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Russian bounty TRANSCRIPT: 7/2/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, Abigail Spanberger, Joyce Vance, Julian Bear Runner


And when the president goes to South Dakota tomorrow, he will be trespassing on stolen land. That`s not me talking. That`s right here in a 67-page opinion of the United States Supreme Court in 1980 which actually reads as a short history of the federal government`s treatment of the tribes and explains exactly how all of that portion of North Dakota was stolen by the United States in violation of their own treaty, 1868 treaty with the tribes.

The leader of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in that area whose land that is will be joining us at the end of the hour with his reaction to the president.


O`DONNELL: -- visiting tomorrow. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: That`s fantastic. Well done, Lawrence. Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, with the coronavirus surging in America today, on a day when the country once again set a new record for the number of coronavirus cases reported in one day, Donald Trump held what the White House called a press briefing but after giving a rambling statement about the economy, Donald Trump just walked out of the briefing room in abject fear of taking a single question.




O`DONNELL: He did not dare take a single question. He was afraid of taking any questions about intelligence reports that Vladimir Putin, who Donald Trump has never once criticized is paying the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. You heard that question about the president`s daily brief being yelled at him as he walked out that door.

And Donald Trump was afraid of taking any questions about the coronavirus, which is now out of control in the United States. There is no other description for it, including out of control in the biggest Republican states, Texas and Florida, where the Republican governors have followed Donald Trump`s lead and done the least they could possibly do to protect their citizens from the coronavirus.

Our first guest tonight, former Texas Congressman Beto O`Rourke, has this explanation for what is happening in Texas. Want to know why there is an uncontrolled COVID outbreak in Texas, with the record number of cases, hospitalizations and soon deaths? Because Dan Patrick leads a death cult that Abbott, Cornyn and company are too scared to stand up to.

Dan Patrick is the Trumpian lieutenant governor of Texas who had this to say on Tuesday after Dr. Anthony Fauci testified to a Senate committee.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): Locking down doesn`t work. If it did, those two states would be doing better than Texas. Fauci said today he`s concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things.

He doesn`t know what he`s talking about. We haven`t skipped over anything. The only thing I`m skipping over is listening to him. He`s been wrong every time on every issue. I don`t need his advice anymore.


O`DONNELL: Today, the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, reversed himself once again by ordering the use of masks in Texas. The order requires Texas living in counties of 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, which is most counties, to wear a face covering while inside public spaces or whenever social distancing is not possible and the governor has established a penalty structure, first-time offenders will receive a written or verbal warning, people who violate the order more than once will receive a fine of up to $250 for every violation.

Now, this is the very same governor who two months ago blocked local government in Texas from penalizing people who would not wear masks. Now, the governor of Texas is issuing a $250 fine for anyone who doesn`t wear a mask in 186 Texas counties. The governor issued that order on a day when Texas once again broke his own record for new coronavirus cases reported in a single day at 9,169.

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci once again said something that the lieutenant governor of Texas does not want to hear. Dr. Fauci said it in a British radio interview. If you are wondering why Dr. Fauci didn`t say it on your cable news shows it is because the White House does not allow Dr. Fauci to accept invitations to appear on most shows in this country. Every cable news show, every major newspaper is asking Anthony Fauci for an interview every day. We all are, every day.

And that request, those requests are being denied by the Trump White House every day. For whatever reason, someone in the Trump White House gave the okay for Dr. Fauci to do an interview with BBC Radio today and Dr. Fauci said the situation in the United States is now much worse than it has ever been.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What we have seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that are well beyond the worst spikes that we have seen. That is not good news. We`ve got to get that under control or we risk a greater outbreak in the United States.

BBC HOST: Why have you had those spikes, do you think?

FAUCI: When you look at the fact that we never got things down to baseline where so many countries in Europe and the U.K. and other countries did, they closed down to the tune of about 97 percent lockdown.

In the United States, even in the most strict lockdown, only about 50 percent of the country locked down. That allowed the perpetuation of the outbreak that we never did get under very good control.


O`DONNELL: So, that`s why we are where we are tonight in the United States. We only did about 50 percent of the work that we needed to do, and we did it for a very short time. The two big lines on this graph show coronavirus cases in the United States and in the European Union. And in late March, the United States and the European Union were in exactly the same place where those two lines cross in late March at about maybe 27,000 cases a day.

And now, the European Union is down below 5,000 cases a day and the United States is soaring above 50,000 cases a day and Dr. Anthony Fauci says we may be on our way to 100,000 cases a day and three months ago, we were in exactly, exactly the same place as the European Union.

What`s the difference? Trumpism. Republicanism, which is now the same thing as Trumpism. The president of the United States did depart from his written texts today to say a few words about the coronavirus. Very few words.


TRUMP: And the crisis is being handled.


O`DONNELL: He then rambled on incoherently as he does about China and concluded this coronavirus comment with a masterpiece of Trumpian incoherence.


TRUMP: It`s a life. It`s got a life, and we`re putting out that life because that`s a bad life that we`re talking about.


O`DONNELL: It doesn`t matter why he talks that way. It doesn`t matter if we`re watching a man trapped inside a tiny vocabulary, desperately trying to sound smart or whether we`re witnessing neurological decline in real time. What matter is that those words are window into an empty mind of the president of the United States who has not led this country the way the leaders of Europe have led their countries and brought their countries into a much safer place during this pandemic.

And it is at the same time a window into that very dark mind that has had absolutely no reaction whatsoever to intelligence reports that Vladimir Putin is paying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

As of tonight, on Donald Trump`s watch, the United States has once again set a record high for the number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day at 53,419, which means that as of tonight, there have been 2,744,594 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. And as of tonight, this country has suffered 129,691 deaths from coronavirus.

Leading off our discussion tonight is former Democratic congressman from Texas, Beto O`Rourke. He is the founder of Powered By People, a grassroots organization with the goal of helping Democratic candidates get elected across Texas.

And, Beto O`Rourke, you are joining us from a hot spot tonight, the state of Texas. Give us more detail about how it came to this in Texas.

BETO O`ROURKE (D), FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: Well, you had our governor prematurely reopen the state on the 1st of May, and he defied all of the public health guidance, the very guidelines he himself said that he would set as a criteria for reopening the state. And nonetheless, opened up first retail establishments and restaurants and in bars, and did something that made what is happening now totally predictable, and it was preventable if he had listened to the scientists and the public health experts and the infectious disease advisers, but he didn`t. So, you now have rampant, out of control spread of COVID-19 in the state of Texas.

In Houston, home to the largest medical center on planet earth, the Texas Medical Center, you have now run out of base ICU beds in that city. They`re literally shipping patients out of Houston to surrounding communities because they no longer have the capacity. The surge capacity that they`re in the process of setting up, they think they are going to exceed that within the next week or two, and they`re now looking at opening up convention centers and other large holding areas to hold the COVID patients that are there.

And though Governor Abbott belatedly did the right thing today by requiring a mandatory mask order across most of Texas, he will still not allow the largest urban counties, Harris County home to Houston, Dallas County, El Paso county to have stay-at-home orders, so we can lock down these communities where COVID is spreading so quickly.

I talked to Peter Hotez tonight, a respected infectious disease specialist from Houston. He said it may be too late for a rigorous testing and contact tracing regimen. He says, first thing is lock down and then let`s start it all over again and this time make sure we follow the science and the facts. That`s how we got to this place.

O`DONNELL: And where do we go from here? And are there any pressures on the Texas Republican regime to move in the right direction?

O`ROURKE: There are, and interestingly, Lawrence, those pressures are coming from Democratic leaders who got it right.

So, Lina Hidalgo, the 29-year-old first-term county judge of Harris County. She represents more people in that county than the entire state of Colorado. She has taken one of the most aggressive, ambitious positions on trying to contain the spread of COVID.

Clay Jenkins up in North Texas in Dallas County, County Judge Wolff in Bexar County in San Antonio, all of them have done as much as they can under current state law, and I think that pressured Governor Abbott who as you know is getting stuff knock out of him from the right, from Dan Patrick, to finally do the right thing or at least take the first step on the path to doing the right thing.

What are some next steps? We could have a vote by mail program in Texas which right now is only allowed if you are 65 years or older or have a physical disability that prevents you from being at the polling site. No reason. My wife and I just voted in person right now in El Paso, in a runoff election. No reason we should be voting in person in the deadliest pandemic to hit this state and country in the last 102 years, and then give local jurisdictions the control to lockdown their communities if they are seeing out of control COVID as they are in Dallas, in El Paso, San Antonio and Houston.

Those are some things they could do next. We have yet to see whether the political will exists with the governor, the lieutenant governor and the Republican state leadership here in Texas.

O`DONNELL: Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor, is that wise man who said a couple of months ago that he would rather die or death is better than being in a lockdown, the kind of lockdown that you are describing.

Explain to us how the Lieutenant Governor in Texas leverages so much power over the actions of the governor.

O`ROURKE: You know, it`s a really interesting vestige of the way that Texas`s government formed after the civil war where power is decentralized. The governor is relatively weak compared to governors of other states. And therefore, the lieutenant governor some would argue holds the most power in the state.

And given how far Dan Patrick is to the right of Abbott and how given the fact that we last elected a Democrat statewide in 1994, every statewide Republican office holder is always looking over their right shoulder to watch out for that attack from the right.

That`s why Dan Patrick in this death cult that he`s trying to lead here in Texas where he says there are more important things than living as an argument to re-open the state. And, Lawrence, as you know, the minimum wage here is $7.25 an hour. The people who are dying by and large are Latinos and black Texans. When he says there are more important things than living, he`s asking minimum wage workers, black Texans, Latino Texans them to do the dying.

The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas getting hit so hard by COVID-19. Those are 90 percent-plus Mexican American. He just literally does not care about them. And he does have a very powerful voice in the Republican controlled state government right now.

O`DONNELL: What about the voice of the medical community in Texas? Because Texas is one of the great medical centers of the United States between Houston and Dallas. But for medical schools to just really -- just top end in every single way.

Do those physicians and the people in the medical community have no voice in the way this is happening in Texas?

O`ROURKE: Individually they do. My sister, Charlotte, is an ER nurse here in El Paso. So she has a voice I certainly listen to. I mentioned Dr. Peter Hotez out of Houston, Texas, and Texas Medical Center. But I want you to listen to this. Daily, the Texas Medical Center was reporting their ICU bed capacity, and it was at 96 percent, then at 97 percent.

And then they get a call from Governor Abbott saying, I don`t like the headlines that you are running out of hospital beds, so stop publishing the information. And you know what, they do.

So he was able to force an end to the transparency, the public health reporting and the information that all of us can use to make real world decisions like wearing masks and staying at home and understanding just how bad this crisis is.

So, individually, those nurses and doctors and the front line staff, including the custodians are my all-time heroes because they`re literally risking their lives to save the lives of others. But I am disappointed in some of those hospital CEOs who are not speaking truth to power and sharing the truth over rest of us here in Texas.

O`DONNELL: Beto O`Rourke, thank you very much for joining us tonight and explaining what is happening in your state. I`m very sorry for the situation in Texas tonight. We really appreciate your insight on this.

O`ROURKE: Grateful to be with you. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, we will be joined by Steve Schmidt, who has a few things to say about Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s refusal to act on the intelligence indicating that Vladimir Putin is trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that Mike Pence`s trip to Arizona this week had to be postponed a day because, quote, several Secret Service agents who helped organize the visit either tested positive for coronavirus or were showing symptoms of being infected. The Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, left at least three Secret Service agents infected be coronavirus. Just before that rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the news broke publicly that six staff at the Tulsa rally just tested positive for coronavirus. And Donald Trump who was then on Air Force One was reportedly infuriated by that news becoming public.

And then suddenly, the testing at Tulsa of the staff in Oklahoma was stopped and we can now patiently await the news of how many Secret Service or other staff were infected on today`s campaign trip to Florida by Mike Pence.

Florida is a must win state for the Trump-Pence campaign. The latest polls show Joe Biden with a lead in Florida. Joe Biden also has a lead in Arizona.

Taxpayers are paying for this trip and the trip to Florida today because it was disguised like the Arizona trip as Mike Pence checking on what a great job the Trumpian governor is doing in the battle against the coronavirus.

Today, Florida once again set a record for the number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day as the coronavirus continues to surge in the United States, Joe Biden is maintaining a double digit lead in national polls. The latest Monmouth University Poll shows Joe Biden at 53 percent to Donald Trump`s 41 percent.

And joining us now is Steve Schmidt, a former Republican campaign strategist and an MSNBC political analyst. He is the founder of the Lincoln Project.

And, Steve, I want to get your reaction to all of the important stories of the day. Let`s begin with the most important story because of the level of shock of the unprecedented nature of it, the intelligence reports that Vladimir Putin is paying -- has been paying as much as 100,000 or more per soldier to have American soldiers killed in Afghanistan accompanied by the reports that Donald Trump has done absolutely nothing about it and the uniquely Trumpian defense claiming that he knew nothing about it.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s the greatest dereliction of duty in the history of the country by anybody charged with the position of responsibility, let alone a president of the United States.

And, Lawrence, I just want to take everybody through the process when somebody who wears the cloth of the nation is killed in action serving America. Their body or parts of it will be collected and taken to a morgue. The body will never be unaccompanied. The body or parts will be put into a body bag.

Ice will be filled. The body will be placed into an aluminum casket. The casket will be draped in the cloth of the nation, the American flag, the blue stars at the head.

The body will never be unaccompanied. It will be carried on to a military aircraft passed an honor guard standing in attention and saluting, flown home to the United States to Dover, Delaware. The family will be waiting to receive the body of a fallen American hero.

The military escort will stay with the body all the way through to the end to burial. Three rifle volleys will crack the air after "Taps" is played. The casket is lowered into the ground. And I suppose it is at that moment where a Russian intelligence officer will bring the bag of cash to the Afghan warlord for the blood money for the dead American.

Donald Trump knew about it. He salutes our Marines as he gets on Marine One every day. He salutes our Air Force personnel as he gets on Air Force One. He went to West Point. He saluted the young officers back.

I don`t know how he can conceivably look any of them in the eye given the magnitude of the betrayal. But after he was briefed, after he found out about the contracts on American soldiers, what he did about it was he decreased our troop strength in Germany, acquiescing to a Russian demand and giving them a win.

He demanded that Russia join the G7. So there has been no punishment. And for the first time in the history of the country, and we`ve had incompetent presidents and dumb presidents and dishonest presidents, but we have never had a faithless president. We have never had a president who is faithless to his oath and refuses to defend the country from an attack by a hostile foreign power, whether it`s an attack on the lives of our military or an attack on our election process, which so many hundreds of thousands of Americans have died to preserve and protect.

It is a shameful, shameful, despicable hour in the history of the American presidency, and all of his desecrations and degradations of his office, this is the most severe. It`s the most scandalous, and it should shock the conscience of every American. We have never had a president who refuses to fulfill their oath when it comes to being the commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States quite like Donald Trump has. It`s a despicable hour with regard to this issue.

O`DONNELL: Steve, the description you just offered about what happens to the killed in action took me back to the knowledge that that`s exactly how my cousin returned from Vietnam. And it -- it`s -- I have been trying to hold myself away from this story because at its core is this thing that is so agonizing that you have just described. What do you expect --

SCHMIDT: Lawrence, in the --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Steve.

SCHMIDT: I said, Lawrence, in the Second World War, for the first time in the history of the world, an Army sat about the remarkable goal of retrieving its war dead. And on the early hours after VE Day, tens of thousands of Americans in grave registration details fanned out across Europe, and they accounted for every American who was killed in action, as many as possible.

And in 1946, ships, they were called ghost ships, filled with tens and tens of thousands of American soldiers sailed from Europe back home laden with the bodies of American soldiers. About 40% of the casualties were buried in Europe.

But the ethos of the American military is we leave no man behind, no woman behind. The betrayal of Donald Trump of our nation`s sons and daughters in harm`s way in combat is impossible to overstate with regard to the magnitude of the betrayal. It is apart from anything we have ever seen in American history. It is despicable. It is deplorable and it is disgraceful.

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We really appreciate it.

SCHMIDT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Today top Congressional Leaders from both parties, including the leaders from the Intelligence Committees had a classified briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel about reports that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, released a joint statement after the briefing saying these reports are coming to light in the context of the President being soft on Vladimir Putin when it comes to NATO, the G7, Crimea, Ukraine and the ongoing undermining of the integrity of our elections.

Our armed forces would be better served if President Trump spent more time reading his daily briefing and less time planning military parades and defending relics of the confederacy. Joining our discussion now is Representative Abigail Spanberger. She is a Democratic Congresswoman from Virginia. She sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee. She is a Former CIA Officer and was one of the law makers who attended Tuesday`s White House meeting on this same issue. Congresswoman Spanberger, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What is your - what can you tell us about this and what is your assessment of the story as it stands tonight?

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): Well, so my assessment of this story is that we haven`t seen a full throated denunciation of the scheme to put bounties on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. And, so, as more details come out and as this situation is evolving, I am glad that there was a briefing today with Congressional Leadership.

I`m glad and pleased that that briefing was actually conducted by Intelligent Professionals and in particular the Director of CIA Director Haspel, but we have to be talking about what comes next. And the White House has yet to fully denounce this and what we don`t know is whether our troops overseas are any saver today or than they were before and whether or not they continue to face the threat of having bounties on their heads in Afghanistan.

O`DONNELL: And the administration is trying to deny that there is any truth to this, that there is any threat to American service members in this situation. But did you hear anything from the administration about what protections and what precautions they have taken on the possibility that it is true?

SPANBERGER: I heard nothing from the administration about the precautions that they are taking to keep our troops safe in Afghanistan, and I heard nothing from the administration that even gets at the idea of if this is true then we denounce it. If this is true, then it`s unacceptable and there is no reason that the President can`t make a stern statement at this point in time making clear to the Russians where he stands on this allegation. And then he will take swift action to protect our service members abroad and to retaliate against Russia for this type of aggression. And so we haven`t seen that yet, and that is what I find to be so deeply concerning.

O`DONNELL: If you were in the White House or in the administration, what level of proof would you need to urge the President to take action?

SPANBERGER: When it comes to forced protection and threats against our U.S. service members, it is incredibly important that we take action to protect them no matter how detailed or specific the threat may be. If there is a threat out there, we should be doing everything possible to protect our service members. Now, in the second piece, at what point do we take retaliatory action? We have got the Taliban on television saying that in fact it`s true. We`ve got multiple sources across news outlets giving very detailed information, detailing a plot and a scheme.

There is no reason that we shouldn`t be preparing retaliatory steps and actions to take to demonstrate to the Russians that the United States will not stand for bounties to be put on the heads of our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan. Unequivocally we can make that statement. And then as we continue to get more information and as a Former Intelligence Officer, I can tell you that`s the nature of intelligence. You never know anything 100%. You build and layer upon layer information from various sources to ensure a high degree of credibility. But when it comes to protecting our U.S. service members abroad, we should be taking every aggressive action possible to make sure that they are safe.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, your CIA experience is invaluable to us in covering this story. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SPANBERGER: And thank you for your coverage as well. I appreciate it very much. Please stay safe.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you. Coming up, today the woman seen in this photograph with Donald Trump, I think we have a photograph of her with Donald Trump. There have been many photographs of her with Donald Trump. There she is. She has been arrested on charges that she helped to recruit 14 year old girls and younger girls for Jeffrey Epstein. She`s being charged in the Southern District of New York in the U.S. Attorney`s Office where Attorney General Bill Barr tried and failed to seize control of that office recently. Joyce Vance will join us next.


O`DONNELL: Two weeks ago Attorney General William Barr tried and failed to take over the U.S. attorney`s office in the Southern district of New York in Manhattan. After a 24 hour standoff, he did manage to finally get the U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman to resign, but only after Geoffrey Berman was able to force William Barr to leave Geoffrey Berman`s trusted deputy in charge of the office. Was William Barr trying to stop the progress of some criminal cases in that U.S. Attorney`s Office? And was the continued investigation of the sex crimes of Donald Trump`s friend Jeffrey Epstein one of the things that William Barr was trying to stop?

Today the women - the woman who some have described as the person who lured young girls into Jeffrey Epstein`s home was arrested and charged with exactly that, with sex trafficking. The indictment was signed by acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, "The Miami Herald" report the fact that the case is being handled by the office`s public corruption unit, which typically handles investigations into misdeeds by public officials has raised questions among some legal observers about the scope of the current federal investigation.

Joining our discussion now is Joyce Vance Former U.S. Attorney. She is a Professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and an MSNBC Legal Contributor. Joyce, this one - pretty much everything that happens in that U.S. Attorney`s Office after William Barr tried to take it over becomes - has this extra dimension, and that extra question of is this one of the things William Barr was trying to stop?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: That`s one of the tragedies of William Barr as the Attorney General. We know that the criminal justice system only works because people have confidence in it. And he`s eroded so much of that confidence that there are these perpetual questions in every case of national significance like this one.

O`DONNELL: And what about using the public corruption unit in this particular case? What does that tell you?

VANCE: You know, it`s tough to figure, Lawrence. It could mean that when this case was originally open there was some concern about the plea bargain in Florida, which involved Alex Costa who was at the time the U.S. Attorney in South Florida but it is now a Cabinet Secretary. And the case would not have been reassigned as they looked at that issue and decided that conduct was out of the statute of limitations. So it could be nothing other than an artifact. I suppose it could also mean that they`re looking at any number of public officials in this case. We just don`t know the answer yet.

O`DONNELL: And what do you make of the case as described and the charges against Ghislaine Maxwell? It seems like the likely witnesses will be the girls themselves who were then teenagers who some say she hung around outside their schools in Manhattan waiting for them after school to lure them to Jeffrey Epstein`s home.

VANCE: That`s correct. And I would expect them to be powerful witnesses. They have had to wait a long time for justice. This is a six count indictment, and the charges range from a conspiracy count that would expose her to a five year maximum sentence, all the way up to two counts that involve transporting minors in inner state commerce in order to engage in illegal sexual activity. And those are life charges. So these are serious charges. I expect southern district has high quality evidence to bring this indictment.

O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, thank you for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. Coming up, Donald Trump doesn`t have permission to go where he is going tomorrow according to the leader of the tribe that is the rightful owner of that land. That`s next in tonight`s last word.


O`DONNELL: We have breaking news at this hour. A new number in the history of the coronavirus in the United States, 56,015, that is now the final official tally of the number of newly reported coronavirus cases today, just today, in the United States, and that is our new single day record high number.

That there was tragedy, deception, barbarity, and virtually every other vice known to man in the 300 year history of the expansion of the original 13 colonies into a nation, which now embraces more than 300 million square miles and 50 states, cannot be denied. Tragedy, deception, barbarity cannot be denied. That - that is from a 1980 Supreme Court opinion that ruled that the place Donald Trump is going to on Friday is stolen land.

In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that the United States violated its own 1868 treaty with the Sioux Nations when it seized the land where Mount Rushmore now sits in South Dakota. That Supreme Court case carries the legal title that could be the title in a history book, United States versus Sioux Nation of Indians. The opinion`s 67 pages contain a short history of the federal government`s treatment of the tribes, including an expedition of 1,000 soldiers led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer that, "confirmed the presence of gold fields in that region. And as soon as gold was discovered in the Sioux Nation, the United States violated its own treaty with the Sioux just like this country violated every single treaty with every single tribe at that time.

The President of the Oglala Sioux tribe, Julian Bear Runner, told "The Guardian" that Donald Trump does not have permission to enter their territory. He said, the lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands he`s about to visit belong to the Great Sioux Nation under the treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie treating of 1868, and I have to tell him he doesn`t have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time.

The Oglala Sioux tribe has reported 80 cases of coronavirus and one death from coronavirus. South Dakota`s infection rate is much higher than the tribe`s. South Dakota now ranks 16th among the 50 states with 799 cases per 100,000 people. South Dakota has reported 6,893 cases of coronavirus and has suffered 97 deaths. The tribe set up checkpoints in early April on roads leading to their reservations to protect their people from the spread of COVID-19. The Republican Governor of South Dakota has threatened to sue the tribe for operating those checkpoints.

And joining us now is the President of the Oglala Sioux tribe, Julian Bear Runner. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. I want to get your - what can you tell us about what you expect to happen tomorrow?

JULIAN BEAR RUNNER, PRESIDENT, OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE: Yes. Thank you for this time and opportunity, Lawrence. It`s a great privilege. Tomorrow, you know, I sent out a letter today to Mr. Trump, you know, advising him and stating reasons why he is not permitted to enter the treaty territory at this time, due to the lack of consultation with the Sovereign Leaders of the Great Sioux Nation. There has been no correspondence from his staff or himself to ever attempt to sit down diplomatically with the leaders of the Great Sioux Nation to obtain that permission or to contingently seek a plan on how to go about, you know his Independence Day celebration.

Right now, you know, for me it`s very hard to remain diplomatic in times like this due to the lack of consultation. You know, my people, it is in our DNA to fight for these lands, to defend these lands, and then to protect what is sacred. And, you know, Mount Rushmore is carved on one of our most sacred mountains within the black hills, and the people, you know, are angry. And all I can do as a leader is stand back and support them, to stand with them and, you know, help them in every way that I can do, to do what`s right.

O`DONNELL: That was a monument in your culture before anyone went out there and started to sculpt those faces there, isn`t that true?

RUNNER: That is correct, Lawrence. That specific piece of the mountain represented at six grandfathers, six of our ancestors, and it had a very sacred and significant meaning prior to the carving of America`s first Presidents.

O`DONNELL: And what has been the reaction of the tribe, members of the tribe, to what is coming tomorrow?

RUNNER: The people - you know, I already have members of my tribe, people reaching out from across America that are wanting to come and stand with The Great Sioux Nation and to exercise their amendment rights to protest and to demonstrate. And, you know, right now, you know, it`s just - with this worldwide pandemic that is happening, you know we`re encouraging all of our members to just exercise their safety, to wear personal protective equipment, you know, and to just take care of themselves.

And this is one reason why we frown - or I do as a tribal leader, you know frown upon him coming here. Right now the Governor is saying that they`re not going to require social distancing. They`re not going to require people to wear a mask. You know and our experts throughout, you know, America and throughout the world are telling us that these are necessary steps to take in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So for me, it`s not just a threat to my people, but it`s a threat to the land, and it`s a threat to mankind in general, to human life.

O`DONNELL: The President of The Oglala Sioux Tribe, Julian Bear Runner, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight. Truly an honor to have you here.

RUNNER: Yes, sir. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. That is tonight`s last word.