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John Paul Stevens, has died. TRANSCRIPT: 7/16/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Debbie Dingell, Karine Jean-Pierre, Suzette Hackney, Tim Alberta,Ezra Klein, Neal Katyal

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

Do you need any more time?  Because I wouldn`t dare try to do that. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I threw out half my show and then I ended with singing on TV.  Do you know how messed up all of this is? 

O`DONNELL:  The Rachel greatest hits of singing on TV.  Another very important entry.  How long will we have to wait for the next one, Rachel? 

MADDOW:  Have I ever sung on TV before?

O`DONNELL:  Not to me, no.  That`s why it`s -- so that`s been almost ten years. 

MADDOW:  Well, you got a birthday coming up, you know. 

O`DONNELL:  There we go. 

MADDOW:  La!  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, during the presidential campaign, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who is now the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, said behind closed doors that he believed that Donald Trump was actually a paid agent of Vladimir Putin.  He said he thought Putin paid Trump. 

Now, Kevin McCarthy is a public worshipper of Donald Trump and he would attack anyone who said anything like that.  Might even attack me for reminding the world that Kevin McCarthy said that. 

The Republican senators who ran for president against Donald Trump -- Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham -- they all called Donald Trump a con man repeatedly on the campaign.  They called him a liar during the presidential campaign.  And now they are all public worshippers of Donald Trump. 

How did that happen? 

The first best answers to that question will be found by future historians in Tim Alberta`s new book, "American Carnage." 

This is the perfect night to have Tim Alberta join us, as he will later in this hour, after a day in which Republicans once again fell in line with Donald Trump and defended the indefensible.  But this time there were four defenses.  That means President Trump has four new members of the House of Representatives to attack. 

The four Republicans who voted to condemn Donald Trump`s racist attack on four Democratic members of the House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color, the four Republicans who stood on the right side of history in tonight`s vote are Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Susan Brooks of Indiana.  Those Republicans saw Donald Trump`s tweeted defense today, and in their votes tonight they said, no, we don`t believe Donald Trump. 

Every other Republican who voted not to condemn the president but voted in effect to condemn themselves, they did that, they voted to condemn themselves in history as actively complicit in the president`s racism. 

Before the vote, the president tweeted: Those tweets were not racist.  I don`t have a racist bone in my body.  The so-called vote to be taken is a Democratic con game.  Republicans should not show weakness and fall into their trap.

I don`t know why the president capitalizes the "R" in the word "racist" the way religious people capitalize the letter "G" in "God" out of reverence for that word. 

Is it Donald Trump`s reverence for the word "racist?" is that what he is signaling to racists with that upper case "R" for "racist?" is that what he`s doing? 

Every Republican showed weakness and fell into Donald Trump`s racist trap today except those four Republicans who voted against Donald Trump`s racism. 

Why is it always the bones?  Why do racists always talk about their bones, as in I don`t have a racist bone in my body, says the president of the United States.  Does he say it that way because even Donald Trump knows what it would sound like if he said, "I don`t have a racist thought in my mind, I`ve never had a racist thought in my mind"?

It could not be easier in this House of Representatives to know how to vote on a resolution condemning racism because 79-year-old John Lewis of Georgia is still a member of the House of Representatives.  John Lewis is, of course, a scarred veteran, literally scarred veteran of the civil rights movement beginning in the 1950s when he was a teenager. 

He was in the march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  John Lewis was nearly beaten to death that day by the government officials with badges who wanted him and Dr. King and all of those marchers to go back, to go back away from that bridge, to go back away from progress, to go back and live in submission to their governmental authority. 

Donald Trump`s go back to where you came from rant against Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is the 21st century Trump White House version of what police did to John Lewis on that bridge in Selma and he knows it.  John Lewis knows it. 

On days like today, if you listen to one speaker in the House of Representatives debate, it should be the Honorable John Lewis. 


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA):  I rise with a sense of righteous indignation to support this resolution.  I know racism when I see it.  I know racism when I feel it.  And at the highest level of government, there`s no room for racism. 

The world is watching.  They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we have lost our way as a nation, as a proud and great people.  We are one Congress and we are here to serve one house, the American house, the American people. 

Some of us have been victims of the stain, the pain and the hurt of racism.  In the `50s and during the `60s, segregationists told us to go back.  We were protesting for our rights.  They told ministers, priests, rabbis and nuns to go back.  They told the innocent little children seeking just an equal education to go back. 

As a nation and as a people, we need to go forward and not backward. 


O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan, someone who was on the House floor today.  Also joining us, Karine Jean-Pierre, chief public officers for and a MSNBC contributor, and Suzette Hackney, director of opinion and community engagement for the "Indianapolis Star."  She wrote an editorial entitled "Trump is an unhinged racist and Indiana`s congressional members wimpy sycophants".

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, I want to start with you.  You were there.  You were on the floor.  It took awhile of parliamentary haggling to get to this vote, but it turned out that there were four Republicans, and only four, who joined you in this vote. 

Justin Amash, recent Republican, now an independent also joined you in this vote.  And I guess we are now awaiting the tweet attacks at minimum that Donald Trump will deliver -- will deliver to those four Republicans. 

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI):  Well, all four of those Republicans as well as Justin are good friends, and yesterday they spoke up and spoke out against this hatred.  The president of the United States` job is to unite us and those tweets are dividing us as a country and it`s got to stop, and at some point, you`ve got to speak up and speak out. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Suzette Hackney, your article came out before this vote and it may be that you moved one of these votes in the Indiana delegation. 

SUZETTE HACKNEY, THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR DIRECTOR OF OPINION:  Yes.  Susan Brooks, who has the political freedom, she is not running for re-election, she did -- she did make a statement saying that the comments were inappropriate, but most of the Indiana delegation did not do so, and I did write and I said that we all needed to speak out about this.  It did not matter which political party. 

O`DONNELL:  Karine, your reaction to what we saw in the House today. 

KARINE JEAN-PIRRE, CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, MOVEON.ORG:  So what we saw in the House outside these four very break Republicans because now, like you said, they`re going to be attacked by Donald Trump any minute now, any second now, is that you have Republicans who decided that they were not going to call out Donald Trump`s blatant racism and what did they do instead?  They attacked Democrats for bringing forth a very simple resolution to call out that said racism. 

And here we are in 2019, you have one party that has the Senate, that has the White House, that refuses to call out racism.  But we shouldn`t be surprised, Lawrence, because I`ll say this, we knew Donald Trump was a racist.

  In 2011, when he decided to be the grand wizard of the birther movement, what happened in 2015?  They nominated him.  They elected him.  And now, they encourage him.  And this is where we are today in 2019. 

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Dingell, Nick Ramsey, who is one of the producer of Brian Williams` "THE 11TH HOUR," pointed out on twitter today that what the president said looks like a violation of federal law under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission`s rules which say examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting or ethnic epithets such as making fun of a person`s foreign accent or comments like "go back to where you came from," whether made by superiors or co-workers. 

So, it is possible that anyone else working in the federal government could have been fired for what Donald Trump said, it`s just that the only way to fire the person in Donald Trump`s job is through impeachment. 

DINGELL:  If that were to have been -- his tweets were to have been said at any workplace across America, it would have been an instant firing situation. 

You know, I want to speak beyond these four colleagues of mine, but I represent -- it was xenophobic as well.  I represent wasn`t of the largest Muslim populations in this country.  This man does not understand what he`s doing to little children.  I go into the grade schools there and I have children grabbing my legs, telling me they are afraid that someone is going to come into their house in the middle of the night, take their family out and never be seen again. 

This is the United States of America in 2019.  This is not Germany.  And we need to think about the message that we are sending to people.  We are trying to divide this country with fear, hatred -- it`s divisive and not acceptable. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to Donald Trump in the past in the way he describes himself as not being a racist. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You`re racist, you`re racist, you`re racist.  They keep saying it. 

INTERVIEWER:  Are you a racist? 

TRUMP:  Absolutely not.  So many of my friends who are black, they say, you are the least racist person. 

I am the least racist person that you`ve ever met.  Believe me. 


O`DONNELL:  Suzette, your reaction to the way Donald Trump defends himself on this? 

HACKNEY:  Well, he started by saying -- he might as well have just said "I have many black friends."  It`s just laughable at this point. 

O`DONNELL:  Karine, I am the least racist person that you have ever met. 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Basically that`s what racist people say. 

O`DONNELL:  Exactly. 

JEAN-PIERRE:  I mean, it`s exactly that. 

O`DONNELL:  That is in and of itself a badge of racism.  He is saying he is less racist than you. 


O`DONNELL:  He`s saying he is less racist than John Lewis. 


O`DONNELL:  He is taking a higher moral ground for himself than John Lewis. 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Exactly, and like I said, that`s what racist people say.  My best friend is black.  Or, you know, I have -- I have -- not one racist bone in my body, which I don`t even know what that means.  Please tell me where that would be, that racist bone in your body. 

By the way, what does a nonracist bone look like?  I mean, it`s -- look, Donald Trump is who he is.  He has shown us that over and over and over again in his policies, the way he talks about black people, the way he talks about Mexicans when he first entered the race.  He is who he is.

And the problem is, Lawrence, the reason he continues this behavior is because Republicans do not hold him accountable.  They do not call him out.  So what does he do?  He doubles down and he triples down and he`s not going to stop because he believes it works. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Speaker Pelosi said on the House floor today. 


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president`s racist tweets.  To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of --


PELOSI:  -- our oath of office to protect the American people. 


O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Dingell, what did it feel like on the House today -- on the House floor, the overall sensation of that full experience on the floor? 

DINGELL:  You know, it was tense at times.  You know that it broke down when Republicans were trying to get process votes that didn`t get at the substance.  They were trying to -- they`re learning tactics from President Trump, which is divert from the attention on the issue that`s really at hand.

But our caucus was united.  I have not seen our caucus this united in standing up to hatred.  That we simply cannot tolerate anymore.  President Trump gave us a gift on Sunday.  He united our caucus in a way it hasn`t been in months. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Suzette, what is -- what is -- what do you see in these four votes, these four Republican votes?  Going to you on this. 

You`re in Indiana.  It`s a very Republican state.  One of the members of the Indiana delegation who you pointed out specifically in your column before this vote voted against the president today.  She is a retiring member but she`s an important member of the House. 

Is there something in this for future possible cracks of Republican support for the president? 

HACKNEY:  Absolutely.  I think that Republicans are going to have to start listening to the American people. 

Yes, I live in a very red state.  I have heard from so many readers who reached out to me today on both sides of the aisle and they said this is unacceptable.  We as Americans cannot allow this -- this kind of division to happen any longer. 

And I think that if these Republicans are going to represent their voters, they are going to have to start listening to their voters and Americans are very unhappy.  I`ve gotten tons of emails from Republicans who say I`m a Republican all my life, but we cannot continue to go down this road. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Karine, the president had an opportunity to move on from this.  He is the one who kept it alive.  He is the one who started tweeting -- started his day tweeting about this every day for the last three days.  So, this is clearly a decision of his to keep this going. 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Right.  He believes that it works.  He thought that he was going to continue the divide, right?  Just think about what we were talking about on Saturday or early Sunday, which was Nancy Pelosi versus the squad, as they`re called, right? 

And what he did, it`s so true, what the congresswoman did, he delivered a gift to Democrats because he thought -- he thought he could get in there and divide the two sides and -- into the Democratic side even more, and all he did was unify them and it backfired on him, what he did.  Bringing in, inserting racism actually hurt him more because the majority of the people do not want to hear that. 

That`s what we saw in 2018 when he doubled down with the caravan, when he doubled down on immigration.  People -- people came out and voted against what Donald Trump was about.  It was a referendum on him. 

He did not learn his lesson.  He`s thinking now I`m going to triple down and it didn`t work.  And now, you see a unified Democratic party and they are where the majority of the people are. 

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Dingell, take us inside the party caucus meeting before this vote.  In situations like this, generally as many -- if not the entire party gathers behind a closed door to talk about what`s going to happen on the house floor today.  What was that meeting like today? 

DINGELL:  You know, it was candid conversation, but frequently when you`re in meetings like this there are a lot of different opinions and there wasn`t anybody who didn`t know that we needed to take this vote, that we needed to stand up.  I think that we want to make sure that we stand up to hatred, we stand up to division, but at the same time we can`t let him divert us every single day.  We`ve got to get back to doing the people`s business.  We`ve got to deliver for the people. 

So we`ve got to get back to health care, which he`s not delivering on.  He`s not lowering prescription drug prices.  We have to get back to talking about the environment, to infrastructure, so we`re also focused on how we got to get back to working for the people, which he would like to keep us off that message every day.  That`s what he does. 

And we cannot let him keep us from delivering for the people that we promised to.  By the way, he`s got to deliver for these people, too.  He got elected in Michigan because he talked about many of these issues.  If we haven`t done something about it, he`s going to have problems in this next election. 

O`DONNELL:  Suzette, as a member of the press, how do you see the challenge for journalism in this, in how to cover these kinds of outbursts by the president? 

HACKNEY:  Well, first of all, we just have to cover the truth.  And we have to call it what it is.  We can`t dance around it.  It`s racist.  It was racism. 

And those are -- and that`s why you saw many publications that came out with very hard-hitting editorials and columns like mine calling it what it is.  We have to stand up for America. 

We are -- we guard America.  That is our job.  And that`s what we will continue to do. 

You know, there`s the fake news that`s thrown around and, you know, he gets his based all ramped up talking about us and booing us at his -- at his rallies and such, but I think we`ve done nothing but proven that we are here to cover this administration, to cover this president, to uncover the truth, and that`s what we will continue to do. 

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Karine Jean-Pierre, Suzette Hackney, thank you very much for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

DINGELL:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back later in this hour, Ezra Klein will be here.  We will discuss what Suzette was just talking about and what this means in both political journalism and the presidential campaign going forward. 

Also tonight, Neal Katyal will join us with his memories of Justice John Paul Stevens, retired Supreme Court justice, who died tonight at the age of 99. 


O`DONNELL:  Today, four Republicans broke with the president and voted to condemn Donald Trump`s most recent racist comments, but that`s four more Republicans than usually break with the president.  But Donald Trump has taken complete control of the Republican Party is obvious to everyone.  How he did it is not. 

That story is told in the new book "American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump" by Tim Alberta. 

It tells the story of Paul Ryan`s public subservience to the president, in Paul Ryan`s own words.  Quote: I told myself I got to have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right, because I`m telling you, he didn`t know anything about government, so I thought I can`t be his scold like I was.  I wanted to scold him all the time. 

What I learned as I went on, to scratch that itch, I had to do it in private, so I did it in private all the time and he actually ended up kind of appreciating it.  We had more arguments with each other than pleasant conversations over the last two years, and it never leaked.

Today, the man who took Paul Ryan`s place, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, insists that Paul Ryan never said that. 


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  You`re quoting something based upon a book that I have not read and in talking to Speaker Ryan, I know that`s not the words of what he would use because I`ve been in rooms with him and the president. 


O`DONNELL:  And joining us now is the author of that book, Tim Alberta. He`s the chief political correspondent for "Politico" magazine and the author of "American Carnage."

Tim, so, Kevin McCarthy says your book is false, Paul Ryan never said it. 

TIM ALBERTA, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN CARNAGE":  I`m happy to give him the audiotape.  I`m not sure what else to say --


O`DONNELL:  So, you should have brought it tonight.  So it happens to be on audiotape. 

But this is the very same Kevin McCarthy who during the campaign was quoted from behind closed doors from a secret staff source, Republican staff source saying he believed Donald Trump took money from Vladimir Putin.  And there he is today doing exactly a public execution of the transformation that this book describes for Republicans.  Going from Trump takes money from Putin to I don`t believe Paul Ryan would ever have said that about Donald Trump. 

ALBERTA:  How dare he?.  Why would he say that about the dear leader? 


ALBERTA:  Look, Kevin McCarthy is just one of many Republicans who as you noted, Lawrence, has essentially fallen in line behind President Trump.  And they do so in any number of reasons, political self-preservation, a fear of backlash from the president and the president`s base, and I think what`s so fascinating in surveying this modern Republican Party is how far it has come in such a short period of time. 

This was not a Trumpian entity as recently as ten years ago.  George W. Bush`s presidency for its many failings was a presidency built upon these ideals of compassionate conservatism and, you know, refugee resettlement was a huge priority, re-entry programs for prisoners was, you know, education in urban environments.  These were the bedrock domestic policy goals of the Bush administration.  Of course, we know that they spent tens of millions of dollars trying to alleviate AIDS in Africa.  The list goes on. 

The point is, what you`ve seen is nothing short of a wholesale transformation of Republican Party in the last decade, and there is a lot that goes into that, it`s a long story, obviously, but what you`re seeing today and specifically what you would see over the last 96 hours in terms of the Republican Party`s response to Donald Trump`s remarks or in most cases their lack of response to his remarks speaks volumes about where the party is and how firmly Donald Trump has taken the party of Reagan, the party of George W. Bush and turned it into the party of Trump. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, there is no previous Republican president who would have stood for any of this.  I`m fascinated by the policy switches on things like international trade and other things.  It is stunning to me, because that happened over a very short period of time.  People who had completely different views of international trade during the presidential campaign, just over two years ago, guys like Chuck Grassley and others completely going along with these tariffs that they would have never gone along with before. 

ALBERTA:  It`s one of the best stories that got no attention at the time, very little attention at the time, was that in the heat of the 2016 campaign, Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz, who did not get along, these two guys wrote a joint op-ed in "USA Today" endorsing TPA, basically the legislation that would have given then President Obama the ability to negotiate trade agreements. 

O`DONNELL:  Trans Pacific Partnership. 

ALBERTA:  Yes.  And Ted Cruz, about three weeks after this op-ed published, and, again, he`s in the middle of this, you know, hotly-contested primary against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and his team, who are very smart, they`ve got their ear to the ground, they`re watching what Trump is doing and they`re seeing this appeal that he is achieving with the electorate and he is obviously shattering Republican orthodoxy in so doing and Cruz says to his guys, look, I think we need to have a change of heart here, I think we need to publicly disavow that stance that we just took with Ryan a couple of weeks ago, and his guys said, are you crazy?  We just wrote this op-ed. 

And basically, the decision was, look, do we get accused of being a flip- flopper now or wear that for a couple of weeks and take a beating, or do we allow Trump to bludgeon us on the issue of trade for a next year a half?  Now, that`s a small anecdote, but it speaks volumes about where people were at that point in the party because, again, you spoke to it a second ago.  The rate of change is what is so whiplash-inducing at this point. 


ALBERTA:  This didn`t happen over a period of 30 or 40 or 50 years.  It`s really happen -- you can even consolidate it down into a period of 36 months in which some core bedrock Republican principles that had been held since the Reagan era have essentially been thrown out the window. 

O`DONNELL:  Everyone marvels at the Trump relationship to evangelical voters, who in Donald Trump`s own words are privately referred to in your own book at the f-ing evangelicals. 

ALBERTA:  It`s a term of endearment.  I should note. 

You know, so it`s fascinating.  Obviously, we`re all transfixed on this relationship between the -- the white evangelical Republican voter and Donald Trump.  And obviously, this is a group of voters who had spent years demanding a certain degree of moral leadership from the highest office in the land and really from all government officials and people want to know how could they have possibly forged this partnership with this guy, this thrice married philanderer who paraded the, you know, the pinups and the porn stars after the tabloids?

And I think the answer, Lawrence, is really quite simple, actually.  It`s transactional.  We know that Donald Trump is transactional.

I think what we don`t fully appreciate about evangelical voters is many of them felt let down by the George W. Bush presidency.  They felt like we had elected one of our own, a guy famously said in that debate that Jesus was his role model, a guy who sits in the pews with us but he didn`t do all that much for us. 

Remember, on a lot of these social issues, a lot of conservative movement felt that George W. Bush was kind of weak in the knees.  So, by the time 2016 rolls around and these people feel like they`ve been trampled under Barack Obama and the left for the last eight years and they are under siege from forces of culture and politics.

They`re looking for somebody to get into the arena and start throwing haymakers. And Trump, again give him credit, he`s prescient. He sees this and Trump goes to them and basically says, look, you know that I`m not one of you. I can`t speak your language. I don`t agree with you probably on half these issues, but I`m willing to go to war for you guys in a way that none of the rest of these Republican Parties are willing to.

They may talk a good game, but when the going gets tough, they`re going to fold because they`re all creatures of political convention. I am not. I`m beholden to no one. It is impossible to articulate just how appealing that message was to these evangelicals and essentially it became this transactional relationship. They would give him undying allegiance and he would give them everything they didn`t get out of George W. Bush.

O`DONNELL:  Tim Alberta and the book is "American Carnage." And it is the single best explanation of how we got to Trumpism in the Republican Party. Tim, when the book store slows down I need you to come back to do this one question which I think will take an entire segment and that is when the next President of the United States takes the oath of office, does Trumpism disappear? You have some time to think about it and we`re going to do a few minutes on it next chance you get to come by.

ALBERTA: It`s good homework.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Thank you, Tim. And when we come back, the house vote today was a turning point, perhaps, for four House Republicans, and it has definitely been a turning point for American journalism. We will have more on that later in this hour with Ezra Klein.



REPORTER: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It doesn`t concern me because many people agree with me.


O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein tweeted that that exchange summarized Donald Trump`s entire political career which of course begins with Donald Trump telling racist lies about President Obama`s birth certificate. Today the Columbia Journalism Review officially gave its permission for the news media to call racism, racism. "Go back to where you came from is textbook racism. When we contort ourselves to dance around that fact, the truth is injured." This does seem like a turning point for the American news media, much like September of 2016 when "The New York Times" first used the word "lie" to describe something Donald Trump said.

But by that time Donald Trump had already lied his way to the Republican Presidential nomination and was a couple of months away from lying his way with some help from Russia to an Electoral College victory. Today "The Arizona Republic`s Editorial Board" published an editorial entitled "Trump`s racist tweets are a wake-up call for Republicans and Democrats."

The editorial says there is a great deal of denial going on in America. We`ve seen enough over the transom to know that plenty are making excuses for Trump. Here`s some free advice don`t. Yesterday "The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board" published an editorial entitled "Trump`s racist ramp requires a collective response".

The editorial says Trump`s unrelenting attacks on these four minority women who are all young and freshmen house members are a new low for this President. They fit his pattern of racial demagoguery and appeals to white nationalists. "The Houston`s Chronicle Editorial Board" published an editorial entitled "The President is a bigot: Patriots can`t stay silent on racist remarks. This editorial says, "Let`s not mince words they are the racist rantings of a bigot - not an American patriot who truly believes in the Constitution he swore to defend as President".

After this quick break we`ll be joined by Ezra Klein and Karine Jean-Pierre will be back to discuss what the news media`s new condemnation of Donald Trump`s racism adds to the House of Representatives condemnation that passed the house tonight.


O`DONNELL: Here is Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Kamala Harris in Davenport, Iowa today.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ve personally been told that, go back to where you came from, you too, and I bet if we took - everybody raised their hands.


HARRIS: Right. And in the back, people are raising their hands too. It is vile. It is ignorant. It is shallow. It is hateful. And it has to stop. It has to stop.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Ezra Klein, the Editor-at-Large of VOX and the host of the podcast "The Ezra Klein Show" Karine Jean-Pierre is back with us. And Karine, let me start with you, have you been told to go back to where you came from?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER: Absolutely. My parents have been told to go back to where they came from. I have. My parents are Haitian American. They`re clearly immigrants in this country. They`ve been here for decades.

O`DONNELL: You were born here?

JEAN-PIERRE: I was born actually in Martinique -


JEAN-PIERRE: --so I am an immigrant myself. I`ve heard it all my life. I think if you`re a person of color living in this country, you`ve heard that awful, historical, nasty, racist talking point that Donald Trump threw out there in a tweet on Sunday and doubled down on Monday, and it is hurtful.

And it basically is saying to you, you do not belong - we do not want you here. Even though you are as American as anyone else, even though you give to society, this is the only place that you may have known, like myself. And what he did really, really lays out who he truly is.

O`DONNELL: And Ezra, other populations throughout our history, immigrant population, Jewish population, Irish, Italian, they all heard this at a certain point after their arrival and as they continued through American light - life to go back to where you came from.

EZRA KLEIN, VOX EDITOR-AT-LARGE: This is classic racism. I mean, it doesn`t get more classic than this. And its Donald Trump`s fundamental career has always been founded on, the idea that he is out there saying what - what many people agree with, is the way he put it.

I think the hard question with Trump constantly is not whether we in the press should call racism, racism. Of course we should. The question is whether or not we should let him dominate the political agenda with it whenever he wants.

The thing that I always worry about with Donald Trump is that he has understood on some gut level, I don`t know that it`s strategy, but it`s certainly at this point intuition, that if he loses control of the conversation, he can always say something outrageous, something offensive and then it is at least back along the divisive lines that he prefers arguing around. It is at least back under the argument that he wants to have. Not the arguments that he is uninterested in or doesn`t want to have.

Again, the point is not that it is strategy or even that it is wise, but he has figured out that there is this hack of just acting outrageously and offensively. As Kamala Harris says, it would be nice for it to stop, but it`s not going to stop it`s his core political move.

And I think that`s one of the real challenges here to the press, not just how - what do we call it? But when do we choose to cover it or say that`s just Donald Trump insulting people again. He doesn`t get to control the nation`s agenda every time he does it.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s such an important point. And Karine, the - one of the arguments that`s been put out there is that by covering this the way we do, we give it more volume. It`s one of the - I try to take as much care as I can in this. I don`t show Trump video unless I absolutely have to.

I am using the fact that I`m trusting people know everything that Donald Trump - or a lot of what Donald Trump has said about this. And what I`m emphasizing tonight is what John Lewis has to say about this and what others have to say about it, so it does present a challenge, a serious challenge in how you cover this.

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s been a challenge for everybody. It`s been a challenge clearly for Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. It`s been a challenge for the media on how do you deal with a Donald Trump? Because what is happening is he is not normal, and what we`re doing is we`re treating him kind of in the guidelines of the rules, right?

Like, oh, yes, he`s not normal, we`re going to have the same protocol we`re going to follow the same rules as with any other President. What I think we have seen in the last 24/48 hours with press, with Congress is that they are seeing, okay, enough is enough. We are not treating this guy like he`s normal anymore because he is not.

So what Donald Trump does is he overwhelms the system intentionally. He throws controversy after controversy and hopes something sticks. We just can`t allow that to happen, as Ezra was saying. We need to be able to separate the signal from the noise and I think this is the moment we`re in right now and I hope that it continues, but that`s what`s been going on for the last two years.

O`DONNELL: Ezra and Karine, can you both stay with us? I`d like to squeeze in a commercial break here. When we come back, Ezra, I just want to go with the question of, is this a turning point, is this a turning point for journalism, what we`ve been through the last couple of days? We`re going to do a quick break here. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Ezra Klein and Karine Jean-Pierre. And Ezra, this feels to me like a turning point in media coverage. I remember vividly September of 2016, the first time I saw the word "lie" in "The New York Times." It was actually in a headline, the first time they used it about Donald Trump was after he got the Republican nomination. And now it`s every day. News media has been completely converted to Donald Trump is a liar. They use the term. Is that where we are now with Donald Trump and racism?

KLEIN: It might it might be if we`ve not already figured out that Donald Trump is racist. I don`t know what more is needed here. This does not feel like new information to me, but it might be.

O`DONNELL: Karine, a quick LAST WORD.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes I think, what we have the way we have to look at it going into 2020 is Donald Trump wants it to be a choice, 2020 to be a choice on the election. We need it to be a referendum on him. That`s what we need to do just like we did in 2018, make it about him, make it about changing where we are and looking about who we are and what we want this country to be? It has to be a referendum.

O`DONNELL: So that`s what Democratic Candidates should be doing?

JEAN-PIERRE: I think that`s what Democratic Candidates should be doing, but also it plays into what the media should be doing as well. It`s like, okay, turn it on its head. Don`t play on his turf right. Play it the way you want to play it. Because he`s going to continue to play all of us if we follow his lead, if we go down that rabbit hole. So it`s a little bit of both, what media should do and also what candidates should do.

O`DONNELL: We`ll leave it this for tonight. Karine Jean-Pierre and Ezra Klein, thank you both for joining us. I really appreciate it.

And when we come back Neal Katyal will join us on Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died tonight at the age of 99. He was active in his retirement, and even though he was appointed by a Republican President, he said that he believed Brett Kavanaugh was not fit to serve on the United States Supreme Court.


O`DONNELL: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the third longest serving justice in the history of the court died tonight of complications following a stroke. He was 99 years old.

Justice Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975 by Republican President Gerald Ford. He served on the court for 35 years. Although a registered Republican, Justice Stevens often sided with the liberal wing of the court he insisted that it was the court and the Republic - it was not him but it was The Republican Party not his views that shifted over time.

He supported a woman`s right to choose abortion, he voted to reinstate the death penalty, a decision he later said he regretted. During the Clinton Presidency, he led a unanimous court in ruling that a sitting President could face a civil lawsuit while in office. He offered a blistering dissenting opinion to the court`s ruling in Bush versus Gore which decided the Presidential Election in 2000.

He retired in 2010 at the age of 90 and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama, the country`s highest civilian honor, but he remained active in his retirement. After the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018, Justice Stevens called for the repeal of the second amendment. And last year he called then Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.

In a statement tonight, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court. He brought to our bench an in inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom and independence. His unrelenting commitment to Justice has left us a better nation".

Joining our discussion now Neal Katyal, Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General and an MSNBC Legal Contributor. Neal, we feel especially like you to have you tonight. You actually argued cases in the court and argued cases to Justice Stevens and your reflections tonight on his career?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I think all of us in the Supreme Court are heartbroken. And I think the Chief Justice captured the man well. I mean, I had the privilege of arguing, I think, over two dozen cases before him, and every single time it was always the same thing.

He asked just a couple questions to us. They were always the devastating ones, the ones that you really practiced and hoped no Justice would ask. And he was just a towering intellect and a prince of a man, just the politeness, the courteousness and the diligence and the nonpartisanship way in which he approached the job. When people think of the rule of law in this country and going back and the phrase in the Massachusetts constitution of 1780 that we are a government of laws not of men that describes Justice Stevens.

O`DONNELL: And he was a Republican, but he did not like what he saw Republicans do in recent years. He said the Senate absolutely should move on the confirmation of Merrick Garland in the Supreme Court in the last year of the Obama administration.

KATYAL: Yes, I mean, it`s a striking thing to see the news tonight. Justice Stevens, the horribly sad news about his passing. At the same time, as the house has voted to condemn the President for his racist tweets. I mean, Justice Stevens really was a proud member of a Republican Party that stood for something, that stood for American values that stood for decency and respect to all.

And I think you just see with a vote tonight like that party moving in an absolutely different direction. You know, my hope is that people, all Americans will reflect on Justice Stevens` legacy and realize that there are fundamental values to this country and you can disagree with people on the left or right, but we have to treat people civilly and equally, and that`s what his entire life`s work was about.

O`DONNELL: A Justice`s career has both ruling opinions and dissenting opinions, and his dissent in Bush V. Gore is one of the most memorable that most of us have ever read. He wrote, "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year`s Presidential Election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation`s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law". That was a very tough experience for him and others on the Supreme Court.

KATYAL: Yes, and also as litigants, I was one of Gore`s lawyers in that case, and it was heart-wrenching to see the decision come down. And for every loss that Justice Stevens had, he had a number of enormous wins. With the very first case are against Supreme Court Horndon (ph) versus Raw Misfeldt (ph) in which I represented actually Osama-Bin-Laden`s driver, Justice Stevens wrote the opinion cast the deciding vote to say we have to protect the constitutional rights of people, even in Guantanamo, even accused of doing the worst crimes imaginable.

Justice Stevens himself he served in the navy. He understood the values that this country stood for, including the Geneva Conventions. And so, again, it`s just a really important lesson, particularly at this juncture in time, to think, you know, there are things - principles and important points that transcend left versus right. Justice Stevens stood for that.

O`DONNELL: As is perfectly appropriate for this program, Neal Katyal gets tonight`s LAST WORD on Justice Stevens.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate it.

KATYAL:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.