Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida is interviewed. "The Washington Post" is reporting that the Manhattan district attorney has convened a grand jury to hear evidence and decide whether to indict former President Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges, according to two people familiar with the development. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed a cloture in the Senate that could allow a procedural vote by the end of this week on establishing a bipartisan January 6th investigative commission. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed a cloture motion in the Senate that could allow a procedural vote by the end of this week on establishing a bipartisan January 6th investigative commission. Texas wants you to be able to get a gun as easily as possible, but Texas does not want you to vote easily if you live in Texas largest counties, which just happen to be where the largest numbers of people of color live in Texas. Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier released a written statement today about what she has experienced in the years since she recorded the video of George Floyd`s murder.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I`m actually planning to do a short script that I wrote for Monday night tomorrow night. It`s still -- it`s still newsworthy. It`s a nice little story, but who knows?
I was planning to do it tonight. That`s off. And we are now going to have to stock up on our list of former assistant Manhattan district attorneys, as it seems, with the handling of the grand jury there. We`re going to need their expertise.
And tonight, I`ve got the former chief -- former chief assistant district attorney, Daniel Alonso, who`s joined us before on the workings of this investigation.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": He`s great.
O`DONNELL: And he`s becoming an MVP here because he`s really been in there with these Manhattan grand juries. He knows every wrinkle about this. And this -- this does feel like the beginning of what will be a significant chapter of our coverage of the world of possible defendant Trump material.
MADDOW: Yeah, and I will say Dan Alonso has been absolutely irreplaceable. I mean, I`ve learned more from him about state prosecutions and how they work and what the actual dynamics are and where the decision making points are than I have learned from everybody else. I mean, we all had to become sort of federal law adjacent, like kind of jailhouse lawyers for a while, in order to follow a lot of the stuff going on with the Trump administration early on.
You can`t really do that to learn the different criminal law systems in 50 different states. When it comes to what`s happened in New York state, Dan Alonso has been clarifying in terms of what that office can do and the way they approach their work.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. I mean, the way -- the way I watch TV during the day is that I don`t really watch it. It`s there in the corner of my eye. And when someone like Daniel Alonso comes on that I grab the controller and push up the volume.
It`s rare how many times during the day I push up the volume to hear what`s being said. It`s actually pretty rare. It takes a lot. But he`s definitely one of those people.
MADDOW: I`ll never mute you, Lawrence. Never ever, no matter what.
O`DONNELL: Well, of course, that`s easy for you to say because I`m on after your work day is over. And that changes everything.
MADDOW: Never mind.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, exactly one year ago today, one year ago today exactly, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier aimed her phone at George Floyd lying face down and handcuffed on a street in Minneapolis and she recorded the slid video of the last 9 minutes and 29 seconds of George Floyd`s life.
In Washington today, George Floyd`s now 7-year-old daughter Gianna said that what we saw, what the world saw on that video, can change the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S BROTHER: It`s like Gianna said, you`re daddy`s going to do what?
GIANNA FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S DAUGHTER: Change the world.
P. FLOYD: But y`all can see we as adults, we all should be able to see that. We all should be able to work together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Darnella Frazier doesn`t to interviews. We heard her voice, but we`re not allowed to see her face in the trial that convicted Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd, largely on the strength of her video recording. That`s how that conviction was obtained. She spoke with anguish under oath in the trial about lying awake at night wishing she had done more to help George Floyd.
And today, Darnella Frazier issued a written statement. It is a profound and poetic and painful to read statement. She says, a part of my childhood was taken away from me.
At the end of this hour, the poet and author, Carolyn Randall Williams, has agreed to join us to give voice to Darnella Frazier`s written statement in tonight`s LAST WORD.
A year ago, Kamala Harris was a United States senator who joined with Senator Cory Booker to cosponsor the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the Senate. And today, Kamala Harris was the vice president of the United States who received George Floyd`s family in a visit in the Oval Office with President Biden.
After the meeting, George Floyd`s brother said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. FLOYD: We just want this George Floyd Policing Act to be passed in the future. If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Biden issued this statement after meeting with George Floyd`s family. The negotiations on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress are on going. I have strongly supported the legislation that passed that House and I appreciate the good faith efforts from Democrats and Republicans to pass a meaningful bill out of the Senate. It is my hope they will get a bill to my desk quickly.
George Floyd`s family also met with members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congresswoman Bass said this about negotiations on the police reform legislation that is named after George Floyd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): I stand here to renew the commitment that we will get this bill on President Biden`s desk. We will get this bill on the desk. And what is important is that when it reaches President Biden`s desk it`s a substantive piece of legislation. And that is far more important than a specific date.
We will work until we get the job done. It will be passed in a bipartisan manner. So, that is a commitment that we are making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And today, George Floyd`s family also met with South Carolina`s Republican Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham. Before that meeting with the family, Senator Scott said this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We continue to work on the process and I think it`s -- we had good, good progress over the weekend, I thought, and I think we can see the end of the tunnel.
SCOTT: I think so, I mean, not that before the -- obviously not this week but I think we are -- we`re starting to see a frame.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The National Conference on State Legislatures reports that significant police reform legislation has passed in 39 states as late as April of this year.
Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. She is a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees and is a former chief of police, the Orlando Police Department.
Congresswoman Demings, thank you very much for joining us on this important night.
We heard Gianna Floyd say that her father`s death can change the world. So far, it has changed something, in most legislatures around the country. The big question facing Washington tonight is what will it change in Washington? What will happen on the George Floyd bill? Is there any real prospect of getting it through the Senate intact?
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Lawrence, let me say it`s good to be back with you. And what a day of reflection, but I also feel like it is a day of hope. When we look back over the last year after this very tragic event, a lot has changed. And I join my colleagues in the house and the leaders on this effort in the Senate really believing that we will get this legislation done. We don`t have a choice.
After the pain that we`ve all, certainly the Floyd family has suffered over the last year, after the pain that Minneapolis has suffered over the last year and the numerous thousands of people, the witnesses who testified, Daniella, who you talked about earlier. We have got to get this done. And I really do believe, Lawrence, that we will.
O`DONNELL: I want to draw on your expertise in police work to tell us what you think are the most important elements of this legislation.
DEMINGS: You know, one of the things I say is that everybody counts but everybody is accountable. You`ve heard me say many times that no one is above the law. I believe that this legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is not perfect. But I do believe it is a good start. The national database is a good thing.
Looking at training is a good thing. Looking at policies is a good thing. I do believe that we must, that the Senate and the House must come together in holding officers accountable and look at how we can change qualified immunity, especially for the most egregious behavior. I believe that good police officers -- I worked with many of them -- want to see this done. They understand it, and we -- so I believe that while the legislation is not perfect that it is a major step in the right direction.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the vice president had to say about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we -- you know, we are waiting. We`re listening, we`re hearing the work is happening. Senator Cory Booker, he and I together wrote the Justice in Policing Act when I was in the Senate together with Karen Bass and Jerry Nadler on the House side. And the work that they have been doing has been, I think, intensive work through the weekends. The house members, including Karen Bass not going back to the district but continuing to work on it.
So, they`re working around the clock from everything I can see, and we`re waiting to hear. There seems to be a bit of optimism coming from the Hill, and that gives me a sense of optimism. We`ll wait and see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Demings, your reaction to that?
DEMINGS: I believe Vice President Harris is absolutely correct. There is no doubt in my mind that those who have been working around the clock over the weekend are serious about getting this done. I`ve certainly spoken to Senator Scott, certainly with Karen Bass and others regarding this legislation. Their commitment is there.
And that`s why I really do believe that while it may be slow, a slow process, we really -- I think Representative Bass said it correctly. Having substantive legislation is more important than meeting a deadline. We want to get this right, Lawrence. We have to get it right.
O`DONNELL: Do you think there`s any possibility of getting your states two senators, Florida`s two senators to support this legislation?
DEMINGS: I don`t think there is any possibility of getting -- and I say that with the most pain that I can muster up. But I do not believe one or both Florida senators will support this legislation. You know, Lawrence, I know that we have a great two-party system in this country, strong two- party system. But we always -- if you look back historically, we`ve been able to come together to meet the moment when it dealt with some of the toughest situations that we face.
This is one of those moments. But I do not believe -- and I say this unfortunately with the utmost confidence -- that neither Florida senator will rise to the occasion to meet this moment.
O`DONNELL: It`s been reported that you`re considering challenging Senator Rubio in Florida in his re-election campaign next year. What does his position on this legislation -- how does that inform your desire to run for that seat?
DEMINGS: Well, I am seriously considering a run for the U.S. Senate, challenging Marco Rubio. But, Lawrence, the voters in Florida, the people in Florida, deserve to have a senator that is not there to represent himself or the most elitist. They deserve to have a senator that represents them and cares about the issues that they care about.
Reform in our criminal justice system is one of those issues. But I am convinced that neither senator, certainly Marco Rubio, would not stand up and vote for the legislation, number one.
And number two, if he shows up at all. So, I am seriously considering challenging him. I will make that decision soon, so stay tuned for that moment.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Val Demings, thank you very much for starting off our conversation tonight. We really appreciate it.
DEMINGS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, the breaking news from "The Washington Post" earlier this evening that the Manhattan district attorney has convened a grand jury to hear evidence and decide whether to indict Donald Trump. Manhattan`s former chief assistant district attorney Daniel Alonso joins us next.
O`DONNELL: David Fahrenthold who won a Pulitzer Prize at the "Washington Post" by penetrating the lies that Donald Trump told about his personal finances and businesses and charities, joined with Shayna Jacobs to deliver a breaking news report in the "Washington Post" this evening that the Manhattan district attorney has convened a grand jury to hear evidence and, quote, decide whether to indict former President Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges, according to two people familiar with the development. It suggests that District Attorney Vance believes he has found evidence of a crime, if not by Trump then by someone potentially close to him or by his company.
The grand jury was convened recently and authorized to consider evidence for six months. One of the people familiar with the matter told "The Washington Post" it is likely that Trump-related testimony in the secret proceeding has already begun. Since the twice-impeached and fully disgraced former president was denied a second term by 81 million voters is now banned from Twitter and other social media, Donald Trump was forced to issue an old fashioned press release tonight about the grand jury.
The first sentence is: This is a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in American history. That is followed by seven sentences that you could write yourself because you`ve heard them all before.
Joining us now is Daniel Alonso, former chief assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney`s Office, and a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.
Daniel, great to have you back tonight with this. When you got this news today, what was your first reaction to it?
DANIEL R. ALONSO, FORMER CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, MANHATTAN: Not surprised at all. This is a natural progression in all substantial white collar investigations in Manhattan. What happens is they spend a lot of time investigating. And then if the case is relatively complex, which obviously this one is, you have to -- you have to impanel a special grand jury, which sits longer than the usual four weeks, which is the usual term of a grand jury in order to get it all in.
Now, what it tells me is if you`re making that step of empanelling what`s colloquially called the special grand jury, then you are highly likely to be presenting some criminal charges to that grand jury at some point. But you also need to spend a lot of time putting that evidence in. State grand juries are complex. They have cumbersome procedures. They have to bring witnesses in.
And you can also use it as an investigative tool. You can -- you can compel witnesses to testify even if they don`t want to. So, it`s actually a very powerful tool. But the bottom line is, this tells me an already substantial investigation is heading to some charges at least at some point.
O`DONNELL: And the six months authorization for this grand jury doesn`t mean the grand jury will necessarily use all of those six months before delivering charges.
ALONSO: Correct. The charges can be presented at any time as long as sufficient evidence has been presented to the grand jury. Grand juries also are allowed to consider charges piecemeal. They can vote out an indictment. They can decide on charges. They can keep investigating them. They can file additional or superseding charges as well.
O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" reporting indicates that it is possible that -- it says that charges might be filed against his company, just against the company.
Is it possible to bring criminal charges just against a company and not against any individuals in the company?
ALONSO: More than possible. It`s done from time to time. And here there are lots of companies to choose from. As I understand it, the Trump organization is kind of an umbrella over a lot of different companies. And the way real estate works is they create special purpose companies to do various things.
So, I don`t know which one of the companies was the vehicle for the various loans and which one of the tax returns are at issue and all the other issues that the D.A. is investigating. But absolutely corporate indictments, corporate resolutions, they are relatively common place in white collar crime.
O`DONNELL: But how is it that a company can commit a crime without any individual in the company committing that crime?
ALONSO: It`s a great question, Lawrence. Technically it can`t, right? So, New York law requires that the act, the crime, have been committed by a high managerial agent in the company.
Now, that`s not well-defined in the law. And so, the question is, whether it`s middle management or requires an Allen Weisselberg, you know, could be litigated at the appropriate time. But there are times when the evidence against a particular individual might not be particularly strong but you think that you might be able to get in more evidence and perhaps prove the case against the company.
Corporate indictments and corporate resolutions tend to be sometimes negotiated more than indicted. But indictments do happen all the time in Manhattan of corporations, but they usually do include individuals as well.
O`DONNELL: Daniel Alonso, that`s the tip of our iceberg tonight. We`re going to need you back on a regular basis obviously with this grand jury in place. Thank you very much for your guidance tonight.
ALONSO: Thanks for having me, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, Joe Manchin has gone from disheartening yesterday to extremely frustrating today. Those are the words he`s used now in describing his feelings about Senate Republicans` refusal to support a bipartisan bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The question is, when will it be so disheartening and extremely frustrating that Joe Manchin decides to change the 60-vote procedural threshold in the Senate?
Jennifer Palmieri and Eugene Robinson join us next.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking parliamentary news. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed a cloture in the Senate that could allow a procedural vote by the end of this week on establishing a bipartisan January 6th investigative commission. The procedural vote requires a 60-vote threshold in order to then proceed to a vote on the commission itself.
Yesterday was disheartening for Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who`s trying to find what he called, 10 good solid patriots on the Republican side of the Senate to vote for a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol by a Trump mob on January 6th who said they wanted to hang Mike Pence to prevent the constitutional process of counting the electoral votes that would deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. Today, Mitch McConnell called the proposal for a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6th, quote, a purely political exercise.
And so today was extremely frustrating and disturbing for Joe Manchin. Those were his exact words today, extremely frustrating and disturbing.
So, Joe Manchin went public with a written statement of what he has been saying to Republican senators privately. The statement was cosigned by Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema. And it says: We implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us, to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6th.
Tonight, Joe Manchin is nine Republicans short of the ten Republicans needed for the bill to clear a 60 vote procedural threshold in the Senate. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said today, I`m going to support it. Republican Senator Mitt Romney said he would support it only if there were significant changes made to the proposal to make it less effective, including putting a December 31st time limit on the investigation.
Joe Manchin was asked by reporters if he would support changing the Senate rule on the 60-vote procedural threshold in order to pass the bill in the Senate. "The New York Times" reports that Senator Manchin replied, no, I can`t take the fallout.
In his statement today imploring Senate Republicans to do the right thing, Senator Manchin said "The events of January 6th were horrific." But they were apparently not horrific enough to change the 60-vote procedural rule in the United States Senate.
Joining us now is Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for the Obama White House. She`s a co-host Showtime`s "The Circus". Also with us Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "Washington Post". He is an MSNBC political analyst.
Ok Jennifer, you`re back in the White House. It`s the Biden White House. They are going through every word Joe Manchin says about this.
Where does it stand tonight? Does Chuck Schumer just bring it to a vote in the Senate, they lose it and they turn to Joe Manchin and say see, it`s impossible to negotiate with these Republicans?
JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER OBAMA COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think maybe there is -- I mean, you know, Schumer is indicating that that is what he is going to do. I think if I was in the Biden White House, beyond the vote that will happen on the commission, I would find it very interesting that Manchin and Sinema took it upon themselves to insert themselves in this way.
It suggests to me that while they`re both very much, you know, they`ve been very clear that they want to keep the filibuster, you know, why put out a statement like this? I think you`re putting out a statement like this to put Republicans on notice, yes, we want to keep the filibuster, but if you continue to obstruct, you know, things that should very clearly have bipartisan support -- seven Republicans senators, I remind you, actually voted to impeach the president -- there should be Republican support for this commission.
They`ll soon be putting them on notice, you know, we`re watching and our views can change here. I think it`s not insignificant that they both put a statement out.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I agree. Gene, they could implore Republican senators privately as I`m sure Joe Manchin has already done. Doing it publicly is a way of him telling West Virginia, look, I`m imploring them. I have been imploring them. This is an important thing.
And I think Jennifer is completely right. This statement today is a statement to voters saying look at what we`re doing here. And the question becomes will those voters go along with Joe Manchin changing any kind of Senate rules that would allow something like this to proceed?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, I agree with Jennifer. This was a statement, yes, to voters but also to Republicans. I mean look, you know, I`ve known a decent number of U.S. Senators, and not one of them has enjoyed being humiliated.
And that`s what`s happening to Joe Manchin, as he continues to insist that there are these ten phantom Republican patriot senators who are going to get on board, at least get on board this bill, at least allow, you know, (INAUDIBLE) on the bill to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol.
You know, this great threat to our democracy, this horrible day that they all experienced. And he can only find one so far who will join in. That is humiliating. And he doesn`t -- and he`s not going to enjoy that.
And I think he`s letting his Republican colleagues know that this is not an experience he will tolerate indefinitely or forever. At least that`s the message he`s sending. Now what he actually will do is unclear.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, the end game here is a peculiar set of choices for Democrats. If this commission somehow was voted into law with Republican cooperation, it then seems to me to be structured as a dysfunctional commission in which no subpoenas can issue without Republican members voting for those subpoenas. Those Republican members will be chosen by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.
We know Kevin McCarthy will only choose members who are approved by Donald Trump. And Mitch McConnell will want to choose members who don`t offend Donald Trump. The people the Republicans put on this commission could just make the whole thing completely dysfunctional.
PALMIERI: They can. And you know, the Democrats -- you know, Pelosi has been in this position before. This will be new for Schumer -- where they`ve had to decide, you know, do we participate in something like this knowing how Republicans are likely to behave.
You know, the Benghazi committee comes to mind, right. At the time, Republicans were in charge of the House. Benghazi committee formed, the Democrats had to decide do we put people on that committee, do we not? The people on that committee was sort of validating it.
And they went ahead and did it because engaging in that way at least kept them in the game. Yes, Republicans are going to do what they`re going to do, but you have a platform to put your best investigations forward, understanding that they can`t do subpoenas and you know, and all the restrictions the Republicans are putting on this.
So I think that they`re still -- they still believe that this is a worthwhile thing, and you know, they have a lot of experience with Republicans, you know, playing Trump, you know, bowing to Trump and playing the games that he wants to play. But they still think that something worthwhile can come out of these reports.
You know, they`re very skilled members of Congress. They`re very skilled staff that would be working on this. I think they would produce a document and a record for history that would be important.
O`DONNELL: And Gene, the Republicans know that if the Democrats don`t get this bipartisan commission they still have control of the House Committees. They still have control of the Senate committees, and they can run these investigations through Congressional committees instead using their powers without -- in the house without any consultation of Republicans at all.
ROBINSON: That`s absolutely true. And that may be what they end up having to do. I think it`s clear that Democrats and one Republican senator would prefer to do it what seems to be the right way, to have a bipartisan special commission look into every aspect of what happened on January 6th and issue an authoritative report.
And of course, anything the Democratic House does, anything those committees do under control of the Democrats will -- no matter how good it is and how thorough it is -- will of course, be dismissed by Republicans as partisan.
And, you know, that may be inevitable no matter how the commission is ultimately structured. But it`s absolutely inevitable if it`s just the Democrats leading this investigation.
That`s why everybody`s trying to do it the way that, you know, the old Washington way. Unfortunately we live in the new Washington and it`s unclear whether that`s possible.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Palmieri, Eugene Robinson -- thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.
PALMIERI: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up Texas wants to make guns even easier to get and ballots much harder to get if you live in Democratic counties.
O`DONNELL: Texas wants you to be able to get a gun as easily as possible, but Texas does not want you to vote easily if you live in Texas largest counties, which just happen to be where the largest numbers of people of color live in Texas.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has promised to sign a bill passed by the Republican legislature that will allow Texans to carry concealed hand guns without a license, without a background check, without training.
And the Texas governor is eager to sign another bill that would attempt to restrict voting among Democratic voters in Texas. The new voter restriction bill would limit the number of polling locations in the largest counties in the state.
"Texas Tribune" reports the formula would apply only to the state`s five largest counties. In Harris County, home to Houston, the state`s biggest city, the formula would mean fewer polling places in 13 of the 24 districts contained in the county all currently represented by Democrats.
Every district held by a Republican would either see a gain in polling places or see no change. In most cases the districts that would lose polling places are represented by people of color.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. He represents Texas` 20th congressional district which also -- which includes San Antonio. Congressman Castro, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Let`s begin just for a moment with this gun legislation that the Texas governor is signing. It`s now completely legal to be carrying without ever going through any paperwork whatsoever to get that gun.
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): The governor and the Republican legislature have made Texas more dangerous. And it`s really tragic, Lawrence, because Texas has been the site of so many mass shootings. You think about what happened at Santa Fe High School or Sutherland Springs, or El Paso, Texas in 2019, Colleen in 1991.
And instead of making the people of Texas safer by doing things like background checks, a very simple thing to do, the governor and legislature have actually made it easier for people without any kind of permit, without any kind of background check, without going through any kind of training to get a gun.
O`DONNELL: Let`s go to what they`re doing on voter legislation. This is a second round of voter legislation in the Texas legislature. And aiming now at the big counties where the Democrats vote.
CASTRO: Yes, that`s right. You know, this is basically a naked power grab. Texas Republicans this legislative session have moved to the extreme right. And one of the things that they`re trying to do is suppress Democratic votes. As you know in the last few years the elections have actually gotten closer and closer.
And so, rather than putting out great ideas or convincing more voters to side with them or governing better, instead of doing any of that, what they`re trying to do is make it harder for the people that disagree with them, the people that go and vote against them, making it harder for those people to come back and vote next time. And so, it`s very much a naked power grab.
And also if you look at the leadership in Texas, Lawrence, it very much is out of sync with the population of Texas. Texas is an incredibly diverse state and the Republican leadership in Texas is not. And so, you know, it`s very sad to say but I think it`s true that it is a lot of Republican white males that are trying to hang on to power. And they`re trying to do everything that they can in a diversifying state to do that.
O`DONNELL: Well, they definitely are in sync with the Trump vote. We have a new poll showing that 53 percent of Republicans -- 53 percent -- believe that Donald Trump is the true president. So, that means 53 percent of Republicans fail a basic mental competency test question, who is the president of the United States. And Congressman Castro, the Texas legislature seems to be in service of those people only at this point.
CASTRO: Donald Trump owns the Republican Party in this country. He owns the Texas Republicans. And not only is it a matter of self-delusion -- these people are delusional -- but they`re also -- they`ve also gotten very dangerous to the people of Texas and I think to the people of this country.
O`DONNELL: As you go forward, what is your expectation of how you would be able to counter in the next election what they are legislating now about how that election will be held in Texas?
CASTRO: Well, of course there are going to be legal challenges that hopefully will hold up some of this legislation and hopefully prevent it from actually taking effect. We`re going to have to see how it goes in the courts.
But aside from that it speaks to the fact that we need people to get out there and vote. And we have to redouble our efforts to get folks out to vote. But most of all for the Congress we need to pass HR1. We need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
I`ll tell you if we don`t do that this term -- if we let this term go without passing those significant pieces of legislation to protect our democracy, then by 2022, 2024 -- I don`t know that we`re going to recognize voting in this country by then.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
CASTRO: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, you`ll hear the moving words of 18-year-old Darnella Frazier who released a written statement today about what she has experienced in the years since she recorded the video of George Floyd`s murder.
The words of Darnella Frazier as read by Caroline Randall Williams will be tonight`s LAST WORD, next.
O`DONNELL: When I began reading Darnella Frazier`s written statement today about what she has experienced in the year since she recorded the video of George Floyd`s murder, I thought I would read it to you here tonight but a few sentences in I realized I couldn`t.
And so I called author and poet Caroline Randall Williams who teaches at Vanderbilt University and asked her to read it for us. She immediately agreed to do that even before she had read Darnella Frazier`s statement.
Here is 18-year-old Darnella Frazier`s statement given voice tonight by Caroline Randall Williams.
CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: A year ago today I witnessed a murder. The victim`s name was George Floyd.
Although it wasn`t the first time I`ve seen a black man get killed at the hands of the police, this is the first time I witnessed it happen in front of me. Right in front of my eyes, a few feet away.
I didn`t know this man from a can of paint, but I knew his life mattered. I knew that he was in pain. I knew that he was another black man in danger but with no power.
I was only 17 at the time. Just a normal day for me, walking my nine-year- old cousin to the corner store, not even prepared for what I was about to see. Not even knowing my life was going to change on this exact day in those exact moments.
It did. It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be black in America.
We shouldn`t have to walk on eggshells around police officers, the same people that are supposed to protect and serve. We are looked at as thugs, animals and criminals all because of the color of our skin.
Why are black people the only ones viewed this way when every race has some type of wrongdoing? None of us are to judge. We are all human.
I am 18 now. And I still hold the weight and trauma of what I witnessed a year ago. It`s a little easier now. But I`m not who I used to be. A part of my childhood was taken from me. My nine-year-old cousin who witnessed the same thing I did got a part of her childhood taken from her.
Having to up and leave because my home was no longer safe, waking up to reporters at my door, closing my eyes at night only to see a man who was brown like me lifeless on the ground.
I couldn`t sleep properly for weeks. I used to shake so bad at night, my mom had to rock me to sleep. Hopping from hotel to hotel because we didn`t have a home and looking over our back every day in the process.
Having panic and anxiety attacks every time I`ve seen a police car, not knowing who to trust because a lot of people are evil with bad intentions. I hold that weight.
A lot of people call me a hero even though I don`t see myself as one. I was just in the right place at the right time. Behind the smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I`m a girl trying to heal from something I`m reminded of every day.
Everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd`s death. But to actually be her is a different story.
Not only did this affect me, my family too. We all experienced change. My mom the most. I strive every day to be strong for her because she was strong for me when I couldn`t be strong for myself.
Even though this was a traumatic, life-changing experience for me, I`m proud of myself. If it weren`t for my video, the world wouldn`t have known the truth. I own that. My video didn`t save George Floyd, but it put his murderer away and off the streets.
You can view George Floyd any way you choose to view him despite his past. Because don`t we all have one? He was a loved one, someone`s son, someone`s father, someone`s brother, someone`s friend.
We the people won`t take the blame. You won`t keep pointing fingers at us as if it`s our fault. As if we are criminals. I don`t think people understand how serious death is. That person is never coming back.
These officers shouldn`t get to decide if someone gets to live or not. It`s time these officers start getting held accountable. Murdering people and abusing your power while doing it is not doing your job.
It shouldn`t have to take people to actually go through something to understand it`s not ok. It`s called having a heart and understanding right from wrong.
George Floyd, I can`t express enough how I wish things could have went different. But I want you to know you will always be in my heart. I`ll always remember this day because of you. May your soul rest in peace. May you rest in the most beautiful roses.
O`DONNELL: Thank you to Caroline Randall Williams for reading Darnella Frazier`s statement that she released today. Darnella Frazier gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.