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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  June 26, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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it has been a tough week in the news this week, it will probably be a tough week in the news next week. if you get any time off this weekend, take care of yourself, take care of yourself. we'll see you again on monday. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> one of the bright spots of the week was the 9th circuit court of appeals ruling today that indeed congress does control spending and donald trump is not allowed to take money out of the defense budget to go build his wall. and, so, that has finally been straightened out as we kind of knew it would be. but it's one of those blows for
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in favor of the constitution finally. >> uh-huh. i should say, lawrence, even though things have been dark, we are anticipating next week and the week after into july, we're anticipating a whole bunch of supreme court cases, stuff specific to the president and scandals related to him. i feel like that is a total black box in terms of what we are expecting. so i shouldn't say we're expecting all news to be bad at this point. those are legitimate open questions as to a lot of those rulings. >> that is a world of pure suspense. we never know how those rulings are going to go. you can guess, but you never know until that happens. those are going to be big news days. >> yes, exactly, my friend. thanks, lawrence. >> thank you, rachel. have a great weekend. >> you too. >> thank you. well, donald trump couldn't answer the softest of softball
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questions last night on fox: what is your agenda for a second term? in other words, why are you running for re-election. he didn't know. he had no idea. he answered that with one of those trump rambles. didn't say one word of what he would do in a second term. stewart stevens will join us later in this hour with his view of just how lost in the wilderness the trump campaign is as of tonight. we will also be joined in this hour by the governor of colorado. this week he ordered a special prosecutor to investigate a police killing in colorado. and he is very worried about donald trump's attempt to urge the supreme court to completely repeal obamacare in the middle of a pandemic. with only 130 days left in the
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presidential campaign today, this country recorded the largest number of reported coronavirus infections in a single day. 43,122. with the coronavirus now the most important issue in the presidential campaign, we have one candidate who has been consistently right about how to deal with the coronavirus and one candidate who has been consistently wrong. it is exactly four months ago today on february 26th when donald trump promised this country that within a couple of days we were going to have zero cases of coronavirus, zero. >> when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done. >> he thought the job was over then. that's a pretty good job we've done. he promised zero cases by march
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1st. and as of tonight, there are now 2,467,147 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the united states. and as of tonight, this country has suffered 125,547 deaths from coronavirus. that is not zero. because of the never-ending series of stunningly stupid things donald trump has said in coronavirus briefings, donald trump stopped doing coronavirus briefings after he suggested that maybe drinking lysol would be a working cure. so on the day when this country suffered the most coronavirus infections in the five month history of this disease, in america, it fell to vice president mike pence to lead a coronavirus briefing that was held at the department of human services, as far away from the trump white house as donald
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trump could push it. like donald trump before him, tough questions from a women reporter drove mike pence off the stage in fear. after repeatedly saying that people should follow the guidance and the rules established by their governors and their mayors, cbs's paula reid cut through the pence nonsense with surgical precision and devastating effect. >> it does sound like you're saying, do as we say. not as we do. you're telling people to listen to local health officials. but you denied local officials to have an event that dozens of secret service agents, dozens of campaign staffers are now quarantined after positive tests. in arizona, one of the hardest hit states, you packed a church with young people who weren't wearing masks. how can you say the campaign is not part of the problem that dr. fauci laid out? >> well, i want to remind you,
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again, that freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the constitution of the united states. >> mike pence went on and on and on. 480 words, a three-minute, eleven second answer, and he never came close to answering the question: how can you say that the campaign is not part of the problem that dr. fauci laid out? for mike pence's nonanswer to the question of why he and donald trump are willing to risk the lives of their campaign audiences finally droned to an end, mike pence said this. >> we hope this has been helpful. and we'll be back with more information as time goes on. thank you.
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>> dr. fauci, are these massive rallies okay in your opinion. >> paula reid drove mike pence off that stage in fear, and he pulled all of the task force members with him in abject fear they would say something in response to the question as dr. fauci was willing led out of that room by mike pence. you just heard reporters yelling, dr. fauci, are the rallies okay? but he was not allowed to answer that question. mike pence allowed only six questions before running off the stage. that's not a press briefing, six questions. the story of the coronavirus pandemic in the united states never had to become political. if all of the political players approached the problem responsibly and honestly. but too many republican
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politicians refused to do that. too many republican governors let donald trump's lies about the coronavirus go uncontradicted in their states. and so we are now suffering a surge of coronavirus cases in republican governed states. florida is setting new records every day with the number of new cases. today it was almost 9,000. 8,942 cases in florida today. that's almost double the record they set just two days ago. today florida abruptly ordered a shut down of bars and in breaking news tonight, miami-dade county's republican mayor will sign an emergency order tomorrow closing all county beaches starting july 3rd and restricting any gatherings and parades of more than 50 people for the holiday weekend. the mayor is also requiring masks to be worn inside commercial establishments and outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible. the republican governor of texas
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is now reversing his reopening plan. just yesterday, the texas governor said, the last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. and today the state went backwards and closed down businesses. governor abbott issued an executive order today shutting down bars and reducing the number of people allowed in restaurants. the mayor of austin, texas, steve adley, says the governor has put the state in danger. >> pausing will not make things better. the trajectory we're on right now has our hospitals being overwhelmed probably about mid-july. so the status quo, the path we're on right now, is the path that right now has us in danger. we need to do something that's different than that. we need our people in our community here to act differently. the status quo will not protect us. >> arizona has had the sharpest increase in the rate of
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hospitalizations. yesterday the governor of arizona, doug ducey, said this. >> you are safer at home. all arizona is safer at home, and you can stay healthy at home. >> so now you are safer at home. that same republican governor, two days before that encouraged 3,000 people to sit shoulder to shoulder in a room with donald trump, the governor sat in that room himself. and the only person who was socially distancing in that room was donald trump, who was afraid of getting close to anyone, as he should be. didn't have to be this way. the coronavirus story did not have to be political. donald trump made it political and republican governors living in fear of donald trump and trump voters made it political, and they made it political by
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lying about the threat that the coronavirus posed to this country and to the people of their states. the virus doesn't care about our politics. the virus will kill us in california, new york and other states governed by democrats. but the governors of those states do not have a string of inconsistent wild, untrue statements that they have made about the coronavirus. the governors of those states have not supported donald trump's lies about the coronavirus. and the governors of those states have not welcomed donald trump or mike pence to put people shoulder to shoulder in audiences that could kill them. only republicans have done that. that is not a political statement. that is a very sad statement of fact. some republican governors have met this challenge responsibly. governors like charlie baker of massachusetts and larry hogan of maryland. but too many republican
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governors are more devoted to trumpism than they are to the health and safety of the people of their states. leading off our discussion tonight is an internal medicine physician and msnbc medical contributor. and the chairman of the health subcommittee of the house ways and means committee. and, doctor, we formally go by seniority of political office, but i'm sure congressman doug will allow us to go to the physician first because you have seniority of knowledge among us here. in the coronavirus task force briefing that we had today, what did you hear? what did you want to hear? what should we have heard? >> lawrence, do you remember the white house briefings we had months ago when dr. fauci would take the podium and share his
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evidence based health recommendations to the public and not a moment later the president could come on and contradict what dr. fauci just said. we saw the exact same thing today with the vice president. at those moments, lawrence, i wonder if dr. fauci was standing there and channelling sir thomas moore. right and wrong, i can't navigate. the inaction of our elected officials right now is morally and medically reprehensible. we need action. we need a concrete plan in terms of what to do moving forward. federal agencies such as the cdc and nih, their job is to do research, analyze data, which has been coming in real-time, and share that with elected officials. it is their responsibility, though, then to enact and execute. >> when dr. fauci was leaving the stage and reporters were yelling to him, are the rallies okay?
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dr. roy, if you were there, if that was your job, would you have turned to those reporters and answered that question? >> absolutely. in fact, wasn't the first question by a reporter, what about the rallies given what dr. fauci and the people just told you, are the rallies still okay? are you going to move forward? indoor rallies where thousands of people will come together, masks aren't being mandated, physical distancing is not being mandated, it is all bad. it is all dangerous and it all goes against the data that we have to keep people safe and healthy, lawrence. >> congressman, very sorry to be reporting that the coronavirus is raging as strongly as it is in your state of texas. what do you think the state has to do now? >> well, first, lawrence, i think, as usual, you have the right priority. it should be doctors first.
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it should be medical science first. if we listen to the doctors instead of the politicians that keep doctoring the truth, we would be in a much better position today. our problem in texas is the same one that we have everywhere with a total lack of national leadership. but we have had a governor in greg abbott, who has attached himself firmly to donald trump on everything i think except injecting lysol. and this week he finally kind of began to see what was happening here. i would add really in terms of what we need to do in texas that since we have a void of state leadership and a void of national leadership, at least unshackle the local officials like mayor adler who has been trying to do the right thing, but they will -- the governor will not even permit them to require masks to limit activity at construction sites. he has severely restricted local officials from being able to protect our health and as a
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result texas cities are tonight very dangerous places. >> dr. roy, the governor of texas said tonight that if he could go back and re-do anything, it would probably be to slow down the opening of bars. he now regrets and is publically saying that he regrets opening up bars and bars seem to be one of the hot spots in the places where they have opened up. >> yeah. by the way, my heart felt just feelings towards the state of texas given the hellish period period that we went through in new york, i wouldn't wish that on anybody. we saw a lot of the young people go to bars and surprise, surprise, we're seeing the rise in cases amongst our young people. but they're not the ones getting severely ill and dying. they're infecting older people who are getting sick and dying.
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it's a real problem. but i agree. what do we do here in new york state? our local officials, mayors and governors shut things down. it was painful, but now look at our cases. we've come down really nicely because these social public health measures work, lawrence. >> congressman, you're running up to icu bed capacity in houston at this point. one of the things that strikes me about this is that dallas is one of the great medical centers of this country with some of the finest work that has been done over the years. and it's kind of surprising from the outside that the medical community, the very sophisticated medical community of texas seems to have had no effect on your governor. >> well, the governor claimed we had medical backing for what he was doing and then he opened the state when he couldn't match three of the four key indicators for opening. i think in terms of action that
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we need now so much of it is testing. we could have learned from new york and from italy. but we did not learn. and unfortunately we followed the trump-pence path to nowhere, the path that led us to have more infections and more deaths amazingly than any country in the entire world. but in texas, i think about the report i got this morning in austin, that there were people lined up to get tests by 3:30 in the morning and by 6:30 they ran out of testing. that's the lack of national or state leadership to get those tests available so people will know and to recognize that until we get a handle on this epidemic we will never get back to sustained economic growth. so it is all very tied together. >> congressman, i'm very sorry about the situation in your state. tonight we appreciate you being here. thank you very much for your expertise on this.
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and when we come back, one reason why donald trump spent 15 minutes at his oklahoma rally describing how he walked down the ramp after his graduation speech at west point. donald trump really has no idea why he's running for re-election? we have the video proof of that next. - [narrator] the shark vacmop combines powerful suction
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donald trump has never lost an election and might never lose an election. but as of tonight, his campaign is lost. the trump campaign is so lost donald trump doesn't even know what it's about. donald trump was on fox last night where he was asked only one question that he would have been asked in a real interview. and here is that question. >> what are your top priority items for a second term? >> well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. i always say talent is more important than experience. but the word experience is a very important word. >> he rambled on with other words, and he never used a single word to describe a single priority item for a second term, which is what a presidential re-election campaign is supposed to be about. here is what donald trump said about joe biden. >> here is a guy that doesn't talk.
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nobody hears him. whenever he does talk, he can't put two sentences together. i don't want to be nice or unnice, okay, but the man can't speak. and he's going to be your president because some people don't love me maybe and, you know, all i'm doing is doing my job. >> according to polls tonight, donald trump is right, some people don't love him and joe biden is going to be your president if the campaign keeps going the way it's going. joining our discussion now a columnist for the daily beast and a republican political consultant who served as chief strategist for mitt romney's 2020 campaign, senior adviser to the lincoln project and author to the upcoming become "it was all a lie" which will be published august 4th. stewart, let's start with the challenge of a president running for re-election and being asked
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what his priorities are for the second term. i have never seen any president running for re-election fail on that question. what does that tell us about the trump campaign? >> what's fascinating is you can say anything you want. if you say your priority is i'm going to have cancer cured by the second year, that's up to you. it is really remarkable because not only has he not thought about it, but it seems like the campaign hasn't thought about it. nobody prepped him for it. i think it just really goes to the heart of the whole problem with the republican party now, lawrence. listen, i worked with the republican party for a lot of years. somebody held a gun to my head and said what does the republican party stand for, i'd say just shoot me. i don't know. there is no philosophy that is
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an organizing principle for the republican party and that's unprecedented for a major party in our politics. >> i want to read something frank rich has just written in new york magazine about this campaign and how last it is. he says there is no trump came pain. no one would let repeatedly promise a million attendees in that rally that missed that mark by some 993,000, no real campaign would demolish its unused outdoor stage in broad daylight as cable news scoured for images while waiting for the rally to start rather than wait until after dark, and no real campaign would let its candidate be seen returning to the white house that night, tie undone in
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visible disarray on a walk of shame. jonathan, is that the way most american voters are seeing this campaign? >> apparently so. if you look at the polls. i mean, if you went into a laboratory and designed a horrible campaign, you'd come up with trump 2020. on top of everything else, because words speak -- deeds speak louder than words, where is his administration last night? they're in court trying to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions. this is how they lost the house of representatives in 2018. the american people, especially when there is a pandemic, do not want to be thrown to the wolves. they do not want to have to declare personal bankruptcy or sell their home if somebody in their family gets sick, and
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that, in effect, is what donald trump is running on. if you elect me, i will leave you high and dry on health care. it's like an anti-campaign. we have always overestimated, lawrence, because 2016 how good this guy was politically. he's actually a political idiot. if you look at his inability to extend from his base, it's political malpractice. his base isn't enough to re-elect him. >> stewart, when you think of what the answer to that priorities question would have been four years ago, he would have immediately been jumping in there with mexico is going to pay for the wall and we're going to repeal and replace obamacare and of course he knows, as he sits there, he can't say any of those things now. and it looks like no one has given him an index card to replace any of that stuff. >> you know, what's also fascinating about this is it is
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pretty obvious what he ought to do. god help me if i give the trump campaign advice, but it is so obvious it is worth saying. he can't win a campaign that's about donald trump. and he can't win a campaign that's a referendum on decency. so they have two campaigns ready to run. one was keep the great trump economy going. when you have numbers like the great depression it sort of went out the window and the other was to run against socialists. so they need to get back to this being an ideological choice because if it's about two individuals, one pretty despicable and one a decent, good person, i mean, a lot of republicans i know are going to support biden because of the same reason we supported george bush in many ways, a return to honor and dignity in the white house. so they've got to push that. they have got to try to do that. and they just -- trump is just -- he's not an ideological guy.
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he's a culture guy. i think they thought also they could run like a '68 nixon campaign on law and order. that's why he keeps tweeting law and order. i keep thinking csi. but it -- it's not 1968. he's not nixon. and he doesn't really -- the country has changed so much, he can't run that campaign. >> and, jonathan, the breaking news at this hour tonight, we have a federal judge ruling that the united states must release children from family detention centers which just reminds the country of how bad and cruel trump governing policies were before we got to the cruelty exhibited in the pandemic where the president simply walks away from the challenge of protecting this country from the coronavirus. >> right. cruelty doesn't work. not protecting people's public health doesn't work politically. look, you could give them a
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little bit of a break in february and march when this was a new thing. okay. it was pretty bad. then it gets worse when he's giving out misinformation. now he's a public health menace, and he has rivers of blood on his hands because of what he and these republican governors have done. it's not march anymore. they knew what they had to do, but they made the political decision. the problem for them is it wasn't the political decision. it was an idiotic decision politically on top of being very, very damaging to public health. so i think he's in a downward spiral now, and unless joe biden, you know, nominates somebody far to the left of the president, i don't see a path back for trump. >> you have run a republican convention. donald trump is still determined to have one in person. i guess with people rubbing
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elbows and taking all those chances. isn't that just going to be, if he does it, if that happens, is isn't that just going to be another exhibition to the country of how reckless donald trump is? >> donald trump had a bad night in tulsa, but whoever was running the convention had a worse night because that is just a horror show, to try to keep together a regular traditional convention. i have no idea. i mean, these conventions are planned a year out without a nominee. when you have an incumbent president it is an advantage. now they just moved the whole thing to jacksonville. it looks like the democrats have this together. they are going to do a virtual. so it's going to be interesting. i predict it will be quite a freak show. >> and your book will be out by
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then, so we'll have your book to read during the republican convention. thank you both for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. and when we come back from this break, republicans lost the house of representatives in 2018 because they attempted to repeal obamacare. now donald trump is trying to destroy obamacare in the supreme court in the middle of a pandemic when more people than ever need obamacare. that's next with the governor of colorado. colorado volkswagen today. you'll get 2 years or 20,000 miles of scheduled carefree maintenance. 3 years or 36,000 miles of 24/7 roadside assistance. 4 years or 50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper limited warranty.
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we have breaking news about a court decision affecting migrant children. "the new york times" is reporting tonight citing the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge in los angeles ordered the imminent release of children held in the country's three family detention centers. the order to release the children by july 17th came after plaintiffs in a long-running case reported that some of them have tested positive for the
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coronavirus. it applies to children who have been held for more than 20 days in the detention centers run by the immigration and customs enforcement. two of them are in texas. one is in pennsylvania. the judge in the case criticized the trump administration for its spotty compliance with recommendations from the centers for disease control and prevention to prevent the virus from spreading in detention facilities. the agency had recommended social distancing, the wearing of masks and early medical intervention for those with virus symptoms. the judge wrote in her opinion, the family residential centers are on fire. there is no more time for half measures. we are joined now by the governor of colorado. governor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. i want to get your reaction to this court order tonight saying that the trump administration can no longer detain these children in dangerous conditions for the coronavirus.
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>> frankly, lawrence, most of these children shouldn't have been detained in the first place. many of them have aunts, uncles, older siblings perfectly able to take care of them. it is inhumane to have separated them from their families and placed them in detention. any reason is a good reason to help release these kids to loved ones. there might be a few that don't have family or loved ones and they need to be taken care of while their status is adjusted. but the vast majority, i'm thrilled for them. i'm not thrilled because of coronavirus. i'm thrilled because they're no longer being locked away away from their families for no good reason. >> and the trump administration was actually true to its public posture about all this. meaning, it wasn't really taking the virus seriously in these detention centers. it wasn't really doing the minimum that the cdc was suggesting for detention centers like this. >> you know, one thing we know
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about this virus is whenever there is a congregate living facility, a lot of people living together, whether it is a senior facility, a boarding school, a prison or a youth detention center, we know that this virus just takes off. and so that's why in colorado in many states we have taken a lot of precaution in prisons, prisoners and guards wearing masks, locking down cell blocks, avoiding transfers. you have to take it very seriously at any congregate care facility and certainly those detention centers. if they are there, they should have taken those precautions from the get-go. >> governor, we have a record high unemployment, unemployment levels we have never seen in the history of the unemployment program or in the history of employer provided medical insurance in this country. so that means more people, millions and millions of people
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losing health insurance through their employers at the very same time in the middle of the pandemic that caused all this donald trump last night files a brief with the supreme court asking the supreme court to completely in effect repeal from the bench of the supreme court the affordable care act. >> you know, i was in congress when we passed the affordable care act. now as governor of the state i see firsthand the critical nature of the medicate expansion, protecting people with pre-existing conditions. you know, for years republicans argued there is parts we want to keep. we agree on no pre-existing conditions. yet now we see the trump administration saying, you know what, we even want to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the exchange where many people pay for their own health care
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insurance, we have a robust exchange here in colorado, we reduce rates 20% with our re-insurance program. this is more radical than even what the republicans in congress were talking about when they talked about repealing and replacing the act. >> the president is urging this to the court but pubically of course he makes no mention of this. there was shawn hannity asking him last night, what is your top priority for second term. he never mentioned anything, but he certainly didn't mention obamacare or health care in any way. >> look, a number of times he said i want to protect people with pre-existing conditions. and yet, you know what, the proof is in the pudding here. he literally filed a court motion to abolish protections for people with pre-existing conditions and throw millions of americans off of medicaid at the time that we all need health care more than ever before. so, you know, this is a guy where you can't pay too much attention to what he says. whether he knows what he's saying or not, i have no idea. so let's pay attention to what he does. he literally is filing to get rid of protections for pre-existing conditions and throwing millions of people off
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of medicate. >> i want to ask you about your intervention on the case of elijah mcclain. i want to review this information for the audience. this was a case that began on august 24th, 2019, last summer when 23-year-old elijah mccain was walking home in colorado. he was wearing a ski mask. his family said he was anemic and sometimes he wore that mask to stay warm. 911 was called to stay he looked sketchy. three police officers responded to the call. an officer confronting elijah mccain telling him to stop. the officer says he has a right to stop him because he looks stretchy. there is a brief struggle there that the camera captures and then elijah mccain is on the ground in a choke hold. he vomits. he tells the officers he can't breathe. >> stop. >> yeah, i'm sorry. i wasn't trying to do that. i can't breathe correctly
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because -- >> paramedics arrive and inject elijah mcclain with a sedative. he goes into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. three days later, elijah mcclain was declared brain ted and taken off life-support. the officers have since been reinstated. three million people signed a petition calling for a re-examination of the case, and this week, you appointed state's attorney general as a special prosecutor. governor, what changed for you in this case over that time that you decided it should have a special prosecutor? >> sometimes three million people are right. sometimes three million people are wrong. in this case, three million people and many more who agree there should be an independent
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and thorough investigation of the tragic death of elijah mcclain, i mean, this is a young man with no police record, not even accused of any crime. you know, vegetarian, massage therapist, good kid and he should be with us today, lawrence. we owe it to the people of colorado, as well as his mother who i talked to the other day to make sure we take every step we can to ensure that those responsible for his death are held accountable in a court of law. >> governor, does this indicate to you that you should perhaps standardize this kind of approach that in a killing at the hands of police there should be -- it should be removed from local jurisdiction to have what is in effect a special prosecutor? >> you know, i'm very proud of the republicans and democrats in our legislature. they just worked to bring to my desk a new police reform bill, which i signed last week. it is called senate bill 217. it bans choke holds.
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it has an accountability process for officer-involved killings. no piece of legislation is perfect, but i was so proud that colorado was able to take this step forward. and elijah's mother was one of the people that came and gave powerful testimony of how to prevent this tragedy from occurring in our state in the future. >> when you spoke to -- you said you spoke to elijah mcclain's family about this this week. what did they tell you? >> you know what, i really want to get a sense of what was justice for elijah in his mother's eyes. we know what it is in the eyes of three million people that signed a petition, youth activists i met with and listened to. but at the end of the day it is not for people who never knew him to say what justice means. as far as loved ones in his family, i wanted to make sure she was onboard with this direction. she was. she wants a thorough,
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independent investigation. that's what we're going to do. if there is somebody that could be brought to a jury for conviction, i'm confident our attorney general will do so. >> do you support the congressional approach to police reform and the mandates that they would -- that the democrats in congress would like to impose at a national level? >> well, there is a variety of proposals. i know there is one in the senate, one in the house. i'm very supportive of what we did here in colorado. some of the federal approach mirrors that. i think banning choke holds would be a good national policy. there is no excuse for law enforcement to use that particular technique anywhere, and we know that it has a morbidity rate that's unacceptable and there is more ways to immobilize anybody that might be a threat. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. >> appreciate it. and when we come back, ritchie torez will return. you met him on this program four years ago when he revealed to us the hidden city. the hidden city that he grew up
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in and the hidden city that he will represent when he goes to congress. rich which i torez will join us next. - [narrator] did you just reward yourself for spending a perfectly reasonable amount of time on the couch with tacos from grubhub?
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four years ago, ritchie torres opened our eyes on this program to the hidden city. new york city, america's biggest city, america's most important city, has a hidden city within the city. the hidden city is hiding in plain sight. the hidden city has a population of 700,000 people. that's larger than boston. that's larger than washington, d.c. those 700,000 people live in federally funded public housing projects in new york city. they live in a hidden city of their own, ignored by most politicians. four years ago after he gave viewers of this program an up-close look at the hidden city, ritchie torres pressured the democratic presidential candidates bernie sanders and hillary clinton to visit public housing projects in new york city. he was then the youngest member of new york city's city council at 28 years old. tuesday night, ritchie torres
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came out ahead in the vote count in the democratic primary for new york's 15th congressional district in the bronx. the results won't be official until all the mail-in ballots are counted, and if ritchie torres is sworn in by speaker pelosi as a member of the house of representatives in january, he will become a voice in congress for the hidden city, for all of the hidden cities all over this country. four years ago when we spent the day together in the bronx, ritchie torres talked about growing up in the hidden city. >> you grew up in public housing in the bronx. >> i did. >> tell us about that. >> so i grew up in a public housing development in the east bronx known as throgs neck houses, which is part of its own tale of two cities. it's right across the street from trump golf course. and i grew up facing many of the same conditions that are facts of life here in public housing,
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you know, never-ending molds, leakage, which was a difficult thing as an asthmatic growing up in public housing. without the new york city housing authority, my mother, who raised two children on a low-wage job, would have been in a homeless shelter. she would have been among the 60,000 individuals in our shelter system. so i'm indebted to public housing for giving me a fighting chance at a decent life and becoming the youngest member of the city council. >> and here is how ritchie torres made his case to bronx voters in his congressional campaign. >> i have conducted investigations into kushner companies. i held the first ever city council hearing in a public housing development, which ultimately led to a $3 billion fema grant. i want my neighbors to stay in
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the bronx. there's no one who fights harder for us in washington, d.c. i'm not a miracle worker, but i'm a fighter. and i'm going to fight my heart out to ensure that the bronx gets its fair share. >> joining us now, new york city councilmember ritchie torres, who seems to be well on his way to washington. thank you very much for joining us tonight. the campaign was a difficult one. you've been an openly gay candidate in new york city for years now, and you were running against a real homophobic politician who, in that crowded field, had a chance of squeaking out the victory. was that a significant part of the campaign dynamic? >> it was the core dynamic in the campaign. so i was running in the most fiercely contested congressional primary in new york city.
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there were 12 candidates including 5 elected officials. as you pointed out, the front-runner was a man by the name of ruben diaz sr., who was known to be the most anti-lgbtq, anti-choice, pro-trump elected official in new york city. and even though the south bronx is said to be the most democratic district in america, there was a real risk that the bluest congressional seat could fall into the hands of a pro-trump republican masquerading as a democrat. and many people said this race could not be won. ruben diaz sr., a larger than life political figure, could not be beaten. and we proved the pundits wrong, and we achieved an improbable victory. >> how did you do it? because as you say, it looked like it was going to go the other way. >> we're living in a volatile political moment. this was a change election. i was a change candidate. and throughout the country, voters cast their ballot overwhelmingly for a new generation of leadership that
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reflects the mosaic of a multiracial democracy. it is gratifying for me because ruben diaz sr. for decades as represented the politics of homophobia. and so the triumph an openly lgbtq congressional candidate over a homophobe represented to many long overdue poetic justice. >> tell us about what the coronavirus pandemic has done to the housing projects of new york city, the housing project you grew up in. your mother still lives in that project. and housing projects throughout the country. >> well, the severe overcrowding of apartments, especially in public housing, and those overcrowded apartments often become petri dishes for the spread of an infectious disease like covid-19. the south bronx was struggling even before the outbreak of covid-19, but the food and the security, the health disparities, all of these have been taken to a new level. and it's revealed the deeper
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racial inequalities embedded in american society, and we need a federal government that's committed to addressing the root causes of racially concentrated poverty. the south bronx is ground zero for racially concentrated poverty, and the federal government needs to address it. >> because you're a city politician, you're very close to the question of schools -- >> yeah. >> -- and kids going back to schools. what can you tell us tonight about new york city's expectation of kids going back to school at the end of august? >> it's unclear. there's been no clear guidance on the mayor and how he's going to proceed. the mayor made a comment that students are not going to return fully to public schools until there's a vaccine. i'm in favor of some return to public schools with staggered schedules. i happen to think that face coverings are more effective than people originally thought. so i would advocate for return to normalcy with proper precautions.
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>> talk about the disparity between the kids that you represent, many of whom do not have an internet connection so that they can go to school remotely. new york city lost an awful lot of student who's had no connection and ability to get wired in to the remote classroom. >> look, i have -- i represent students who live in shelters without access to the internet. the policy response to covid-19 itself revealed disparities. the federal government was sending stimulus checks, but not everyone in my district has access to a bank account. there was talk of telemedicine and remote learning, but not everyone in my district, including those in shelters, have access to the internet. so even the policy response to covid-19 was deeply unfair to a district like mine. >> ritchie torres, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. we really appreciate it. >> of course.
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it was an honor to be here. >> thank you, ritchie. we have a programming note. tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. on the networks of nbc, you can watch "global goal: unite for our future." on the global fight to beat the coronavirus. that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. good evening once again. i'm steve kornacki in for brian williams. day 1,254 of the trump administration and 130 days now until the 2020 presidential election. we head into this weekend with the country in a new phase of its fight against covid-19. the next few weeks could be critical. within the past 24 hours, the u.s. passed the 40,000 mark in new virus cases reported on a single day. we are now well north of 2.4 million total cases in this country and 125,000 lives lost.


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