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One on One interview with Julian Castro. TRANSCRIPT: 4/9/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: George Yin; Julian Castro

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

When did you switch to Wheaties? 


O`DONNELL:  I`ve never seen you have Wheaties at breakfast before. 

MADDOW:  We`re not supposed to talk about the fact we know what each other eats for breakfast, Lawrence. 



MADDOW:  I can`t say that without cracking up. 

O`DONNELL:  We`ll just say good night, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Good night.  See you later, dear. 

O`DONNELL:  See you at breakfast. 

OK.  Enough of that. 

Presidential candidate Julian Castro is joining us tonight.  We will get his reaction to what the president said about the president`s family separation policy.  Today, Julian Castro is running on, among other things, his own immigration reform proposal.  And we`ll get Julian Castro`s reaction to the latest developments with the Mueller report. 

We`ll also ask him what we`ve asked every presidential candidate so far, what is the best idea that you`ve heard from one of the other presidential candidates. 

Now I know Julian Castro is not everyone`s presidential candidate at this point.  No one is everyone`s presidential candidate at this point.  If you`re wondering where your presidential candidate is, they are all invited on, they will all eventually be on this program, but if you haven`t seen them here yet, it just means we haven`t been able to schedule it yet with the campaign, but they will all be here eventually. 

And, remember, eventually you`re going to have to have an opinion about two candidates on the Democratic side, a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate.  So, you`re going to want to give them all a very close look and listen. 

And we learned more today about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein`s discussions about using the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office after the president fired FBI Director James Comey.  We`ll have that for you later in this hour. 

But first, within a week -- that was one of the more important things that Attorney General William Barr said today, if not the most important thing, about the Mueller report. 


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  As I said, my first agenda item here is to get the public report out, what can be gotten out publicly.  That`s going to be within a week. 


O`DONNELL:  So that means by Monday at the latest.  We`ll all be reading the William Barr redacted version of the several hundred page Mueller report.  If the attorney general waits until Monday, which is the deadline that he gave himself today, that means that he would be delivering his redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress when he knows the House and Senate will be on their scheduled Easter recess.  They won`t be in Washington. 

So, to avoid being accused of delivering his version of the Mueller report in such a way that Congress can`t really respond to it, the attorney general would have to release the report tomorrow afternoon, say, after he finishes testifying to the Senate in a hearing that is supposed to be about the budget of the Justice Department, but will surely like today`s hearing turn out to be about the Mueller report.  If the attorney general is waiting to get through tomorrow`s testimony before releasing his version of the Mueller report, then we might be reading you passages of the Mueller report tomorrow night at this very hour.  Or at the latest, the attorney general could reasonably release his version of the Mueller report and give Congress a reasonable opportunity to respond to it if he does that on Thursday.  Thursday afternoon at the very latest, because most members of Congress will be leaving town on Friday for that scheduled two-week Easter recess. 

And the attorney general knows that.  He knows about the recess.  Many Democrats in Congress believe what they saw today was an attorney general who was trying to protect the president mostly because of his answer to this question. 


REP. NITA LOWEY (D-NY):  Will we have the complete report or are you going to be selective as to what you give members of Congress? 

BARR:  You mean the un-redacted report? 

LOWEY:  Mmm-hmm. 

BARR:  No, the first pass at this is going to produce a report that makes these redactions based on these four categories, and that`s something that I am hoping will be available to the public.  As I said, I`m glad to talk to Chairman Nadler and Chairman Graham as to whether they feel they need more information and see if there`s a way we could accommodate that.  I don`t intend at this stage to send the full un-redacted report to the committee. 


O`DONNELL:  And that is why House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said this about the attorney general`s refusal to give Congress the full un-redacted Mueller report.  It`s what he was hired to do, which is to protect the president.  The president wanted his own Roy Cohn, and he got one, but it is deeply concerning.  Attorney General Barr said he is handling the Mueller report according to the Justice Department regulations for special counsel reports co-written by Neal Katyal and others at the end of the Clinton administration. 

In his testimony today, the attorney general did not absolutely close the door on any possible compromise with Congress about the redactions that they will see in his first release of the Mueller report.  You just heard him say that he would see if there is a way to accommodate Chairman Nadler if he wants more information.  The attorney general repeatedly left that door if not open at least ajar in his testimony. 


BARR:  I want to try to accommodate and satisfy their interests, but at the same time uphold the law. 

REP. ED CASE (D-HI):  Are you intending to go to court to ask for guidance and/or direction and/or an order where you are uncertain whether you can in fact release or should in fact release materials? 

BARR:  The chairman of the Judiciary Committee`s free to go to court if he feels one of those exceptions is applicable. 

CASE:  The right is yours to ask for these --

BARR:  Why do you say the right is mine? 

CASE:  Because you are the exercising authority under 6E. 

BARR:  But I think if the chairman believes he`s entitled to receive it, he can move the court for it. 

CASE:  Well, I`ll come back to this.  It`s your right to ask.  So I`m asking, what is your intention? 

BARR:  My intention is not to ask for it at this stage.  I mean, if the chairman has a good explanation of why 6E does not apply and his need for the information, I`m willing to listen to that.  As I said, my first agenda item here is to get the public report out, what can be gotten out publicly.  That`s going to be within a week. 


O`DONNELL:  And when the attorney general was asked if the White House has seen the Mueller report, he actually refused to answer that question. 


LOWEY:  Did the White House see the report before you released your summarizing letter?  Has the White House seen it since then?  Have they been briefed on the contents beyond what was in your summarizing letter to the Judiciary Committee? 

BARR:  I`ve said what I`m going to say about the report today.  I`ve issued three letters about it and I`m -- I was willing to discuss the historic information of how the report came to me and my decision on Sunday.  But I`ve already laid out the process that is going forward to release these reports, hopefully within a week.  I`m not going to say anything more about it until the report is out and everyone has a chance to look at it. 


O`DONNELL:  If you were looking for evidence that the attorney general is really behaving like Donald Trump`s former lawyer, the now deceased Roy Cohn, who himself was convicted of crimes at the end of his legal career, the strongest version of that evidence actually emerged when the attorney general gave an utterly unprofessional response to questions about his authorizing the Justice Department to change its position on a lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act and now join the legal effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act. 

This was the most profoundly shocking part of William Barr`s testimony, legally shocking.  This testimony takes its place among the least professional moments in the history of attorneys general testimony to Congress.  William Barr gave a purely political string of answers to questions about the Affordable Care Act, and they weren`t just political answers, they were childishly political answers, like the most foolish Trumpian response you could possibly get from Donald Trump himself or a Trumpian congressional Republican. 

Here`s how that -- here`s how Congressman Matt Cartwright began that questioning. 


REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT (D-PA):  Have you conducted or viewed an analysis to evaluate the effects of DOJ`s litigation position to overturn the ACA, the effects on consumer costs and coverage, have you done that analysis or have you reviewed one? 

BARR:  Well, when we`re faced with a legal question, we try to base our answer on the law. 


O`DONNELL:  Notice the high-minded and condescending beginning by the attorney general?  We try to base our answers on the law. 

Now listen to the attorney general not speak one word of law, not one word of law in the rest of his response and rely on Trump and "Fox & Friends" talking points.  This is the lowest public moment yet for William Barr as attorney general of the United States. 


CARTWRIGHT:  If you`re successful in this lawsuit that you`re supporting and the entire patient protection in the Affordable Care Act is struck down, millions of Americans who currently receive health insurance coverage under the law are at risk of losing that coverage.  Am I correct in that? 

BARR:  I think the president has made clear that he favors not only pre- existing conditions but would like action on a broad health plan.  So he is proposing a substitute for Obamacare. 

CARTWRIGHT:  The one that`s going to come after the next election, you mean? 

BARR:  The one that will come down if and when Obamacare is struck down. 

CARTWRIGHT:  Let me be the one to inform you, should the law be struck down, millions of people who get their coverage through the ACA marketplace would lose their coverage and tens of millions more would see their premiums skyrocket.  In addition, if you`re successful, 12 million people nationally and 750,000 people in my home state of Pennsylvania who have coverage under the Medicaid expansion would also likely lose that coverage. 

Am I correct in that, sir? 

BARR:  Do you think it`s likely we are going to prevail? 

CARTWRIGHT:  If you prevail -- well, you`re devoting scarce resources of your department toward that effort, are you not, Attorney General? 

BARR:  We`re in litigation.  We have to take a position. 

CARTWRIGHT:  The answer is yes. 

BARR:  We take position in litigation. 

CARTWRIGHT:  You`re trying to get it invalided, and if you succeed that many people will lose their coverage nationally from Medicaid and 750,000 from Pennsylvania alone, right? 

BARR:  I`m just saying if you think it`s such an outrageous position you have nothing to worry about.  Let the courts do their job. 

CARTWRIGHT:  If you --


O`DONNELL:  At that point, Congressman Cartwright ran out of time.  There you saw the attorney general of the United States playing pure politics, talking like Kevin McCarthy, talking like a Republican in the House of Representatives, saying we will magically replace Obamacare with legislation that does not exist.  The attorney general did not say one legal word in response to that, and Congressman Cartwright fully exposed the purely Trumpian thinking of Attorney General Barr on the Affordable Care Act. 

The attorney general couldn`t find a single legal principle to cite in his response.  He did not mention one point of law.  He would have been flunked in any law school with that response.  It was a legally empty response from an attorney general in a purely political response that was also completely and utterly word for word false, not true. 

The attorney general of the United States officially holds to the public position that if the Affordable Care Act is struck down in court that president Trump and the Republicans will suddenly magically instantly replace it, and that is by far the most provably outrageous thing that the attorney general of the United States said today. 

Leading off our discussion now are Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.  He`s a member of the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees.  Lisa Graves, former staff member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton.  And David Leonhardt is with us, he`s an op-ed columnist for "The New York Times."

And, Congressman, I have to start with you.  I have never seen -- I want to start backwards from that Affordable Care Act moment because I have never seen an attorney general deliver a more unprofessional response in a hearing in the House or the Senate in all my time of watching these things. 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Well, he certainly set the bar low, so to speak, for what we can expect from his future testimony in Congress.  And I thought today he was evasive and the appropriations committee in general, in his testimony, and the exchange you played I thought that Congressman Cartwright asked him some very good questions.  For him to say the president`s going to replace this plan instantaneously is completely at odds with the reality, which is what you pointed out, is that no plan is forthcoming any time soon, certainly not before the election. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Lisa Graves, with your experience in the Senate Judiciary Committee, what are you expecting in tomorrow`s hearing when this will be in the Senate Appropriations Committee but there are some judiciary members on that committee.  When the attorney general goes through a second round of this tomorrow, I for one would expect the Senate`s questions to be a bit more refined off of what they saw in the House today. 

LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  I definitely think that the members and the staff will have been watching this hearing today closely, and will be trying to pin down the attorney general, Mr. Barr, who was so evasive, as you point out.  And, you know, when the attorney general says the president has made clear, he`s acting as if he`s the spokesperson basically of the White House for the president, not acting as the attorney general, not exercising independent judgment, and as you mentioned, suggesting that there is some sort of magical plan, which there is not. 

This is a reversal of course for the Justice Department.  It`s unwise.  It`s clearly not based on any assessment of the analysis of the impact on real Americans if this thing goes forward and if they prevail because of the appointments they put on the circuit courts and this Supreme Court. 

O`DONNELL:  David Leonhardt, we`ve all been trying to figure out what the attorney general is up to there was that first short letter about the -- what we now know is hundreds of pages of a Mueller report.  Then there was the follow-up letter to that.  And then there was today`s testimony.  It was very much to my surprise when I discovered the most revealing thing about the attorney general himself came in that Affordable Care Act response, and it leaves you wondering, what does that tell us about his handling of the Mueller report? 

DAVID LEONHARDT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES :  Yes, what`s amazing is conservative legal experts have backed some pretty crazy challenges to Obamacare.  Even some of them say this latest one is too crazy to be worth it.  For him to suggest it`s a rational policy or legal response is just out there.  I think that`s important to keep in mind here is we need to keep an open mind to the idea that maybe the Mueller report has less in it than we long thought. 

On the other hand, Barr is not a reliable narrator.  We see that today with the health care.  We also saw it from the very beginning, where he was issuing statements saying this investigation shouldn`t exist, Trump was right to fire Comey.  And so, there is now a pattern in which, as you say, Barr looks more like a political operative in many cases than he looks like the nation`s leading law enforcement officer. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Congressman Jerry Nadler said today after hearing the attorney general`s testimony. 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Congress has need of the entire report, including the grand jury material, including everything, and I presume we`re going to get the redacted report within a week.  When we do so, if we don`t get everything, we will issue the subpoena and go to court. 


O`DONNELL:  So, Congressman, that sounds like the way it`s going to be set off, that the attorney general will not give Chairman Nadler a full un- redacted version of the report.  Chairman Nadler will then use his subpoena power that has already been voted for him by the Democrats on the committee.  The Justice Department then presumably will fight the subpoena.  That fight will take place in court and that`s when we will find out who gets this report. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes, I think that`s -- that sounds right, and I think that obviously the decision will be with Chairman Nadler.  If he goes that route, he`ll be fully supported.  I think we also learned from Mr. Barr that -- two things.  One, he will not say whether or not the White House has already seen or will see the report before the rest of us do, which only leads me to believe that political considerations in part might help to drive the redactions. 

And then secondly, he tells us that he`s going to use some kind of color coding to somehow redact this document.  I`m just afraid it`s going to come back as a rainbow.  We`re just going to have large chunks that are color coded and we`re not going to be able to see what`s behind them, even though every single day we as members of the Intelligence Committee and as members of Congress review classified information, we review other sensitive information and we should be able to see the redacted parts of this report.  We should be able to see the full report. 

O`DONNELL:  Lisa Graves, with your experience working in the Justice Department, I`m interested in your reaction to this interesting element in William Barr`s testimony today where basically he said that Robert Mueller declined an invitation to review the attorney general`s first letter about the Mueller report.  It sounded like he wasn`t asking him to collaborate in the writing of it or the creation of the letter, but at least offered him an opportunity to review it before he sent it out and Robert Mueller declined that invitation. 

GRAVES:  I think that the was the right thing to do for Robert Mueller because that wasn`t a collaborative process, and in essence if he had reviewed it without very much opportunity to make any changes to it, he would be basically giving it his blessing.  And what we know from the information so far is that the special counsel and his team spent extensive time crafting their own summaries of the entire report, the nearly 400 pages that exist, and summarizing key evidence.  So, there is no reason for Robert Mueller to have participated in this sham that occurred when Barr was anxious to basically try to exonerate the president less than 48 hours after a report that voluminous, that detailed was submitted, and now, Barr is planning to basically submit a very redacted report, I presume, because there were more than 2,800 grand jury subpoenas that are the foundation of this report. 

As Judge Sirica announced when he was presiding over the Watergate investigation, Congress has a right to that material, it has a rightly to the evidence, but Barr is doing everything he can to try to thwart that.  I think we`re going to go to court and hopefully the court will side with Congress. 

O`DONNELL:  And, David, the posture that Barr leaves the report in right now indicates that we might have several Mueller report days coming up.  There is going to be the redacted Barr version of it, but he`s suggesting - - he`s very clear that there is going to be some kind of struggle, possibly negotiated settlements, some kind of court struggle on the rest of it, then there could be some other stage, some other point at the calendar where we get more of this report.  This all happening while the calendar also contains a presidential campaign. 


O`DONNELL:  And so there is this interesting dimension of is it good or bad for Donald Trump to draw this out?  Is it good or bad to create situations where there might be some new bombshell from the Mueller report six months from now that we don`t know about until six months for now? 

LEONHARDT:  It`s probably not good for him.  It`s certainly not good for the country.  I mean, it`s such a shame that we don`t have a more trustworthy attorney general.  There is a long history of attorneys general seeing that their job was to the people of the country, not to the president they serve, first and foremost. 

I think in the end, though, actually, where we started this conversation is the right point to make here, which is the American people actually are less interested in Russia than they are in their own health care.  And I think the most damaging thing for Trump may not be anything in the Mueller report.  It may be his continued attempts to take health insurance away from people who really need it. 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to ask Julian Castro about that later in this hour.  We`re going to have to leave it there.

Congressman Krishnamoorthi, Lisa Graves, David Leonhardt, thank you all very much for starting us off tonight.  I really appreciate it.

And when we come back, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said a few things that are pretty interesting about what the Treasury Department and the IRS are thinking about in terms of responding to Chairman Richie Neal`s demand that the Ways and Means committee get Donald Trump`s tax returns tomorrow.  Steve Mnuchin says there probably will at least be a response tomorrow. 

And we learned more about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein`s discussions about using the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.  We learned more about that today.  We will have that later in the hour. 

And presidential candidate Julian Castro will join us. 


O`DONNELL:  Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testified to two House committees today where he was asked about his involvement in dealing with the demand by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal that the IRS deliver Donald Trump`s tax returns to Chairman Neal by tomorrow.

 In the first hearing at a House Appropriations Subcommittee, Secretary Mnuchin said that there had been some communication between his Treasury Department and the White House about this issue before Chairman Neal actually sent his demand letter to the IRS commissioner. 


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational, that we obviously had read in the press that we were expecting this.  I acknowledge that there were conversations.  I am not briefed on the full extent of those conversations. 


O`DONNELL:  At the second hearing with the House Financial Services Committee, the treasury secretary said that he would comply with the law in responding to Chairman Neal`s demand. 


MNUCHIN:  I have said that I will comply with the law.  I have not made a comment one way or the other whether we would supply the tax returns.  I want to be very clear on that.  We have said we will comply with the law. 

REP. NYDIA VELAZQUEZ (D-NY):  But what law then are you referring to?  That`s -- this is the law.  U.S. Code 56103.  So can you tell me what other law talks about tax returns? 

MNUCHIN:  That is the law, and as I`ve said, we are consulting with our lawyers --

VELAZQUEZ:  But you say you will comply with the law. 

MNUCHIN:  That is correct. 

VELAZQUEZ:  Well, we`ll see about tomorrow. 


O`DONNELL:  "The New York Times" is reporting that Secretary Mnuchin, quote, told reporters after the hearing that it would be a good guess that his department would respond to the request by the Wednesday deadline.

Joining our discussion now is George Yin.  He`s the former chief of staff on the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress` highest authority on tax law.  George Yin is now a professor law and taxation at the University of Virginia. 

And, George, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. 

We just heard the treasury secretary say he will comply with the law.  This is one of the simplest possible laws anywhere in the tax code, and it simply says that the secretary shall furnish the tax returns. 

Is there any way that you can see of complying with that law tomorrow other than handing over -- having the IRS commissioner hand over Donald Trump`s tax returns? 

GEORGE YIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, JOINT COMMITTEE ON TAXATION:  Lawrence, thanks again.  Pleasure to be with you again. 

I completely agree with you.  The law is really very straightforward and I`m very happy to hear that Secretary Mnuchin is planning to comply with the law because the law directs him to furnish the information that -- that Chairman Neal requested.  So that`s what I anticipate happening tomorrow. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said on this program last night about this. 


LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY:  It`s the essence of the integrity of the tax system that politically appointed officials not be involved in these matters, and that`s why there is a delegation to the head of the IRS, and it wouldn`t have ever occurred to me and wouldn`t have occurred to the treasury secretaries who I served under or the treasury secretary I served with to become involved in an individual taxpayer matter.


O`DONNELL:  And George, what I learned from the former secretary last night about that is that the delegation, as he calls it, that is the secretary of the Treasury delegating these matters to the IRS commissioner is something official and it`s in writing.

And according to former Secretary Summers, in order to change that delegation, the Treasury secretary would have to notify the tax-writing committees with 30 days` notice that they were changing the delegation so that it was no longer the IRS commissioner`s responsibility.

YIN:  Well, I`m really not that familiar with that, but I would say that I`m not aware of any particular law that would preclude the White House and the Treasury from talking about this issue.  And actually, I would have been surprised if they hadn`t talked about the issue because it`s obviously been swirling around and Secretary Mnuchin would want to get good advisers to tell him essentially what the law tells -- states.

But my point is that you know, the law is very clear.  He swore an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of his office.  My reading of the law is very plain, that one of the duties of his office is to respond and provide the information requested by Chairman Neal, and that`s what we are going to expect him to do tomorrow.

O`DONNELL:  IRS Commissioner Rettig testifying at a different hearing today actually mentioned that delegation order and he seems to think that this is his responsibility, as we all think.  Let`s listen to that.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), CHAIRMAN, FSGG SUBCOMMITTEE:  Is the decision yours, yes or no, sir?

CHARLES RETTIG, IRS COMMISSIONER:  I think that the decision subject to the delegation order, the decision is mine with the supervision of Treasury.

QUIGLEY:  He didn`t request you to act in a certain way?


QUIGLEY:  Didn`t suggest that he was going to make the decision to you?

RETTIG:  There was a discussion about -- and that`s what I`m saying about we`re working on it.  There was a discussion about who was going to handle the response.

QUIGLEY:  And what was the -- what did the Treasury secretary say?

RETTIG:  There is no conclusion on that.


O`DONNELL:  So, George, that`s the IRS commissioner`s description of his conversations with the Treasury secretary about this.  And so they apparently haven`t decided at this point which one of them will at least publicly respond.

YIN:  Well, you know, I really don`t think it`s important how they internally divvy up the responsibility.  There is history in trying to protect the confidentiality of tax return information and it would be appropriate to kind of, you know, cabin off the IRS in some respects.

But the point is the law directs the secretary of the Treasury to furnish the information.  So however they want to divvy up the responsibility, at the end of the day, Secretary Mnuchin should be providing the information tomorrow.

That`s one of the duties of his office, and he needs to do that tomorrow.  If he doesn`t, then it seems to me he would be in violation of the law.

O`DONNELL:  And what would be the next steps that you would imagine Chairman Neal to take if somehow tomorrow they refused to hand over these tax returns?

YIN:  Well, I think Chairman Neal has already indicated, which seems right to me, which is that he would issue probably another request in another day or two reminding the Treasury secretary of the requests made and reiterating the request.

Obviously, at some point it would -- it might be plain that the secretary is not going to be complying, and at that point, then they have to decide what they`re going to do, how they`re going to try to enforce this request or whether they`re going to enforce it.

But from what I`ve heard, you know, secretary -- Chairman Neal has a pretty good plan in mind and we`ll just see how it plays out in the next few days.

O`DONNELL:  George Yin, thank you for joining us once again tonight.  Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, more evidence today about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussing wearing a wire to tape the president and possibly using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.  That`s next.


O`DONNELL:  The former chief counsel to the FBI, James A. Baker, testified to a closed-door joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee last year when they were under Republican control.  His testimony was released today.

The transcript includes Baker`s account of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein talking about the possibility of wearing a wire in conversations with the president in order to record the president possibly committing obstruction of justice and Rod Rosenstein`s discussions about possibly using the 25th Amendment to remove the president.  The vice president and a majority of the cabinet can vote to remove the president and install the vice president as the acting president under the 25th Amendment.

James Baker said this in his testimony.  "The 25th Amendment conversation, my understanding was that there was a conversation in which it was said I believe by the deputy attorney general that there were -- that there were two members of the cabinet who were willing to go down this road already."

James Baker`s transcript comes after Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe said earlier this year that Rod Rosenstein had discussed with him an effort to use the 25th Amendment.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR:  The deputy attorney general was definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity, and about his intent at that point in time.

SCOTT PELLEY, HOST, 60 MINUTES:  Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?

MCCABE:  That is correct.  Counting votes or possible votes.


O`DONNELL:  Justice Department officials have said that Rod Rosenstein was joking about wearing a wire to record the president, but James Baker says this about that claim in his testimony.  "This was not a joking sort of time.  This was pretty dark."

And so Donald Trump is the first president in history who provoked a serious discussion within his own administration, including the FBI bi and the Justice Department, about the possibility of using the 25th Amendment to remove him from the presidency because of his apparently corrupt behavior.  Yet another first for Donald Trump and the presidency.

Up next, Presidential Candidate Julian Castro joins us for tonight`s presidential campaign interview and we`ll get his reaction to Attorney General Barr`s handling of the Mueller report and much more.  Julian Castro is next.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump campaigned for re-election today in the Oval Office sitting down, speaking to his base, talking about his family separation policy at the southern border.  The president has been reportedly demanding that his administration resume that family separation policy, even though a court order prevents that policy.


REPORTER:  You`re not looking to bring it back?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We`re not looking to do that, no.

REPORTER:  Thank you.

TRUMP:  Thank you very much.

REPORTER:  But you`re not looking to bring it back?

TRUMP:  But it does make it -- brings a lot more people to the border.  When you don`t do it, it brings a lot more people to the border.


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Julian Castro, presidential candidate, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, and he`s the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

Julian Castro, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.  And I know that immigration reform is a major piece of your campaign.  So I want to get to that right away and your reaction to what the president was saying today in the Oval Office about family separation policy, blaming it on President Obama, blaming it on the administration that you worked for.

JULIAN CASTRO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, you know, these are more lies from the president.  And, Lawrence, if folks will take a step back to a year ago when the administration basically told us that if we would just be cruel enough as Americans to separate little children from their parents, that that would deter more migrants from coming to our southern border.

What we`ve seen is that this policy, this administration had been a total failure on immigration because now we have more people who have come.  And so, you know, what I share with the president is that I believe in a border that is secure.  I believe that our border is more secure than it`s ever been but whereas he wants you to choose cruelty, I want you to choose compassion.  And that`s what my people first immigration plan is about.

O`DONNELL:  Is the -- is your immigration plan, would you call it your number one agenda item as president?  If you were elected president, would that be the first thing you would be trying to do legislatively?

CASTRO:  Well, it would be one of the first things.  The first thing I would do actually is to try and ensure that everybody has health care in this country because I think that that`s a lot of unfinished business from the Obama administration and that this administration has tried to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.  It`s time for everybody to have health care in the United States.

But the lesson of 2009, 2010 when it comes to immigration reform is that we can`t afford to wait.  And I believe that on January 20, 2021, at 12:01 p.m., we`re going to have a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic House.

And so when it comes to immigration reform, we won`t wait.  We`ll make sure that we can have a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are here who are working hard, who are simply trying to provide a better life for their families.  We`re going to end family detention.

We need to increase the number of refugees that the United States takes in.  And also do smart things like a Marshall plan for Central America so that people can find opportunity and safety in their home countries instead of having to knock on the door of the United States at the southern border.

O`DONNELL:  You also mentioned health care.  Are you one of the Democrats who is in favor of Medicare for All?

CASTRO:  I believe in Medicare for All.  I think it`s time that everybody had access to Medicare.  I am not categorically, you know, against -- I believe in the ability of folks who want their own private health insurance plan to have that.

However, what I don`t believe in is that the profit motive should ever stop somebody from getting the health care and the medication that they need when they need it.  And so we need to make sure that everybody has access to Medicare.

O`DONNELL:  I think we saw in the attorney general`s testimony today that he is, at least at this point, determined not to release the full Mueller report with only a couple of years left on the clock of the Trump presidency, they might be able to run out the clock on this and it might fall to the next president whether to decide to release the full Mueller report.

If you are the next president, would you authorize the release of the un- redacted full Mueller report?

CASTRO:  Oh, you better believe it.  The American people deserve to see that.  And, you know, people are never going to believe that they`ve gotten the full truth on any of this until they see that report.

As you know, Lawrence, and a lot of the folks who are watching, it would set new precedent if a report like this is not released because reports that have dealt with the conduct of a president have routinely been released over the years.  So, of course, I would release that report.

O`DONNELL:  The other thing that`s routinely been released about presidents are their tax returns, which they`ve always done voluntarily, even though the presidents themselves are always automatically under audit when they`re releasing those tax returns publicly.  HR-1, Democrats` number one bill in the House of Representatives, requires presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns.  Will you release 10 years of tax returns?

CASTRO:  I will.  I`m going to release 10 years of tax returns well before anybody actually gets to vote so that they have enough time to digest that.  I expect that my fellow colleagues that are running for president on the Democratic side are going to do that.

The thing is that we don`t have anything to hide.  But apparently, this president is so hell-bent against people seeing what`s in his tax returns that he still has not released them.  And I hope that Congress is able to get ahold of those tax returns.

It seems like the language of the law dictates that the federal government, the Treasury secretary, I think, has to give over those tax returns.  The American people deserve to see them but I certainly will release mine.

O`DONNELL:  What`s your actual timetable for doing it?  Because all Americans have a timetable of their required to file their tax returns by April 15.  It`s looming large in their lives right now.

It`s a big issue among presidential candidates and the president of the United States.  Can you give us a specific timetable for releasing your tax returns?

CASTRO:  You know I haven`t set out a specific date but certainly within the next couple of months, sure.  In my head, you know what I`ve been thinking is that we would do that before the debates start in June so that people would have the opportunity to get a look at them.  That would include this year`s tax returns.

So yes, plenty of time for people to digest them and to look at everybody else`s who releases them.  Again, like I said, I have nothing to hide.  And if you have nothing to hide, you should have no problem releasing those tax returns.

O`DONNELL:  All right.  We`re going to squeeze in a break here.  And when we come back, I`m going to ask you, and I`ve asked all the candidates this, what is the best idea you have heard from one of the other candidates for president this year?

We`re going to be back with Julian Castro`s answer to that after this break.


O`DONNELL:  And we`re back with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and current presidential candidate Julian Castro.  And Mr. Secretary, what is the best idea that you`ve heard from one of the other presidential candidates?

CASTRO:  There are a lot of them, Lawrence.  But, you know, I got to give props to Senator Warren.  As you know, and folks who watch your show know, she`s come out with a whole bunch of great policies.

And probably my favorite one has been on child care, universal childcare, because anybody who has children or they`re involved in the lives of their grandchildren, they know that child care can be a great value to allow parents to actually go and work and earn a living.

It`s also very expensive in a lot of places.  In fact, in some places, it`s as expensive as the first year of college.  So if we could accomplish something like universal childcare, that would be a tremendous benefit to families of every background all throughout the country.  So I`m a fan of what she`s put out on that.

O`DONNELL:  And what about your position on the Green New Deal?

CASTRO:  I like it.  You know, we don`t have to choose between protecting our planet and growing our economy.  We can create jobs in the new energy economy.  Here in my neck of the woods in Texas, a great example of that.  A lot of wind energy jobs, solar energy industry jobs.

Investment in renewables not only makes sense to bring down carbon emissions and to protect our planet but also as Representative Ocasio- Cortez and others have pointed out, to actually create jobs in the 21st Century.  And now, what the Green New Deal looks like, from concept to the negotiation that happens before it actually becomes reality, if it becomes reality, you know, I think people can negotiate but I like it.

O`DONNELL:  And I want to get into some foreign policy.  What would you say if you take a trip to Afghanistan, what would you say to our troops there?

CASTRO:  That we`re proud of them.  That we believe in them.  That we need an orderly withdrawal, and we look forward to bringing them home.

We also want to make sure that we take care of them and their families when they`re back so that they can get good job opportunities and put the great skills that they got in the military to good use afterward.  That we will keep improving the VA so they have great health care and also keep improving things like educational opportunities and housing opportunities.  Because what I want them to know is that our commitment to them is not done when they get back, that it`s just starting.

O`DONNELL:  What is the issue that you most want to talk about that we don`t talk about?  I mean, we are talking about some of the issues that I know are very important do you like immigration.

But I know that we don`t always think of everything that the candidates care about.  What do you think of the things that we`re leaving out of this discussion that we should make sure we include?

CASTRO:  Well, I mean, you know, I know time is limited.  And so oftentimes, it really goes by the news of the day.  But one of the things that I`d like to talk more about for instance is small business.

Small businesses make up more than 70 percent of the jobs out there in our country and in most metro areas.  And we get a lot of headlines about things like Amazon and other big corporations but I believe in small business.

And one of the things I look forward to doing during the course of the campaign is to releasing a plan on how I would make small business.  And one of the things I look forward to doing during the course of the campaign is to releasing a plan on how I would make small business more successful.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  And we will hear more about that next time.  Secretary Julian Castro, thank you very much for joining us, and I really appreciate it.

Julian Castro gets "Tonight`s Last Word."  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.