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Rayshard Brooks TRANSCRIPT: 6/17/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Andrea Young, Gerald Griggs, Ben Rhodes, Irwin Redlener, Debbie Dingell, Laverne McCartney Knighton

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Ali. Thank you very much.


O`DONNELL: Well, today, the district attorney in Atlanta, Paul Howard, did not just, as the old prosecutor`s phrase goes, throw the book at the Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, he threw the books at him, by combining the rule of statutory law and the rules of the Atlanta police department. District Attorney Paul Howard hit the now fired Police Officer Garrett Rolfe with 11 criminal charges, beginning with felony murder.

District Attorney Howard did what prosecutors rarely do in cases like this. He accused the two police officers involved of every single violation of law that he could find in their conduct, virtually all of which were captured on video and confirmed by witnesses on the scene.

In a country weaned on utterly face depiction of police work in movies and TV shows, it will come as a surprise to many, that most shots fired by police officers miss their target completely. No matter how much firearms training police officers get, they usually miss what they`re aiming at in the street, and that happened in this case.

Three shots fired from a nine millimeter Glock. Each bullet leaving the barrel at 1,230 feet per second, with Rayshard Brooks 18 feet away, when two of those bullets ripped into his back and killed him. The other bullet hit one of the cars in the Wendy`s parking lot that had three people in it. And the bullet that hit that car added to the charges against Garrett Rolfe for firing in the direction of bystanders.

District Attorney Howard used the violations of the Atlanta police rules as the basis for a charge you almost never see in cases like this, violation of oath by a public officer. Because Atlanta police officers take an oath to serve and protect the public and abide by the rules of the police department, this prosecutor added the charge of violation of oath by a public officer to the 11 charges.

Those charges are, one, felony murder for causing the death of Rayshard Brooks by shooting him. Two, aggravated assault for shooting Brooks with a deadly weapon. Three, aggravated assault for kicking Brooks after he was shot.

Four, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing in the direction of a bystander in Wendy`s parking lot. That charge appears three consecutive times because there were three people in the car that was hit by the stray bullet.

Seven, criminal damage to property in the first degree for striking a bystander`s SUV with a bullet. So that`s four charges for that one stray bullet.

Eight, violation of oath by public officer for deploying his Taser as Brooks was running away. And it`s against police department rules to fire a Taser at anyone running away.

Nine, violation of oath by public officer for failing to render aid in a timely manner. Police officers ignored Rayshard Brooks` wounds for more than two minutes after he was shot.

Tenth, violation of oath by public officer for shooting brooks twice in the back. It`s a violation of police department rules to shoot someone who is running away and poses no threat to the officers.

Eleven, violation of oath by public officer for failing to advice Brooks he was under arrest for DUI.

The other officer on the scene who did not fire his weapon, Devin Brosnan faces four charges all based on what happened after the shooting. One, aggravated assault for standing on Brooks while wearing a boot. Two, violation of oath by public officer for failing to render aid to Brooks. Three, violation of oath by public officer for using his foot as a control technique. Four, violation of oath by public officer for standing on Brooks after he was shot.

In announcing the charges today, the district attorney made this announcement about Officer Devin Brosnan.


PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  We have had something quite horrible happen. It involves the testimony of the other officer, Devin Brosnan, because Officer Brosnan has now become a state`s witness. He has decided to testify on behalf of the state in this case. What he has said to us that within a matter of days, he plans to make a statement regarding the culpability of Officer Rolfe. But he indicated that he is not psychologically willing to give that statement today.

Officer Brosnan, however, has admitted that he was, in fact, standing on Mr. Brooks` body immediately after the shooting.


O`DONNELL:  Attorneys for the family of Rayshard Brooks were present at the district attorney`s announcement of the charges today. District Attorney Howard invited family attorney Chris Stewart to speak.


L. CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY FOR BROOKS` FAMILY:  The biggest question is how we feel about the charges. And there is a lot of them, a lot of charges. This isn`t like a celebration or a victory lap of watching these officers get charged. Nobody is happy. Nobody is celebrating because this never should have happened. We shouldn`t have to celebrate as African-Americans when we get a piece of justice like today.

We shouldn`t have to celebrate and parade when an officer is held accountable for actions that we saw and actions that we didn`t know about until today. Some people thought that we`d be happy and we`d be celebrating and have a fist in the air, but it`s more of disappointment that this is the state of policing and this is where we`re at.


O`DONNELL:  Just to clarify, Chris Stewart spoke at the district attorney`s announcement of the charges but he also spoke later at an event with the family. That was in later event with the family.

Leading off our discussion tonight are Andrea Young, the executive director of the ACLU of Georgia and Gerald Griggs, the first vice president of Atlanta chapter of the NAACP.

And, Gerald Griggs, I want to just consider what you saw D.A. Howard do today. I -- you have a lot more experience watching him at work. I have never seen a district attorney charge so thoroughly in a case like this going after every single piece of the conduct, no violation too small.

GERALD GRIGGS, ATLANTA NAACP FIRST VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes. So, D.A. Howard went after all of the charges that are possible and turned over quite momentous pieces of evidence in this case that we did not know about before.

And I think it`s a pivotal step in the prosecution of police officers who run afoul of the law and violate the public`s trust. So I applaud D.A. Howard taking these momentous steps toward police accountability, and I hope this is a message to all law enforcement who run afoul of the law, that you will be held accountable.

So, again, we learned a lot about this case. We didn`t know before that the officer had kicked Mr. Brooks while he was down and dying. That goes a long way to show the state of mind of that officer at the time and the fact that this was not accidental and was not justifiable. And so I applaud the D.A. for taking the step.

O`DONNELL:  There was another piece of evidence that he revealed today, and that is what the law calls a spontaneous utterance. Different states have different terms for it. And the law takes it very seriously because it is something you say on the spot unguarded in the excitement of the moment, and in this case, the D.A. explained to us what it was that they picked up in the evidence that Officer Rolfe said that they are taking very seriously.

Let`s listen to that.


HOWARD:  At the time that the shot was fired, the utterance made by Officer Rolfe was, "I got him". That was the statement that was made at that time.

The -- we also noted that Officer Rolfe was firing a Taser at Mr. Brooks. The city of Atlanta SOPs, in fact, prohibit officers from firing Tasers at someone who is running away. So the city of Atlanta says you cannot even fire a Taser at someone who is running away, so you certainly can`t fire a gun, a handgun, at someone who is running away.


O`DONNELL:  Andrea Young, Paul Howard went into detail about this utterance and why he thinks it`s of evidentiary value. He`s saying that`s the closest we got to understanding what the officer was feeling and he said it didn`t sound like he was feeling fear. It sounded like this was something he was doing possibly with vengeance in mind.

ANDREA YOUNG, ACLU OF GEORGIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  Yes. And thank you, Lawrence, for your passion on this topic. I know this is something you care deeply about and your coverage of it has been really important.

The excited utterance really goes to the state of mind that the question is would a reasonable officer be in fear under these circumstances, and it really shows that this person was not afraid and he was not concerned certainly for the lives of the other people in that parking lot, as the other aggravated assault charges show because he endangered the other people in the parking lot by his actions.

So I think that he went -- attorney -- District Attorney Howard went into great detail. I`ll tell you, you know, he`s looking not only at the community`s reaction to this but also making sure that this prosecution can stick for the long haul because, as we know, there is a great deal of difficulty in getting these even convictions to stick on these officers and the accountability has just not been there when people act in such an unlawful manner.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah. I have to say I have never seen a district attorney make such a thorough presentation both on the evidence and the law. He really left me at the end of it with no questions for him.

I want to turn to what he said about the law and some of the cases that he is basing his charging on. One of them is a case that Gerald Griggs and I discussed here the other night. Let`s listen to what he described those cases.


HOWARD:  So as we are drawing our legal conclusion in this case, we were led by the true foundational cases in this matter. One being Tennessee versus Garner and what that case points out is when an officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, that the officer may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses an immediate threat of death or of serious physical injury to that officer. The next foundational case that we use in our analysis is Graham versus Connor, which says that this test is based upon that of a reasonable officer on the scene and not the individual officer, but a reasonable officer on the scene.


O`DONNELL:  Attorney Griggs, you and I discussed the Garner case here the other night. As soon as I saw the video, I thought, well, that`s a clear violation of the Garner case. And there is the district attorney using it in his charges.

So, he -- he`s using -- this is not new. This is a 1980s case that he`s basing this on. He seems to be on very solid legal reasoning grounds and the evidentiary grounds seem to be very thorough.

GRIGGS:  Yes. He`s done a thorough analysis of the status of the law constitutionally, and I think that his team is building a case for a conviction and then it to be upheld. So with the Connor case, as well as the Garner case, I think he`s building a case to show this was unreasonable under the test, that there was absolutely no legal justification for what happened and then factually by showing the kicking, he`s showing that the state of mind was clearly there with the kicking and the excited utterance.

So I think he`s building a case that will withstand constitutional muster if it`s appealed. So I just think that Mr. Howard and his team are putting all their ducks in a row, and I think that this particular case will send a message to the entire country about how you prosecute officers that run afoul of the law and we`re starting to see police accountability at the highest level.

O`DONNELL:  Andrea Young, how are these charges received in Atlanta today? What does this mean for Atlanta today?

YOUNG:  Well, I think it`s an important step for holding people accountable, but, you know, Lawrence, like Chris Stewart, you know, was saying in the earlier segment, I worked with Ted Kennedy to make Martin Luther King`s birthday a holiday and we asked Yolanda King about it and said, are you happy about this? And she said, well, you know, I`d really rather have him home for dinner.

So, I think in Atlanta we`d rather have Rayshard Brooks home for dinner with his family, but this is the best we can get under these circumstances that the district attorney is putting out the strongest possible case to make sure that these officers are held accountable and hopefully that this sends a message.

But people are still demonstrating. You know, people are still protesting. We are not -- this is not something where people are going to pick up and go home. This is an important first step. But people want major transformation of how policing is done because let`s be clear, they were in violation of Atlanta policy. And so something more has to happen so that what happened to Rayshard Brooks never happens to another father, another husband in our country again.

O`DONNELL:  Attorney Andrea Young, thank you very much for joining us tonight and sharing your expertise in this case. We really appreciate it.

And, Attorney Gerald Briggs, thank you for joining us once again with your expertise on Georgia law. We really appreciate your insight on this. Thank you both.

YOUNG:  Thank you.

BRIGGS:  Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, why Donald Trump and John Bolton deserve each other. That becomes abundantly clear in John Bolton`s new book which I told you he was writing the day he left the Trump White House. That`s next.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump and John Bolton deserve each other. They are both dishonorable men. They both care about money more than their constitutional duty.

One of them has bad foreign policy ideas and the other has illegal and insane foreign policy ideas. One is a rank imbecile and the other is John Bolton.

Donald Trump says he fired John Bolton. John Bolton says he quit. On the day John Bolton was fired or quit last year, I said that John Bolton would immediately cash in his chipping for a big book deal, which is what he has done. And after selling out his constitutional duty for $2 million, the book is now scheduled to be published next week while Donald Trump`s Justice Department makes a desperate and unprecedented attempt to block the book`s publication in court.

According to "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" reporters who have read the book, it is simply a confirmation of what we already know, Donald Trump is hopelessly ignorant. He did not know what the United Kingdom has nuclear weapons. He did not know that Finland is a real country and is not part of Russia.

Like other books from reporting inside the Trump White House, it contains a vast catalog of Trump stupidities, along with Trump staffers and cabinet members commenting on those Trump stupidities.

Bob Woodward`s book called the first Trump secretary of state, calling the president an F-ing moron. And John Bolton`s book quotes the current secretary of state saying Donald Trump is, quote, full of -- crap is the word I`ll say on TV.

The book confirms beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump was guilty of what he was charged with in his impeachment trial in the United States. John Bolton provides firsthand testimony of Donald Trump`s attempt to bribe Ukraine to help in his reelection campaign. Quote, he said he wasn`t in favor of sending them anything until all Russia investigation material related to Hillary Clinton and Biden had been turned over, Bolton writes.

That is precisely the testimony that many Republicans said was missing from the impeachment case against Donald Trump, that specific linkage by an eyewitness a near witness hearing Donald Trump saying that, and Republicans suggested that they would have had to have voted for impeachment if John Bolton or someone else testified to that effect.

But John Bolton refused to testify. He hired a lawyer. He went to court. He started litigation to avoid testifying. He spent that money to avoid testifying so that he could make money, so that he could save his stories about Donald Trump, including the criminal stories, the impeachable stories for his own $2 million payday.

Every bit of Donald Trump`s disgrace in office is now also John Bolton`s disgrace, because by refusing to testify to the impeachment inquiry, John Bolton violated his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. In Trump world, it`s always all about the money.

Joining us now is Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to President Obama. He is an MSNBC political analyst.

Ben, I want to get your reaction to what you have read so far and what has been excerpted from this Bolton book.

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, Lawrence, as you say, it is a confirmation of what we have seen in the pattern -- Donald Trump putting his own personal and political interests above anything else, rife with corruption. You know, I think what stands out to me is he has sought foreign interference in the election obviously from Ukraine but the book also suggests he sought interference on his behalf from China.

Something that stood out to me, Lawrence, it wasn`t new, is not all viewers may know, there are a million Uyghurs, that`s a Muslim majority -- Muslim minority in China. A million Uyghurs in concentration camps.

America is a country that used to liberate people from concentration camps. We`d certainly stand up to dictatorial regimes that put people in concentration camps. And the book relates an anecdote of Donald Trump telling Xi Jinping that he thought it was a very good idea to put these people in concentration camps. That`s how far we`ve fallen.

A president of the United States seeking Chinese interference in our election on his behalf and he was okay with them putting a million people in concentration camps. You know, sometimes, you know, you are not surprised to learn these things, but I think we can`t normalize them because the extremity of how far the presidency has fallen is on display in this book and frankly as you point out on display in Bolton`s conduct himself.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah. Let`s listen to what Congressman Adam Schiff said about this tonight. Adam Schiff, of course, sought John Bolton`s testimony in the impeachment inquiry, and John Bolton refused to testify even though other people working in John Bolton`s office did testify.

Let`s listen to what Congressman Schiff said.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Harshest indictment that I`ve seen reported about the Bolton`s book and it was very consistent with what we presented during the impeachment trial, is that the president consistently puts his own personal interests, his political interest above that of the interest of the nation. We said he would do it again. Clearly, he did do it again repeatedly as part of a pattern, and that`s the most serious indictment and that`s what jeopardizes our country when you have a president that has so little regard for the best interest of the country and who constantly puts himself first.


O`DONNELL:  And, Ben, of course, Donald Trump is saying that John Bolton is a liar. That`s his response to all of this so far.

But John Bolton is someone known to have taken notes and people saw him taking notes in the room pretty much all the time, which was, needless to say, unsettling for a lot of the Trump players.

RHODES:  Yeah. I mean, John Bolton clearly was going to write a book, clearly was going to cash in. But you made the central point here. John Bolton in explaining why he didn`t testify before that impeachment inquiry blamed the House Democrats for limiting the impeachment inquiry to Ukraine, and making the point, Bolton did, that apparently, you know, everything Donald Trump does is about his reelection.

He tried to get assistance from multiple foreign countries on behalf of his political interests. He interfered in corruption investigations in places like Turkey in ways that potentially served his own personal interest.

What is so absurd about what Bolton says is that if he had evidence that there were other instances like Ukraine of Trump seeking interference from foreign countries like China, the place to put that forward was in the impeachment inquiry itself.

I do think what`s particularly politically relevant here, Lawrence, is clearly Donald Trump is gearing up to run some anti-China presidential campaign. He`s already run all these ads saying that Joe Biden is weak on China. He`s the guy that`s standing up to China.

Well, we now know, there`s a recent report, that the Chinese want Trump to win. We now know that Trump has asked China for assistance to help him win, the exact same thing he was impeached for by the House of Representatives with Ukraine.

I mean, I don`t know how much more evidence that we need that this president is corrupt, engages in criminal conduct and basically makes the foreign policy of the United States an extension of his own personal political interests and is willing to go as far as to sacrifice the most basic American values that people should not be thrown into concentration camps to seek that foreign interference from China.

So I think that the spotlight any time Donald Trump says anything about China, what we can do is take from this book the very clear account, firsthand account, that the opposite was true. He was not tough on China. In fact, he was soliciting China`s interference on our election on his own behalf.

O`DONNELL:  Ben, I`m assuming this is one of what will be many books that I`ve always anticipated from Trump administration officials, all claiming it`s lucky I was there so I could help prevent him from doing horrible and disastrous things, and that is one of the essential messages of the Bolton book.

But, of course, Bolton was only there for 17 months and according to him he quit. So the heroism he tries to ascribe to himself can`t be taken seriously if he was prepared to leave the country at Donald Trump`s will for all -- after leaving office the way he did.

RHODES:  No. And here`s the thing -- all of these people like Bolton, who served on these high ranking positions, they were there. They were going to work while this corruption was taking place. They were going to work when Donald Trump was making the national interests totally secondary to his own personal interests. They went along with it.

Frankly, the only thing that seemed to trigger John Bolton is if he didn`t get the war with Iran that he was so intent with leading us into.

So I don`t think anybody should, you know, give a blue ribbon to people like John Bolton for coming out after the fact and saying, actually, I was really disgusted by this at the time.

A lot of people will have a lot to answer for, Lawrence, but I will tell you who has the most to answer for. It is the Republicans in the Senate who enabled this behavior at every turn. If there was a majority to say this is not permissible by the constitution of the United States, Donald Trump could not engage in this conduct because either he would be impeached or removed from office or he would know he would run up against a brick wall.

The silence of the Republican Party in the United States Congress is why we have this corruption. And that`s why this is a bigger problem than just Donald Trump. It`s the fact that of the large majority of a political party with some exceptions like Mitt Romney have decided to go along with something that is a complete corruption of the American constitutional democracy.

And it`s hurting our interests. It`s not like these foreign policies are yielding positive results. They`re leading to a collapse in American standing around the world, left us completely incapable of dealing with things like a pandemic, left us, even on Trump signature initiatives and a situation where North Korea is building 20 new nuclear weapons and Donald Trump has nothing to say.

So, to me, I think there is a lot to answer for, not just for Trump but for people like Bolton, the congressional enablers and the Senate Republican Caucus.

O`DONNELL:  Ben Rhodes, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

RHODES:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

And when we come back, Joe Biden showed what responsible leadership on the coronavirus pandemic looks like today while top health officials in Tulsa are publically hoping that Donald Trump cancels his rally there.


O`DONNELL: Today, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, where Donald Trump has scheduled a rally on Saturday, reported a record high of new daily cases with 96 new cases. The seven-day average of new cases in Tulsa County has increased by 277 percent over the last 14 days.

Coronavirus hospitalizations in Tulsa County have increased by 117 percent in the last 10 days. Oklahoma is one of nine states that have now set a record high for new cases. Oklahoma now ranks 41st in the nation for cases per 100,000 people.

Florida set a record in the state yesterday for new daily cases with 2,783 new cases, and today, Florida reported 2,610 new cases. Florida now ranks 34th in the nation for cases per 100,000 people.

In Jacksonville, Florida, 16 friends tested positive for COVID-19 after a night out at a bar on June 6th. At least seven employees of the bar also tested positive. One of the friends told a local news station, quote, "We were careless, and we went out into a public place when we should not have, and we were not wearing masks. It was too soon to open everything back up."

As of tonight, there are 2,167,840 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. And as of tonight, this country has suffered 118,206 deaths from coronavirus. Today, Joe Biden said this.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump`s failure to fight the coronavirus with the same energy and focus that he used to troll his enemies on Twitter has cost us lives and is putting hope for an economic recovery at risk. But now Donald Trump`s desire to declare victory and be done with is only going to imperil the continued progress we have to make. Because of the depths of Donald Trump`s failures, this pandemic will continue to be worse for all Americans and much worse for black and brown Americans.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Dr. Irwin Redlener, Clinical Professor with the School of Public Health at Columbia University. He is also the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

And Doctor, Donald Trump is still planning that big rally in Tulsa on Saturday afternoon. The - I just want to read to you what Dr. Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department is saying about this. He said today, "I recommend it be postponed until it`s safer, until the data tells us that it`s not as large a concern to have people indoors and in closed spaces. Anyone planning to attend a large held gathering will face an increased risk of becoming infected by COVID-19. So many people are over COVID, but COVID is not over. COVID is here. It`s transmitting very efficiently in our community."

What do you anticipate on Saturday in Tulsa? What are these people getting into if 19,000 of them crowd into an arena?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA & MSNBC PUBLIC HEALTH ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence. Yes. So people are taking a very significant risk. The thing about this, too, is that it`s not just a risk to themselves, it`s a risk to their neighbors, their seat mates, the rest of the community. It`s a risk of continuing and accelerating the spread of COVID-19. It`s not just a personal choice. It`s a community choice and a dangerous one. And it is no shock, of course, that Trump and Pence are ignoring what the health officials in the State of Oklahoma are saying. It`s just really shocking, frankly.

O`DONNELL: Tell us how we should look at these numbers where we see increases in places like Oklahoma, increases in Florida. But their rank - the state`s rank in the 50 states per 100,000 is still relatively low. Should they take encouragement from the fact that their rank in the standings is relatively low or what should they pay attention to?

REDLENER: Sure. So this - the rank may be low today. It won`t be low next week. They had a record number of new cases just a couple of days ago, almost 600 new cases in Oklahoma and more cases in Tulsa. So this is the nature of a pandemic. It`s high and it epicentered in New York for some number of weeks. It then jumps to somewhere else.

We have big increases all over the country, in Arkansas and Arizona and North Carolina and Oklahoma. While the overall case load and in relationship to the rest of the states is low, there`s no telling where it`s going to be in a few days from now.

It`s an all over the place, up and down situation, and it is absolutely inappropriate - "inappropriate" - I just want to underscore that - to hold a big political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, anywhere anytime soon. So it`s just really concerning that the President and the Vice President are acting as if they were over this, and we`re clearly not, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And Joe Biden is doing the opposite. In the speech he gave in Pennsylvania today, he made sure that there was social distancing in the room. Everyone in that room was social distanced as opposed to the White House yesterday when the President was there with an Executive Order announcement and people were shaking hands at the White House yesterday. They were not social distancing at all--


O`DONNELL: --when they crowded around the desk. What is - what happens in a world where there are people who watch the President`s behavior and they model themselves on that?

REDLENER: So - there`s a couple of aspects of this. First of all, Biden`s speech was really incredible, contrast to the malarkey that`s coming out of the President`s mouth basically every day. It was a sober, intelligent, honest, respectful talk about a real problem. And the setting was an impressive example of how this should be done.

Trump is the exact opposite. His messages are false. He promotes a lot of BS basically every day. And his physical appearance, people bunched around him, there he is shaking hands with people, it`s the worst possible example. It`s as if he`s oblivious to what the meaning of his actions represents to people. People are thinking that because the President behaves like this and because there`s been this reopening that we`re back to normal. Of course, we`re not.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And we will never be able to thank you enough for your guidance throughout this pandemic, throughout this crisis in this country. We really appreciate it.

REDLENER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And after this break, we have another poll showing Joe Biden with a massive lead over Donald Trump. And Michigan is showing a very, very strong lead for Donald Trump, but there are some Democrats who are worried that the Democrats could get too confident. That`s next.



BIDEN: Americans need a President who will put the American people first, not his or her own ego. America needs a President who will do the work. I`m ready on day one. After more than three years in office, why isn`t Donald Trump ready? Mr. President, wake up. Get to work.


O`DONNELL: That was Joe Biden today in Darby, Pennsylvania. A new national poll released today by Reuters gives Joe Biden a 13-point lead over Donald Trump. Another national poll released today by CNBC gives Joe Biden a 10- point lead over Donald Trump. And in a Michigan poll released earlier this month from EPIC-MRA, that has Joe Biden with a 16-point lead over Donald Trump, 55 to 39.

Joining our discussion now is Representative Debbie Dingell. She is a senior Democratic whip from Michigan. She`s a member of the House Democratic Leadership.

Congresswoman Dingell, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And I`ve heard you talk about this campaign and this election, and I think it might be a paraphrase of FDR to say that your message is "The only thing to fear is confidence itself."

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, I did agree with FDR on the only thing you have to fear is fear itself. But I`m going to tell you right now that I`m very worried about complacency setting in. One of my friends who`s an editor of the - one of the - the newspaper, quite frankly, did play the - used the Michigan call, said he read the paper and said he knew Debbie Dingell was going to suffer from post-traumatic stress. And I called him, and he - I said that`s exactly why I`m on this phone.

That same pollster on October 6th, 2016 showed Hillary Clinton 11 points up and said there is no way that Hillary Clinton can lose Michigan. On October 26th, he said that Hillary Clinton has this election in the bag, and the rest is history. We cannot afford to suppress votes. We cannot afford to not have let people know their vote matters. And five months ago, none of us would have predicted the country is where we are today, and none of us can predict where we`ll be in November. We cannot take this election for granted.

O`DONNELL: Meanwhile, four years ago, when those polls were telling that happy story to the Clinton campaign, you were just on the phone constantly trying to get the Clinton campaign to take Michigan more seriously, to worry about Michigan more. Do you have a similar struggle going on with the Biden campaign this year?

DINGELL: No. I will say that - I have known President Biden for a long time and I`ve known many of his campaign people. So I think everybody is struggling to figure out how do you campaign this year? And I have to tell you, I`ve been locked in my house like many other people for almost 90 days. But I have gone to 15 protests, participated in community gatherings in the last 10 days, and in the last four, I`m meeting - or seeing Mike- Trump voters again that live in my district.

And that feeling that even in these times, some people are having - I try to listen - I don`t - to people. But I`m not hearing - I am hearing things I heard four years ago and I`m not hearing things today that make me think everything is as OK as some people want to think that it is.

O`DONNELL: Well, that`s one of the advantages you have in this, is that you do have Trump voters in your district. There are members in both parties really who don`t have very many or they don`t encounter really voters from the other party in their district. And it`s very hard for them to get the kind of reading that you get.

And so, as you go forward through this campaign and this campaign season, what will you be looking for? What will be the indicators where even Debbie Dingell starts to get a little confident?

DINGELL: Well, if I don`t see the number of Trump signs that I saw four years ago. I was at a community gathering - or a protest is really a better word for it - last night in Taylor, Michigan.

We had an unfortunate incident where someone actually tried to drive a car through it. But I was standing at the back, UAW workers, retired UAW workers, who even in this climate wanted me to know exactly what they thought and why they had voted for President Obama but they were going to vote for President Trump again, and he cared about trade and he was delivering for them, and they wanted to know that there was somebody who cared about then. And I said Joe Biden does. We talked. We respected each other. I want to see where the conversation goes the next few months as people are coming out of their homes and we see more - I want to hear people. I`m going to listen.

O`DONNELL: And we want to hear Debbie Dingell. We need you to come back regularly with your reports from the front in Michigan. We really appreciate it.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

DINGELL: Thank you. It`s good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up in tonight`s Last Word, our next guest thought running for office was crazy a month ago, but after she heard George Floyd calling out for his mother as he was dying on a street in Minneapolis, she found a new calling for herself. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has changed the politics of police reform. George Floyd has changed the way politicians, especially Republican politicians, talk about these issues. And George Floyd has changed some people`s lives in a way they never imagined.

Laverne McCartney Knighton said "Are you crazy?" when she first got a call asking her to run for State Senate in Minnesota. But when she heard George Floyd calling out to his mother as he was dying under a police knee, the future changed for Laverne McCartney Knighton, and now she is a candidate for State Senate in Minnesota.

And joining us now is Laverne McCartney Knighton. She is an area director in Minneapolis for the United Negro College Fund.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. What was the point? What was the turning point where the idea of running for Senate in Minnesota changed from crazy to something you had to do?

LAVERNE MCCARTNEY KNIGHTON, CANDIDATE, MINNESOTA STATE SENATE SEAT 65: Well, you know what? It became a reality when I realized it was something I had to do. Watching the video of George calling for his mother in that desperate hour really triggered something in me, and when I was asked to consider running for State Senate, I thought of the fact that I had always expressed that I wanted to run for office.

And I was thinking more from a city level, but running for State Senate was possible. And I had really wanted to be a buoy (ph) and a voice (ph) to be heard because I`ve always been a part of my community, I`ve always shown up for community, and I really, really know that perspective matters. And I really wanted to be heard.

O`DONNELL: And what is it - what is it like to be campaigning now in Minnesota right there where this happened?

KNIGHTON: It`s a whole new world that we are living in right now. The whole idea of stepping into running a campaign in the midst of COVID, in the midst of a pandemic and in the midst of all that happened here in the past few weeks with the murder of George Floyd has caused me to really realize that it`s going to be about time management, really trying to do everything that needs to be done in this short period of time, given that the decision was made and I knew I had to step up. So it is - it`s going to be a challenge, but I`m stepping up and ready to answer that call and ready to take the challenge on.

O`DONNELL: Some of the police reforms that protesters are calling for in Minnesota are at the local level. They are in Minneapolis. They`re in the police department rule books themselves. But some of them need to be changes in state law. What are you proposing in terms of changing state law in police reform?

KNIGHTON: Well, I think that the concern on all of our hearts, black, brown and white, that we really need to have more accountability from the police. We need to transform. We need to change some of the policies that they are mandated under.

And I would hope that I could come in and express from a layer (ph) of experience that police really do need to be held to an accountability standard that will keep us all safe and keep us all protected, and that it shouldn`t be any different for black and brown men, women and children than it is for white folk, that we really do need to have the same standards apply for all of us and we really need to look at the police to be serving and protecting us and not seeking to do us harm and treating us as if we are inhuman.

O`DONNELL: Laverne McCartney Knighton, who is the candidate for Minnesota State Senate, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

KNIGHTON: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: Laverne McCartney Knighton gets tonight`s Last Word. "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" starts right now.