George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 7/8/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Arne Duncan, Amish Shah, Ryan Goodman, Alice Frankston

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

And we have Alice Frankston joining us tonight. She is, at the moment, the next best thing to Mary Trump because he is a lifetime friend of Mary Trump`s and knows her very well and spoke to her. Spent a lot of time while Mary Trump was writing the book that was so featured on your show last night.

And, so, she`s going to tell us what she knows about how this book came about and what she knows about this relationship that Mary Trump has with not just her Uncle Donald but the rest of the family. And how is that going now?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Yeah. That`s fascinating. I`m so glad you`ve got her. We`re in this unusual situation where Mary Trump`s book is in the hands of journalists and coming out next week, but she herself is still like legally precluded about speaking about what she wrote the book about so you are going to get as close as anybody can get --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and Alice Frankston is authorized to speak for Mary Trump. This is not just a friend raising her hand and saying, hey, I know her. You know, I have something to say. This is -- this is a kind of carefully arranged way of doing this at this stage.

MADDOW:  This is exciting. This is -- I`m riveted already. Go, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  All right. Get home and watch. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  OK. I will. Bye.

O`DONNELL:  Well, Donald Trump has no power to open schools in America, none. Let me repeat that. Donald Trump has no power to open schools in America.

But he does have the power to read the president`s daily brief and study the intelligence reports in that brief about all of the threats to Americans and American soldiers that the intelligence community can find anywhere in the world.

Donald Trump`s niece has written a book which we will discuss later in this hour with a lifetime friend of hers, as I just mentioned, and in that book Donald Trump`s niece explains why the current president of the United States does not care enough about protecting American lives around the world, including American military lives or the lives of American school children. Mary Trump`s book says that Donald Trump`s father was a, quote, high functioning you sociopath and Trump is fundamentally incapable of acknowledging the suffering of others.

Donald Trump does not care. That is not news. But the ways in which Donald Trump does not care become clear whenever new matters of presidential concern emerge in the news that Donald Trump clearly does not care about.

There is no real dispute that Donald Trump did not care about the children that he was putting in cages in our southern border. Donald Trump wanted his voters to know that he was putting those kids in cages and absolutely did not care about those children and he wanted his voters to know that he felt that way because Donald Trump believes that that`s one of the very big reasons that those voters voted for him, that he does not care about anyone at our southern border.

Donald Trump doesn`t care about American soldiers who may face a greater threat in Afghanistan because Vladimir Putin is paying to have them killed. And Donald Trump doesn`t care about anyone currently enrolled in any public school in America. Donald Trump doesn`t know anyone who attends a public school or works in a public school.

From where he sits in any one of his homes, Donald Trump has no idea which direction to go to find a public school, but Donald Trump wants all public schools to go back to normal in the coming academic year starting in August, but not private schools. Not the rich kid private schools that his kids have gone to. Donald Trump is not pretending that he will tell private schools what to do, just public schools.

He threatened today in his typical empty threat way to cut funding for public schools that don`t open up and pretend that everything is okay in August and September. That will never happen. Donald Trump will not cut one penny of funding for schools because of how they deal with the coronavirus. I want every school in America to open and get back to normal, as soon as it is safe.

Donald Trump wants every school in America to open and get back to normal, period. He doesn`t care if it`s safe. And by now Donald Trump knows if that happened this August, millions of people would get sick very quickly, students, teachers, parents and anyone who lives near a student or teacher or parent, which means everyone in America would be no more than one or two degrees of separation from a coronavirus infection.

Donald Trump knows people will die if that happens. It`s not going to happen. But if it did happen, people would die. Students would die. Children would die. Teachers would die. He knows that.

Donald Trump knows that he`s in the middle of a big bluff right now about being the pro-schools president. This is the new Republican game of the week. And the Republican governor of Florida is playing it exactly the way you`d expect Republicans to play this game. They are just lying about this.

News reports indicated that Florida`s governor and the state education commissioner have ordered, ordered all Florida schools to open. That`s the headline that ran yesterday. But the fine print in that order shows that it is not an order. It is a hope. It is a sort of suggestion, at best, because at the bottom of page two of the so-called order from the state -- of Florida`s Department of Education, it says, quote, the day-to-day decision to open or close a school must always rest locally with the board or executive most closely associated with a school.

This Republican order is nothing. It orders nothing. Donald Trump`s campaign to corrupt the Centers for Disease Control continues. He says he doesn`t like the guidelines that they have issued for reopening schools.

Here`s what Donald Trump doesn`t like, promoting social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, having children bring their own meals, discouraging sharing of items and disinfecting surfaces often. Donald Trump doesn`t like that.

So the Mike Pence White House team is going to come up with an even softer set of guidelines for opening schools, which everyone will ignore because, as NBC`s Geoff Bennett exposed today, Mike Pence and Donald Trump have no plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS:  Articulated the problem and areas of risk that students face if they stay out of school come the fall. But what`s the plan? What is the administration`s plan in terms of testing, contact tracing, increased PPE that`s needed to support these schools? As you well know, schools weren`t built for students to socially distance.

They were built to pack in as many kids as humanly possible, which is one of the reasons why school districts like Fairfax, Virginia, the school district in New York, Texas, they have moved to this hybrid approach, some virtual learning, some in person learning.

So what`s -- what`s the plan? And then I have a question for Dr. Birx about kids and COVID, if I may.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, the plan is committed to do what we have done from the very beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The Pence gibberish that followed that is not worth your time. There is no plan. There is only the pose of the Republican tough guys who aren`t afraid of a virus who want to open the schools.

And then there are the questions that you only get to ask in the Trump White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Kayleigh, is it safe to send people back to school? Is it safe to send Manafort back to prison?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONELL:  Is it safe to send Manafort back to prison? Donald Trump`s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released from prison because of the threat of coronavirus.

Donald Trump issued a tweet today saying that, of course, American schools can reopen because schools have reopened in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, countries whose example Donald Trump doesn`t usually follow.

Yesterday, the United States reported a record high of 54,130 new cases of coronavirus. Denmark had 10. Norway had 11. Sweden had 283. Germany had 397.

And as of tonight, the United States has reported a new record high of 58,238 cases. That means that as of tonight there have been 3,058,250 confirmed cases of coronavirus in this country and that as of tonight this country has suffered 132,873 deaths from coronavirus.

Lily Garcia knows more about public schools than anyone named Trump ever has or ever will.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION:  We see what happens when they let bars open prematurely and you saw those young adults in there in that nice life little bar and they went home and they infected everybody around them.

This isn`t a bar. We`re talking about second graders. I had 39 sixth graders one year in my class. I double dog dare Donald Trump to sit in a class of 39 sixth graders and breathe that air without any preparation for how we`re going to bring our kids back safely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight, Arne Duncan, the former secretary of education during the Obama administration and Dr. Amish Shah, an emergency room physician in Phoenix, Arizona.

And, Arne Duncan, I`d like to begin with you. The idea that the president of the United States can, first of all, somehow order or -- people to go back into schools or then also somehow penalize schools financially if people don`t go back to school the way Donald Trump wants them to, what is your reaction to all of that?

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION:  Well, he`s a liar. And that`s not news, but he`s bluffing and he has no power here. So let me just make a couple things very, very clear. T

he president of the United States doesn`t fund public education. That`s what Congress does. He has no ability to order schools to go back. We all desperately want our children to go back to school, but it has to be safe to do so, because this administration has done such a terrible job of keeping our kids and our community safe, that`s an open question right now.

I desperately want our kids to go back in July, this month, to catch up to what they lost academically and socially during March and April and May and June, but because our country did not follow what scientists tell us to do because Donald Trump wouldn`t, you know, push wearing masks and physically distancing, our kids have lost that opportunity.

So what happens this fall is up to us as citizens in July to try to make our community as safe as possible in August to give our children a chance to go back to physical schools.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Shah, you are also a member of the House of Representatives in Arizona, Arizona`s House of Representatives. So I want to ask you, first of all, from your governing position, what do you see as the school`s situation just in your state just in Arizona and what do you anticipate happening with schools?

DR. AMISH SHAN, ER DOCTOR, PHOENIX:  It`s a topic of great concern for us. Arizona has had some issues with education funding over the years. We have had the dubious honor of being nearly last in the amount of funding we provide for pupil. We have had high number of kids per classroom, and that was all before the coronavirus.

So being able to successfully open schools at the date that we were supposed to, is actually July 17th was supposed to be one of the days when we start to open. That`s not going to happen. The governor pushed us forward to August 17. But I just can`t see how that`s going to happen, being such a hot spot as we are, so I`m anticipating a delay there.

O`DONNELL:  Arne Duncan, what would you recommend to schools and school districts around the country since they`re going to get nothing like the kind of flow of advice they would be getting from any other administration, Democrat or Republican, prior to the Trump administration. They will be hearing nonsense from the president every day.

The CDC has been corrupted in what they can say publically about this. So schools out there who don`t have the resources to make their own scientific evaluation of what`s going on, what advice would you give them about how to approach this?

DUNCAN:  Well, actually, it happened today. Dr. Tom Frieden, who ran the CDC, along with (INAUDIBLE) my predecessor, a Republican who worked with President Bush, we put out our own guidelines today for school districts to follow.

And what we see across the country, no one is paying attention to Donald Trump. He`s actually irrelevant to this conversation. He lost his credibility months and months ago.

You have superintendents across the country talking to each other, helping each other, thinking this thing through, most districts will end up in a hybrid type situation where some students will be in school some of the time. All students will be doing some virtual learning. And people are going to problem-solve this at the local level.

And their leadership, their compassion, their empathy, their concern for students, for parents, for staff, for teachers, for custodians, for cafeteria workers, for folks that drive the school busses, their leadership has been remarkable and so I`m proud of what they`re doing to problem-solve this unprecedented and honestly really dark times.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Shah, what about the situation in Arizona? Tonight, Joe Biden talked about it today, about people waiting in line for hours to get tested in Arizona as the numbers skyrocket as you approach maximum capacity of your hospitals. What is the situation there tonight?

SHAH:  Continues to be rough for us here. You know, I work in the emergency department, and what we`re seeing is that, you know, I mean, my own practice one out of two or one out of three people I see have COVID or COVID-like symptoms. You know, we`re seeing -- that`s a marked uptick up there. Very high per capita numbers, as between the highest in the world is what we`ve been hearing. Very high positivity rates on the tests we`re getting back.

And the testing has also been so delayed. I mean, we can`t seem to get these test results out because the companies are struggling, so we`re looking sometimes at a 7 to almost 10 day delay in getting the results back. So it`s been hard. ICUs again are at 90 percent capacity. So, still we`re in a very tough spot, and in the middle of a real uptick in our cases.

O`DONNELL:  And Arne Duncan, the strain on testing, once again we`re having a strain on medical supplies nationally, how does that interact with the decision about opening schools because you would want schools to open within an environment where, if there was a sudden need for a rush for extra medical services, that that would be possible.

DUNCAN:  Yeah. It`s exactly right. There is actually worse than that. You need access to lots of tests. You need to get those results back rapidly. You have to be willing to contact trace. If there is someone that is positive, figure out who they have been in contact with. You have to be willing to quarantine.

None of those things have been in place at the national level. If there is any true concern for kids or for education or for parents or teachers, the administration would be talking about increasing funding for public education now because of all the increased costs associated with dealing with this pandemic, rather than bluffing and threatening to take away funding, which, as you said, is not going to happen.

There is unfortunately no bottom with these guys. There`s no bottom.

O`DONNELL:  Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, thank you very much for joining us. And, Dr. Amish Shah, thank you also for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.

SHAH:  Thank you.

DUNCAN:  Thank you for having us.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, Donald Trump`s refusal to respond in any way to intelligence reports that Russia is paying bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan. Tonight, we have new reporting on what led to that situation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Today, Joe Biden said this about Donald Trump`s failure to do anything about intelligence reports that Russia has been paying bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIONAL PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  We`ve learned overwhelmingly that he is out there not doing a damn thing about the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that Putin has gone and he`s paying significant bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. If my son were still alive after having spent a year in Iraq, I don`t know what the hell I would do, how all those parents feel, all you who serve feel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Today, Ryan Goodman at Just Security delivered stunning reporting about Donald Trump directing the CIA to share intelligence with the Russian government after Donald Trump had been briefed that Vladimir Putin was supplying arms to the Taliban.

Joining our discussion now is Ryan Goodman. He is the founding co-editor in chief of Just Security and is a professor of law at New York University.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Take us through this reporting and how it leads to the story that we have been covering for over a week now.

RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JUST SECURITY:  So the question I had was, why would Putin think that he could get away with paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers? The answer I found is because, in large part, he was doing something beforehand, which is providing weapons to the Taliban and the Pentagon was up in arms about this, raising it publically, having to go out and do media interviews and the like to say that Russia should stop giving weapons to the Taliban of all people because it was threatening NATO.

And what did President Trump do? But he sent Putin over a direct signal. He did nothing. He said nothing.

And I have, you know, former Defense Department officials saying on the record that that undercut any effort for the Defense Department to try to raise this issue or the State Department or anybody else. And on the contrary, what Donald Trump did during that period is push the CIA to give intelligence to the Kremlin for counterterrorism operations. This is the same Kremlin that is military arming the terrorist organization, the Taliban.

O`DONNELL:  Well, you know, this goes to a point that Nancy Pelosi raised when this story was breaking and it was quite striking to me because he was -- she was wondering about, you know, why -- because the White House story was, you know, no one told Donald Trump, no one told Donald Trump. John Bolton has told people that he himself did tell Donald Trump but John Bolton won`t confirm that publicly because he says it`s classified.

But Nancy Pelosi at that time said this: were they afraid to approach him on the subject of Russia? And were they concerned that if they did tell him, that he would tell Putin?

And that, to me, is the most important way to look at this question. It`s one of the possibilities.

GOODMAN:  I think the question has to be raised that if, in fact, they did alert Trump, he would just share the intelligence information. That`s what he was already instructing the CIA to do as a matter of policy, despite the analysts saying that if we do this we get nothing in return, so why would we do this? But it was, in fact, the effort by the White House and by President Trump himself to do it, to send it directly, to share information with the Russians.

So I think the idea that the speaker is raising, it`s almost like two plus two equals four. I would imagine the intelligence community would be deeply concerned what Donald Trump would do with this type of information.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah. And, you know, there was all sorts of theorizing of, oh, you know, in the office they never want to bring anything about Russia, that`s negative about Russia to Donald Trump because he doesn`t want to hear it and it`s from that angle of, oh, the boss doesn`t want to hear it, which is one level of dereliction of duty.

This version of it, if we bring it to him, he will tell Vladimir Putin, is the version where if the dynamic is the same as having a Russian agent working in the White House.

GOODMAN:  Well, the concern is that he has a track record. The president did, in fact, invite the foreign minister of Russia and their Russian ambassador into the Oval Office and by all reports gave them highly classified information that compromised a U.S. ally.

So it`s not as though he hasn`t actually done it. And I think that`s, therefore, a real risk. And why is he not raising issues that are threatening the lives of American forces on the ground or rather chumming it up with Putin? And remember when he returned from the first meeting with Putin, he said, oh, we`re going to set up a joint cyber defense operation with Vladimir Putin for cyber security. It shows you the mentality of it.

It is difficult to know why he is so beholden to Putin, but those are dots that connect up.

O`DONNELL:  Ryan Goodman, thank you for sharing your reporting and analysis with us. Thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight.

GOODMAN:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

And when we come back, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier recorded the video of George Floyd being killed on the street in Minneapolis by police. It is thanks to Darnella Frazier`s brave holding of that camera for every minute that she held it that we know the story now of what happened to George Floyd. Today, we got the transcripts of the police body cam video. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: 17-year old Darnella Frazier recorded the last minutes of George Floyd`s life on a video that led to the arrest of the four police officers who are now charged with the murder of George Floyd.

We now know that George Floyd said, I can`t breathe more than 20 times as he struggles for air under a police knee in the last minutes of his life. That new count of how many times he said I can`t breathe comes from the transcripts of the police body cameras of two of the police officers who were holding George Floyd down, Officer Thomas Lane and Officer Alexander Keung.

These transcripts were made public in court filings today in Minneapolis. We do not have the transcript of the body cam of Officer Derek Chauvin who kept his knee on George Floyd`s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

That knee was on George Floyd`s neck long after all of the witnesses present could tell that George Floyd had stopped breathing. The very first thing George Floyd says in the transcript of officer Lane`s body camera recording is, "Hey man, I`m sorry." The next thing George Floyd says is, "I`m sorry. I`m sorry." George Floyd`s language is always polite.

The transcript is filled with George Floyd saying sorry and please. The police officers` language begins very aggressively with those lines that they all learned in cop movies. Officer Lane, "put your f-ing hands up right now. Keep your f-ing hands on the wheel. George - George Floyd says, "Yes Sir. I`m sorry, officer."

George Floyd continues to apologize, "I`m sorry, I`m so sorry. God dang man. Man, I got - I got shot the same way, Mr. Officer before. I am so sorry Mr. Officer. Dang man. Last time I got shot like that Mr. Officer, it was the same thing."

It`s not completely clear if George Floyd was saying he had once been shot by a police officer or if he possibly had been shot by someone else when he was approached while sitting in a car.

George Floyd says, "Please don`t shoot me Mr. Officer. Please don`t shoot me, man. Please, can you not shoot me man. I`m sorry Mr. Officer. I`ll get on my knees whatever.

And Officer Keung says, "You acting a little erratic." George Floyd says, "I`m scared man." George Floyd says, "I`ll do anything. I`ll do anything. You all tell me - anything you all tell me to do. I`m not resisting man. I`m not. I`m not. Mr. Officer. Mr. Officer. I`m not that kind of guy. Please, I`m not that kind of guy, Mr. Officer, please. I won`t do nothing to hurt you, Mr. Officer."

George Floyd was afraid of getting in the police car and the transcript seems to reveal why. George Floyd. "You all. I`m going to die in here. I`m going to die man.

Officer Keung: You need to take a seat right now. George Floyd: I just had Covid-19, man. I don`t want to go back to that. George Floyd`s autopsy showed that he had Covid-19, six weeks before he was killed. He seemed to be afraid that going in a police car and being taken to a jail would give the coronavirus another chance to kill him.

George Floyd says, "I`m not trying to win. I`ll get on the ground, anything. I`m not a bad guy man. Officer Laine says, "Get him on the ground." George Floyd says, "Let go of me, man. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. Please man. Please listen to me. Please listen to me.

Officer Thao, "Just lay him on the ground." George Floyd, "I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe." Officer Lane, "Jesus Christ." George Floyd: I can`t breathe. Officer Lane: Thank you. George Floyd: I can`t breathe. Officer Keung: Stop moving. George Floyd: Mama, mama, mama, mama. Officer Keung: (inaudible)

George Floyd: Mama, mama, mama. Mama, mama, mama. Officer Chauvin: You`re under arrest guy. George Floyd: All right, all right. Oh my God, I can`t believe this. I can`t believe this officer. Officer Chauvin; S you`re going to jail. Officer Lane: Affirm. George Floyd: I can`t believe this man. Mom, I love you. I love you. Office Lane: (inaudible) George Floyd: Tell my kids I love them. I`m dead. George Floyd: I can`t breathe or nothing man. This cold-blooded man. Ah. He then screams. Officer Chauvin says, "You`re doing a lot of talking, man."

George Floyd: Mama, I love you. I can`t do nothing. Officer Keung: EMS is on their way. George Floyd: My face is gone. I can`t breathe man. Please, please, let me stand. Please man, I can`t breathe. George Floyd: My face is getting it bad. Officer Lane: Here should we get his legs up or is this good? Officer Chauvin: Leave him.

Officer Keung: Just leave him. Yep. Officer Chauvin: Just leave him. George Floyd: Please man. Officer Thao: Relax. George Floyd: I can`t breathe, my face, I can`t breathe. Please. I can`t breathe. George Floyd: My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts. I need some water or something. Please, please. I can`t breathe, officer.

Officer Chauvin: Then stop talking. Stop yelling. George Floyd: You`re gonna kill me, man. Officer Chauvin: Then stop talking. Stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk. George Floyd: Come on man. Oh, oh, I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe. Ah, they`ll kill me. They`ll kill me. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. Oh.

And then George Floyd says: Ah. Please. Please. Please. And he never spoke again. The last word that George Floyd said was please. As George Floyd remained motionless and apparently not breathing, spectators who had been yelling at the police officers for several minutes to stop what they were doing to George Floyd, started to yell even more.

And one spectator who could see how dangerous the police treatment to George Floyd was kept yelling at them to check George Floyd`s pulse. He kept telling the police officers that George Floyd was not resisting and that he was no longer responsive.

And with George Floyd motionless and silent for almost two minutes, that spectator then yelled at Officer Chauvin who still had his knee on George Floyd neck and that spectator said, "He`s not even breathing right now bro. You think that`s cool. You think that`s cool, right?"

Officer Chauvin then checked what the other police officers were doing. Officer Chauvin: You guys alright though? Officer Lane: Yes, I mean my knee might be a little scratched but I`ll survive." We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump doesn`t care. That is something he demonstrates day in and day out. That`s what he demonstrates when he tries to cheer lead schools into reopening and endangering the children in those schools and the teachers in those schools and the families of everyone associated with those schools and the neighbors of everyone who lives near those families.

But it didn`t begin with schools. The Trump administration systematically separated at least 5,400 migrant children from their families. Tonight, we do not know and Donald Trump does not know exactly how many of those migrant children that he separated have never been reunited with their families despite the diligent efforts of reporters like MSNBC`s correspondent Jacob Soboroff.

Two years ago, Jacob Soboroff reported live on this program hours after being among the first group of reporters allowed inside a facility in Brownsville, Texas used by the federal government to incarcerate immigrant children who were separated from their parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It`s essentially a prison or a jail without cages or cells for these young boys. There`s a mural of you know of anybody that they could possibly pick. Donald Trump, right in that cafeteria. It`s the first thing you see when you go in there and essentially what it says is if you don`t always win the battle but you can win the war.

It`s just a striking thing to think about that an increasing number of these kids are being ripped apart from their parents and brought into a facility like this, sleeping in a former Walmart because of a Donald Trump policy and - and there`s Donald Trump up on the wall for them to see every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Jacob Soboroff who`s now the author of the new book, `Separated: Inside an American tragedy.` Jacob, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

The book is as stunning as your reporting has been on this. It is sometimes difficult to hold it in my hands as I read some of these passages and continue to think about these separations, where there might never be reunification with parents.

SOBOROFF: You know Lawrence, thank you for saying that first of all but - but that`s why I wrote this book. You know, how did we get here and I saw myself. I saw with my own eyes I`ll never forget what I saw nor will I think you, nor will the people in our audience who so passionately protested this policy and people throughout the country.

But there was so much more that I didn`t know at the time and particularly, how could the United States government torture in the words of physicians for human rights 5400 kids and rip them away from their parents and that`s why I want to write this.

O`DONNELL: Jacob, I went down to the border exactly once during this story. You basically were living there. There`s so much more that you get by being able to work with sources every day. What are the things that even now you feel never quite got through in the way we`re trying to deliver this - we`ve been trying to deliver this story and still trying to deliver this story.

SOBOROFF: Well, your point is such a good one, Lawrence and that is I met so many people at the time that proved very valuable in learning more about what happened to the policy after the fact.

And one example that I`ll give you that I haven`t talked about, that`s in the book and that`s never before been previously reported is that Kirstjen Nielsen who said that you know, she - there was no separation policy. She denied it existed time and time again, despite signing it into existence, was faced with a peculiar situation after the policy supposedly ended.

On March 3, 2019 President Trump was flying with her on the way to serve a tornado damage in Alabama. The President by the way, was really on his way to Mar-a-Lago for a weekend there but they stopped over on the way and the border marine One as they flew over the devastation on their way to people, who had basically been excited the president was coming after people had died in this community.

The president looked over at Kirstjen Nielsen and said to her we have to reinstitute that, speaking of family separation. That`s what President Trump was thinking about and interjecting, stopping this conversation was not Nielsen, it was not Trump, it was not Ben Carson who was aboard Marine One with them but it was Melania Trump who affectedly said, no, no.

And I write specifically in the book about what this conversation was like and President Trump stopped there and said, we`ll see, we`ll see. But the bottom line is the President of United States on multiple occasions wanted to restart this policy and one of the times he was thinking about doing it was on his way to meet with, to console, to comfort and you`re looking at the trip right, victims of a tornado damage.

O`DONNELL: Jacob, when you first started reporting on this and especially the separation of children at the border, that was a kind of a new moral low for Donald Trump publicly. It`s not something we could have said with certainty, months ahead of time that oh yes, when - when faced with this choice, he will absolutely rip families apart at the border.

But then we saw that and it - and it seems like all of his exhibitions have been humanity that have followed that have all been in effect highly predictable, not surprising because once we saw him do this, it kind of gave us a sense of what he was capable of.

SOBOROFF: I see a pattern, pattern that`s emerged in the coronavirus epidemic, particularly and specifically some of the very same people that were involved in the family separation drama including Katie Miller, the now Communications Director for the Vice President of the United States.

But then the Chief spokesperson on this issue for the Department of Homeland Security, people within the Department of Health and Human Services as well. They were part of the botched effort to reunite separated families. I always said there was never a plan. The truth is there was a plan to reunite families. There were people who tried to do it and they were prevented by the Trump administration and it`s almost like you could tell that exact same story about preparations for and the failure to contain the coronavirus and it`s all right there in the book.

O`DONNELL: Jacob Soboroff, thank you very much for joining us. The book is `Separated: Inside an American tragedy.` I`m trying to get it in the frame there. Jacob, it is just an honor to work with you here and help deliver your reporting in every way that we can. Thank you very much Jacob.

SOBOROFF: Thank you my friend. Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you and when we come back Mary Trump is currently prohibited from speaking up by a judge`s order and so one of her best friends, lifetime friend is going to join us Mary Trump knows this. Mary Trump has authorized her friend to speak in effect for her at this point. Mary Trump will probably be watching what you`ll be watching, next.

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O`DONNELL: In her new book about her uncle, Donald, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist writes, "Donald Trump today is much as he was at 3-years old, incapable of growing, learning or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information. This is far beyond the garden-variety narcissism. Donald is not simply weak.

His ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down he is nothing of what he claims to be. He knows, he has never been loved. Mary Trump is currently under a court order not to speak publicly about her book but her lifetime friend and confidante Alice Frankston has for now been authorized by Mary Trump in effect to speak for her.

And joining us now is Mary Trump`s friend, Alice Frankston. Alice, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. When did you first discover that Mary Trump was writing a book?

ALICE FRANKSTON, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF MARY TRUMP: Years ago, we had spoken about it and it was kind of a stop and start process and then a little more than two years ago, she really started going gung-ho for it.

O`DONNELL: And did she tell you when she decided to cooperate with the New York Times and supply some old tax returns, Trump tax returns to the Times?

FRANKSTON: Yes. Yes. She told me when she first was approached by a reporter Susanne Craig at her door and then through the process of what she was doing to go, secure the documents and I thought well, that`s quite a caper and she has a lot of courage to do what she did but she wanted to do the right thing.

O`DONNELL: And were you were you present while she was writing some of this book.

FRANKSTON: Well, I`m in Los Angeles but she did come out and spend quite a few weeks with me and we would sit down and go over things. She would write all day and then I`d look at things in the evening and run through things with her. It`s been a process but really interesting one.

O`DONNELL: And when - when you read the book, since you`ve known her for so long and you surely have been hearing some things about her family for a long time, how much of this was new to you?

FRANKSTON: The only thing that was really new was, it was new to her as well, the things that she discovered through those documents. Other than that you know, I`ve been hearing stories about her family for years and especially since late 2015 you know, when the campaign started.

Then you know conversation had an uptick regarding her uncle at least.

O`DONNELL: So was it sort of common family knowledge that Donald Trump paid Joe Shapiro to take his SATs for him.

FRANKSTON: It`s her account from speaking with her family and other sources that - that her uncle paid somebody to do his SATs. Yes, there`s other little anecdotes in the book as well.

O`DONNELL: And what is she - how does she feel now with the way the book has been received at this stage and she sees what it`s done, she sees what her uncle has said about it?

FRANKSTON: She`s thrilled to bits, actually it would really be great if she could come and speak for herself but she`s been silenced which is unprecedented and just crazy. She`s very pleased. She`s received a tremendous amount of support and sales obviously been hugely successful.

And as far as what anybody says out of the White House, she takes it with a grain of salt because you consider the source.

O`DONNELL: If the court allows it, do you - do you expect Mary Trump to take her place publicly and get out and start speaking about this book?

FRANKSTON: Absolutely. She`s been waiting to have a voice for many years now and it`s - it`s just cruel at this point that the book is out there and - and it`s me, not her but it will soon enough. I`m confident.

O`DONNELL: And how much of her family now is in effect lost to her because of this?

FRANKSTON: That`s I guess to be determined. Probably a lot but this is you know, she felt that she had an obligation and a duty to tell the truth and to tell her story, to let people know what we`re dealing with.

O`DONNELL: Alice Frankston, thank you very for joining us tonight. And please thank Mary Trump for telling this story, for having the bravery to write this book. And we appreciate her allowing you to come and speak with us tonight.

FRANKSTON: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. That is tonight`s Last Word, the 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

 

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