Russian bounties TRANSCRIPT: 7/6/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Julian Castro, Neal Katyal, Dave Archambault, Irwin Redlener

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

And, of course, we don`t know if anyone will be attending the Republican convention or there will actually be a Republican convention until the day it actually happens. The situation in Jacksonville, Florida, at this point doesn`t look like they can really pull this off. But we`ll know when it happens.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS:  And, you know, we don`t know if the Trump administration or the Trump campaign and the president will go away with Jacksonville`s mask ordinance, for example, which is already in effect in terms of indoor gatherings in Jacksonville. That`s why he moved the thing out of North Carolina in the first place, because he didn`t want people in masks. That`s going to be true in Jacksonville, even if everything else comes together.

O`DONNELL:  Maybe it can be a big RV convention where they just get thousands of giant recreational vehicles and everybody just drives to whatever spot somewhere out there in the Great Plains where they can -- I don`t know, I give up, Rachel. I can`t figure out how to have a convention this year. It`s impossible. C`mon.

MADDOW:  Keep going with that idea because -- 

O`DONNELL:  Stay with it. OK, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  -- with Republican Convention. I would do that with you right now. That would be super fun.

O`DONNELL:  OK.

MADDOW:  All right.

O`DONNELL:  The 2020 version of burning man. We`ll figure something out. OK.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, man. I`ll look up the details.

O`DONNELL:  Great.

MADDOW:  Well, at the end of this hour, we will be joined by an old friend of this program, a friend of mine, Dave Archambault, the former chairman of this Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who won a major victory in court today against the oil pipeline that they have been trying to stop for years now. A federal judge ordered that pipeline stopped, closed down, emptied of oil today.

Also tonight, Neal Katyal will join us to interpret an important Supreme Court decision today about the Electoral College. And they rarely have ruled on the Electoral College in the history of the Supreme Court. This was a unanimous Supreme Court opinion and it could be, could be, may be the first step in effectively ending the Electoral College.

Well, this country is in crisis tonight. And Americans are dying tonight because the president of the United States does not read. The president of the United States golfs, but does not read.

The White House staff let it be known to the press on Friday morning that the president played golf and on Sunday that the president played golf. But the White House staff did not tell us if the president read his presidential daily brief on Friday, or Sunday or Saturday or any day before playing golf.

The president is running behind, well behind his Democratic challenger by double digits in virtually every poll. One of the issues his Democratic challenger is running on is this very simple promise. I`ll read my daily briefings.

What is candidate Trump`s response to that? Golfing, racist tweeting, more golfing and defense of dead soldiers. Not the war dead of the United States of America, the war dead of the Confederacy.

Racism is Donald Trump`s subject changer. And the number one subject that Donald Trump wants to change tonight is what is now an entire week of reporting that Donald Trump did absolutely nothing about plausible intelligence reports that Vladimir Putin has been paying a bounty of as much as $100,000 for each American soldier killed in Afghanistan.

It`s always been very difficult to choose what is the worst thing Donald Trump has done as president, but this now stands alone on its own island of infamy in the three-and-a-half-year horrendous history of Trump governance. It has been called dereliction of duty by Joe Biden. It could also be an impeachable offense.

And if we weren`t just four months away from an election, if this story had come out one year ago, an impeachment inquiry would have been conducted in the House of Representatives over these intelligence reports that Vladimir Putin has been paying to kill American soldiers while Donald Trump has done absolutely nothing about it. The president`s defense has been "I don`t read".

That`s like a pilot telling you that he doesn`t read the instruments in the cockpit. That pilot is going to get you killed. And people are dying tonight in America from coronavirus because the president does not read, and American lives are threatened tonight in Afghanistan because the president does not read. And, so, the president, once again, used racism to change the subject.

And in today`s White House press briefing there was not a single question about Russia paying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Thirty-eight questions, 38, and not one question about the ultimate dereliction of duty by a president of the United States. Instead, the briefing was dominated by the kind of question that the White House press secretary uses a flurry of words to evade and never answer.

Here are three of those questions in a row. Kayleigh, I want to ask you just a couple of questions. The first one, why is the president so supportive of flying the Confederate flag? Question two, for clarity, I`m asking you about the Confederate flags. My question is, why is the president so supportive of flying the Confederate flag?

And question three, the president said that NASCAR saw bad ratings because they took down the Confederate flag, banned the Confederate flag. Does he believe NASCAR should fly the Confederate flag? And why don`t they fly it here?

Needless to say, the White House press secretary did not answer any of those questions and did not answer the question why don`t they fly the Confederate flag at the White House. It was a messy White House press briefings. It was the stupidest White House press briefing in the history of the White House, except for every other Trump White House press briefing, but it succeeded in changing the subject.

And that was its mission. Mission accomplished.

But changing the subject is not saving Donald Trump from voters` harsh judgments of him. A Gallup poll released today shows Donald Trump with a declining approval number of 38 percent.

Leading off our discussion tonight are John Brennan, former director of the CIA. He`s an NBC News and MSNBC senior national security and intelligence analyst. Also with us, Jelani Cobb, a staff writer for the New Yorker and professor of journalism at Columbia University. He`s an MSNBC political analyst: 

And, Professor Cobb, I want to start with you on this tonight because it does present a dilemma. It presents a dilemma for us in the news media. It is fascinating you could actually be asking the question in a White House press briefings, why don`t you fly the Confederate flag here at the White House? But there is always that challenge of what -- what are we moving out of the way in order to cover the latest Trump outrage? And do we cover it just because it`s the latest Trump outrage?

What -- what would your guidance be for how we navigate through this kind of situation in the final months of this presidential campaign especially?

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I mean, I think first that question had a high possibility of backfiring. If you raise the question of why the White House doesn`t fly the Confederate flag, you might well wake up the next day to find a Confederate flag flying over the White House. This is the kind of reality we`re in right now.

But I think the other part of it is, you know, of course, we`ve had this debate for going on four years now and people have never come to a satisfactory solution about how to approach it. Some people say, you completely ignore the tweets or the culture war stuff that is his own favorite subject. It is his native territory.

But you can`t entirely ignore that. People say you should ignore it and think about the policy things. You can`t entirely know it because we have seen during this presidency, Charlottesville, we have seen the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, we have seen the murder of people in the Walmart in El Paso. And these are people who take aid and comfort from these kinds of ideas that are at the root, at the cornerstone of the Confederacy.

And, so, you can`t entirely ignore that. But at the same time, pressing national security affairs. And so, the only thing we can resort to is to say we can do both. We have to be ambidextrous about this, dealing with the cultural stuff, and the social media stuff at the same time we`re dealing with the hard-nosed policy and political stuff.

O`DONNELL:  John Brennan, your reaction to this dilemma? I want to get into the specifics of the intelligence reports. But before we do, is there something -- do you see something, do you recognize something in the propaganda style of the Trump White House with other regimes you have studied over the years around the world where they want to get attention -- they want to get the people`s attention away from the most damaging possible story about that regime and so they try to create other such stories.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  Good evening, Lawrence. And you are absolutely right. I have seen, observed this type of behavior in authoritarian leaders around the world for many, many years. This is, you know, taken right out of the authoritarian`s play book, which is that you try to create a distraction from the challenges of problems you face on the domestic front.

Sometimes you point to other domestic issues or you point to external enemies. I think Donald Trump has had a history now over the last three and a half years of being, unfortunately, masterful as far as trying to distract attention from the issues and the problems, many of which that he has created or made worse. So, I think we have a track record right now that has demonstrated that Donald Trump not only is unable to address these issues but just focuses on what he can do, what other new shiny object he can throw in front of his base and the American public as a way to distract from those issues that really are challenging our safety, our security and these days our health.

O`DONNELL:  And let me -- let me go into some of the details that "The New York Times" has revealed about where this story stands as of now. The administration produced a memo. It hasn`t been made public, but "The New York Times" is reporting on that intelligence memo. I want to get your reaction to it, John Brennan.

So, "The New York Times" is reporting that a memo produced in recent days by the office of the nation`s top intelligence official acknowledged that the CIA and top counterterrorism officials have assessed that Russia appears to have offered bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan but emphasized uncertainties and gaps in evidence according to three officials. The memo said that the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center had assessed with medium confidence, meaning credibly sourced and plausible, but falling short of near certainty that a unit of the Russian military intelligence service known as the GRU offered the bounties according to two of the officials briefed on its contents.

John Brennan, what is your reading of what -- what can you glean from the public reports about this intelligence so far?

BRENNAN:  Well, first of all, I wonder why this memo was only written now in response to press reports, as opposed to being written several months ago when these reports first came in so they could be provided to the White House and senior officials. It seems this memo was cobbled together by the office of director of national intelligence a way to address the issue and also highlighting that there is some dissent within the community about the credibility of reporting.

Let me tell you, based on my 30 years of experience in working in intelligence security and national security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center are the premier, all-source analytic elements of the U.S. government that have the greatest capability and expertise to evaluate something like this. And if they say they have assessed with medium confidence, that is a pretty strong endorsement that this intelligence appears to be very credible.

That`s why it`s incumbent upon the White House and the National Security Council to do everything possible to mitigate the threat to our troops. And I think, again, it`s clear it`s in some respects strange we`re still debating the question about whether or not Donald Trump would do anything a normal president or even a normal person would do in these instances.

He does not take his job and responsibilities seriously, and unfortunately it is putting the lives of American women and men who serve in uniform at the country`s service at great risk.

O`DONNELL:  And, Professor Cobb, the president`s defense, their line of defense at the White House is the president doesn`t read, so if you put it in his daily brief, then that doesn`t count. That doesn`t mean he was notified about it.

John Bolton then tells some associates that he personally told Donald Trump this. John Bolton won`t confirm that now. He says it`s classified information. And this is yet -- it seems to be -- in its way, it`s all of a piece of the way the Trump administration works with everything.

It`s never like they`re trying to change the subject to a good story. It is always trying to change the subject away from what the worst story is on a given day.

COBB:  Sure. Or I think that the other term we left out of this conversation is lie. You know, there is the kind of outright version of it. So you either distract or you lie.

And, so, as you saw in the speech he gave over the weekend where he said that 99 percent of COVID cases are totally harmless, which is -- if that were the case, I think the hospitals in New York would understand why they were being overrun just a month or six weeks ago.

And so, I mean, I think that there`s -- the other portion of this as well is the idea that the president not reading something is an excuse for the behavior to be seen subsequently. And that`s just basic. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. If any of us showed up and said, you know, we had a work assignment and you said, well, frankly, I didn`t read any of this, we would be out of a job.

And so, that`s -- it`s confounding to me that that`s actually the explanation that the White House has floated.

O`DONNELL:  Professor Jelani Cobb and John Brennan, thank you both for starting our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

BRENNAN:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

When we come back, we are continuing to learn more about the coronavirus itself. There is new dimensions to it that are being reported that indicate the range of possible symptoms for the coronavirus could be much, much bigger than previously understood. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Today, Donald McNeil Jr., science and health reporter at "The New York Times", explained why the list of symptoms for coronavirus might be much bigger than we previously thought.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD MCNEIL JR., SCIENCE AND HEALTH REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  This gets into the body through the airway, through the lungs, but it really attached to the insides of the blood vessels. And so that makes it a vascular disease, a blood vessel disease. It means that virtually anybody who comes into a doctor`s office feeling sick might have the coronavirus. If they come in with symptoms a stroke, it might be COVID. If they come in with symptoms of a heart attack, it might be COVID. If they come in with what seems like arthritis in their feet, you know, it might be COVID.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That could obviously mean that the list of possible symptoms of coronavirus could include many, many more symptoms than previously recognized.

As of tonight, there are 2,938,752 confirmed cases of coronavirus in this country. And as of tonight, this country has suffered 131,197 deaths from coronavirus.

Today, the country`s average of new coronavirus cases per day over a seven day period reached a record high for the 28th consecutive day. Today, at least seven states reported their highest ever number of coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospitals are reaching capacity levels in some parts of Texas, Arizona, and Florida.

On Saturday, Florida set a state record for new coronavirus cases in a single day at 11,458. Yesterday, Florida reached more than 200,000 total cases of coronavirus reported. Today, the Florida education commissioner ordered all schools from kindergarten to 12th grade to reopen in the fall.

And Miami-Dade County announced that beginning on Wednesday, it would close gyms, short-term vacation rentals and restaurants except for take-out and delivery. Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci said this in an interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER:  The current state is really not good. We are still knee deep in the first wave of this. And I would say this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge or a resurgence of infections super imposed upon a baseline, Francis, that really never got down to where we wanted to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Dr. Irwin Redlener, founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University`s Earth Institute.

Dr. Redlener, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Let`s work backwards to what Dr. Fauci said. What was your reaction to the way Dr. Fauci described where we are?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY`S EARTH INSTITUTE:  Well, I`m in total accord of what he said, Lawrence, and including what he said last week, which was that we were soon going to be reaching 100,000 test confirmed cases a day, which means every ten days. And, of course, that`s only a percentage of the total number of cases. He was talking about the cases confirmed by testing. We could be testing ten times that actually in short order here. We`re still deep, deep in the middle of wave one, and we`re going to have a lot more to come, Lawrence, unfortunately.

O`DONNELL:  And I want to get your reaction to Donald Trump`s statement this weekend saying 99 percent of coronavirus cases are, quote, totally harmless.

REDLENER:  Another beyond absurd comment from somebody who should just stop talking about anything to do with this pandemic. He doesn`t know what he`s talking about. It is a tremendous amount of ignorance. I don`t know whether it`s ignorance or whatever it is, but a lot of misrepresentation of reality.

Every single researcher in this field and clinician understands that at least 15 percent of COVID cases will end up in a hospital being seriously ill and a certain percentage are not going to make it, the fatality rate will still be high. In fact, it`s worth noting, as my friend Michael (INAUDIBLE) has done many times, we fully should expect 50 percent to 70 percent of Americans actually getting infected.

Many will be having mild or limited symptoms, but, you know, even if you have 1 percent of a million, I mean of 160 million, which is 50 percent of the country, we`re talking about an enormous number of cases and a significant number of fatalities, which could reach 700,000 or 800,000 by the time we`re through with this, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  What`s your reaction to the state of Florida ordering all schools to open as scheduled at this stage in the rise of coronavirus cases in Florida?

REDLENER:  Sure. We should acknowledge that there is tremendous pressure to get schools open again for a lot of reasons. A lot of children, especially those that are living in poverty have to get those kids back in school. And the question is how are we going to do it? It can`t be business as usual.

We`re going to have to figure out how to keep the kids separated, how to make the classes smaller and how to make sure that teachers and all the staff are protected as much as possible. So there is no way to really sort of answer that generically without knowing a lot more about the details and what their plans are.

But every city in the country including New York City is going through the same machinations, to figure out what to do. New York City has 1.1 children in their program, 70 percent of which live with families at or near poverty. So, there is a lot of things to work out.

But parents who need to work, who cannot go to a job that has one week off and one week on because that`s the schedule of their kids in school, a lot of pressures and a lot of demands, and I don`t relish the policymakers that have to make the final decision.

But getting back to school is important, but how do we do it as safe as possible, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  And what benchmarks would school systems use if they do reopen for making the decision to close again if necessary?

REDLENER:  So this is -- yes, tough request being asked. And I think most people are agreeing now that let`s say this one case that pops up in a particular classroom, that may not be enough reason, Lawrence, to shut the whole school down. It maybe reason to take other precautions, to close that classroom, can test all the children, and the faculty and staff that are working with those kids.

So every school district is trying to figure this out. You know, it would be helpful if we had national guidance on how to open this. But like everything else, every state and district is left on their own with this president.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you for joining us again tonight. We really appreciate it.

And when we come back, "The New York Times" had to sue the Trump administration to find out just how badly coronavirus has hit African- Americans and Latinos in the United States. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

  LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: "The New York Times" had to sue the centers for disease control under the freedom of information act to obtain data on the demographic impact of the coronavirus, which allowed the times then to public its lead story on page one today. Having studied the data, "The New York Times" reports Latino and African-American residents of the United States have been three times as likely to become infected as their white neighbors. Black and Latino people have been nearly twice as likely to die from the virus as white people.

Of Latino people who died, more than a quarter were younger than 60 among white people who died only 6% were that young. Expert point the circumstances that have made Black and Latino people more likely than white people to be exposed to the virus. Many of them have front line jobs that keep them from working at home, rely on public transportation or live in cramped apartments or multigenerational homes.

Joining our discussion now is Julian Castro, the Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration. He is a Former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I want to get your reaction to this reporting in "The New York Times" today.

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Well, it`s a blockbuster report. Eye opening, I think, for a lot of people. It`s - what can you say? It is polling. It`s tragic. It`s infuriating. It is also, Lawrence, for folks who are still wondering why so many people are out there on the streets or have been out there over the last six weeks protesting inequality in this country, this is a perfect example of what people are talking about. We know that this is a result of so much inequality, systemic racism inequality in housing and health care and job opportunities in so many in walks of life that have led to these numbers. It literally is the difference between life and death in these communities.

On top of that, as you showed there, one of the biggest ironies here is that the community that have suffered the most have also been asked to do the most. They have been the ones going and working in the fields as farm workers, working at these meat packing plants that have outbreaks of coronavirus. They`re fast food workers who are working for low wages and bad benefits, grocery store workers. And so all around, it is a prime example of the inequities that continue to haunt this nation. And the important question now is what are we going to do about it? What are we going to do about it? Not just the public health aspect but beyond this time period, you know, in the next few weeks, what are we going to do about this?

O`DONNELL: I want to go to some of the facts that the times uncovered to specify just how difficult this is in these communities, especially the difficulty in working at home, which is next to impossible. And so across the country, 43% of Black and Latino workers are employed in service or production jobs that for the most part, cannot be done remotely. Census Data from 2018 shows only about 1 in 4 white workers held such jobs. And, so, there are the numbers, right there on the safest thing you can do, which is stay at home. That`s just not available to at least half of these workers.

CASTRO: That`s right. I mean, I mean that is a stunning statistics, but it relates to the plight of so many families out there disproportionately of Black and Latino they don`t have the option. They don`t have the option of staying home. They need to go to work if they`re going to get a paycheck. They work in these industries that actually require them to be on site. And that`s why I think that we need to do things like pass the heroes act, offer direct rental assistance to people so they can hold on to their housing. We need to do more in a robust way to provide a stronger safety net during this coronavirus time period and going forward. It is also, I think, a great demonstration of why we need universal healthcare. We need to ensure that we close that digital divide. We need to ensure that we raise the minimum wage and provide good benefits for people.

O`DONNELL: There is also a stunning report here in "The New York Times" coverage about the density of residential arrangements. It says Latino people are twice as likely to reside in a crowded dwelling less than 500 square feet per person as white people, according to the American housing survey. And so there is real numbers on that residential density problem.

CASTRO: Well, absolutely. You have in the Latino community, the Black community, a greater propensity to live in close quarters. A lot of folks live in multifamily apartment buildings, high rises. They live in duplexes, fourplexes. It is harder to isolate. It is harder to quarantine. It is harder to stay safe from this virus. Again, this is the intersection of race and of poverty, class inequality and racial inequality. And we see it playing out in the worst possible way where the outcome are folks who are passing away or, as many have noted, even if you don`t pass away from this virus, you know, being or dealing with an illness that may affect you permanently, also health care bills that are in the thousands or tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, this is crying for the kind of leadership that will address these long-standing issues. It is also sad that we have a president who is not even able to deal with the immediate issues, much less willing to deal with the longer term issues.

O`DONNELL: Julian Castro, thank you very much for joining our discussion again tonight. We really appreciate it.

CASTRO: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, Neal Katyal will join us. The Supreme Court ruled on something they almost never rule on, which is the Electoral College today. And might their opinion eventually be the undoing of the Electoral College? That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: It was a big weekend for Alexander Hamilton with Lin-Manuel Miranda "Hamilton" having its revival in our homes through the streaming services where it`s now available. And it was a big day for Alexander Hamilton at the Supreme Court today. Here is how Alexander Hamilton thought we should choose a president. A small number of persons selected by their fellow citizens from the general mass will be the most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up with the Electoral College. Today in a historic ruling, the United States Supreme Court in a unanimous decision ruled that the individual states can enforce their own laws about how that state`s electors vote for president. Joining our discussion now is Neal Katyal, he is the Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General, and he is an MSNBC Legal Contributor. Neal, please take us through the ruling and you can use as many "Hamilton" lyrics as you might want to "as you do".

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: That`s a very dangerous proposition.

O`DONNELL: I know. I know.

KATYAL: I think this seems like an arcane thing. You know what is a Faithless Elector? Just by the name, it sounds like something that Donald Trump would love. But really what this is about is the Supreme Court said today that a state can force some candidate and some individual who has been selected for the Electoral College by one party, they can force that person to vote for the candidate of that party. So if you are a Democrat in Colorado and you have been selected by the Democratic Party to vote for the candidate, you know, John Kerry, whomever, you can`t turn around and vote for Colin Powell. That`s what the state law in Colorado said, along with 32 other state laws.

And the Supreme Court today said those laws are a-okay. And they reasoned basically Lawrence that, yes, Hamilton talked about, beside of having a deliberative body and the like, but for practice for American has - it hasn`t worked out that way. There have been about 32,000 votes cast by members of the Electoral College since the founding for one presidential candidate or another, and only 180 of them have ever been Faithless, that is switched the vote from the party that had put them into office and indeed of those 180 one third of those were in a single election in 1872 where the candidate or has really managed to die after Election Day. So it made much more sense to have switched votes there.

So as a result, the bottom line is the Supreme Court today said states can bind electors to the electoral party that selected them to go to the Electoral College. And that avoided what otherwise would have been a disaster because, you know, sometimes you can have very close times in the Electoral College. Like in 2000, there were five electoral votes selected between bush and gore. And if you could just go and try to pick off individual electors after Election Day, that`s a recipe for chaos and particularly in the age of Donald Trump we don`t need more chaos.

O`DONNELL: So what does it mean to the movement among some of the states to try to in-effect or eliminate the effect of the Electoral College by joining a compact that says as California already has done, by the way, that says we will - our electors will be instructed in California to vote for the winner of the National Popular Vote. And that agreement will go into effect once they have enough states in that agreement that equals a winning number of electoral votes. Does this decision allow for that possibility?

KATYAL: I think it does. I mean, I think it`s a complicated decision and we`re going to have to study it, but I think both the majority and particularly the separate opinion by Justice Thomas and Gorsuch actually give a shot in the arm to those people that want to trying effectively undue the Electoral College by the scheme you have said. Because what they said, what the Supreme Court opinions say today is states have a lot of latitude in this way.

So they`re allowed to both bind electors but they also have the electors track the popular vote or other things that they may wish. There`s a lot of latitude for a states here and I think that`s really important because at the end of the day, Lawrence, the Electoral College has its roots in the protection of slave states, small states. It`s fundamentally anti- democratic. And, you know, this is I think the possibility you mention is one real possible upside of today`s decision.

O`DONNELL: Neal, how many times did you watch "Hamilton" this weekend?

KATYAL: I only watched it once, but since I have seen it about 20 times before. But you know interesting, Lawrence, the Supreme Court today Justice (inaudible) opinion actually mentions Hamilton, the play, in it. So Lin- Manuel Miranda had a quite a weekend.

O`DONNELL: He has - Lin-Manuel Miranda has gone farther with that than we ever dreamed possible and now he`s in a Supreme Court decision. That is really great. Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. And when we come back, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a very big victory today in court when a federal judge ordered the Dakota access pipeline to be shut down. The leader of the tribe who led that protest against the pipeline four years ago will join us next. And get tonight`s last word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today in a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a federal judge ordered the Dakota access pipeline to shut down and be emptied of oil within the next 30 days. The judge ruled that the army corps of engineers did not conduct the environmental studies that federal law requires prior to the construction of the pipeline. I visited the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in 2016 when the tribe was leading a protest against the pipeline that became the largest protest by Native American Tribes in American history.

In the final days of the Obama Administration, in December of 2016, the army corps of engineers decided to stop construction of the pipeline and consider alternative routes for a possible pipeline. The Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault joined us on this program the night that decision was announced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE ARCHAMBAULT, CHAIRMAN STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE: You know, it was an overwhelming feeling of relief because it feels like the first time in the history of this country that Native Americans have been heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And then after Donald Trump was inaugurated, the army corps of engineers was ordered to reverse their position and allow the construction of the pipeline to be completed. Today a Federal Judge ruled that that process by the Trump administration bypassed the necessary environmental studies and approvals for the construction of that pipeline.

And joining us now once again is Dave Archambault, the Former Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He`s joining us from his home on the reservation tonight. Dave, great to see you again, and I can never thank you enough for informing me and showing me around when I was out there during the protest. What is your reaction to the Federal Judge`s ruling that you`ve been fighting for so many years?

ARCHAMBAULT: Well, you know, I think it`s a step in the right direction. It`s something that we`ve been always putting in front of the judge, this argument that this pipeline isn`t safe and our people have a right, and we should be heard. The pipeline, when it was granted, violated federal law. We always knew that, and we`re just thankful that the judge is starting to see what we`ve been saying all along for the past four years. It feels good. Today`s a good day. I know it`s not over.

I know that the EIS process still has to take place, but it`s a step in the right direction where we get to hopefully be a part of the EIS process, the environmental impact statement process. Our tribe should be included in every step. Our technical team and our experts should be presenting our concerns all along the way. That`s what`s needed in the future. But for now, it is a good day to finally know that there is a real threat to our humanity, a real threat to our environment, and right now with the judge`s ruling, with the flow of the pipeline stopping and being empty, that threat will be gone temporarily. But we have to be included in the process to continue and express our concerns.

O`DONNELL: The judge`s order requires them to go through the full environmental impact studies that they failed to do before. It leaves open the possibility - the judge`s finding - that at the end of all of that, the army corps of engineers could issue an approval. But Joe Biden, if that would - if that does run its course, if that is legally allowed to run its course, and it is very likely that it would be next year after we may have a new president. And Joe Biden has said that he would support the tribe on this, and he would not allow this pipeline to reopen there. So this is one of those cases that in the end may be decided by the presidential election, as it was last time.

ARCHAMBAULT: Yes, and that`s - and that`s the one of the main reasons why it`s so important that indigenous peoples or peoples of this country get out and vote and express their concerns and why we need to have a voice. So it`s very important that we`re a part of this process.

O`DONNELL: And explain to our audience the route of this pipeline, which is when you`re out there and when you see it, it`s so extraordinary. It makes - you know, it makes a certain visual sense when you see it crossing the land. But it actually goes under the lake, this very large lake that your tribe has always lived with as both a sacred place and a very necessary place to daily life. It`s the pipeline under the lake that the judge was especially worried about.

ARCHAMBAULT: Yes. It`s a project with this magnitude, this size of a project, it doesn`t warrant just an environmental assessment, especially if there`s a population that has concern. And we`ve always had a concern, but it seemed like we never were heard. So when our youth stood up and started speaking out, saying that, you know, we have to think about the future of our nation, the leadership stepped forward, and I commend the leadership today for continuing this fight to make sure that a project of this size and a threat to our nation, not just the Standing Rock Nation but to the United States, goes through the proper legal processes and reviews. And that was our argument from the very beginning.

O`DONNELL: Dave Archambault, Former Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Thank you very much for joining us again tonight, Dave. And I will be forever grateful to the way you guided me through the experience of being out there when the protest was at its height. Really appreciate that. Dave Archambault gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, Dave.

ARCHAMBAULT: Thank You, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s last word. "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams".

 

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