part of domestic law, there`s absolutely no way that you can illegally apprehend children or children with their parents and simply deport them to a country where they face persecution, they face potential torture, they face potential death without giving them a fair and a complete hearing on their asylum claims.
Nor for that matter can you do what President Trump has done, and that is to charge one or two thousand parents of these children with crimes and coerce their guilty pleas by holding their children hostage. That is also illegal under international law, and domestic law.
O`DONNELL: On this image of holding the children hostage, they are being held hostage throughout -- all around the country now. We know some of them are in Michigan, some of them are here in New York City, and we have this smuggled video now from one of these facilities in New York City. And these facilities vary in in their degree of resemblance I guess I would say to prisons or jails.
How would you describe the condition of these children? It seems in legal terms they are all legally incarcerated. They are not free to go no matter where they are.
SCHEY: These children are definitely incarcerated. We have been monitoring the conditions of their detention for several years, but more recently in the previous six months, we have found children sleeping for several nights on cold concrete floors with no mats or mattresses. We have found children with only access to dirty drinking water. We have found children in soil clothing and wet clothing with no change of clothing.
The conditions are fairly atrocious at this time.
O`DONNELL: Peter Schey, thank you for joining us once again tonight. I really appreciate.
SCHEY: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and Mike Murphy will join us next on the politics of this.
And coming up, President Trump -- remember when he was so fond of Harley- Davidson? Now, he is going to war with Harley-Davidson.
O`DONNELL: While most of the country is worried about finding the babies, President Trump arrested and reuniting them with their parents. President Trump went to South Carolina tonight and did not say one word about those babies. Instead he found time to talk about the plastic surgery that his wife did not have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They had all kinds of projections. They said she got a facelift. No. I would let you know. They couldn`t hide that one for long, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The only person I ever heard say Melania Trump got plastic surgery was Donald Trump last month. Denying that she got plastic surgery after saying that other people she had had plastic surgery, which I didn`t hear anybody say.
The President didn`t say a word about the first lady`s visit to the southern border last week. After she visited a small number of teenagers being held at the nicest facility in Texas, the President tweeted this about the kids being held in the Trump cages. The Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief.
Now did he say that because the first lady told the President that after her visit? That those kids that she met told her phony stories of sadness and grief?
As far as Donald Trump is concerned, it`s as if his wife never went to the southern border. He`s never told us a single thing that the first lady reported back to him. According to the President, the only thing she told him is why she wore a jacket on that mission of mercy saying "I really don`t care. Do you?"
Joining us now is Ron Klain, former chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former to President Obama. Also with us Mike Murphy, Republican Strategist who has advised both Mitt Romney and senator John McCain`s presidential campaigns. He is also an MSNBC and NBC News political analyst.
And Mike Murphy, I know you were tweeting the President`s speech tonight, which I was not able to watch in total. What did I miss?
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know it`s funny. I don`t watch a lot of them, but I knew I would be talking tonight so I kind of chained myself to the TV. And I felt like psychiatrists must feel which is can I send a bill to anybody for listening to this.
He is in such a bubble of narcissism. It is interesting. He played some of the old hits. He has scratched all the cable news itches that he has from things he has seen that might have offended him and kind of wing around the circles, got into shadow of mark Stanford.
I think the only politically significant thing is we have seen the crushing of facts and make believe word (INAUDIBLE) rhetoric. He had said the press were the enemy of the people. I seen it all before.
I did notice just being a political operative that when he rolled into the material and the trade war, he got some applause but it was weaker. It seemed like the energy kind of left and that`s probably because the largest BMW plant in the entire world is 100 miles from where his rally was in South Carolina. They are going to hurt by the (INAUDIBLE). So that was kind of interesting to me that even his crowd, the core of his core didn`t seem to buying that, which is where economically he is betting a lot of these in the next months of his presidency.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, if any other President`s wife, any other first lady had travelled to a crisis area where children are in crisis by the thousands, over 3,000 seized by the Trump government down there, that President would, in public speaking, be referring to what the first lady reported to him, what the first lady brought back. What valuable insights he now has as a result of the first lady`s visit. We are still waiting for that.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENTS JOE BIDEN AND AL GORE: We are, Lawrence. And I have no idea what the message on the back of the first lady`s jacket meant. But I think it`s pretty clear that Donald Trump is the one who definitely does not care about those children held in those Trump cages down in Texas and now around the country.
I mean, tonight`s speech was, as usual, a festival of hatred, insults and self-indulgence and included a segment on why Johnny Carson was a better late night host than Jimmy Kimmel in various other idiocies (ph) from the President. But as you said, not a word, not a sound, not a peep about 2,000 plus children who are forcibly separated from their parents. And I think that just shows the kind of callousness the President has about this and where he is on this.
O`DONNELL: And Mike, the President`s ignoring of the subject, is that -- I mean, is there any political options list on which that makes sense? I mean, if you are actually trying to win a majority of votes?
MURPHY: No. I think there`s, you know, he is in his own reality. I think Trump sees every election as a Republican primary. So he zeroes in on what he imagines, you know, his vote, his base, his tribe, and then creates this fictional world.
Now the fact is, and I`m sure political advisers around the White House and I know inside the Republican Party, including a lot of elected, know that this is not only a stain on the White House and frankly on the country we are treating kids like this, which is not the value of the country and not our history, this is a political disaster in at least 50, probably 100 congressional districts. There`s no swing district or even near swing district anywhere where this is not a horrible thing politically, as it ought to be. And I fear that, you know, in some ways it will be justice that Republicans who are silent in their congressional districts about this are going to pay a huge price on Election Day.
O`DONNELL: And Ron, it would be so easy for this administration to arrange a visit to babies, wherever they are being held for United States senators. They could do that in a matter of hours if, certainly if, what the senators were going to see were babies being treated very well.
KLAIN: That`s right, Lawrence. And I think any other President, Democrat or Republican, and I don`t think they would ever do this, but if somehow something like this happened, they would be on top of fixing this. They would insist that something be done to reunite these children, instead the President is obsessed with his twitter feed. He needs to get the parents and children back together.
O`DONNELL: Well, they announced that they are creating a task force to do it, which is government`s way of saying we don`t know how to do it. That is why we have to have a task force.
Ron Klain, Mike Murphy, thank you both for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Up next, I visited the stock market for the first time in decades and, of course, the market tanked. Was it me or was it the Trump tariffs and what they are doing to America`s favorite motorcycle, Harley Davidson? Yes, this means, there will be a picture of my motorcycle coming up.
O`DONNELL: Remember when Donald Trump loved Harley Davidson? Well, now Donald Trump has done serious damage to that company. And I don`t just mean a nasty tweet. The day after his inauguration when President Trump saw the largest inauguration protests in history in Washington and every one of the 50 states around the world. He was afraid and his White House staff was afraid -- they were afraid to send him out in America where whatever he wanted to say might be drowned out by protesters and that is why his staff cancelled his visit to Wisconsin to the Harley Davidson staff there in the second week of his presidency.
And so, Donald Trump invited Harley Davidson executives to the White House to celebrate our iconic motorcycle manufacturer. The President used the opportunity to tell a lie about the history of the company saying that in the early 1980s, Harley Davidson was drowning completely because of unfair competition from foreign motorcycle manufacturers. The President said the foreign manufacturers, especially the Japanese were motorcycles.
Now dumping doesn`t sound like a technical term, but it actually is. In an international trade, it means selling a product in a foreign market for less than it costs to manufacture that product. But the truth is Harley Davidson, which was the largest manufacturer in the world, was by 1980, only American motorcycle manufacturer. And Harley Davidson made the worst motorcycles sold in the market then.
Japanese motorcycles were better and German built BMWs were better. I owned a couple British motorcycles in the most days, a BSA and a Norton. That`s the BSA on the left there of your screen. And actually [n Northern Island. And the blue one on the right is the Norton which was really one of my favorites until I totaled it in a very high speed accident near Boston which I was lucky to walk away from.
And owning British motorcycles in those days meant that I was willing to put up with a little bit of oil leaking here and there. But I would not consider owning a Harley Davidson then because they leaked a lot of oil all over the place all the time. You had to be a very good mechanic to own a Harley in those days.
The Japanese bikes and the BMW, they didn`t leak a drop of oil. They were brilliantly engineered machines, the same was true in the American automobile market in the 1980s, American cars were mostly junk then and Japanese cars and German cars were much higher quality.
And here`s how the CEO of Harley Davidson described that period in Harley`s history when it was on its way out of business.
For years we tried to figure out why the Japanese were beating us so badly, first we thought it was their culture, then we thought it was automation, then we thought it was dumping. Finally we realized the problem was us not them. And so Harley designers and engineers actually studied the Japanese manufacturing model to figure out how to make a better motorcycle and they did. And by the late 1980s when Harley Davidson`s finally stopped leaking oil, I bought my first Harley Davidson and then traded that in for another Harley and have never looked back at foreign motorcycles.
Harley Davidson is a strong company again making a great product not despite international competition but because of international competition. The Japanese and the Germans forced the Americans to make a better motorcycle, and the Americans rose to that challenge. If you are driving an American car tonight, you are driving a better car because of international competition. Because the Japanese and the Germans have forced American cars to be better. Much better. Ten years ago I traded in a BMW for a ford fusion and haven`t had a foreign car since. Imagine how bad American cars would be now if they never had to rise to the challenge of competition from high-quality Japanese and German cars.
Donald Trump understands none of that. To him international trade has no complexities and no surprising unanticipated consequences. If Donald Trump tried to go to the Harley Davidson engine factory in Wisconsin today or the Harley Davidson final assembly plant in York, Pennsylvania today, there would be protests but they would be protests by people working at Harley Davidson who will now lose their jobs because of Donald Trump.
The European Union, which is Harley Davidson`s single largest foreign market has imposed new tariffs on American motorcycles, which is to say on Harley Davidson in retaliation to the illegal tariffs that Donald Trump has imposed on Europe with the false claim that those tariffs are to protect our national security.
Harley Davidson`s corporate response to the new high European tariffs on motorcycles made in America is to simply move some of their manufacturing capacity to foreign countries so that Harley Davidsons sold in Europe would not be Harley Davidsons made in the USA and they will therefore avoid the Trump tariffs and sell at a competitive price in Europe. And that means Harley Davidson will cut its manufacturing capacity in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in order to increase its manufacturing capacity in foreign countries.
So Donald Trump`s tariffs have succeeded already in one thing only, in sending Harley Davidson jobs out of the United States. Exactly the opposite of what Donald Trump wants to do. Donald Trump once famously said that nobody knew that health care could be so complicated, of course, everyone knew health care could be so complicated, only Donald Trump didn`t know.
And the only thing that I ever encountered when I was working in government that is more complicated than the health care system is our system of international trade, which is filled with unintended consequences and counterintuitive outcomes that Donald Trump is incapable of understanding.
The stock market spent the day in decline today because of this kind of news about the Trump tariffs from Harley Davidson. Harley Davidson`s stock ended the day six percent lower than it began the day. So if you`re a Harley Davidson worker with Harley Davidson stock in your retirement fund, every $100 worth of Harley Davidson stock that you woke up with this morning is now worth $94 thanks to Donald Trump.
There is no one working at a Harley Davidson assembly line who doesn`t understand international trade better than the President of the United States.
O`DONNELL: You tired of winning yet? The workers at Harley Davidson who will be losing their jobs thanks to the Trump tariffs don`t call that winning. And of course the President himself doesn`t know what winning is in international trade. Here he is speaking tonight in South Carolina, which unbeknownst to him as the world`s largest BMW plant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are winning. We are winning now, like we haven`t won before. We are winning on trade. We are winning on trade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the council of economic advisor for President Obama. He is currently professor of economics at the University of Chicago.
And professor Goolsbee, when I was studying economics in college, the professors always struggled to come up with real-world examples in international trade that were simple enough for students like me to follow. It seems we have finally arrived at one, even for me, the Harley-Davidson case.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER OBAMA COUNCIL OF ECONOMICS ADVISOR: Harley- Davidson is just the beginning. What all the economists have been saying as Donald Trump has dreamed more and larger tariffs on more and closer of our allies as well as China, Japan, Canada, Germany, the UK, France. They have said, you are going to destroy thousands more jobs than you are going to save because on steel, there are far more steel users than there are steel producers in the United States.
Whatever you do, you are going to lead them to then target U.S. industries, and Harley-Davidson is a perfect example. They are here. They are not 90 minutes from where I`m sitting right now. And in honor of July the 4th, hundreds of workers are going to be able to celebrate our nation`s independence by losing their jobs, going to the very countries that the President thinks he`s trying to punish.
O`DONNELL: And the one thing that businesses need as Republicans are constantly reminding us, as if we didn`t know, is stability. They need to be able to predict the future. And Harley-Davidson clearly is finding the future so unpredictable in terms of the European market that they have decided to increase production outside of the United States so that no matter what the President does or doesn`t do, they will be able to sell motorcycles at a competitive price in Europe without having that Trump tariff impose on them.
GOOLSBEE: It is exactly what they did. And who loses from that policy? The American worker and the American consumer are the two people who lose. Harley-Davidson says we are going to be fine either way. We will just take the jobs here. W will ship them to Europe and then the tariffs won`t count.
But ultimately is that what we wanted to do? Of course it`s not. You remember when your mom, you would cross your eyes and your mom would be like, don`t cross your eyes. If you cross your eyes too long, you are going to get stuck that way. This is the most cross-eyed policy, and we are in high danger of getting them stuck that way. And if we do, we could take this recovery, which continues to proceed along nicely, and we could easily transform it into a recession not just in the U.S. but worldwide.
O`DONNELL: The President tweeted angrily at Harley-Davidson saying he is surprised that they are waving the white flag as he put it. He says, I fought hard for them, and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the EU.
So, Austan, what he seems to mean there is, don`t worry. These tariffs are all a fake. I`m threatening them. They are threatening me. They will back down, and you won`t have to pay these tariffs in Europe. Just trust me. I`m Donald Trump.
GOOLSBEE: Yes. How has it worked out so far? Look, the thing is this is a plan to lose weight by chopping your feet off. That`s not a plan to lose weight. That`s a terrible idea. And it`s a really, really bad idea to start a $50, $100, $200 billion tariff escalating battle in which Donald Trump has not even put forward what his demands are. And then he can`t understand why other countries are not negotiating with him.
O`DONNELL: Professor of economics Austan Goolsbee, who now has a simple enough case on international trade to teach even students like me, and they will understand it. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Everyone is wondering how Manafort will hold up under questioning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs.
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: That`s what he said. That`s what I said. That`s obviously what our position is.
COLBERT: Mr. President, run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Paul Manafort and Stephen Colbert get tonight`s Last Word.
THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.
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