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Cohen distance himself from Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 07/02/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Cohen distance himself from Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 07/02/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell



But wait a minute, isn't that a story about the power of wondering aloud on TV and how -- how quickly we get an answer from our community of viewers and it's a kind of interactive joy.


O'DONNELL: Why isn't that the story?

MADDOW: It is. It is, in fact, the story. But I sort of feel like this is a power we should use like sparingly and intentionally. I literally was just kind of, whoo, wonder what that is, don't know.

Like it should occur to me that if I say something like that on on television our viewers and the Internet will answer like I can't -- you can't just idly wonder about something because there will be an answer and you'll get it. So, one of the answers that I still don't -- I don't feel like I have is what is Michael Cohen up to and I listen to what Emily Jane Fox told you about what he kind of planned to do, what he ended up doing, any of this makes sense to you?

MADDOW: You know, it's there's -- there's -- it seems like there's a whole bunch of different things going on at once. But then you've just got the physical observable thing that requires explanation. There's George Stephanopoulos like in his Saturday clothes and no socks and stuff, and then there's Michael Cohen in a black suit with a fresh haircut, not being on camera.

And clearly, there's something changed in terms of the way they understood how this thing was going to go down. What Emily Jane is reporting is that there had been like kind of a hope like a desire that at some point, there would be a gigantic big bombshell Super Bowl style interview as she said, and it just ended up being this weird off-camera thing that they could only run quotes from and nobody knows why he did it and maybe he was sneaking around on his lawyer when he did it, I just -- yes.

O'DONNELL: Not a good way to begin if you're sneaking around on your new lawyer.

MADDOW: I know, exactly.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Well, Michael Cohen's relationship with Donald Trump is coming to an end, a hard and final end. That is the most important news in George Stephanopoulos report on his very strange interview this weekend with Michael Cohen, if what Michael Cohen said is true.

Michael Cohen used to like to call himself Donald Trump's fixer and as has already been reported, Michael Cohen is changing lawyers. It's a very, very important part of the story, the changing lawyers, and it had seemed that Michael Cohen's new lawyer, Guy Petrillo, was already in charge of Michael Cohen's defense.

But apparently, he has not technically taken full control of the Cohen case from the lawyers who proceeded him, which brings us to the most important part of George Stephanopoulos report of his interview with Michael Cohen, which was not on video as Rachel just said in which George Stephanopoulos presented in writing at

The most important thing in that report is not anything that Michael Cohen is quoted as saying. It's not Michael Cohen's words. The most important line is this: once Petrillo fully assumes his role, a joint defense agreement Cohen shared with the president which allowed their lawyers to share information and documents with each other will come to an end, ABC News has learned.

If that happens, that will be the bitter end of the Michael Cohen/Donald Trump relationship, and it will mean that Donald Trump has even more reason to fear Michael Cohen. The rest of George Stephanopoulos report is Michael Cohen saying perfectly normal things that makes sense. But for Michael Cohen, that itself is unusual.

Michael Cohen used to say that he was, quote, the guy who would take a bullet for Donald Trump. Now, he's saying my wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always is, and there is no husband or father in the world who should think any differently.

But Michael Cohen had that same wife and that same daughter and that same son when he said that he would take a bullet for Donald Trump and leave his wife a widow and leave his children without a father. So, of course, Michael Cohen would not have taken a bullet for Donald Trump. He was full of crazy lying bravado during his time with Donald Trump.

When George Stephanopoulos asked Michael Cohen what his goal is now, he gave a one-word answer: resolution. The quickest way to resolve a legal battle with the FBI and federal prosecutors when you're charged with a crime is, of course, to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

In the last line of George Stephanopoulos report, Michael Cohen said, I want to regain my name and my reputation and my life back. In other words, Michael Cohen does not want to go to prison. He wants his life back.

He seems to say that if his lawyer advises him tell the FBI and prosecutors everything that he knows about Donald Trump, that he will do that. Cohen said, once I understand what charges might be filed against me if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel Guy Petrillo for guidance.

It seems Michael Cohen has a different story to tell now about the payments he arranged to Stormy Dallas to prevent her from speaking about her sexual affair with Donald Trump. In the past, Michael Cohen has said that he arranged that payment and that Donald Trump knew nothing about it. George Stephanopoulos asked Michael Cohen if the president actually directed him to make that payment and Michael Cohen said: I want to answer. One day I will answer but for now, I can't comment further on advice of my counsel.

It seems that Michael Cohen reached for every way he could possibly find to disagree with President Trump. Cohen said, I don't agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI. I respect the FBI's institution, as well as their agents when they searched my hotel room in my home, it was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional. I thanked them for their service and as they left, we shook hands.

And after that image of Michael Cohen shaking hands with the FBI agents who raided his home, he then said, I don't like the term witch-hunt, and then Michael Cohen said something more presidential than anything President Trump has ever actually said about Russian interference in our election. Michael Cohen said: As an American, I repudiate Russia's or any other foreign governments attempt to interfere or meddle in our democratic process and I would call on all Americans to do the same. Michael Cohen added: I respect our nation's intelligence agencies' unanimous conclusions, which is something President Trump has never said.

Michael Cohen refused to answer the question, did Donald Trump know about the meeting at Trump Tower with Russians during the presidential campaign that included Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort? But Michael Cohen did say this about that meeting, he said: I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate.

When Michael Cohen was asked if he had any regrets, he did not say, no, I have no regrets. Instead, he said as an attorney and as an employee, I tried to make good-faith judgments in the past. I also acknowledge that I am not perfect. I would prefer not to be in this situation at all, obviously.

And, of course, Donald Trump would prefer Michael Cohen not to be in this situation, obviously.

Leading off our discussion now, Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor. She's a professor of law the University of Michigan. Also with us, Jill Wine-Banks, a former assistant Watergate special prosecutor. They are both MSNBC contributors.

OK, Counselors, let's start with you Jill. Explain to me why a well- advised client in a situation like this, a well-advised by good attorneys would do an interview like this.

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: There is absolutely not one reason that I can think of for him to have done that interview. If he was trying to reach out to the prosecutors, there's a much better way to do it, which is to have your lawyer go to the prosecutors and say, I would like to make a proffer, here's what my client will say, here's what he can tell you, he wants to cooperate. That would be the way to do that.

If he wanted to reach out to the president, he surely has better ways than going on television and taking positions that are contrary to what the president has said. As you've pointed out, he said the FBI was perfectly fine and coming into my home. They were respectful as opposed to the president who said that it was a terrible thing that they had done in seizing his documents and invading his office. So, this was not a good way to reach out to the president.

If he wants the president to pay his legal fees or if he wants a pardon, this is not the way to get it and I don't see how a pardon will help the president. So, there's no motivation for the president to grant it. If he gives a pardon, we still have the ability for Cohen to testify. In fact, he would have no Fifth Amendment right, so he couldn't even avoid testifying which he could if he's still under indictment or if he is ever under indictment.

O'DONNELL: Barbara, your reading of this because I -- I mean, when you -- when Jill says it's not a good way to reach out to the president, one of the problems is there is no good way to reach out to the president. A lawyer would advise Michael Cohen not to try to reach out to the president in any way. And in Michael Cohen's mind, when he hears that, if he is trying to communicate something to the president, he might think this is the only way.

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I don't think he's trying to communicate to the president. As Jill said, the things he said were actually contrary to opinions that President Trump has expressed. I think he is just trying to rehabilitate his own reputation.

You know, criminal defendants often express this idea that the waiting is the hardest part. It's not the serving of the sentence. It's the waiting to find out your fate. And I think Michael Cohen just can't stand sitting around waiting and doing nothing and wants to be proactive and so, took the bait here and spoke on TV which I agree with Jill is just a terrible idea.

But why does he have to wait? My guess is prosecutors are not ready to talk to him yet, even if he wants to cooperate, they are likely putting him off until they get their arms around all of those search materials because of the role of the special master to review for privilege, the prosecutors have not yet had a chance to see all the materials that came out of the search warrant at his home and his office.

And until they see that, they're just not in a position to confront him with documents, or to assess his culpability and to even test the veracity of what he's saying. And so, I think they're putting him off and I think it's driving him crazy which is why he feels the need to speak.

O'DONNELL: Now, Jill, let's get to this technical point which was as I say I thought the most important line in this entire report. I'm just going to read it again.

Once Petrillo fully assumes his role, a joint defense agreement Cohen shared with the president which allowed their lawyers to share information and documents with each other will come to an end. Jill, let -- two things, why hasn't it come to an end already and what do you make of that phrase once Petrillo fully assumes his role?

WINE-BANKS: Well, I think that Petrillo has probably given some advice already to Cohen. And in terms of the joint defense agreement, it may or may not have ever existed. It seems like it did, but there has also been some communication today that suggests that what was going on now had to do with the search warrant, and that pursuant to that, the documents went from the federal prosecutors to Cohen and his lawyers for them to review to make initial claims.

But since his principal client was Donald Trump, he was also instructed to share any with Donald Trump that he thought were privileged. Now, presumably he wouldn't have shared any that were from Sean Hannity's representation or from Broidy's representation. He would have only shared those that pertained to attorney-client privilege with the president.

So, if that was the case then that is ended because the search warrant is been executed and the documents reviewed.

O'DONNELL: Barb McQuade, is there any reason for Guy Petrillo to be hanging back, waiting for this evidentiary evaluation to be completed on exactly what will be admissible evidence and what will be protected by attorney-client privilege?

MCQUADE: I don't know. I don't know the scope of the relationship, but it sounds like the original lawyers were retained for the purpose of getting through this search and that Guy Petrillo is going to come in for the next phase.

That makes some sense. He is a former federal prosecutor from the southern district of New York and so, Cohen's choice of him seems wise in light of the fact that that's the adversary that he's dealing with.

But it also suggests to me that Michael Cohen is not looking for a scorched-earth sort of defense. You know, sometimes you choose a lawyer who is going to play hardball and push everything to the max and sometimes, you find a lawyer who maybe has relationships with the lawyers in the office who might be a better choice if you're going to go down a path of cooperation.

And so, it seems like that's a possibility in the choice of lawyer there once they are at that stage of dealing with the documents and ready to go forward with cooperation, he would be well-positioned to handle that.

O'DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks and Barbara McQuade, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

And coming up next, people on Twitter haven't figured it out yet, but the Democrats in the Senate know they do not have any secret, tricky parliamentary procedure that they can use to stop a Supreme Court nominee who has enough Republican votes to be confirmed.

And later, what's the easiest question you can think of asking in a White House briefing? How about what is the Trump policy on the southern border? Why couldn't the Trump White House answer that question today?


O'DONNELL: And we have the shortlist. President Trump said today that he spent the morning interviewing four candidates for the United States Supreme Court.

"The Washington Post" is now reporting who those four were. They were all federal Appeals Court judges. The four judges are Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Amul Thapar, and Raymond Kethledge.

The president also said he would be meeting two or three, he said two or three more candidates. "The Washington Post" reports that two other federal appeals court judges the president will probably meet are Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor Jr. It is typical for presidents to choose federal appeals court judges for two reasons first they have generally demonstrated the legal skills and scholarship that meet the basic standards of a Supreme Court justice. And more importantly, they have all already been confirmed by the United States Senate and all of these judges were appointed by Republican presidents and most of them attracted some Democratic votes in the confirmation process. In fact, only one of them got no Democratic votes.

According to past confirmation precedents, the next two months will be a rush to confirm a Supreme Court nominee with a simultaneous desperate rush to try to block a Supreme Court nominee by Democrats in the Senate. For the past 15 Supreme Court nominees, which takes us all the way back to 1975, the average number of days between being nominated and having a hearing is 40 days. The average number of days between being nominated and having a confirmation vote on the Senate floor is 66 days.

That means what the president planning to nominate a candidate next Monday July 9th, the confirmation hearing will probably be on or about Monday, August 28th, with a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor on or about Thursday, September 13th.

Now, contrary to popular belief on Twitter and elsewhere outside of the United States Senate, this will not be a confirmation process in which the Democratic minority in the Senate has any parliamentary procedural power or trick that they can use to stop this nomination.

Among more credible sounding misconceptions advanced this weekend was the idea that the Democrats could, quote, exploit the Senate's unanimous consent structure to grind the Senate to a halt. That was suggested by the former president pro-temp of the California state senate, Kevin de Leon, a Democrat, who is running for the United States Senate against California's senior Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Senator de Leon may have done a masterful job leading the California Senate and he is certainly an expert on parliamentary procedure in the California Senate.

But the unanimous consent norms of the United States Senate actually have nothing to do with the confirmation process of a Supreme Court justice. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the parliamentary right to bring the nomination to the Senate floor any time he wants to and Senator McConnell will then ask for unanimous consent to proceed to consideration of the nomination. The Democrats will, of course, refuse to give unanimous consent and then, Senator McConnell will call for a roll call vote to proceed to the nomination and the Republicans will then vote to proceed to that nomination.

And the elapsed time between the denial of unanimous consent and that roll call vote to proceed will be a matter of seconds. The Senate will not ground to a halt.

Democrats in the Senate already know all of this and their supporters around the country should soon be realizing that there is no trick on the Senate floor that they can pull, that the only way to stop the next Supreme Court confirmation is with Republican votes against the nomination, which is why there is now so much attention on Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the two Republican senators who is pro-choice and wants to preserve access to abortion under Roe versus Wade.

Senator Collins said this yesterday.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: A nominee's position on whether or not they respect president will tell me a lot about whether or not they would overturn Roe v. Wade. A candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don't want to see a judge have.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Jason Johnson, politics editor at Also joining us, Sam Stein, the politics editor of "The Daily Beast". Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Jason, the shortlist is out and there's one woman on it at this point. There has been talked that a woman nominee might be the way to go, and that might actually help hold on to Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, the two Republican senators who are the only two pro-choice Republican members of the Senate.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: I guess if they somehow think that voting for a woman is going to have some ideological difference, I would say go back 20 years. Everybody who voted for Clarence Thomas because they thought him being black would make a difference, obviously learned their lesson.

Look, at the end of the day, I think Senator Collins is lying, because every single nominee that the president is going to pick, whether it's a man, whether it's a woman, whether they're Indian-American, whether they're African-American, is going to want to end Roe versus Wade at some level. So, either she needs to make a commitment now and simply say, I can't vote for anybody while this president is in office because I know what they're going to want to do, or she should stop performing and simply say I'm going to get in line with the rest of my party and no one's going to have access to abortions at least state by state within a year and a half.

Because that's the reality we're facing, and even if it's a woman, they will still vote to end Roe versus Wade.

O'DONNELL: And, Sam Stein, Susan Collins seems actually confident that even with a new justice who wants to repeal Roe versus Wade that it won't happen because she actually said on TV yesterday, she doesn't think Neil Gorsuch would vote to repeal it and she seems to have a real faith that Chief Justice Roberts won't.

Let's listen to what she said about Justice Roberts.


COLLINS: Justice Roberts has made very clear that he considers Roe v. Wade to be settled law. I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law.


O'DONNELL: So, Sam, that translates into what at the White House, what do they have to do to get Susan Collins' vote?

SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, you know, I actually think that was the more important clip from the Collins interview, because what it says is if you are trying to push a nominee through the Senate, you have to adopt and it's on a hard playbook, the Gorsuch/Roberts playbook, which is casually referred Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, so you respect precedent and then don't give one iota or one inkling of indication about how you would vote on the matter if it came to you by saying, you know, I can't prejudge these matters. And then you would get Susan Collins's vote.

So, it's a very simple playbook actually to get -- someone to get the senator's vote. It does not translate into Roe v. Wade being secure in the slightest. These people have not been offered the opportunity to take a whack at Roe v. Wade, from a judicial perspective, and we don't know how they would vote when given that opportunity.

There's certainly different ways to go at Roe v. Wade, you could chip away at it. But one of the things that is striking to me is that we are told time and time again by conservative legal scholars that Roe v. Wade is flimsy legally and morally reprehensible, but how dare -- how dare you assume that they would do away with it when granted power? And those two things just don't compute.

There is a long -- generations long pursuit by the federal society to get rid of this law. The federal society put together the list of people who Donald Trump is choosing from. It goes to reason that they would choose people who would also get rid of Roe v. Wade.

"The Washington Post" is reporting that the president is especially drawn to contender's with name-brand degrees, such as from Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale, which makes him like every president before him. He also wants to see a portfolio of solid academic writing, which is also like presidents before him.

And then there's the Trump part. Trump does not care to actually read it. He simply wants to know that it exists, and actually to be fair, that may be true of most presidents also, Jason Johnson.

JOHNSON: Yes, I really doubt that Donald Trump is up late at night reading law reviews at the golf course, saying, my goodness, stare decisis, this is amazing. He's not doing that, right?

And I can't imagine at these 45-minute conversations he's supposedly having with these nominees are particularly engaging either. Look, everybody knows that they're going to play the pantomime here. Donald Trump is going to meet with these people as long as they don't personally offend him or insult him, he's fine with them.

These nominees desperately want to get on the court, so they're going to be as milquetoast as they can so that they can get this opportunity.

O'DONNELL: Sixty-six days, gentlemen, we're going to be on this for 66 days, according to the past precedent.

Jason Johnson, Sam Stein, thank you for joining us.

STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Up next, where are the babies? Where are the children? Where are the parents? And what is the Trump policy on the southern border?

The Trump administration is not giving answers to any of those questions.


HOST: It is hard to think of an easier question in a White House briefing than what is current U.S. policy at the border. But today the Trump White House could not or would not answer that question.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President's executive order has bought some time for Congress, but the clock is ticking and Congress needs to act to fix this process because we are running out of time on what we have the ability to do, particularly with the district court that weighed in just last week.


O'DONNELL: The Trump administration never released the total number of children seized from the beginning of the President's zero tolerance policy until the day he seemed changed that policy in an executive on June 20th. On June 26th, Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services said they had 2,047 kids in custody. Now the health and human services department refuses to update that number. So we don't know where the babies are. We don't know how many children are in custody. We still don't know how many children have been reunited with their parents. We still don't know how many children have not been reunited with their parents.

MSNBC's Mariana Atencio was there this weekend when a Guatemala woman was reunited with her daughter in Miami who had been held away from her parents by the federal government for two months. Mariana spoke to the family immediately after they were reunited.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time that I was in contact with her, she cried, saying that she missed me, baa she didn't want to be there. She just wanted to see her little brother, her dad and me. That was the most painful thing.


O'DONNELL: And Mariana Atencio joins us now from Miami.

Mariana, did she tell you about, the little girl, tell you about the conditions that she was being held in?

MARIANA ATENCIO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, she told me that she felt ill for the larger part of the time that she was held. She was able to speak to her mother on the phone. This child was kept in a government agency in Michigan. The dad was prosecuted and was put in jail in Atlanta. The mother here in Miami. So this was a family scattered due to this policy.

And mind you, the little girl, her first language isn't even Spanish. She speaks an indigenous Guatemala language. So the sense of isolation and you see it her face when she was reunited with her mother. And the trauma that this separation, two-month separation is going to leave, they certainly told me that it, you know, is wounds that will take a long time to heal, if at all.

O'DONNELL: When the health and human services department was more forthcoming with numbers and we never knew how accurate they were, there was a point there at about six days where they were reporting one unification per day. You are trying to find these reunification examples to bring to us. There is all sorts of reporters all over the country who are trying to find them. You are not finding a lot.

ATENCIO: No, Lawrence. They are the exception. They are few and far between. I have been on the ground in McAllen, Texas, in San Antonio. I have been in Arizona. I was in Los Angeles talking to large immigrant rights organizations like (INAUDIBLE). And they tell me that the roadblocks should not be insurmountable for the U.S. federal government, but that they are making it extremely hard for these families and for the grass roots organizations as well.

I'm talking to a mother from the migrant caravan. That caravan that came from Central America that I was embedded with. Her name is Maria. Because she came with the caravan, she was seeking asylum at a port of entry. She has her seven year old and a two year old in a facility in New York. She is in Washington, D.C. They were demanding that she turn in DNA paperwork. We have seen reporting where in some instances they want to do home visits to see who the child is going to be released to. And obviously, you want to be careful who you are giving a child to. But at the same time, these are undocumented immigrants who are probably going to be the relatives welcoming this child. So they are making it very hard.

There is a lot of fear in the community. And we have to remember going back to that video at Miami international airport. At the center of all this is children. Little kids who are traumatized and who want to be put back together with their parents -- Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Mariana Atencio, your reporting has been invaluable to our coverage of this story. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

And coming up next, a medical volunteer who has been working on the border will tell us what she saw and show us some photographs of what parents and children in custody have been eve enduring.


O'DONNELL: Ashton Taylor is a medical student at the University of Texas medical school who volunteered last week in Texas to help migrant children and parents as they left border patrol processing centers. Here is some of what she saw. This child has a scalp abscess, but his mother was afraid to tell immigration and customs enforcement officers for fear of them taking the child away from her.

And this woman had welts and blisters from an ankle bracelet that was too painfully tight. And this woman was kept in what immigration officials called a cold box for seven days because one of her daughters has an ear infection and the other had the flu. They were told the border patrol uses the cold boxes to kill germs.

Joining our discussion now Ashton Tayler. She is a pre-med student at the University of Texas who has been volunteering at the border at a center that helps migrants who have been released by U.S. border patrol processing in McAllen, Texas.

Ashton, can you tell us more about what you saw there and especially in terms of medical issues?


As far as medical issues, when we're seeing immigrants coming from these detention centers, it's pretty atrocious from a humanitarian perspective and just a personal perspective. Most everybody who is coming out of these detention centers and into the respite center they have fevers, they are dehydrated. A lot of them have very, very easily preventable diseases, you know, flu, cough, cold, bacterial infections, things that are rampant when you have such close quarters and under the conditions in which they are kept, which are extreme cold, insufficient hydration, insufficient food and in sufficient sanitation.

O'DONNELL: Ashton, this story about the cold box being an idea that the border officials are using to kill germs, where did they get that idea?

TAYLER: Lawrence, I have no idea. And that's what I find particularly disturbing, is that CBP officials seem to be assuring everybody that these people are adequately cared for and given medical attention. But as far as I know, I don't see any medical basis at all for keeping people in cold rooms. And as it was reported to me directly in the clinic office by people who came through, by immigrants who came out of (INAUDIBLE) which are the cold boxes, they were kept in there if they showed any sign of illness. So these are think of, you know, concrete walls, floors and ceilings and maybe temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees. And these people don't have layers on. They have everything taken off of them. They are basically stripped down to the barest layers of, you know, pants and shirt or shorts and shirt. And if they are lucky, they may have been given a change of clothes. But often times, if they cross rivers or dangles their cities, they have to dry off in those same clothes and these cold conditions.

So, I just -- if you can imagine, you know, being in these freezing cold conditions, what does it do as far as a health perspective?

O'DONNELL: Ashton, it is hard to believe that this government has a department called health and human services and no one from that department concerned with health has communicated to these people in criminal the initial custody that there is something kind of 18th century about the idea that cold is going to kill those germs.

TAYLER: Right. It is absolutely barbaric. And I don't see any scientific basis in it. And it contra indicates the notion or the statement that there is any sufficient medical attention there at all because I believe if there were sufficient medical attention, if there were a sufficient amount of competent physicians there attending to these immigrants, this wouldn't be a practice in place.

O'DONNELL: Ashton, I want to get to your motivation of why you decided to take yourself down there as a volunteer and get involved?

TAYLER: Lawrence, my motivation for being there was from a personal perspective. It's one thing to hear everything that you hear in the media and, you know, see pictures and things that can be easily distorted. But this isn't an issue of partisan politics. This is an issue of humanity. And I think the biggest thing that I can stress is that people need to see eyes themselves. They need to lay eyes on this situation, and that's exactly what I went down there to do. I went to lay eyes on the situation, assess what was going on and help in any way I could.

O'DONNELL: Ashton Tayler, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

Coming up, what the mothers of Antown Rose and James Bowden have in common 40 years apart. It is expressed powerfully in a poem by Antown Rose, a poem that was read last week at Antown Rose's funeral.


O'DONNELL: Two days after Antown Rose Jr. was buried last week, something truly extraordinary happened. It was sadly not extraordinary that he was shot in the back by a police officer while he was unarmed and running away posing no threat to anyone. Unarmed black men have been getting shot in the back by American police officers for as long as the police have had guns.

The extraordinary thing is that the police officer who killed Antown Rose Jr. in east Pittsburgh was actually charged with criminal homicide last week. Criminal prosecution is the rarest possible outcome for police officers who kill unarmed black men who pose no threat to anyone.

I have been studying this tragic subject for decades. The very first article I ever publicized was an op-ed piece in the "New York Times" in 1979 about police use of deadly force. And that was the first time that "The New York Times" ever printed anything indicating that there was a problem with police use of deadly force.

The first killing of an unarmed black man by police that I read about and then investigated myself was the 1975 killing of James Bowden by two Boston police officer. James Bowden was a 25-year-old husband and father of a 4- year-old daughter and a six-month-old son. He had no criminal record. James Bowden had a steady job as a maintenance worker at Boston City hospital.

Two Boston police officers stopped his car, because like the car Antown Rose was riding in, James Bowden's car resembled a car used in a crime earlier that day. Like Antown Rose was shot in the back.

James Bowden's widow came to my father for help. My father was a lawyer and he immediately agreed to take her case. And that surprised a lot of people especially the Boston police because my father was a former Boston police officer himself. My father filed a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit against the Boston police in federal court. His fight with old police department was long and intense and bitter and deeply personal.

I did my own investigation of the case and spoke to even more Boston police officers than my father was able to cross-examine in court. And I reported it all in my first book, "Deadly Force," which was first published in 1983 and has now been republished in paperback with new material that links the killings of James Bowden to the more recent killings of Eric Garner, Tamira Rice, (INAUDIBLE) McDonald and now Antown Rose.

Facing an all-white jury in federal court in Boston in 1980, my father won the case, proving that James Bowden's civil rights were violated and that he was wrongfully killed by the Boston police. The city of Boston appealed the case, went all the way to the United States Supreme Court before going to trial for the second time. And with another all-white jury, my father won that case again. And I don't think anyone else could have done that in those days when no one was paying attention to police use of deadly force, no one outside the black communities where people knew police use of force was a deadly serious problem.

It took everything that my father knew about being a cop as an ex-cop himself and a lawyer to fight his old police department and win. And the police threw everything in our way that they could, because our whole family was involved in this fight. And today it's even more remarkable to think that my father was able to win that case, win justice for James Bowden's family without any video of what happened.

We have a video of what happened to Antown Rose in east Pittsburgh. So we know that Antown Rose was shot in the back while he was unarmed, running away from the police officer. And that video is the reason the officer who killed Antown Rose is facing criminal charges tonight.

Here is that very disturbing video of what happened to Antown Rose when he was unarmed and threatening no one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are they shooting at him?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I'm recording this. Why are they shooting? All he did was run and they are shooting at them.


O'DONNELL: Video changes everything, 35 years ago when I began collecting police reports in cases like this, when unarmed men, usually black were shot in the back while running away from police officers, the police reports repeatedly included this phrase, usually word for word, "he turned in a threatening manner as if to shoot."

That's all the police officers need to justify the shooting, even if the fleeing suspect turned out to be unarmed. He turned in a threatening manner as if to shoot. And prosecutors knew what was going on. They were in on it in those days. They never looked at these cases, no matter what eyewitnesses said the police officers did. But video changed everything.

And so now, thanks to video, some police officers are being prosecuted for very bad shootings. And some individual police departments have actually really improved. And Boston I'm very glad to say is one of them.

Boston's police commissioner Bill Evans is one of the very best police leaders in this country. But that's not much consolation for people who still suffer from unjustifiable police use of deadly force.

Over 40 years after James Bowden was shot in the back by Boston police officers when he was unarmed and posed no threat to them, Antown Rose was shot in the back when he was unarmed and posed no threat to a police officer. Two years ago, Antown Rose wrote a poem in his sophomore honors English course in high school. His friends read the poem at his funeral. The poem is about mothers and sons. Mothers like James Bowden's mother and Antown Rose's mother who lost their sons over 40 years apart to the same thing, police bullets in the back.

Antown Rose's poem is entitled "I am not what you think," and it begins this way. I am confused and afraid. I wonder what path I will take. I hear that there's only two ways out. I see mothers bury their sons. I want my mom to never feel that pain. I am confused and afraid. Antown Rose Jr. was 17 years old.


O'DONNELL: Time for tonight's LAST WORD.


SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: According to reports, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a Presidential run in 2020, making him the richest person to seek the position. I said making him the richest person to seek the position.

According to "The New York Times," former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is developing a talk show. It's called "late night with such liars."


O'DONNELL: Seth Meyers gets tonight's last word.

And coming up, a former colleague of Michael Cohen's new defense attorney will join Brian in the 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS which starts now.


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