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Top pediatrician describes "dog cages". TRANSCRIPT: 7/3/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Neera Tanden, Julie Linton, Mazie Hirono, Bill Weld

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

And I knew you would be doing transcript tonight as soon as we got this transcript today about what happened in court.  And I have so many favorite moments, and I thought, if I have to reduce it to one, I think my very favorite moment is when the government lawyers in the census case says to the judge, is it possible that we can do this on Monday?  No!  The judge just flat no, one word. 

Judges don`t often give scheduling answers that are quite as clear instantaneously as one.  It`s really great. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I mean, is it possible that we can do this on Monday?  The court, no.  Mr. Gardner and again -- oh, OK.  The court again says no!  Are you seriously going to keep talking?  I said N-O.  N-O.  No. 

O`DONNELL:  In most other federal courts in America, that would be a perfectly reasonable request.  I think there`s an awful lot of federal judges who will be not working on Friday, but this judge is.  Friday, 2:00 p.m. 


O`DONNELL:  He wants an answer.  What is the president up to?  What is the government doing in this case? 

MADDOW:  And does the Justice Department speak for the government anymore?  Does the Justice Department actually represent what the U.S. government is doing, or do we just rule by fiat here from what the president tweets and misspelled on his phone?

It`s just a remarkable case.  I`m glad you`re on it, Lawrence.  Thanks, man. 

O`DONNELL:  And who speaks for Mark Zuckerberg?  The other big question of the day.  Thank you, Lawrence.

MADDOW:  Good night, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, tomorrow the president who has never inspired a majority of the American people will try to do that once again.  He will absolutely definitely surely fail once again because Donald Trump has no idea how to speak to a majority of the American people. 

It wasn`t always this way.  Presidents of both parties have struck inspirational notes with the majority of Americans.  At the end of this hour, we will show you a Republican president who did that at several points in his presidency, even with people who disagreed with him, but especially on the very last day of his citizen when in his final speech as president of the United States, he praised immigrants who he hoped would continue to come to this country. 

And we`ll be joined by a Republican who worked in that president`s administration and who is now running for the Republican presidential nomination against Donald Trump. 

But we begin tonight with the breaking news of the night.  Federal judge today demanded that the Trump Justice Department explain a Trump tweet and the Trump Justice Department admitted that they have no idea what the Trump tweet means.  Federal Judge George Hazel conducted an emergency telephone conference with the Justice Department and some of the lawyers representing plaintiffs in the census case that was just decided by the United States Supreme Court last week, preventing the census from containing a question about citizenship. 

And as we reported here last night, the Trump administration surrendered to the Supreme Court yesterday.  They formally surrendered and began printing the census without a citizenship question as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The commerce secretary announced that the census was being printed without the citizenship question. 

And then this morning, the president tweeted the news reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the citizenship question on the census is incorrect or to state it differently, fake. 

That sent Federal Judge George Hazel into action, rounding up lawyers in the case by phone to find out what was going on.  In a transcript of the conference call today, the judge said: This morning, I saw a tweet that got my attention.  I don`t know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of them and I follow the president.  And so, I saw a tweet that directly contradicted the position that Mr. Gardner had shared with me yesterday. 

Joshua Gardner is one of the Justice Department lawyers in the case.  The judge asked Attorney Gardner a simple question.  Is the government going to continue efforts to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census? 

Attorney Gardner said: The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the president`s position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor, I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the president has tweeted. 

No one on that call knew what Donald Trump`s tweet meant, including Donald Trump`s Justice Department attorneys.  Attorney Gardner did confirm that the census is in the process of being printed without the citizenship question. 

Another Justice Department lawyer told the judge: We at the Department of Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward consistent with the decisions that allow us to include the citizenship question on the census.  We are examining that, looking at near term options to see whether that`s viable and possible. 

The judge ordered the government lawyers to tell him by 2:00 p.m. Friday if the government is going to continue fighting the case.  The government lawyers asked for a delay until Monday because of the Fourth of July holiday to which the judge as I just said simply said no.  The judge then told the government lawyers, if you were Facebook and an attorney for Facebook told me one thing and then I read a press release from Mark Zuckerberg, telling me something else, I would be demanding that Mark Zuckerberg appear in court with you the next time because I would be saying I don`t think you speak for your client anymore. 

Leading off our discussion tonight, Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, and Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post."  He`s an MSNBC political analyst. 

And, Gene, this was a remarkable, very quick telephone conference today where the president tweets something and we bring America`s best legal minds to study it and none of them can figure out what he meant. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Right.  And they work for the president.  So the president is the client and they have no idea.  They clearly had no idea this was coming.  They thought the issue was settled and the president tweeted that it wasn`t settle and now, I guess, they guess try to find a way to unsettle it again and to try to come up with some rational, which, you know, the judge was clearly not amused. 

And they must be scratching their heads saying what are we going to come up with that`s not going to get us laughed or yelled out of court or whatever?  And we better come up with it by 2:00 p.m. on Friday or this judge -- who knows what this judge might do if we don`t?  So it was an extraordinary moment in the life of this country. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and they would have to begin to suborn perjury from the Commerce Secretary to get him to change his under oath testimony about why he wanted a citizenship question.  They want to try to figure out a way to give the Supreme Court a different reason why they wanted one. 

But as you listen to or read the transcript of the government lawyers, they expressed zero confidence that they are even going to come up with a theory of this case.  They say -- basically they are using words like might be possible. 

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Yes, when you read the transcript, what is clear is that we have a government by chaos, which is not new, although it seems that we take it to new heights day by day.  And this is a new height. 

Essentially, what happened here is that the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce understood last week`s Supreme Court decision as basically saying they have to go forward with the census without the citizenship question because, you know, those people live in reality and the census is supposed to start taking place, you know, months away.  And we are talking about printing millions upon millions of documents and so, they live in that reality. 

And I don`t know if Fox News or one of the president`s donors or some crazy right wing news site attacked that position and then the president does what he often does, which is listen to the far right of his base versus his own government and put out a tweet.  And there we have the essentially the Department of Justice scrambling to keep up. 

But I think what happened here is the judge in the case recognized that this is a farce.  I almost feel badly, but not quite, for the lawyer who is are going to spend the next 36 hours scratching their head, manufacturing some possible rational.  And they are likely to get laughed out of court which will just be an embarrassment for them, but hopefully, it will mean our census is not ridden with racism and xenophobia. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And, Gene, this is a game the president plays.  He has been defeated like on Mexico paying for the wall and then he continues to tweet that Mexico will pay for the wall.  This is an instance in which if you continue to tweet things that aren`t true, there is a judge who can drag the government lawyers in to court and say, OK, 2:00 p.m. Friday, tell me what`s going on here.  The tweeting game ends at 2:00 p.m. Friday. 

ROBINSON:  Yes.  It certainly does.  This is a whole new sphere.  You can - - Mexico will pay for the wall, he can tweet whatever he wants and there are no consequences, but there are immediate consequences here. 

These lawyers have to come in and as you say, they can`t just come in with some ridiculous theory that amounts to suborning perjury or something else that might get them in hot water with legal associations, with bar associations.  They have to take this seriously because after all, this is a federal court.  And you have to take things seriously in a federal court.  Words have meaning and they have consequences. 

O`DONNELL:  So the president is going to have a campaign rally at government expense tomorrow in Washington, where he will pretend to be trying to inspire the country, but of course once again, he will surely only be speaking to people who voted for him. 

Let`s take a look at polls that shape the frame that the president will be speaking in tomorrow.  He will be speaking to a country where according to Gallup now, 45 percent of the country wants Donald Trump impeached and removed from office. 

In addition that, we have a recent Pew poll that is very relevant to tomorrow.  And it`s -- how do you feel when the president speaks?  What are your feelings when he makes public statements? 

Seventy-six percent are concerned.  Confused, 70 percent.  Embarrassed, 69 percent.  Exhausted, 67 percent.  Angry, 65 percent.  Insulted 62 percent.  Frightened, 56 percent. 

And what the president is going for tomorrow, only 36 percent of Americans are ever proud of the president when he speaks or feel pride when he speaks, and only 33 percent have ever felt inspired when Donald Trump speaks. 

And so, Neera, that`s the audience he will be speaking to tomorrow. 

TANDEN:  Yes.  I think, you know, the issue here is whether he is speaking from a teleprompter in which he basically says a bunch of words we all know he doesn`t mean, or he speak from the heart and creates all the emotions on the first column.  What I felt reassured by is I have all of those emotions in one day listening to Donald Trump. 

So, I think the reality of this is that the president is going -- you know, we are about a year from this election.  Less than a year from this election and he is deeply unpopular.  The important issues around impeachment is that the numbers are moving up.  They were in the 30s and they are now at 45 percent, perhaps after Robert Mueller testifies it may be into the 50s. 

And I think that`s a new moment in the country where you have a majority asking for impeachment and removal.  That will start putting some pressure on Republicans in races like in Cory Gardner`s race and Susan Collins` race where you see some of them finally feel at least pressure around impeachment. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Gene, another set of poll that is the president is facing today, Morning Consult poll, showing his disapproval in swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, more higher disapproval than approval.  Michigan, 55 percent disapproval, 40 percent approval. 

This is a campaign event for him tomorrow.  And those numbers don`t look good. 

ROBINSON:  No, they don`t.  Remember last time in 2016, he had to thread the needle in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  You look at the numbers and there is no longer an eye in that needle.  It`s just closed.  There is no way to get a piece of thread through there. 

So, he would either have to change those numbers dramatically or come up with another theory of how he gets to 270 electoral votes.  I`m not sure how that would be.  I`m fairly confident that what he is doing tomorrow is not a good start. 

I am biased.  I live in the Washington area.  We here feel certain ownership and a lot of pride in our Fourth of July celebration on the Mall.  To have it sort of usurped in this way by any president to give a political speech is really an outrage and something that some of us have strong feelings about.  Maybe the president likes it that we have strong feelings, but we have strong feelings anyhow. 

O`DONNELL:  Gene Robinson and Neera Tanden, thank you for starting us off tonight. 

And when we come back, yesterday`s inspector general`s report condemning the conditions that adults and children are subject to at the southern border told its story in words and these pictures.  The inspector general`s team could not be stopped from photographs what they saw because their authority overrides the authority of the people running those institutions.  Reporters and members of Congress do not have that authority, generally have been forbidden from using cameras inside.

But some of the children are showing the world the conditions that they experienced in pictures they have created with crayon and markers.  We will show you their drawings next and we will be joined by a pediatrician. 


O`DONNELL:  Today, we got new insight into the experiences of the children in custody at the southern border.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has released three drawings by children recently detained by the Border Patrol.  The drawings were made by the children after they were transferred to the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Center at McAllen, Texas. 

The most prominent drawings have the cages where they were held reportedly on cold concrete floors without access to soap or toothbrushes.  The incoming president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sara Goza, said in a statement, quote: No amount of time spent in these facilities is safe for children.  She described what she saw when she visited the border patrol facility in McAllen, Texas. 


DR. SARA GOZA, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS:  When I opened the door, the first thing that we -- that hit us was the smell.  It was the smell of sweat, urine, and feces.  I heard a crinkling to my left, and I looked over there and there was a sea of silver. 

And there were young children, boys in there, unaccompanied boys in there, and they had no expressions on their faces.  There was no laughing, no joking, no talking.  I describe them like dog cages with people in each of them.  The silence was just hard to see. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion is pediatrician, Dr. Julie Linton, who has visited the border facility.  She is co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Immigrant Help Special Interest Group. 

And, Doctor, what should we know about children held in these kinds of conditions? 

DR. JULIE LINTON, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS:  What we know is that there is no amount of time in detention that is safe for children and the conditions under which they are held, cage-like fencing, extending from the floor to the ceiling, lights kept on 24-7 that are disorienting for children, children lying on mats on concrete floor with nothing but a crinkly blanket to cover them threaten the short and long-term health of children. 

O`DONNELL:  And what about the medical care?  How much is the gap between the medical personnel they need and the medical personnel they have? 

LINTON:  Well, my colleagues on the border including Dr. Goza who we just heard shared in the facilities they went to, they saw not a single pediatrician.  We as the American Academy of Pediatrics are asking for urgent presence of pediatric expertise at every step of the border.  We know that our law enforcement agents are there to protect our border and we as pediatricians are there to protect the health and wellbeing of children. 

O`DONNELL:  We had a lot of report this is week about bad behavior by people working in and around the facilities.  But let`s just for the moment assume those people doing their very best.  What don`t they know that you would need to know in order to be able to properly care for children in these situations? 

LINTON:  Well, children are not little adults.  They express illness different than adults do.  This means their vital signs may be different, so they may breathe more quickly and they may detect the subtle signs of illness under a t-shirt. 

Children can get sick more quickly than adults.  They require more fluid for their weight.  We dose medications based on the weight of a child where an adult has a standard dose.  So, we as pediatricians have expertise in detecting the differences between a child who is well and a child who has a minor illness and a child who has a serious illness. 

If we don`t urgently change the process we have at the border with pediatric expertise, I can anticipate there will be more deaths to come. 

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Julie Linton, thank you very much for joining us.  I really appreciate it. 

And when we come back, Senator Mazie Hirono who visited the institutions at the southern border will join us next. 


O`DONNELL:  "The Atlantic" carries this account of one pediatrician`s experience with children in federal custody in McAllen, Texas.  Inside the border patrol warehouse on Ursula Avenue, Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier saw a baby who had been fed from the same unwashed bottle for days.  Children showing signs of malnutrition and dehydration and several kids who in her medical opinion were exhibiting evidence of psychological trauma.  At Ursula, the children Dr. Sevier examined were totally fearful, but then extremely -- but entirely subdued. 

She could read the fear in their faces, but they were perfectly submissive to her authority.  I can only explain by trauma because that is such an unusual behavior, she said.  Dr. Sevier had brought along Mickey Mouse toys to break the ice.  And the kids seem to enjoy playing with them, yet none resisted, she said, when she took them away at end of the exam. 

At some point, Dr. Sevier mused, you are broken and you stop fighting. 

Joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.  She`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and she has visited some of the detention centers at the southern border. 

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate you being here. 

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI):  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  And I wonder -- were you as Senator Schumer said today, the Democratic leader of the Senate, about the inspector general`s report.  He said, the inspector general`s report and details of a secret border patrol worker`s Facebook group paint a picture of a toxic culture at U.S. Customs and Border Protection that can only begin to be changed by immediately firing and replacing top leadership at the agency with law enforcement professionals who have training and expertise in working with vulnerable populations. 

Do you agree with Senator Schumer on that? 

HIRONO:  Yes, of course.  I, in fact, had introduced a bill early, along with a number of my colleagues who are very concerned prior to all of these more recent revelations as to the conditions.  I had a bill that would provide a minimum level of care for the children in these facilities. 

And so, these horrific pictures, the trauma that these children are undergoing -- and, by the way, the president saying, oh, they are being better treated and they are experiencing life better , I`m paraphrasing, than what they knew before.  So, in that kind of an environment where the president said such things, where is the incentive to improve conditions for the children and these people who are in overcrowded facilities? 

So, I think it starts at the top and I believe that the president`s antagonistic attitude toward immigrants, to migrants is manifested in the 7,000 or so people who participated in the secret Facebook where they made fun and mocked people who are suffering and people who are dying and also members of Congress who expressed care. 

O`DONNELL:  The president defended those people by saying our border patrol people are not hospital workers, doctors, or nurses. 

What`s your reaction to that? 

HIRONO:  Well, my reaction to that is, obviously, we do not have a basic standard of care.  As you heard from Dr. Linton just a little while ago, we need to have professionals there, such as pediatricians who know how to take care of children, who are able to recognize various problems and illnesses that children have.  So, these are not the kind of people who are in the facility. 

So, what we have in these facilities are people who are not trained to do this kind of work or to take care of these groups of migrants. 

O`DONNELL: Senator, if the Inspector General of Homeland Security can go into these facilities and take photographs, why can`t members of Congress go in and take photographs?

HIRONO: That is a very good question and apparently the day that the administration does not have a good answer at all. And so, when members of Congress go, we ought to be able to talk to the people, to take pictures and I think that they have a lot to hide as they don`t want us to do that.

And by the way, they have not been able to point to any legal or statutory basis on which they are denying these kinds of access to members of Congress as well as to the press by the way.

O`DONNELL: And when the members of Congress come, there is always advanced notice. The facility always knows they`re coming, so they can improve things. The inspector general was conducting spot checks that apparently were unannounced and the inspector general has said, the acting Inspector General has said, she will continue to conduct those spot checks.

HIRONO: I`m grateful for that. And by the way, when the most recent group of members of the House went to these facilities, it`s pretty hard to clean up facilities that are so, so overcrowded. There is no way that you can just move people around so what they saw were terrible enough and those were announced visits.

O`DONNELL: Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

HIRONO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have new polls tonight that show good news, bad news for Joe Biden and a new front runner in the Iowa caucuses. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: It was a day of good news, bad news in the polls for Joe Biden, a new Washington Post poll shows Joe Biden in a stronger position than any of the other polls taken after last week`s Presidential debates. The Washington Post poll shows Joe Biden at 29 percent, Bernie Sanders second at 23 percent, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris tied at 11 percent and Mayor Pete Buttigieg down at 4 percent with all of the other candidates polling below 4 percent.

But Iowa is a completely different story. Iowa is the first state where voters will deliver a verdict on the candidates and in a new Iowa poll today, Elizabeth Warren is on top with 20 followed by Kamala Harris with 18 in Iowa, Joe Biden with 17 percent in Iowa, Bernie Sanders is polling at 12 percent in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg is polling at 10 percent in Iowa. The last four Democratic Presidential nominees won the Iowa caucuses.

Today, many of the candidates were campaigning in Iowa speaking in West Des Moines, Senator Kamala Harris used her authority as a criminal prosecutor in describing Donald Trump.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has predatory nature and predatory instincts. And the thing about predators you should know is that they prey on the vulnerable. They prey on those who they do not believe are strong. And the thing about predators you must, and most importantly know, predators are cowards. Predators are cowards. And so, when we look at this campaign and we look at the task before us, it will be to successfully prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump, and I am prepared to do that.


O`DONNELL: In Des Moines today, Senator Bernie Sanders talked about his opposition to the President`s immigration policies with this preface.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me preface my remarks by telling you what you may or may not know, that you are looking here at the son of an immigrant, somebody who came to the United States from Poland at the age of 17 with very little education, with no money in his pocket, and who could not speak a word of English. Just the kind of person that Donald Trump did not want to come to this country, but here we are, nonetheless.


O`DONNELL: After a quick break, Neera Tanden and Eugene Robinson will be back with us to discuss the latest polling and the dynamics in the Presidential campaign.


O`DONNELL: Here is the Democratic Presidential candidate who - he was at the top of the Presidential polls in the Iowa caucuses tonight.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Talk about what makes the nation great, a nation is great when it lives its values. And right now, America at the border, America in our immigration policy that is designed to maximize the terror of families, America. A President that threatens that next week he`s going to start raids on people who live here in the United States of America and pose no threat to us, pose no threat to anyone. This is not an America that lives its best values.


O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden and Eugene Robinson are back with us and Neera you`re the Presidential campaign veteran here, which spot would you rather have in the polls right now the lead in the national polls that Joe Biden has or the lead in the Iowa caucus poll that Elizabeth Warren has.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT: Well honestly Iowa matters a great deal. Whoever comes out of Iowa usually catapults into who the rest of the country. And so, a lot of these things are expectations. I do think that the polls today are out. The national poll out for Biden was helpful to him, because I think a lot of people were expecting - may well be expecting that his trajectory would continue to decline, and that expectation would be deeply problematic for him.

But I think what we`re really seeing with all the information that`s come out over the last couple of days is that this is a top tier of three people, Senator Warren, Senator Harris and Vice President Biden and it`s a compelling race, a lot of people were talking about how the race is pretty static. I think Kamala today with her prosecuting the case against Trump and the predator language really is continuing what she did last week which is to make the case that she is the person who can take this fight to Trump that really helped her last week. I think she`s trying to keep that streak going in Iowa said that the polls will flip even more.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Joe Biden said today about what the President is planning tomorrow in Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think of President Trump`s parade.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he missed the essence of who we are. This is about, it`s about celebrating why we`re the country we are. I`m incredibly proud of the military, but this sort of - he misses the whole point about why we`re the country we are. Everybody knows the most powerful country in the world politically. I mean physical. But we`re losing our standing in the world. And I just think we should celebrate freedom. We should celebrate why we`re the people we are.


O`DONNELL: And Gene Robinson, Joe Biden and none of the candidates take every question that gets thrown at them by reporters. But if you give him a question about Trump, he`s ready.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Yes. Because that was his initial play coming out of the blocks. It got him the big lead in the polls. He went directly at Trump and the way the other candidates weren`t doing. And it`s still serving him well. Well, I mean I don`t count Biden out of this. And then I would add a fourth candidate to nearest top tier, I would add Bernie Sanders. He`s pretty close in in the polls, second in some, a little lower and others seems to have faded a bit in Iowa. But he`s got - he`s sitting on a ton of money and which will serve him well.

And there is another candidate who is also sitting on a ton of money that`s Pete Buttigieg. But he really hasn`t gotten a lot of traction. And this of course all flows from the debate last week in which Buttigieg didn`t gain ground, Kamala Harris had a great night. Joe Biden had a bad night. And so, now he`s got a real race. It never was going to be a coronation. But now we can see that this is a real race and he`s going to have to start drawing distinctions between himself and the other candidates.

O`DONNELL: The biggest number that Joe Biden has in the new Washington Post poll and it`s one of the worst numbers that Pete Buttigieg has by the way is the, which candidate has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump and Joe Biden gets 45 percent in that one way ahead of everybody else. Bernie Sanders at 18, Senator Warren 7, Senator Harris 9, Julian Castro 2 and there is people are just down the bottom at one end. Neera that 45 percent. That big overwhelming lead in best chance of beating Donald Trump is Joe Biden`s biggest asset.

TANDEN: It has been, and I think Eugene is totally right, when he came out of the box basically making really attacking Trump on his greatest weakness, which is his response to Charlottesville, his xenophobia, his racism. He really was able to unite a disparate party in many ways behind him. People who even liberal voters have been supporting Joe Biden and you know one debate it`s very early. He has the opportunity to come back and I think if he demonstrates in real time that he can make the strong case, it`ll be a race. But Eugene is right. I don`t count at Bernie Sanders at all. He has a lot of resources to go the distance and he has very strong support. That support seems to be falling in Iowa. But it can go the distance a long time as well.

O`DONNELL: Gene, this variance in the poll in The Washington Post poll is the one that varies the most with the other polls. That`s the kind of thing that`s going to shake itself out overtime and when we get past the next round of debates, we will probably have more clarity in the polls by then.

ROBINSON: Yes, we probably will. Polls will be all over the map and there are snapshots and that`s why a lot of analysts sort of average the polls and try to get a sense of where the race is from that and I think that the real takeaway is the rise of Warren and especially the rise of Harris into that firmly into that top tier. They weren`t necessarily firmly there before the debate but they`re definitely there now and they will be factors. That`s right.

TANDEN: And let me just say quickly, I think Kamala Harris is growth in Iowa. I mean early on in this race a lot of people thought she wouldn`t even compete in Iowa. Iowa is an overwhelmingly white state. The fact that she`s surging there. And she hasn`t even really built out a field operation yet. Senator Warren has had one for a while. So, I think that there - you`ll see a lot of change and I think the most important thing about this race is, it`s extremely fluid. We have had primaries before where candidates rise and fall, rise and fall. And I think the most important thing is the level of interest and involvement engagement, the ratings last week were very, very high. That`s an important signal that people are very engaged in the Democratic primary and that`s really to the good.

O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden gets the last word on the Democrats tonight. Neera Tanden and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, tonight`s episode of It Wasn`t Always This Way, we`ll show you a Republican President who knew when to drop political rhetoric and deliver an inspiring message about America.

And we`ll be joined by a Republican who worked in that President`s administration and who is now running against Donald Trump for the Republican Presidential nomination.



RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When we finish this luncheon, I hope you`ll stick around a little while, we`re having a tag sale upstairs, and everything must go.


O`DONNELL: That was President Ronald Reagan`s last speech as President, the day before the next President took the oath of office. On the eve of Donald Trump`s campaign rally in Washington paid for by the American taxpayer with the reluctant involvement of the U.S. military, it`s worth remembering once again that it was not always this way. Before Washington Republicans became Trumpists. The political figure, they claimed to love the most in American history was Ronald Reagan. You never hear Republicans mentioning Ronald Reagan now the way they constantly did before Donald Trump became their object of adoration.

Ronald Reagan was a conservative Republican President who was opposed every day by everyone who you would expect to oppose a conservative Republican President. But he did earn varying degrees of respect with Democrats and great respect with some Democrats who sometimes worked with him, but most often opposed him on his final day in office. President Reagan gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to one of those Democrats Mike Mansfield, who served as the Senate Majority Leader longer than anyone in history. Ron Reagan knew what almost every politician in those days knew which was when to drop partisan rhetoric, something Donald Trump will never learn which he will once again demonstrate tomorrow. Here is more of President Reagan`s speech on his final day as President of the United States.


REAGAN: No, tomorrow was a special day for me. I`m going to receive my gold watch. And since this is the last speech that I will give as President, I think it`s fitting to leave one final thought, an observation about a country which I love. It was stated best in a letter I received not long ago, a man wrote me and said, you can go to live in France, but you cannot become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey or Japan, but you cannot become a German, a Turk or Japanese, but anyone from any corner of the Earth can come to live in America and become an American.

This I believe is one of the most important sources of America`s greatness. We lead the world because unique among nations we draw our people our strength from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so, we continuously renew and enrich our nation. While other countries cling to the stale past here in America, we breathe life into dreams, we create the future and the world follows us into tomorrow. Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we are a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier.


O`DONNELL: For our final round of discussion, we turn to Bill Weld former Republican governor of Massachusetts. He is running for the Republican Presidential nomination against President Trump. And Governor Weld, you worked in the Reagan Justice Department. We are now on the eve of a Republican President using taxpayer money for basically a campaign rally. We have traveled a great distance in Republican world in Washington from that final day of the Reagan presidency to what we`re going to see tomorrow.

BILL WELD (R-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Worried about the last point the President Reagan made there, Lawrence. I think of that one whenever I see the Olympics. The Italians look like the Italians, the Ethiopians look like the Ethiopians. The Americans look like everybody. Same point, same point.

Yes, I served as an Assistant Attorney General with a great pleasure under President Reagan. I served him for seven years now. Today, he`s saying that what the Department of Justice committed to yesterday based on a Supreme Court ruling has no effect because he`s tweeting. Otherwise, he`s basically saying there is no law. He`s left any pretense of observing the rule of law. He`s saying, I the President, I am the law and we`re getting pretty far down that road of what I would call the death rows of democracy.

If you look at ancient Rome you know the generals would go have a triumph in Britannia, in Germania. They`d come back and have a big triumph, a parade called a Triumphant Rome. At least they paid for themselves. Even Julius Caesar did that. He might have had to borrow the money from Crassus, but he paid for it. And that`s bread and circuses and that`s the road the President seems to want to take us down.

O`DONNELL: Governor, you just made a bunch of references that Donald Trump`s not going to understand. So, I have to break it down for him. If you`re trying to get through to him. But I do want to get your reaction to what we saw in the Justice Department today. This is an extraordinary moment where a federal judge is saying to Justice Department attorneys what did the President of the United States say today. And none of the legal minds involved could explain to the judge what the President meant by what he said.

WELD: Well, of course they didn`t want to even try to do that because the President said that what happened in the Supreme Court and what his Justice Department had represented the court, it was fake, if you read the tweet, it`s in capital letters. The reason it`s fake is because it`s not what Donald Trump wants to have happen, because he wants the world to conform with what`s going on in his head and that all too often has very little to do with the reality of what`s actually going on out in the world with institutions like the Supreme Court of the United States. The United States Department of Justice, the people in charge of the border who are holding children in cages, smelling of feces and urine. Does the President really think that`s going to improve his image in the mind`s eye of the country? I think he`s so mixed up in his own head that he really doesn`t even know.

O`DONNELL: What happens if the Trump administration defies this. What is the currently standing Supreme Court order on the census?

WELD: Well, if they defy a Supreme Court order, they`re not going to do too well in the justice system.

O`DONNELL: But would they be able to go forward in some way with a census even when the Supreme Court is saying no you can`t do it that way?

WELD: No, they`d run back to the Supreme Court and say, we want a clarification and you know we want to try to overrule this, persuade you to do otherwise like a petition for rehearing. But the Department and all its representatives are committed in court that they were not going to have a census question that it was you know part of the effort to suppress voting. This administrations seems interested in suppressing voting in any jurisdiction where there`s a substantial non-white population.  It`s the opposite of what they should be doing.

O`DONNELL:  Governor Bill Weld gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  Thank you, governor.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.