Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado is interviewed. GOP senators defend lack of action on gun control crisis. There are now more than 400 defendants criminally charged in attack on the Capitol on January 6th, and prosecutors continue to study possible elements of conspiracy. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is interviewed. Today, President Biden held a meeting at the White House on a problem that has vexed every president since 1912 when the current 2,000 mile southern border of the United States of America was established. Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who lost her 17- year-old son to a racist with a gun, has sponsored the gun safety legislation that Chuck Schumer will soon be bringing to the Senate floor.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And it was great to see Boston`s new Mayor, Kim Janey, on your show. It`s a real changing of the guard there.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Uh-huh. Seriously, I thought about you today when I was reading all these stuff of modern Boston history. It is a remarkable change.
I mean, there has been other mayors who got the job as an acting mayor because the person at the top job moved onto some other post. That`s how Tom Menino got the job before him, and he went on to serve like 20 years.
It will be interesting to see if Kim Janey decides she`s going to run for the job full stop if it comes up in November. But at least between now and November, she`s the first ever mayor in Boston who`s not a white man.
O`DONNELL: I was waiting for my big announcement on your show tonight, Rachel.
MADDOW: Yeah, it wasn`t going to happen. I could spend a lot time chasing that, it wouldn`t happen.
O`DONNELL: So, there are -- there is about five major candidates announced already, all of them minority. I think two or three, at least two women, one black woman, Andrea Campbell, already in the race. So, it`s already a pretty active race. We`ll be watching it.
MADDOW: Indeed. Pretty fascinating. Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
Well, Brian Sicknick did not look like his life was endangered before he was attacked. "The New York Times" has released new video and photographs that show some of what happened to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick that day. Just after 2:00 p.m. Brian Sicknick was holding his position in the police line on the west side of the Capitol. The police already lost control of the vast lawn on that side of the Capitol and retreated to a line at the foot of the building which actually seemed more manageable, seemed like they had more advantages there.
And it seemed at that point, right there, in that shot you are seeing as though that line might hold. Brian Sicknick is not actually having to do anything at that moment to hold that line. Those little light barriers or doing the job well enough.
The first image we see there of Brian Sicknick, the police still seemed to be control of the situation. They were about ten minutes from completely losing control at that moment right there. But the police did not know that as they stood there.
It mostly looked like a police line that we have seen at countless protests around the country. I have seen some of those police lines up close over the years at all sorts of protests. Most of the time people on both sides of that police line are safe. Most of the time, people on both sides of the police line don`t want any contact with the people on the other side. Most of the time, but not all of the time.
For police officers who have been on duty at enough of those protests can at times feel routine. At that time, Brian Sicknick had no reason to think he was not protected with his bicycle helmet, his COVID mask and his police gear. He had no idea how bad it was going to get and that full riot gear with the helmet and complete face shield would have been the only possible hope for him to come out of this alive.
He didn`t know that his family members would soon be trying to remember the last time they said "I love you" to him.
Here is Brian Sicknick when he did not know any of those things and didn`t know what was going to happen.
At 2:09 p.m., Julian Khater and George Tanios are first captured on camera near Brian Sicknick`s police line. At 2:14 p.m., we heard Khater said to Tanios., give me that bear stuff.
Federal prosecutors have said that the two men were carrying from Frontiersman bear spray, which is much, much more powerful than pepperspray.
At 2:20 p.m., video shows Khater near the police line with Brian Sicknick standing behind the bike rack barrier with other police officers. And still, there`s no reason for Brian Sicknick to be anymore concerned about what he is seeing unfold in front of him. But three minutes later, the Trump mob continues to take control of those light bicycle rack barriers and Khater raises his arm in front of him and from that position where he was fully protected by the police by the rioters in front of him. He sprays Brian Sicknick and hitting him directly in the face.
We see Officer Sicknick instantly realizing he`s been hit with something, puts his hands to his face. Other images show Officer Sicknick tried to wash off his face with water.
In court, prosecutors showed body camera footage of the incident that they had not release that video to the public.
"The New York Times" says police body cam shows, quote, Khater raises his hands and discharging the chemical spray at the officers who stumbled back, cover their eyes and at times call out in pain.
Within five minutes, the police line collapse, officers retreat to the Capitol, and the mob completely gained control of the west side of the Capitol.
Later that day, Brian Sicknick texted his brother, saying he was pepper sprayed but he`s in good shape. That`s what he thought. Thought he was pepper-sprayed and he thought he was in good shape. But Brian Sicknick collapsed later night at his division office and was rushed to the hospital where he died at 9:30 p.m. the next night. The medical examiner`s report identifying cause of death has not yet been released.
One of the most consistent feelings for professional Republicans in Washington is that they never feel threatened by violence that happens to other people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): On January 6th, I didn`t. There was much more violence on the House side. There was no violence on the Senate side in terms of the chambers.
I knew those were the people that love this country that truly respect law enforcement and would never do anything to break a law. So I was not concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are getting similar response from Republicans from the mass murders last week in Atlanta and this week in Boulder, Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Every time there is a shooting we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders. What happens in this committee after every mass shooting as Democrats proposed taking away guns from law-abiding citizens because that`s their political objective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He is, of course, lying. The city of Boulder actually did pass a law that was then blocked by a local judge which would have prevented the mass murderer in Boulder from buying the weapon that he purchased six days before he murdered ten people at King Soopers supermarket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT OLDS, UNCLE OF RIKKI OLDS: She had dreams and ambitions. She was moving up the ladder at King Soopers. And now she can`t. She can`t do those things.
She didn`t get to experienced motherhood. She didn`t get to experience marriage. She was 25-years-old, she didn`t get to experience a lot of stuff that we get to experience in life.
REPORTER: Do you remember the last thing she said?
OLDS: See you Thursday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado. His district includes Boulder, served as a House impeachment manager in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
Congressman Neguse, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know this has been a difficult week for you and it continues to be that for you.
What is your reaction and what can you tell us about how the community of Boulder has responded to this tragedy?
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Thank you for having me, Lawrence. It has been a devastating week for Boulder for this community, from my community and certainly for the state and the country. We are in a process of healing and grieving and lifting up victims.
The ten people who tragically lost their lives and another mass shooting on Monday. You heard Mr. Olds described one of the victims that we`re learning so much about each of these treasured community members who led very special, impactful lives that people that they touched, the impact they had in Boulder County and across our state and beyond.
So, we are focused on them and doing what we can to help our community heal. Boulder is a strong community. It`s a resilient community. It`s a kind of community.
So, I have no doubt that we`ll come together to help each other during this incredibly important and tragic time.
O`DONNELL: We just saw a senator who engages and just about nothing other than political theater has absolutely no legislate accomplishments in his time of the Senate, none, accused you and the Democratic Party of engaging in political theater after this mass murder. What is your response to that?
NEGUSE: Yeah, I would say this, Lawrence. It is so disappointing and yet emblematic of the approach that the senator you mentioned and others have taken in years past when we had tragedy after tragedy happened in our country. And it`s clear to me, I think it`s clear to you, I think it`s clear to the vast majority of American people that we have a gun violence crisis in the United States.
And my constituents are tired of inaction. They`re tired of excuses. They want Congress to take steps necessary to protect our community so that people can feel safe in their grocery stores, in their schools, in movie theaters and in their communities.
So, I -- look, I heard some of the arguments and, of course, the clip that you just played. It`s confounding to me, that none of the arguments that Senator Cruz made were coherent, and in my view are cogent arguments. At the end of the day, empirical evidence shows that the bills that had been proposed thus far in Congress, like universal background checks, closing the Charleston loophole, and an assault weapon ban reinstating the ban as you know, that worked so effectively years ago, they would save lives. We should take those steps.
O`DONNELL: Gun legislation is one of the few areas of what we might call liberal progress that has occurred, say, beginning in the 1930s with Social Security and onward, where there had been reversals. I mean, Joe Biden was able to get through an assault weapon ban, assault weapons ban in 1994. We have gone backward in terms of that kind of progressive steps that we took in the 1990s and that the statistical evidence shows worked very well.
NEGUSE: You`re precisely right, Lawrence, and, of course, I know you as a student of history, having served and worked in the Senate. In 1994, there were nine Republicans who voted to assault weapons ban when then Senator Biden helped lead it. What`s happening the last two decades is hard for me to describe the feelings that so many of my constituents have as they look to a federal government that has time and time again failed them in taking these meaningful, reasonable steps that are supported by a broad portion of our population in the United States, and across the political spectrum.
So, there`s no excuse for us not to take action. Obviously, the entrenched interest of, fought tooth and nail against this, such efforts year after year, but I am hopeful that we`ll finally be able to make meaningful progress this year with President Biden leading the helm given the way of what he said yesterday at the press conference.
O`DONNELL: Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer has said the difference between the last few years on this issue and now is that we now have a Democratic majority leader of the Senate which means he`s in charge of the Senate calendar. He has promised to bring something to the Senate floor. It will face the challenge of current Senate rules and filibuster rules but he`s promising to bring certainly background checks at a minimum to the Senate floor.
NEGUSE: Which is an incredibly important step and I am appreciative of the fact that Leader Schumer has committed to doing that and that, finally, we`ll have a debate on the floor of the United States Senate about sensible gun violence reform legislation.
But I would also say, Lawrence, I know you`re going to have Senator Merkley in a few minutes, and I couldn`t agree with him more, it`s time to end the filibuster. At the end of the day, a relic like the filibuster should not preclude and prohibit and really stop us making meaningful progress on these issues and we know ultimately will save American lives.
O`DONNELL: Well, Senator Merkley is the leader of the anti-filibuster Democrats in the Senate, and he`s going to join us later in this hour.
Congressman Joe Neguse, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and I`m very sorry for what you and your -- the people in your district and Boulder are enduring this week.
NEGUSE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Up next, Andrew Weissmann will join us on what the new video that we just watched could mean in the prosecution of the two men who are charged in the assault on Officer Brian Sicknick. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: There are now more than 400 defendants criminally charged in attack on the Capitol on January 6th, and prosecutors continue to study possible elements of conspiracy. A new court filings reveals that defendant Kelly Meggs, the leader of the group that calls itself the Oath Keepers, was communicating with members of the so-called Proud Boys in the weeks leading up to the Capitol attack.
According to prosecutors, Kelly Meggs wrote in December, quote, I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, the Florida Three Percenters and Proud Boys, we have decided to work together and shut this -- stuff down.
In a separate message, Kelly Meggs said he was coming to Washington, D.C. on January 6 at Donald Trump`s invitation, saying, quote, he called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild.
In fact, Donald Trump put that in writing on December 19th, 2020. Donald Trump tweeted: Big protests in D.C. on January 6th, be there. Will be wild.
Joining us now, Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel, he was one of the lead prosecutors in the Mueller investigation. He is an NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst.
Andrew, what to make of this new video tells us about the kind of evidence that prosecutors have that would establish the actual assault on Officer Sicknick?
ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You don`t get better evidence than that, Lawrence. You know this is prosecutor`s dreams and a defense`s lawyer nightmare is having the defendant on video tape committing the crime. This is sensationally good proof. It is the kind of proof that when you are a defense lawyer, you have a serious talk with your client about pleading and/or cooperating with the government.
You know, it means it`s a very, very strong case. As you would expect, this is something with the police and a lots of people anticipated that there would be public protests and violence and there were a lot of people with iPhones capturing everything that`s going on. So, it`s not surprising that it makes -- you`re really handing the keys to a conviction to the government.
O`DONNELL: And to this information we`re getting in this charge today, the prosecutors are talking about the Oath Keepers talking to the Proud Boys and getting together and the specific use of Donald Trump`s actual word "wild" which he put in a tweet to them and inviting them and putting that all together, what -- how might that influence the prosecution of these cases?
WEISSMANN: So, I think there are two things. Let`s put Donald Trump aside for the moment. When you are looking at interesting evidence they are piecing together of these two gangs and how they are working together, what I see going on is building a so-called RICO case. RICO laws developed, it is routinely used by federal prosecutors to bring gang cases that is no longer limited to organized crime characters.
And so, here you really can see RICO case being built. Advantage of RICO -- longer sentences and you can really present to a jury the full scope of gang activity. You are not limited to just what happened on January 6th. You can talk about all the violence that these gangs participate in.
With respect to Donald Trump, it is important to know that it`s not sufficient that people in those two gangs thought that this is what Donald Trump wanted. That is evidence that could be used against Donald Trump but it is not sufficient because Donald Trump could say you misunderstood, you misinterpreted what I said, I didn`t think you will engage in violence, I didn`t promote violence.
You and I may think that`s not the case but it would not be enough just to point to what people interpreted his words to mean.
O`DONNELL: Joe Biden and the Merrick Garland Justice Department have finally decided on a new U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. This choice as you know made by the senior Democratic senator in New York, Chuck Schumer. Senator Moynihan used to make the choices when he was senior senator. And Chuck Schumer has chosen Damien Williams, he will be the first black U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. We did have Zachary Carter in the Eastern District before.
But this is a very important job, considering the most important prosecutorial in the country.
What does it mean for Donald Trump`s future to be on the way to confirm a U.S. attorney chosen by Joe Biden?
WEISSMANN: So, I actually think that the relevance of this is you have not just in the Southern District but in the Eastern District and in the Western District of New York, three districts, the nominees are all African-American men and women which falls into the category of it is about time. And by reputation, these are all three excellent choices.
In terms of what it means for Donald Trump, I think it is important to remember that the current U.S. attorney in the Southern District is also a wonderful career person. So in terms of the cases there, whether they`re overseen by Audrey Strauss, the current U.S. attorney in the southern district, or by the in coming nominee, I think that district is going to continue to do excellent work and be independent.
And the same thing I think will be true in the Eastern District and the Western District. These are all a good sign for President Biden.
O`DONNELL: On Justice Department protocol, I know nothing about this. Would there be a consideration that if we are going to indict a former president of the United States in what was the Michael Cohen case where he was individual one, unindicted co-conspirator, would they think it`s better to wait for the new U.S. attorney to be fully confirmed by the Senate in place to do that? Would that be a factor in thinking about how to proceed with such a case?
WEISSMANN: I don`t think so. I think that this is something that the attorney general is certainly going to weigh in on if there were to be such a case and that`s a big "if." That`s something would go to for Main Justice for approval by the attorney general. And I think that, by all accounts, Merrick Garland is going to say we bring that case when it is ready whether it is Audrey Strauss or the incoming person. That shouldn`t have an effect on the timing.
O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. Always appreciate it.
WEISSMANN: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, a senator that needs no more introduction than this. He is the leader of the anti-filibuster senators. Jeff Merkley joins us next.
O`DONNELL: As majority leader, Chuck Schumer never -- well, almost never attends committee hearings but he did today to support a voting rights bill that has been passed by the House and will be brought -- he will bring to the Senate floor very soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The most reprehensible effort off all might be found in Georgia where Republicans recently passed a bill to eliminate early voting on Sunday -- on Sunday, a day when many church-going African-Americans participate in voter drives known as Souls to the Polls.
What an astonishing coincidence. Outlaw voting on a day when African- American churches sponsor "get out the vote" efforts. I would like one of the Republican members on this committee to give us a plain sense justification for that restriction. No early voting on Sundays.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And one of the Republicans gave this answer to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R-MS): In God`s word in Exodus 20:18, it says remember the sabbath and keep it holy. So that is my response to Senator Schumer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bible scholars know that she actually meant Exodus 8, not Exodus 18. But what Senator Hyde-Smith of Mississippi doesn`t seem to know is that the Old Testament written in Hebrew was referring to Shabbat which occurs from sun down Friday to sun down on Saturday.
So the Old Testament is totally cool with voting on Sunday. We`ll find out what the Old Testament says about the Senate filibuster rules when Senator Schumer brings the Voting Rights Bill to the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): This is not some, as I just heard, some silly idea that we should stop voter suppression. It is fundamental. We took an oath to the constitution and that involves defending the right to vote, defending the ballot box.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He`s a member of the usually ignored Senate Rules Committee. Senator Merkley, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And it is rare for --
MERKLEY: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: -- rules committee to take center stage but it did today on this very, very important legislation. But we all know, it`s headed to Senate floor where under current rules it is going to need 60 votes to be considered.
MERKLEY: Well, that`s absolutely right. Under current rules as a policy, IT take 60-vote threshold to close debate and this is what some folks called filibuster which implies that people are speaking on the floor.
But that`s not the case. This is really just a veto exercise by Mitch McConnell on policies that he doesn`t like which is pretty much anything that will make the nation better. Health care, housing, education, (INAUDIBLE), body of opportunity.
But in this case, we are talking about this core constitutional principles of the ballot box and we fought over our entire history to make sure the ballot box accessible to everyone. And now Republicans are trying to tear that down.
O`DONNELL: The theory of the filibuster, and I am glad you made the distinction that few people understand that we are not really talking about the filibuster. In fact, let`s get that out of the way right now.
No one is suggesting a rule change that`ll prevent that Jimmy Stewart moment or that Strom Thurmond, 24 hours and 18 minutes record. Anyone who wants to run out the Senate floor and go do that will still be able to do that.
But when they stop speaking, the Senate will continue to proceed with its business. It is this 60-vote cloture threshold that we are talking about. And that`s what -- and that`s the motion to end the debate. That`s what has to be changed if there is going to be any progress in the Senate.
And if that`s changed, you`re still going to be able to go out on the Senate floor and speak for 24 hours if you have that feeling at some point.
And I can tell you some members will want to draw national attention by still giving those speeches. But when there is a vote on closing debate, it should be a simple majority to close debates. And we now are in a position of having many options to try to restore it -- remember this 60-vote threshold to close the debate, this is exact measure (ph) that our founders said don`t do this.
While they are writing the U.S. Constitution, you had it in place -- the confederation, congress, under the articles of confederation, and it required a super majority to get things done, that is the minority could veto everything and they did.
So it was paralyzed. So the founders -- Hamilton, Madison, all the rest, said don`t do this, you got to be able to go forward. It is not the minority that`s to controls things. It is the majority. That is the heart of the way a republic works.
So here we are ignoring our founders, paralyzed. This is a predictive.
O`DONNELL: I saw -- I follow the senate votes. And there was a senate cloture vote today, 98-2. A 98-2 cloture vote on closing the debate on a deputy secretary nomination. Now, that`s the kind of thing that a very short time ago in the Senate would have been unanimous consent and it would have taken literally one second of the Senate`s time.
That is the kind of junk that has clogged up the Senate pipeline now for years in the McConnell leadership era.
MERKLEY: Yes. This cloture motion process was designed to happen once in a blue moon. So It takes two days before you can vote and then the potential for another 30 hours afterwards and it was a whole week of the Senate`s time.
And that was an instrument recognizing that it would be very, very rare that the pirates would take over the Senate. That`s where the term filibuster from. free booter.
But now it has gone from being a rare event that might happen once every 10 years and would be done very publicly with speeches on the floor to this silent, no-show, no-effort obstruction.
And Mitch McConnel`s theory of power is that if you obstruct everything from getting done, you will show that the party that`s in the majority can`t get it done and therefore make a better case for the minority to become the majority.
But if each side does that, then it is simply like an old adage, an eye for an eye -- it`s two folks blind. If both sides are just paralyzing each other, we`ll never address the issues facing America. And the rest of the world goes well, that system`s not working. We don`t want that system.
And it hurts us in all kinds of other ways in terms of our example and our leadership and our ability to help the world take on our common challenges.
O`DONNELL: I know you`ve had private conversations with Senator Joe Manchin about just trying to persuade him to see this the way you do. He would be the decisive vote in the Senate to make a rules change like this.
He has said very nice things about you publicly. Do you worry that some of the external pressure now, there`s some very, very angry stuff being said about him from outside the Senate that that could provoke him to change parties. Is that something that Democrats in the Senate are worried about?
MERKLEY: I`m not at all concerned about that. And my friend Joe Manchin wants to make sure that we do the right thing for the institution, that we do the right thing to protect the ballot box. And I know that he`ll be working and talking with others trying to figure his course, understanding the differences in his state, understanding the traditions of Robert Byrd (ph) and he`s going to make valuable contributions and somehow we are going to figure this out.
We have to figure it out. We have this oath to the constitution. And that involves defending the ballot box and this voter suppression efforts all across the country.
You know, we thought in 1965 that we`ve gotten past this. And the Supreme Court under Citizens United kind of said we`re past that. We are not going to have these racist voter suppression (INAUDIBLE).
And yet here we are. Here we are with folks saying, you know what, we are going to make it hard for black Americans to vote and the poor to vote and for Native Americans to vote -- and then the strategy is if we can make sure that the voting only takes place on election day then we have so many tools to make it hard for people to vote.
We can reduce the number of precincts, we can reduce the staffing, we can make people stand in the rain for five hours. We can change the location every year or put out false information about locations.
These folks who want to take the vote away from millions of Americans are absolutely on the wrong side of what it means to be a country of, by and for the people.
O`DONNELL: Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MERKLEY: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up. President Biden gave Vice President Harris her most difficult assignment yet today. And he said she`s the perfect person to handle it. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Today President Biden held a meeting at the White House on a problem that has vexed every president since 1912 when the current 2,000 mile southern border of the United States of America was established.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have asked the VP today, I think that she`s the most qualified person to do it, to lead our efforts with the Mexico and the Northern Triangle and the countries that -- we are going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks stemming the migration to our southern border.
This new surge we are dealing with now started with the last administration but it is our responsibility to deal with it humanely and stop what`s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: During the early days of the presidential campaign in 2019, some of the candidates including Kamala Harris and our next guest went to the homestead juvenile detention facility in Florida where nearly 3,000 children were being held.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don`t discounts these hundreds and thousands of children being treated this way by us. What will that mean for them in terms of what is our country and who is our country? and what are the values of our country?
What are we telling our own children who are aware that this is happening? I strongly believe that you should judge us aside based on how we are treating these children. They are children and we are not treating them well at all. We are treating them like prisoners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Weeks later that facility was closed. The "Miami Herald" later reported that the facility "had four child sex abuse claims that resulted in the firing of one employee and the resignation of two others, employees caring for migrant kids at Homestead were not vetted for prior child abuse records".
That is what happened to children at our border when Donald Trump and Stephen Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions made cruelty the official policy of the United States.
Joining our discussion now, is Julian Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration and the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Secretary Castro.
You were with Kamala Harris that day looking at that facility where 3,000 kids were being held at the time. What`s the difference between then and now?
JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: The difference is that now you have a Biden/Harris administration in place that actually has compassion, has concern for these children and wants to get them out of those types of facilities and into the hands of loving relatives who are often here in the United States.
I remember that visit in late June of 2019. What I remember about Vice President Harris was her passion and also her knowledge of the issue. When she was attorney general in California, she actually led the effort to respond to unaccompanied minors in California when we saw a wave of folks in 2014.
She organized an effort to get them a pro bono legal representation. As a candidate, she pushed back against the cruelty of the Trump administration. She knows this issue, she has a passion for serving those children.
And because of that I have confidence that she`s going to do a good job in this role. I think President Biden made a good decision, a wise move.
O`DONNELL: What is a good job? And I ask that just because every president prior to now has failed if the standard is efficiently and humanely and immediately dispatching people who arrived at the southern border illegally including children. No president has ever succeeded at those three things at the same time.
CASTRO: This is how I think we should measure ourselves here.
Number one, are we treating people who are in our custody, people who are seeking asylum and undocumented immigrants humanely, compassionately in keeping with our values. So in the case of these children, are we getting them quickly out of those border patrol stations which are over crowded. And Secretary Mayorkas has said it is unacceptable the conditions right now.
Are we getting them to these HHS accommodations and then quickly getting them into the hands of host families so that they can live a relatively normal life while they await their adjudication of the asylum claim.
But then also, part of what President Biden has charged the vice president with doing is looking at the longer term. When I was running for president, I called for 21st century marshal plan for Central America so that we partner with those countries, we invest there so that people can find safety, security and opportunity at home instead of having to come to the United States to look for those things.
If we can do both of those things in keeping with our values, treat people humanely and decently but the also actually solve this challenge for the long-term, I think that will be a success.
And you know what, we can do it. And I think that Vice President Harris is going to do a good job at it.
O`DONNELL: And in terms of the inter country cooperation, we have attempted that in the past. People have attempted it with goodwill in the past, not in the Trump administration but in many administrations prior to this.
There`s been moments of cooperation that seemed to be helpful but ultimately it`s seems to be the calendar. It seems to be the seasonal swell in numbers that we always get this time of the year and we always get the drop off in the middle of the summer when the heat becomes absolutely oppressive and the journey becomes deadly.
And so all of these things, everything that`s discussed has always been tried before.
CASTRO: Well, I would say look, you know, the so-called surges that we are talking about started in earnest in 2014. If you think about it, I mean that`s not that many years, right. I mean we had 2014. We had 2019 and we have now.
When President Biden was vice president, he led an effort to invest $750 million in these Northern Triangle countries to try and get this partnership solidified. Trump then went and froze a lot of those resources. So we took two steps forward and one step back.
Now the Biden administration would like to invest in earnest and forge a stronger partnership with these Northern Triangle countries and have a longer term solution to this.
So, you know, I don`t think that this is something that`s been going on long enough, these partnerships for us to give up on them. I would say that we can see results the way that we were able to see results in a different context in Colombia over the years. I mean that country is so different from what it used to be.
And also in Mexico, 20 years ago, the people that were coming here were largely Mexican and they were single men. They were coming to work and send money back.
But because you can find more opportunity and in some places more safety than you used to in Mexico, you don`t see those kinds of numbers anymore.
So we have a blueprint, and we need to be smart about this for the long term.
O`DONNELL: What is clear about it is it is a problem that requires that mix of enforcement and humanity and it`s a problem that every president will have to work on every day. It`s not a problem that we can see a point on the calendar that we will solve and be able to put away. I think we can agree on that.
CASTRO: Absolutely. Republican or Democrat, they`re going to have to focus on this. And that`s why putting your vice president in charge of it, making it high profile, makes a lot of sense.
O`DONNELL: Julian Castro, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
CASTRO: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, Congresswoman Lucy McBath who lost her 17-year-old son to a racist with a gun will join us on the gun safety legislation that she has sponsored in the House and that Chuck Schumer will soon be bringing to the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: This is not about getting rid of the Second Amendment. It`s simply about saying we need reasonable gun safety laws. There`s no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of a civil society. They`re weapons of war. They are designed to kill a lot of people quickly.
Stop pushing the false stories that this means everybody`s trying to come after your guns. That is not what we`re talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And getting tonight`s LAST WORD is Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia. Congresswoman McBath, thank you very much for joining us once again.
And you`ve sponsored the background check pieces of the legislation that moved through the House. Chuck Schumer now has that legislation and it seems like your part of the bill might be the only thing he can get through the Senate -- background checks.
REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Well, Lawrence, I certainly hope so. You know, the bipartisan (INAUDIBLE) and this legislation that we passed in 116th Congress. And I`ve said it`s bipartisan. It`s with both Republican and Democratic support.
And if we know that over 90 percent of the American public believe in this legislation, believe in this policy, then we need to make sure that we do everything in our power to get this passed in the Senate.
O`DONNELL: And how are you feeling in the House about the possibility that the current Senate rules could block consideration of this, requiring a 60- vote threshold?
MCBATH: Well, of course I`m hoping for the best. I`m hoping that as I said, both Republicans and Democrats will see the light and see that, you know, our constituents are adversely affected, whether they be Republican or Democrat -- they`re adversely affected by, you know, unnecessary gun violence as we`ve just seen, you know, in Colorado, as we`ve just seen here in Georgia, as we`ve seen over and over and over again just since I`ve lost my own son in 2012.
And we know of course, that the debate over gun safety and saving lives is far more important than any procedural discussions that we might be having, anything that might stall the ability for us to be able to get this legislation passed.
O`DONNELL: You know what the families in Colorado and what the families in Georgia are feeling tonight, the families in Georgia have had a week to live with their new feelings of grief. It`s even fresher than that in Colorado.
What could you say to them about what they`re going through and what they`re going to be experiencing?
MCBATH: Well, first what I would say to them is that absolutely I understand what they`re feeling. And I just offer them -- I do truly offer them my prayers and condolences, because it`s something that I understand to my core.
But what I would say to them is to please take time to honor the memory of their loved ones. Please take time to absorb and digest everything that has happened and to just surround yourself right now with friends and family and community because that is what you need right now to be tethered to at this really, really delicate time in their lives. And just to continue to honor the legacy of the loved one that they`ve lost and know that we`re fighting as hard as we can out here in Congress to make sure that we`re honoring their lives with gun safety legislation.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Lucy McBath gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MCBATH: Thank you. Good night.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.