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George Floyd's death TRANSCRIPT: 6/11/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Peniel Joseph, Kristen Clarke, Anthony Brown, Yamiche Alcindor, Ron Klain, Robert De Niro


The Michael Flynn case raises that old question: how many times do you have to plead guilty to be guilty?


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And how much bullying does a federal judge have to take in terms of whether or not he`s allowed to handle the dispensation of case before him rather than have it yanked out from beneath him by a Justice Department that seems to be acting for really odd reasons.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, before you go, a quick protocol question, because I`m sure this has come up for you.

How do you address someone, a guest on the show later in the hour, a man who has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom? He`s been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Is that like a knighthood? Do we have to say sir? Or is there any fancy term I have to know about it?

MADDOW: Well, you know what? I would not capitalize it in case you are writing it down because we`re not in England, but I would stick with "sir". I think sir is safe, even if it`s --

O`DONNELL: He actually prefers when I just call him Bob. Robert de Niro.

MADDOW: Don`t call him bob.

O`DONNELL: He just -- Robert de Niro just says, just call me Bob. That`s what he says, so maybe I`ll call him Bob.

MADDOW: Don`t do it. Don`t do it.


O`DONNELL: He`s going to be here, Rachel. Robert de Niro has some thoughts, he has some thoughts about Donald Trump and the state of the world. And so, by the time you have kind of calmed down after what you have just done here, he`ll be on talking about that.

MADDOW: Well done. Thank you, my friend.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Well, if you couldn`t believe it when the White House announced that Donald Trump was going to Dallas today to give a speech on race relations and policing in America, you were right. It turns out there was no reason to believe it. The White House was lying. Except about the going to Dallas part.

Donald Trump went to a TV mega church in Dallas where he was supposed to chair a roundtable discussion, which included the attorney general of the United States. Donald Trump read a few words of a prepared statement, but mostly he just rambled Trump-style, and he never talked about race relations in America, and he never mentioned George Floyd`s name, and he never talked about policing in America.

But he did lie about policing in America. But he did lie about policing in America. He lied about it.

What the new phrase defund the police means, it`s simply the tightest bumper sticker way of saying, reduce police budgets and redistribute parts of those police budgets to other government spending and community spending.

And here`s the way Donald Trump lied about that. He said: I heard they wanted to close up all police forces. We want the police force closed. It`s not like they want to sort of bring a little money into something else. They wanted it actually closed.

No. It`s like they want to bring a little money into something else. That`s what they actually mean. Donald Trump lied about that.

Donald Trump felt free to lie about that today in not just a church, but a mega church, a TV mega church, the kind of church you would think maybe Donald Trump on some level might respect.

And William Barr who proclaims himself a devout Catholic lied in that church today, too, when he said, we`ve never had a president who is more committed to reforming law enforcement. He said it, and he didn`t laugh his way through it the way I just had to.

You would think that the pious Mr. Barr would have heard himself begin to say that and say, no, no, no, I can`t tell that kind of lie in a church. You would think that if you had not seen how William Barr and Donald Trump treated this church in Washington, D.C. across from the White House as just a backdrop for a photo-op which was condemned by the pastor of that church, it was condemned by the bishop of that church and was only made possible because Donald Trump and William Barr used tear gas on American citizens exercising their First Amendment right to protest in that location that Donald Trump wanted to use it as a photo op.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, is now so ashamed of his participation in that photo-op that today he apologized, which we will discuss later in this hour. People at all other levels of government are taking action. The governor of Minnesota, the state where George Floyd was murdered, has introduced a new package of police reforms that the governor says have been needed for a long time.

The reforms would make it automatic that the attorney general of Minnesota would investigate all police officer-involved deaths in the state. It tightens the rule on the use of deadly force. It creates new alternatives to policing that would divert some police calls to social workers for issues better handled by them. It strengthens police over sight and prohibits the use of choke holds in the state of Minnesota.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed introduced a new plan for police reform. "The San Francisco Chronicle" reports Reed`s proposal would remove sworn officers from such calls for noncriminal activities replacing them with trained and non-armed professionals who she said would be better equipped to handle neighbor disputes, school discipline interventions or behavioral health crises.

The reforms would additionally fortify accountability policies, ban the use of military grade weapons and divert funding to communities of color. The director of Miami-Dade Police Department, Alfredo Ramirez, said that his agency will no longer use chokeholds. Chief Ramirez said, as a progressive agency, we must remain in a constant state of review and open to emerging best practices and community feedback. That`s from the largest police agency in the state of Florida.

And the Seattle City Council has unanimously decided to start digging into the police budget to see how much of that budget could be redirected to other services and community-based programs.

That is just some of what happened in America on police reform and race relations on this day in history, June 11th, 2020, when the president of the United States was supposed to but failed to speak to the nation about race relations and policing in America.

But on this very day, June 11th, a president once did speak to the nation about those subjects. It was June 11th, 1963, a day no one who saw it unfold on television could forget when President John Fitzgerald Kennedy mobilized the National Guard to integrate the University of Alabama and allowed two black students to be the first to register at the University of Alabama.

Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway full of Trump like bluster to block those students but he surrendered when President Kennedy`s Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach was stared down that angry, hateful man and told George Wallace that he had no choice.

We now live in a country where the president echoes the racism of George Wallace, but we once lived in a country where at historic moments like this, the president of the United States knew how to address what he called a moral crisis.


JOHN KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, north and south, where legal remedies are not at hand, redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades and protests, which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives. We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people.

It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk.

It is a time to act in the Congress, in your state and local legislative body and above all in all of our daily lives. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation is to make that revolution, that change peaceful and constructive for all.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Professor Peniel Joseph, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas, Austin. And Kristen Clarke, the executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Professor Joseph, let me begin with you because I want us to consider with President Kennedy on this very day in 1963, in what turned out to be the last year of his life, addressing the issues that are before us today that the president of the United States failed to address in your state of Texas today.

It`s an indication of how long we have been at this and how much ground we have not covered in the progress we wish we had made.

PENIEL JOSEPH, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND DEMOCRACY: Absolutely, Lawrence. I think it`s a great comparison between what happened on June 11th, 1963, and today because I have argued and I have written before that that`s President Kennedy`s finest moment.

And I think as time proceeds, he`s going to get more credit for that speech. But the revolution that he talked about in 1963 was similar to what we have experienced in the last two weeks. I`d say what we have experienced in the last two weeks has more white involvement.

But remember that day on June 11th was the midday point between a ten-week period in 1963 where 15,000 Americans were arrested for participating in civil rights demonstrations. And you showed one great clip there, Lawrence. But the next part of that speech he says that those who do nothing invite shame and violence and those who act boldly recognize right as well as reality.

So this is really President Kennedy, it is an 18-minute speech, he becomes both a president and also a social scientists. He talks about the rates of death between black and white babies. He talks about the disparities in terms of income, employment, racial segregation and he says that it`s a moral issue that is as clear as the Constitution and it`s in the depths of the Old Testament.

So when we think about Kennedy and Kennedy`s finest moment here, in a lot of ways he called us to the time that we`re experiencing now. If the 1960s was America`s second reconstruction then really this period that we`re in, we`re in this third reconstruction where we have a generational opportunity to transform American democracy to end institutional racism to defeat white supremacy.

In this case, we don`t have a president who is willing to lead, but I think what`s so extraordinary is the number of Americans of all backgrounds, multiracial, multicultural, but right now, the number of white Americans who are really wanting to join a community of consciousness that`s anti- racist, that`s committed to promoting racial justice, really at all levels of our society, corporate to the grassroots. And I think we`ll win. And I think it is the work of a generation.

But President Kennedy called us all to that work and that work continues in our own time.

O`DONNELL: Kristen Clarke, the president may not be leading, is not leading on this issue. But Congress is moving. They`re taking action. They`re beginning action on a legislative package which might ultimately be signed next year by a President Biden.

But the real reforms all have to take place at the street level, at the municipal level, the employers of the police departments that we`re watching, and we are seeing movement there. We are seeing movement by governors. We`re seeing movement by mayors, the mayor of Houston announcing executive order reforms. We now see the mayor of San Francisco.

And it feels like we`re going to be chasing this story from city hall to city hall, police department to police department around the country as we watch how they react to the reform movement.

KRISTEN CLARKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LAYWERS` COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: Yeah. You`re right. But I want to come back just a brief moment to the clip that you played of President John F. Kennedy who actually is the founder of my organization, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, came about, about two weeks after he delivered that very powerful and compelling speech.

President Kennedy issued a charge to lawyers to the private bar in the heyday of the civil rights movement to rise up and use the courts to confront discrimination, to stand alongside the federal government in the charge to ensure equal justice under law.

And here we are, 57 years later, still carrying forth Kennedy`s legacy and still going important work to protect the rights of victims of discrimination across our country.

Today, sadly, we do this work on our own, often at odds with an administration that has proven hostile to civil rights, to police violence, to criminal justice reform at every turn.

I am hopeful, however, and encouraged by the fact that Congress has moved swiftly and this week introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which promises comprehensive reforms that are long overdue, dealing with issues like the need to ban racial profiling, to ban chokeholds, to put in place a uniformed standard concerning use of force, to help promote accountability by making it possible to bring officers to account when they used force without bases. By ending qualified immunity and revising a critical and core federal statute that is used to prosecute officers 18 USC 242 and relaxing the standard to make it possible for prosecutors to bring folks like Derek Chauvin to justice.

The work carries forward. We have a federal government that is at odds with the work of civil rights organizations like mine, but we will power forward. I`m encouraged that the movement of those who are marching and demonstrating in the streets is starting to bear fruit.

Today, in Louisville, just a few hours ago, they passed Breonna`s law, a law that would impose restrictions and no-knock warrants, and we`re starting to see signs of progress in states and cities all across the country. My hope is that this is a movement that will prove enduring until we achieve the reforms and the justice that are so long overdue in our country.

O`DONNELL: Kristen Clarke and Professor Joseph, thank you both very much for starting off our discussion tonight. We`re going to need your expertise and historical perspective as we continue this discussion. Thank you very much.

JOSEPH: Thank you.

CLARKE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we will have a special last word at the end of the hour tonight from Robert de Niro who has a few thoughts he would like to share about Donald Trump.

And up next, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made history today by doing something no previous holder of that title has ever done. He apologized for getting his picture taken with the president of the United States. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Today, in a video commencement address to the National Defense University, the country`s highest ranking military officer, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, did something no chief has ever done before. He apologized for making a public appearance with the president of the United States.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: As many of you saw the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from.


O`DONNELL: Three defense officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News that General Milley discussed resigning over his participation in the photo-op.

General Milley`s apology followed a torrent of condemnation from retired military leaders, including Donald Trump`s first defense secretary, Marine General James Mattis. "The New York Times" details how the aggressive tactics used to prevent the president from -- used by the president in deploying active duty troops have left members of the D.C. National Guard feeling, quote, demoralized and exhausted. More than 60 percent are people of color, and one soldier said he and some fellow troops were so ashamed in taking part against the protests that they have kept it from family members.

With Donald Trump scheduled to speak at West Point`s graduation ceremony on Saturday, today, a letter to the West Point class of 2020 from several West Point alumni who served in 10 presidential administrations said: Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests. Worse, military leaders who took the same oath you take today have participated in politically charged events. When fellow graduates fail to respect the checks and balances of government promote individual power above country or prize loyalty to individuals over the ideals expressed in the Constitution, it is a travesty to their oath of office.

Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland. He is a vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and a 30-year Army veteran.

Congressman Brown, your reaction to General Milley`s apology.

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): Lawrence, first of all, thanks for having me on this evening.

And I thought his apology was sincere. It was genuine. It was well-received I believe by both former and current leaders in the military, as well as the men and women who serve in uniform.

General Milley is a soldier`s soldier, who`s highly respected on Capitol Hill, by his peers. And it was important for him to make that statement because he understands that under this president, President Trump, we have seen a deterioration, a decline in the relationship between America`s military and America`s society.

And General Milley understands his responsibility not to fuel that but rather to protect and to strengthen that relationship between the military and civil society. So I thought it was a very, very important speech or statement that he made today.

O`DONNELL: You attended West Point. Do you think the general timed it to make sure that that message of apology got through before the West Point graduation?

BROWN: Well, for the record, I wasn`t able to get into West Point, so I attended ROTC at MIT when I was an undergraduate at Harvard, but nevertheless received a commission in the United States Army as an army aviator.

I don`t think that General Milley necessarily timed it for the West Point graduation. I think he was compelled to do it sooner rather than later. I believe he recognizes that he does it at the risk of creating a divide between him and his boss, President Trump. So he had to be very careful in how he says it and when he says it.

But I thought it was important that he did say it and the fact that it came before the West Point graduation ceremonies and on the same day that that important letter from West Point graduates was sent to -- the soon to graduate cadets at West Point. I thought it was -- it was a good sort of confluence of events today.

O`DONNELL: And what do you see as the role for National Guard troops going forward in what seemed to be ongoing protests in this country?

BROWN: Look, the National Guard, they`re there to protect. They are guardians of our communities. They are from the community. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family, our coworkers.

And those men and women who enlist and receive commissions in the National Guard, they do it because they want to be in service to the community, to come to relief in the case of a hurricane or a natural disaster, or to protect the community against civil disturbance.

But when you`re asking them to put themselves in front of peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights under the Constitution, that is demoralizing for the National Guard, for the men and women in the guard.

And I`ll also add that we already have recruiting problems in meeting our recruiting goals both in the National Guard and in the active component. Actions like this do not make it easy to recruit. In fact, quite the opposite because it -- it certainly cast the National Guard in a bad light.

So, it demoralizes the guard men and women and it just makes it tough on recruiting people into the military.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Anthony Brown, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you, Lawrence. Good evening.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, Joe Biden went to Philadelphia today to discuss how to rebuild the economy while fighting the coronavirus and Donald Trump has just announced that his nomination acceptance speech will be 386 miles away from the location of the Republican National Convention, something that could only make sense in Trump world.

And Robert de Niro will join us later. He`s much more than an actor. He`s a father, a grandfather, a New Yorker to the core, a small business employer. He brings all of that to his perspective on what is happening in this country tonight. Robert de Niro will get tonight`s last word.


O`DONNELL: Remember when Donald Trump said he was pulling the Republican convention out of Charlotte, North Carolina because he was mad at the Democratic Governor? Well, he didn`t exactly mean it.

The Republican convention is still going to be in Charlotte, or at least it`s going to begin in Charlotte. But the Republican Party just announced tonight that Donald Trump`s acceptance speech at the end of the convention is going to be 386 miles South of Charlotte in Jacksonville, Florida.

Florida just broke its record for the most new coronavirus cases in a single day, so what could possibly go wrong with that plan? Joe Biden held a roundtable today in Philadelphia about the economy in the age of coronavirus.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Trump has basically had a one-point plan, open businesses, just open. But it does nothing to keep workers safe and keep businesses able to stay open.

And secondly, it has done very little to generate consumer confidence. A lot of businesses that are ready to open also find themselves wishing that the customers aren`t coming. They don`t have the confidence that they`re ready and safe.


O`DONNELL: And the stock market seems to have lost confidence in Donald Trump`s non-plan today. The stock market basically collapsed today. The only strategy Donald Trump has about COVID-19 is to protect himself from being sued, if you get COVID-19 at a Trump event.

The Trump campaign website has this warning about attending the rally they have scheduled for next week. By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. The website says attendees must agree not to sue Donald Trump, if they get COVID-19. Surely anyone who attends the Republican convention in Charlotte or the Trump acceptance speech in Jacksonville will be required to sign exactly the same thing.

Joining us now is the Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and an MSNBC Political Analyst. Yamiche is the winner of this year`s White House Correspondents` Association Award for Overall Excellence in White House coverage.

Also joining us Ron Klain, who was the Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden and a Senior Aide to President Obama. Yamiche, Joe Biden is out there today in a roundtable discussing plans, trying to get attention to what he thinks we need to think about in getting the economy to work. While the coronavirus is still with us, Donald Trump is pretending the coronavirus has disappeared.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: That`s right. The President has really settled on this thought and this - and this way forward that`s going to be about talking about the virus in past tense, really plunging forward and puts himself on the side of people who are thinking that life is now going on.

You have, of course, his Chief of Staff making fun of reporters for wearing masks. At the capital, you have the President, kind of, saying that only some people think there is going to be a second wave.

That`s in of course direct contrast from the White House scientists, including of course Dr. Anthony Fauci, who says he`s guaranteeing almost, he`s confident, highly confident, there is going be a second wave.

So you have in Joe Biden someone who is positioning himself as on the side of data and scientists and saying, look, yes we all want the economy to go well, we need to figure out how to help people get back to work, but we can`t be - we can`t rush into a part of America or a phase in America where we put behind us a pandemic that is literally still ongoing.

As you know, my home state of Florida recorded a record number of new coronavirus cases. There are a lot of people that I`m talking to who are very fearful that, once we go out there and we see all these protests, of course people want to exercise their First Amendment right, but when they`re getting tear gassed, they`re coughing, they`re spitting.

I myself been to having - having had chemicals go through my body. I was coughing up and tearing up. All of that goes into the environment and then touches other people. So people are still very much worried and the President is thinking that his position as kind of ignoring what people`s fears are puts him in a better position for re-election.

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, the numbers that Donald Trump wants the country to ignore tonight, the United States now has a total number of coronavirus cases reported as of this hour tonight, 2,027,938, and the total number of deaths this country has suffered officially as of this hour tonight 114,411.

Joe Biden wears the mask when he participates in these discussions, which I think helps emphasize the gravity of what he is trying to deal with, while Donald Trump is just trying to get people to sign away any claim of suing him if they go to one of his events.

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes, look, Vice President Biden laid out today his plan, an eight point plan to reopen safely. As Yamiche said, people want to get back to work. We understand that. We support that. But they need protective gear on the job.

Vice President Biden said everyone coming back to work has the right to a test themselves and their coworkers before they go on the job. We should have a national core of 100,000 or more contact tracers, creating jobs by the way, but also tracking down change in transmission of the disease and people can read his plan on his website.

Donald Trump, he has no strategy for dealing with this disease. He tried to ignore it in April, he tried to tweet at it in May, he`s trying to completely ignore it again in June. And that didn`t work then, it`s not going to work now.

We need a President who is going to address the disease, get the disease under control and help bring our economy back. And pretending like it doesn`t exist or asking people to waive their rights if they get it are not really a solution.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Joe Biden said - told Trevor Noah last night about Donald Trump and what might be kind of a rough transition if Joe Biden wins.


TREVOR NOAH, SOUTH AFRICAN COMEDIAN AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Have you ever considered what would happen if the election results came up as you being the winner and Trump refused to leave?

BIDEN: Yes, I have. But I was so damn proud. You have four Chiefs of Staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump. And you have so many rank and file military personnel saying, whoa, we`re not a military state, this is not who we are. I promise you I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.


O`DONNELL: Yamiche, it sounds like General Mark Milley is now in more of a mood, public mood anyway, to escort Donald Trump from the building if he needs an escort.

ALCINDOR: Well, it can`t be underscored enough the fact that you have civilian and military leaders in the military breaking rhetorically with President Trump saying we are not going to be used as props, that the military needs to be very careful about being used to infringe and take away people`s First Amendment rights. President Trump has talked about the fact that he has his "My generals", and he talks about the fact that the military should be the ones dominating the protesters.

But we`re now seeing very clearly that military leaders including one`s that`s still work in the Trump administration, they are taking rare steps. We don`t hear usually Defense Secretary, especially in the Trump administration, talking about how they disagree with the tactics of the President.

So General Milley`s statement today was just really remarkable and it`s stunning because he understands as anyone that I have talked to who works for President Trump that speaking out publically means that he could lose his job.

O`DONNELL: Yamiche Alcindor and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Up next, a man who needs no introduction, but he`ll get one anyway. After this break, Robert De Niro joins us.


O`DONNELL: If you want to title your movie about Donald Trump "Raging Bull" or "The Wizard of Lies," sorry those titles are already on brilliant films starring our next guest, Robert De Niro who won one of his Oscars for "Raging Bull."

In Barry Levinson "The Wizard of Lies" Robert De Niro plays his most Trump like figure Bernie Madoff a rich New York sociopath, who seems incapable of feeling the suffering he causes in his reckless pursuit of money and power. And whenever he`s questioned, he resorts to a confident sounding double talk that anyone who truly listens knows is full of lies.


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: There are other people that I do other funds with, but I don`t want to include them in this because they`re not--

RAY IANNICELLI, ACTOR: Well, wait a second.

NIRO: They`re not the ones that...

IANNICELLI: I`m a little confused. You got this fund. You got that fund. You got people who are long term customers and you`re not going to--

IANNICELLI: Those people are already taken care of. We have other funds with them.

IANNICELLI: Bernie, I don`t know what you`re trying to say. I`m confused. The new fund is getting money before the other people?

NIRO: That`s not what I`m saying.

IANNICELLI: That`s exactly what you are saying.

NIRO: No, I`m not saying that. They are taken care of. I have other arrangements with them.

IANNICELLI: Something is not kosher here, something.

NIRO: No, it`s all kosher.


O`DONNELL: It is an honor to introduce to this audience, the Oscar winning actor, the New Yorker, the small businesses employer, the father, the grandfather and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to him by President Barack Obama. Joining our discussion now is Robert De Niro. Thank you very much for doing this tonight, Bob. We really appreciate it.

NIRO: Thank you, yes.

O`DONNELL: I want to begin. I want to cover all of those roles of yours that I just mentioned in your introduction, including your situation as a father today in America. But let`s begin with your interpretation of character that you must do in acting, in your choices.

And when I was watching your performance of Bernie Madoff again recently, that exquisite scene where he`s questioned about what he`s doing and starts with the double talk, and Ken Langone says to him, that`s not what you`re saying, and they - that`s the kind of moment that I think everyone wants to see someday with Donald Trump in the White House briefing where they say to him, that`s exactly what you`re saying.

But we`re never going to have that moment, are we, because Donald Trump controls that microphone in a way that ultimately Bernie Madoff couldn`t.

NIRO: Yes, and they didn`t allow much access the way I understand it to Madoff. With Trump, when he`s in jail and that I certainly am looking forward to, when he`s in jail, if they give him a platform there, he`ll never keep his mouth shut.

Madoff, for some reason they stopped, they didn`t - I know that people who interviewed him had very limited access to him. But with Trump, it will be - he`s another form of being, and it`s - and I was watching Biden say that he will be difficult to get out of the White House, literally, physically.

I think if it`s a marginal win for Biden, and we certainly hope and pray it is, it would be - they would have - someone was saying it maybe on MSNBC about Milley what he said, which was very - which is really terrific.

Because when I saw him walk through there, he was looking around with his eyes, I thought I was watching a "Saturday Night Live" skit, him walking through looking around knowing what a ridiculous situation he is in, and he was part of it and he apologized as he should have. It was very courageous and noble of him to do that. He had no choice. He had to. He has so much respect for doing that. But - what was the question with Madoff?

O`DONNELL: When you look at Madoff and you look at Trump, they both seem to have that sociopathic quality of zero empathy, just no ability to comprehend someone else`s position and what it feels like to be someone else, what they might be suffering.

NIRO: Yes, that`s what I realized, when Trump, right after he was elected, I was on Jimmy Kimmel and I said, give him a chance, maybe I`m wrong, this is not always give somebody the benefit of the doubt. But that was not the case.

He`s been worse than any of us could have imagined, any of us could have imagined. There is something - I don`t want to call him names, I`ve done all that. He is worse than we could ever imagine. It`s beyond comprehension.

And I can`t help thinking there are people like Murdock who has enabled this person, and he`s cynical about Trump, he probably hates him, but he enabled him. He made money. He had power - he got some power from it. He wants power. At what price? And you became an American citizen in this country, you became an American citizen, and this is what you have contributed? Murdoch, that`s disgusting. It`s very upsetting.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to squeeze in a quick commercial break here, Bob. We`re going to be right back. Please stay with us. Robert de Niro will get tonight`s last word.


O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Robert De Niro for tonight`s last word. You have children. You have grandchildren. You have black children. What is it like for you at this point in American history, as we are all now in that conversation, about the safety of black lives and that of course, as we`ve always known and we`ve always tried to make clear, Black Lives Matter?

NIRO: Well, I think with what`s been happening with this administration, people are just fed up, and a lot of people are not working and are probably able to go out and demonstrate, thank God. And the fact that this happened to George Floyd, I mean I look at that image, and I get very, very upset, and everybody does.

You just see why, why did it have - the poor guy is - what insensitivity would make this poor guy just - he`s there. He was dead three or four or five minutes into it apparently, it`s - and people have just had enough more than I ever could imagine. And with this administration and everything going on and the frustration, they just say we`ve had it. Even with the virus, we`ve had it, we`re out there, we`re going to say something.

I was really surprised. I just had no idea it would be such a - such a reaction, such a huge worldwide reaction. People have had enough. And when this guy is in power as the President, saying the most absurd, ridiculous things that you could ever imagine, and we all have to sit there with straight faces and listen to him and take what he says. That`s why it was so important that Milley said what he said and apologized. And if some of the other ones had done that, I think we`d be further along as far as people just having enough of this guy.

O`DONNELL: Are you hopeful tonight? Are you hopeful for your children and your grandchildren?

NIRO: I have - yes I - of course, you hear stories, and I have not been - believe it or not, though my children are all half African-American, they - I don`t - I even took certain things for granted. And then I hear people, I mean I heard certain stories from my experiences and my relationships over the years, simple things that you take for granted like stopping if a cab is going down in Greenwich Village, say, if you`re black, they`re not going to stop. They`re going to keep going. They think you`re going to take them somewhere that they would rather not go.

Hearing about kids, their parents telling keep your hands on the steering wheel, don`t make any sudden movements if you`re pulled over. Those are very upsetting to see, and it`s so simple. And again myself as a white person take it for granted, but that`s the reality. And I think it`s sunk in finally with many people and younger people who see this as - we`ve had it enough. Enough is enough, and it really has to stick this time as people are saying.

O`DONNELL: One of the things that you`ve played in many characters is loyalty, personal loyalty, person loyalty within a mob, personal loyalty in other ways. And we`ve seen now personal loyalty ruin some lives, police lives. Those four police officers are now charged with murder because at least three of them were acting on personal loyalty to the other officer. To - that was the most important thing for them in that moment. When you see that, can you see like in real time the mistake that those people are making in their minds?

NIRO: I`m sure - I`m sure it`s like the - it`s like the officer that tried to bend down when the 75 year old man fell back in Buffalo. He tried, and the other officer just moved him on. And you know, as an actor, I try to look at everybody`s reason for doing things and say, well, you know, maybe they didn`t, but it should have been tended to there. And those are things I think - I think there are many good cops like there`s many good everything, but there has to be a certain attitude of sensitivity now that has to be really imparted or maybe people are training to think more carefully.

And if something needs to be said, it needs to be said. You have to stand up and say, no, I can`t accept that because people will hold you to accountable later. It`s like what Milley did. Milley did the thing he should have done. He said, I can`t in all good conscience endorse what I did. I made a mistake. And I think people now have to realize in those situations that, yes, even though I see - I understand it. As a kid, you see certain things. You see certain things happen you`re not happy about. It just - it makes us all aware and sensitive and to - you have to act. You have to. That`s why I see someone like Trump, and I say, you know, when a bully like that is not allowed to make all these republicans afraid of him, afraid of him because he`s going to tweet something silly about them or something, that - we`re talking about the country, the only person who did it was Romney, and Justin Amash stood up and one or two others. This is awful.

You`ve got to stand up for the country, not for some crazy uncle who you have to tolerate at a dinner party. This guy is the President. You have to stand up, and you have to be counted. And now is the time to stand up to this, there`s no second chances. This is it. And when you get older in life, you say, well, I made a mistake here and there but not - especially the more old you get, you say, no, no. I won`t make that mistake. I made it when I was younger. I won`t let it happen this time. And that`s what people have to realize, especially those guys who are my age, and they ought to know better.

O`DONNELL: Robert De Niro gets tonight`s last word. Robert De Niro, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And thank you for your life`s work that has helped us understand the human condition. Really appreciate you being here.

NIRO: Thank you.