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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, August 10, 2020

Guests: Marq Claxton, Kurt Andersen, Chris Van Hollen


Two new CBS battleground state polls find that in Pennsylvania Joe Biden is now ahead of Donald Trump in that poll, 49 to 43. And in Wisconsin Joe Biden is also ahead of Donald Trump by six points, 48 to 42. An important new piece of video evidence that will surely be used in the trial of the four police officers accused in the murder of George Floyd was made public. Kurt Andersen's "Fantasy Land" explained how American voters were willing to vote for their fantasy, Donald Trump. Kurt Andersen is back with an equally important sequel of sorts "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America". This book explains why about half of American voters vote against their own interests and vote to support whatever billionaires and giant corporations want.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Zerlina and Ben, please stay with us. We're going to squeeze in a break right here. When we come back we're going to take a look at the state of the race before Joe Biden has even chosen a VP running mate. The latest polls, that's next.


And, you know, the one regret I had about taking vacation last week was, of course, I was going to miss the big vice presidential announcement. But now I have no regrets. No regrets at all. Glad I did.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": It was nice of Joe Biden to hold that for you so that you could have a more exciting return to work.

Do you have any idea when it's going to happen? It has to be this week, right? It has to be between now and the weekend.

O'DONNELL: It doesn't have to be, but it probably will be and kind of according to the liturgy should be. So I'm back just in time for the announcement.


MADDOW: Missed you terribly, Lawrence. Welcome back.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you very much.

Post office, post office, post office. I say that tonight in the spirit of my friend and colleague Tim Russert who famously told us on election night 2000 that it was all going to go down to Florida, Florida, Florida. This time, it is all going to come down to the post office.

If the postal service can deliver the mail as it always has when delivering mail-in ballots, Donald Trump is going to lose the presidential election. That's what the polls say anyway. So the undermining of the post office that we're seeing now did not begin with Donald Trump. It began with Republicans pretending that the post office should turn a profit or at least break even from the sale of stamps or maybe be privatized.

And the key to that kind of thinking was a phenomenon Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to call semantic infiltration, getting everyone to accept language that would change the definition of a problem. In a tweet today, Kurt Andersen points out what semantic infiltration has done to the post office. Kurt Andersen wrote: I don't get why post office operating costs not covered by post office revenues started being called "losses," unlike with other services the government provides, such as military defense. Especially since Article I of the Constitution provides for creating post offices.

Kurt Andersen has traced how that Republican se manic infiltration has occurred and spread over the last several decades and that allows him to explain why so many voters, enough to elect a president, vote against their own interests and vote for candidates who will cut their social security, for example, while doing everything they can to make billionaires and giant corporations richer. If it sounds like a scheme created by an evil genius, that's why Kurt Andersen has titled his new book "Evil Geniuses", and Kurt will join us at the end of this hour to discuss how Donald Trump's attack on the Post is yet another way to try to do that evil genius trick of getting people to vote against their own interests.

Donald Trump attacked the post office again today, saying that the Postal Service, which, as Kurt says, was established in the Constitution and has been reliably delivering mail throughout our history is suddenly incapable of delivering the mail anymore if the mail contains voter ballots for the president of the United States.

On the day when we learned for the first time that about 338,000 American children have been infected with the coronavirus, Donald Trump said nothing about those 338,000 children, nothing. Donald Trump said nothing to the parents of those 338,000 children. Donald Trump said nothing to their grandparents, nothing to their siblings. We do not know tonight if Donald Trump even knows that 338,000 American children have been infected with the coronavirus, 97,000 American children have tested positive for the coronavirus just in the last two weeks of July.

We learned that today. And the president of the United States was silent about that. But the president found time to attack the post office, and he found time to attack Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska who is running for re-election this year.

So remember that, Nebraska Republicans. Donald Trump thinks Ben Sasse is a RINO and he has gone rogue again. Whatever you do, Nebraska Republicans, if you are going to remain loyal to Donald Trump, you cannot, you cannot vote for Ben Sasse for president. That's the Trump message today. Ben Sasse for Senate.

Ben Sasse knew that a tweet like that was coming when he attacked Donald Trump's take executive orders and memos that Donald Trump pretended to issue on Saturday from a golf club in New Jersey that Donald Trump has an ownership stake in and where Donald Trump was cheered on in his signing of those fake documents by some of the rich members of that golf club. After Donald Trump did that on Saturday, Republican Senator Ben Sasse called the Trump executive orders, quote, unconstitutional slop.

And Ben Sasse did that for two reasons. Number, most importantly, because Donald Trump is so politically weak that Ben Sasse believes he can win reelection in Nebraska without any more help from Donald Trump. That's the most important reason Ben Sasse did that.

There was no political courage involved, just political calculation. Donald Trump can't hurt me. That's what Ben Sasse thinks.

And the second reason Ben Sasse called Donald Trump's executive order unconstitutional slop is because it is unconstitutional slop. The unconstitutional slop includes a memo that the president signed about protecting people from being evicted from their homes. The memo orders members of the Trump administration to study if there are any ways they might be able to come up with to protect people from evictions. In other words, it does absolutely nothing.

Another bit of the unconstitutional slop, which actually does nothing, is a Trump plan to change the supplemental $600 a week unemployment benefit to a $300 a week federal unemployment benefit which must be matched by a $100 a week unemployment supplement provided by your state government. There are probably zero states in the country that can avoid to deliver that $100 a week benefit, which would then be matched by the $300 a week Trump benefit.

But none of that will probably ever happen because the law Donald Trump is using to justify these maneuvers is applicable under a federally declared disaster and we don't have a federally declared disaster.

Another thing Donald Trump pretended to order on Saturday is a delay in paying your payroll taxes if you earn less than $100,000 a year. The treasury secretary is empowered by law to delay deadlines for the collection of taxes, but only under three specific conditions, a federally declared disaster or a terroristic or military action. And this is an illegal order by the president, which will do absolutely no good for anyone who is unemployed because anyone who is actually paying payroll taxes is on a payroll. They are not unemployed.

And although it may seem like some kind of act of kindness by Donald Trump to people making less than $100,000 a year, you must remember that 50 percent of your payroll taxes are paid directly by your employer to the federal government. And, so, the big beneficiaries of the Trump payroll tax delay would be giant corporations that pay billions of dollars in their share of payroll taxes for their employees. Because of details like this, Donald Trump couldn't really answer the few questions he allowed about this on his golf club on Saturday and when he wandered off into lying about providing military veterans with a benefit in their health care plan that was provided to them by President Obama, Paula Reid of CBS once again humiliated the president of the United States and drove him off the stage with her line of questioning.


REPORTER: Why do you keep saying that you have Veterans Choice? It was passed in 2014.


REPORTER: That is a false statement, sir.

TRUMP: OK. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you very much.


O'DONNELL: At a White House briefing today, once again Donald Trump was incapable of actually answering any questions about how his fake executive order and memos would work, and he once again refused to criticize the Russian government or Vladimir Putin in any way when he was asked about intelligence reports made public by his own administration last week, his own intelligence service saying that Russia is, once again, interfering with our presidential election in order to help Donald Trump win re-election.

In his answer, Donald Trump proved once again how afraid of Vladimir Putin he really is. Donald Trump's answer to the question was a vicious and profoundly unpresidential and un-American lie. He said that the Democratic Party is the greater threat to America than Vladimir Putin's interference in the election.

And I'm going to show you the video of Donald Trump telling this lie. Just so you can see in his eyes the real subtext of what he is saying. And what you will see in Donald Trump's eyes is the abject fear of Vladimir Putin that makes Donald Trump say things like this.


TRUMP: I'll tell you who's meddling in our elections, the Democrats are meddling by wanting and insisting on sending mail-in ballots where there is corruption all over the place.


O'DONNELL: Leading off our discussion is the Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Budget Committee.

Senator Van Hollen, first of all, your response to the president and his characterization of the Democrats being a threat to the country?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Lawrence, again, this is a projection because what we know from the latest intelligence reports is like back in 2016, Vladimir Putin not only supports Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States, but is engaged in active measures to keep him that way. And what you saw today at the podium was the president again refusing to admit that and trying to point fingers at everybody else.

The reality is that you saw the president try to equate China and Iran and Russian interference when there is no equating them. Make no mistake: it's Vladimir Putin and the Russians who are engaged in active measures, including duping certain Republican senators into spouting their propaganda line that really are posing a risk right now.

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to what Nancy Pelosi said to Joy Reid tonight about the Republican position on trying to deliver some relief to the people suffering economically from the coronavirus.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Last week, they came up with some meager proposals, and the president then over the weekend did even less to give an illusion so that the market would go up and people would think we're not paying attention that he might be doing something. It shouldn't be partisan that the president of the United States would say to people in the course of a pandemic uncertainty about health and schools and uncertainty about money in their pockets. Guess what I have for you? A cut, a benefit cut.


O'DONNELL: Senator, I can't see how anyone is actually going to end up receiving this mythical $400 that Donald Trump is talking about.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's right. Illusion is the right word. This was a big show at Trump's golf course. He put all the flags up in the background. But the reality was it was show and not substance.

And here's why. Even putting aside the legal issues you referenced, this is unworkable. The Congress provided states with emergency funds that they desperately need to help provide testing, to get personal protective equipment, to make sure that we keep emergency responders on the beat. And they're using that money for that purpose. And the states that have been hardest hit have already allocated most of the money.

So, now, the president is saying, you have got to use those emergency funds for your match for this other purpose. Many states won't have it. But if you think about it, even if the president got what he wanted, what he's doing is saying to governors, take those monies away from emergency response.

So, go ahead and fire the firefighters and then use those monies to help someone who is hurting over here. In other words, rob your constituent Peter in order to help your constituent Paul. Fire the firefighter to help somebody else get more on unemployment insurance when the reality is in the middle of the pandemic, we should be helping them both. We should not be pitting one American against the other.

And that's if his work -- that's if his plan works exactly as advertised. And, so, the reality is this is a mess, and once again, you got the president of the United States misleading the American people. I think people who heard that probably got a little hopeful. But when this president says something, he doesn't deliver.

O'DONNELL: Senator Van Hollen, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. We really appreciate it.

VAN HOLLEN: Glad to be with you, Lawrence. Thanks.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Joining us now for the constitutional perspective is Neal Katyal. He's a former acting U.S. solicitor general and MSNBC legal contributor.

Neal, this is quite a bit of constitutional slop. It looks like, to me. What does it look like to you?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, exactly, Lawrence. I mean, there is two buckets of the executive orders. One the part that you are calling the fake executive orders and then the others.

Most of them are fake. They do nothing. It is like the pretty in pink song, wouldn't it be good? Wouldn't it be nice to do X or Y. So evictions, would it be nice if the agencies considered something to do. That's all Trump said. He didn't ask them to actually do anything.

The payroll tax, he doesn't even eliminate that. He just delays it. Everyone who owes is still going to owe it next year. It is still not legally clear he can do it because he's relying on a statute that requires a federal disaster declaration, and that's really about something geographically limited, not this. And then you have the parts that senator sass calls unconstitutional slop.

So the unemployment benefit, the $400 or $600 or perhaps $2, which I suspect it will be in the end, that is a policy disaster. It is not nearly the $600 that should be required, that is being paid to people in the midst of this total catastrophe.

And it's a legal catastrophe, too because probably the most elementary thing our Constitution says is that Congress makes the law. Congress budgets things. And we don't have a system in which the president can just doll out money to whoever he wants.

That's why you have Senator Sass saying what you have. It is why Larry Kudlow who is Trump's national economic council director saying that it, quote, requires an act of Congress. None of this does.

The last part, the one thing he did that does have a legal basis, Lawrence, is the student loans. There he said the student loan interest is going to be forgiven through the end of 2020, and that he does have the power to do, and that is something that he did exercise.

But even there, that law that he's using is the law passed in 1993 because Bill Clinton went to the Congress and said, pass this. Give the president this power to defer student loans. And Joe Biden was one of the senators casting the decisive vote. Al Gore actually cast the decisive vote. But Biden was part of that team.

So, even there we got Biden to thank. Nothing to thank Trump for.

O'DONNELL: And, Neal, on the $400 benefit, which could only be $400 if the state joined and contributed the $100, that sounds to me like 50 state legislatures have to meet, have to vote on the state delivering the $100 to then match the Trump $300. I mean, it sounds likely that not a single state will do this and not a single person will receive this $400 a week.

KATYAL: That's exactly right. So when I said $2, I think I was probably being generous to the president here. This is truly a fake executive order. It is not going to do anything.

And it's certainly not going to do what you would expect the president to do in the midst of a disaster, which is work with Congress, re-extend the $600 at a minimum that should be paid while Americans are suffering at this time.

But certainly, you know, that's a policy point. The law doesn't allow presidents to act in this way. The job is for Congress to do, and the president is interfering with Congress's ability to do that.

O'DONNELL: Neal, what about standing? Where do you -- who has the standing to do that on the different provisions?

KATYAL: Well, you know, certainly the states could. I think Congress could. Perhaps even individuals who are promised something by this executive order might try. You know, I think there is a variety of folks that can challenge this.

But I think that's also sad, Lawrence, in the end. The president's advisers said that. Oh, let's hope the Democrats sue. It will make us look good.

You know, that's not the way good governance works. You don't do silly stuff and lead on the American people with the hopes of scoring a political point, particularly in the midst of a pandemic.

I think the American people deserve more than that. I think that's what Congress was trying to do in authorizing these benefits, which the president has blocked. And, so, it's time to act like a grown-up and protect our people.

O'DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.

Thank you.

And when we come back, "The New York Times" is reporting tonight that we could know Joe Biden's vice presidential pick by this time tomorrow night. Maybe, maybe in tomorrow night's chat with Rachel. We will be discussing the Joe Biden running mate maybe.

Zerlina Maxwell and Bill Rhodes will discuss it, next.


O'DONNELL: As I told Rachel at the beginning of the hour, the only regret I had about taking vacation last week, that I was going to miss Joe Biden's big announcement of his vice presidential running mate. So tonight I have no regrets about my vacation last week because Joe Biden has taken another week to think about it.

"The New York Times" is reporting in a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden's hands alone, the four member committee that screamed his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded, its work -- its work is complete, Biden allies said.

And there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind.

And joining our discussion of the VP nominee is Zerlina Maxwell. She is senior director for progressive programming at SiriusXM Radio, and the author of "The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide." And also with us, Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to President Obama and a veteran of the Obama presidential campaign. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Zerlina, we are entering overtime now on the VP selection, and I, for one, have tried to stay absolutely silent on this. This is that time every four years when you can sound pretty silly with predictions about what's coming.

So, this -- it could be tomorrow. We may know tomorrow or certainly before the week is out.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Every four years I think we do this dance where we wait for the vice presidential pick and we are so certain that it is going to matter in terms of the outcome of the election. And, so, I don't think that this is not going to matter at all, but I do think that we don't want to get ahead of our skis and overhype the fact that really people are voting for that top of the ticket.

I do think this is a unique election in that Joe Biden has said openly wants to select a woman. And I have said openly I want him to pick a black woman, and I've said why. Black women are the base of the Democratic Party.

They vote in higher rates than any other demographic group. So if you want to excite that base, why not have a black woman running alongside you who not only represents history but also that lived experience and perspective that you will need to excite that base and sufficiently govern when you or if you are able to win that election.

So I think it's practical, but it also is a strategic choice I think Joe Biden has to make.

O'DONNELL: Ben Rhodes, you have been through this in the Obama campaign. What do you think Joe Biden learned about making this decision from the way Barack Obama made this decision in 2008?

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, it's funny, Lawrence. Actually I was thinking about this at the time in 2008. We wrote three speeches. We wrote speeches for Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, and Evan Bayh, three rollouts planned. I wrote the Joe Biden speech.

You know, I think what Joe Biden learned, though, is he's one of the only people who has been in this position of making this choice who has been vice president for eight years. So he knows both that Barack Obama picked someone that he was comfortable with, that he could have in his corner by his side for eight years in that job and Joe Biden clearly thinks that it's a very important job. He did it, and he did it very well.

So I think, you know, Joe Biden has a unique perspective on this in looking to someone who is going to be both a partner on the campaign trail and it is a virtual campaign trail but also in governing because he's been there.

And, look, we'll focus on the boom and the media response. But, look, I remember in 2008, Joe Biden was announced, solid choice. Sarah Palin was announced and it was a huge boom for the McCain campaign.

And guess what happened? Once people took a hard look at this thing, it settled back in and Joe Biden is a much bigger than Sarah Palin. So, I think people make a mistake in overreacting to the hype around the announcement. It's who is going to be comfortable with this person? Who is in the right place to be one heartbeat away from the presidency, and the voters will sense that by Election Day.

O'DONNELL: Zerlina, I just learned something. There is probably three speeches being written in the Biden campaign tonight.

MAXWELL: Absolutely. That's a normal thing in 2016. There were a few speeches and a few talking points rolling around. It is often a moment where everybody gets into a little room and it is very secretive and then there is an announcement and a roll-out.

And so, I think what's happening now is they are likely in that little room and trying to get all of their ducks in line in terms of whoever the choice is you want to both have those biographical details that you can roll out telling people who this person is, what their experience is, why Joe Biden thinks that they should, to Ben's point, be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

And I think that that is very smart. I don't think that there is any rush here. I do think, though, it would be the interesting moment if the delay in this announcement is because he's perhaps considering maybe rolling out pieces of his cabinet, maybe subsequently after announcing the vice presidential pick. I think that would be smart because we're in unprecedented times.

And so, that means you can break precedent and perhaps announce some of these other things that address other issues like the economic collapse. Maybe you want to announce a treasury secretary or another cabinet member that would address. Maybe you are going to announce somebody who address COVID specifically.

So there are a number of ways Joe Biden can handle this decision.

O'DONNELL: Zerlina and Ben, please stay with us. We are going to squeeze in a break right here. When we come back, we will look at the state of the race before Joe Biden has even chosen a VP running mate. The latest polls, that's next.


O'DONNELL: Donald Trump has never been afraid to put his name on any of his products, steak, wine, even a fraudulent university. And last month, after sinking poll numbers, the Trump campaign pulled all of its television ads to reassess strategy and the strategy was, get Donald Trump away from the ads.

Now Donald Trump has gone almost entirely missing, missing from his own television ads. There is also something else missing from Donald Trump's new ads, any mention of the coronavirus pandemic that has taken over this country.

Two new CBS battleground state polls find that in Pennsylvania Joe Biden is now ahead of Donald Trump in that poll, 49 to 43. And in Wisconsin Joe Biden is also ahead of Donald Trump by six points, 48 to 42.

Zerlina Maxwell and Ben Rhodes are both back with us. And Zerlina, every poll continues to show Joe Biden has this as of tonight, if the election is fair, if the Russians do not get in there in ways that we cannot anticipate and end up switching things, if Donald Trump doesn't suppress the vote, if the post office actually delivers the mail -- if all those -- if it all works, the way it is supposed to work, Donald Trump is losing as of tonight.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That was a lot of ifs, though, Lawrence. And so I think that you're correct --

O'DONNELL: Yes, I know. Yes.

MAXWELL: -- that Joe Biden is very much in the lead. But so was Hillary Clinton. But we have hindsight now IN sitting in 2020. At the time we were running in 2016, we saw all those polls where Hillary Clinton was up in Wisconsin and she was up in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

And so, the campaign based their strategy on that polling with the Russian cyber attack in the backdrop. And it wasn't until later that you really understood all of the ways in which Russia was trying to manipulate the perception of voters themselves.

So in this moment I think it is good to see Joe Biden is ahead because certainly the President's coronavirus response in and of itself should mean he should not be reelected because he has shown that he cannot handle a crisis, which is what a president is tasked with doing.

And I think that Joe Biden needs to not take anything for granted because all of those if statements you laid out, if the mail works, if Russia is not interfering, if there is nothing happening to the actual voting infrastructure in terms of the machinery of the election -- then Joe Biden should, for all intents and purposes become the next president.

But that's where, you know, the media and also voters have a role to play. Everybody today needs to decide if they are voting in person or voting by mail. Because Election Day is not November 3rd. It is right now.

And so decide how you are going to do that and try to do that as quickly and as safely as possible and that is the way we get to a different America.

O'DONNELL: And, Ben, it seems that the Trump strategy about the post office is to discourage people from having faith that their vote will actually be counted if they do put that ballot in the mail.

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's right, Lawrence. I mean let's face it. We had a landslide win for Barack Obama in 2008. We never had these like this in the poll.

And the two things they're not putting in ads as you mentioned, Donald Trump and the coronavirus, are the two most important things in this election and everybody knows it.

If this is a free and fair election, it is very difficult to see how Donald Trump wins. So therefore, his strategy out in the open is to make this not a free and fair election.

On top of the voter suppression laws that you already have and half of American states that are designed to make it more difficult for Democratic constituencies, particularly for people of color to vote, you now have this unprecedented assault on the U.S. postal service happening out in the open. This is not a subtle strategy to deny people the capacity to get their ballots. To deny people their (INAUDIBLE) faith that their ballots will be counted.

Perhaps, I think most dangerously for our democracy is we have a scenario where there might not be a result on Election Day because mail-in ballots have to be counted and Donald Trump wants to delegitimize that.

So everybody needs to make a plan to vote as Zerlina says and everybody needs to prepare themselves for Donald Trump questioning the legitimacy of this election and calling it for what it is, which is somebody who cannot win legitimately.

O'DONNELL: Ben Rhodes and Zerlina Maxwell, thank you for joining us tonight and thank you for joining what may be -- what may be our very last discussion of Joe Biden's running mate without knowing the name of Joe Biden's running mate.

Really appreciate that.

MAXWELL: Thanks, Lawrence.

RHODES: Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Thank you both.

And when we come back, today's following a judge's order, an important new piece of video evidence that will surely be used in the trial of the four police officers accused in the murder of George Floyd was made public. We will show you some -- we will show you exactly one minute and 15 seconds of that video of what jurors in the trial are going to see. That's next.



O'DONNELL: "I'm not that kind of guy. I'm not a bad guy." George Floyd said that repeatedly before he started saying the words the world will never forget, "I can't breathe".

And we now know that for the first time because it appears on police body camera released today. And we also know that the first time he said I can't breathe he was still in the back of the police car before he was being held facedown on the street by three Minneapolis police officers.

We know all that because of that body cam video -- police body cam video from two police body cams released today. It shows more of George Floyd's pleading and struggling with the police officers.

We will show you a portion of this video now with the warning that it is deeply disturbing to watch. I know you already know that many of you have seen other video of the George Floyd arrest or attempted arrest before.

And we're going to show it as part of our analysis of the evidence that will be introduced in the trial of the four officers charged in the murder of George Floyd. The jurors will watch this video in its entirety.

It shows a different angle of what was first shown on the video recorded by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier. Because the microphone for this video was much closer to George Floyd, we can hear even more clearly as he says, "I can't breathe", as he calls out for his mother and repeatedly says, "momma, I love you".

We will begin this video at the point where George Floyd is being removed from the police car just before he enters the final position of his life, lying facedown on the street. And again, this video is deeply disturbing to watch and the piece of it that we are about to show you lasts one minute and 27 seconds. Here is that video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take him out and just --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just lay him down. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground. On the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate that. I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got your restraints.

FLOYD: I can't breathe. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I can't breathe.


FLOYD: I can't breathe.


FLOYD: Momma. Momma. Momma. Momma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the front pouches on my right side bag.

FLOYD: Momma. Momma. Momma.

Oh, my God. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe, man. Momma, I love you. Lisa, I love you. Tell my kids I love them. I'm dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On my side, it's listed. It's on the top.

FLOYD: I can't breathe, man. Just help me, man. Momma, momma, I love you.


O'DONNELL: Joining us is Marq Claxton, a former NYPD police detective and director the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Mark, I just want to read for the audience a report on the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" which makes the important point about this video. It says the footage showed that Floyd was given no explanation for why he was being questioned before the officer pointed a gun and swore at him, touched him multiple times and forced him out of his vehicle into the street.

And Marq, as you know, as you have seen, this video begins at the very, very first moment of the encounter. And so it shows us that for every minute of it, every second of it, George Floyd was never told what this was about.

MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD POLICE DETECTIVE: Yes. That's absolutely correct, which is an additional element to just how insane it is for Mr. Floyd to have lost his life. You know, it's difficult to watch, as you indicated. And the video, not only this video but the video that was leaked last week even, and I'm sure additional videos are forthcoming.

They are going to add full context and depth to the depth of misconduct and criminality that the police engaged in. I think people are under some false impression that within these videos that had been released there is some justification for what occurred to Mr. Floyd. And that is absolutely absurd.

Nothing that's been shown has provided any level of justification for depriving Mr. Floyd from breathing by placing a knee on his neck for nine minutes. And under no circumstances can any of this conduct that we have seen exhibited by supposedly professional police officers be considered the standard in policing.

It is egregious and it is our position, my position that much of the conduct that we saw is criminal conduct.

O'DONNELL: Marq, what do you think jurors are going to see when they look at the police body cam video?

CLAXTON: I think the jurors have to be guided through what they're seeing and understand that there is a huge difference. There is a gulf between what some may perceive as being resisting arrest and what is obviously just noncompliance.

Never actively -- Mr. Floyd was never actively (AUDIO GAP) at all. And his behavior was more or less reactionary noncompliance. And I think there are certain things that the jurors are going to have to be guided through in this case to get down to the nuts and bolts of it and distinguish between vigilante behavior or police -- professional police behavior.

O'DONNELL: Marq Claxton, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.

CLAXTON: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: And when we come back, what kind of evil genius can get you to vote against your own interests. Kurt Andersen has the answer to that question in his book "Evil Geniuses" and he joins us next.


O'DONNELL: In the first year of the Trump presidency, the most important book I read was Kurt Andersen's "Fantasy Land", which explained how American voters were willing to vote for their fantasy, Donald Trump.

Now Kurt Andersen is back with an equally important sequel of sorts "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America". This book explains why about half of American voters vote against their own interests and vote to support whatever billionaires and giant corporations want.

It took evil geniuses working for decades to convince voters to do that, says Kurt Andersen.

And joining us now is Kurt Andersen, whose new book "Evil Geniuses" will be released tomorrow.

Kurt, you make the point here that it has taken decades for this group of evil geniuses, who you name many of by name in the book, to get us to the point where what we see in Donald Trump's response to the COVID pandemic is what they were laying the groundwork for.

KURT ANDERSEN, AUTHOR: Yes. Not that they were planning for 100,000 extra deaths 40 years ago, but the playbook that they created and that they built this incredible counter-establishment in the 70s and 80s to pursue in the media and think tanks and on Wall Street and business, CEOs getting together and forming their own kind of cabal.

This incredibly brilliant multi-front war where the central tenets were government is bad. Free enterprise or un-free enterprise as long as it was private enterprise is good. Where science in the case of, of course, climate change was to be disbelieved and ridiculed. On and on and on.

What they've done for the last 40 years and how they kind of hijacked our economic system so well, now really you see every bit of it in the response of the Trump administration and the economic right, the quote (AUDIO GAP) "economic right", to how they have muffed and tragically and grotesquely muffed their response to the pandemic.

Where and you go back to the very beginning. What Donald Trump cared about in February, what he talks about now is the stock market. Not other rates and metrics of ICU usage or death or infection rates, but the stock market.

And once the stock market had come back at the end of May and early June to pretty much where it had been before the crash due to the pandemic, it was mission accomplished for Donald Trump. And indeed, mission accomplished for the billionaires and CEOs and the economic right-wingers that found, to their surprise, I think in many cases, that Donald Trump was their guy, as freakish and stylistically problematic as he is for them. He is their kind of Frankenstein monster of the moment.

O'DONNELL: You quote one of the people in this book who some people out there might think is among the evil geniuses. Warren Buffett, who is also from Omaha, Nebraska like you. And Warren Buffett says "There's class warfare, all right. It's my class, the rich class that's making a war, and we're winning, and we shouldn't be."

Are they winning kind of beyond their wildest dreams? Weren't they just going for kind of lower taxes and less regulation, and now they've gotten more than they could have hoped for?

ANDERSEN: Well, and they were going, as I tell this story in "Evil Geniuses" starting really in the early 70s, until I really did the research, I was aware that they were doing this, that they were starting this long class war.

Yes, at first they just thought, oh, my gosh, the late 60s, early 70s talk of revolution is real. We're going to be -- we have to protect ourselves.

Then very quickly during the 1970s, there was some shift in sentiment, and they took full advantage. By 1980, by the 80s, they were certainly successful beyond their wildest dreams and never, I think, would have imagined as they were -- after that first generation of the 70s and 80s, that 40 years later this paradigm shift that they accomplished in the way people thought about what the economy should be, what the post office should be or shouldn't be, what government should or shouldn't do, that markets and money were everything.

I think that they are -- they would be -- the ones who are still alive from back then are just amazed if they think about it, how successful they've been at taking over.

O'DONNELL: And Louis Powell is not still alive, and he was for me one of the big surprises among the names you name of who the evil geniuses are. Before he was a Supreme Court justice, I had no idea his role in all of this. That's in the book.

Kurt Andersen, we're out of time. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

ANDERSEN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Kurt's book is "Evil Geniuses" and those are tonight's LAST WORDS -- two words "Evil Geniuses", great book.



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