President Barack Obama issued this tribute to Congressman John Lewis, a hero to so many in the cause of freedom and equality, who passed away at the age of 80:
America is a constant work in progress. What gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further – to speak out for what’s right, to challenge an unjust status quo, and to imagine a better world.
John Lewis – one of the original Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years – not only assumed that responsibility, he made it his life’s work. He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.
Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well.
In so many ways, John’s life was exceptional. But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect. And it’s because he saw the best in all of us that he will continue, even in his passing, to serve as a beacon in that long journey towards a more perfect union.
I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders. When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly.
It’s fitting that the last time John and I shared a public forum was at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts – of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office. I told him that all those young people – of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation – they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.
Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders – to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.
Amid national protests over police brutality and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Donald Trump calling out the military against peaceful protesters outside the White House, VP Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.“
“We are a nation in pain,” Biden declared. “but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
“As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.”
Here is a transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech delivered from the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall in front of an audience that included Mayor Jim Kenney, Congressman Brendan Boyle, and state and local elected officials.:
“I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.”
George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation.
They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk.
They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus – and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment – with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in black and brown communities.
And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people – not at the moment of losing their life – but in the course of living their life – are saying to themselves, “I can’t breathe.”
It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us.
And I mean all of us. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words – they’re the same words we heard from Eric Garner when his life was taken six years ago.
But it’s time to listen to these words. Understand them. And respond to them – with real action.
The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that can bring us together. Leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for too long.
But there is no place for violence.
No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.
Nor is it acceptable for our police — sworn to protect and serve all people — to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.
We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest — and opportunistic violent destruction.
And we must be vigilant about the violence that’s being done by the incumbent president to our democracy and to the pursuit of justice.
When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle.
More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.
For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care — to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.
The President held up a bible at St. John’s church yesterday.
If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves.
That’s hard work. But it’s the work of America.
Donald Trump isn’t interested in doing that work.
Instead he’s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy.
Guardrails that have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union.
A union that constantly requires reform and rededication – and yes the protests from voices of those mistreated, ignored, left out and left behind.
But it’s a union worth fighting for and that’s why I’m running for President.
In addition to the Bible, he might also want to open the U.S. Constitution.
If he did, he’d find the First Amendment. It protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Mr. President: That is America.
Not horses rising up on their hind legs to push back a peaceful protest. Not using the American military to move against the American people. This nation is a nation of values. Our freedom to speak is the cherished knowledge that lives inside every American.
We will not allow any President to quiet our voice.
We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests.
And we can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t.
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.
I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be.
It’s all at stake. That is truer today than ever. And it’s in this urgency we can find the path forward.
The history of this nation teaches us that it’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress.
The 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economy in the history of the world grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs.
To paraphrase Reverend Barber — it’s in the mourning we find hope.
It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before.
Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.
That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my Presidency — or even an entire term.
It is the work of a generation.
But if this agenda will take time to complete, it should not wait for the first 100 days of my Presidency to get started.
A down payment on what is long overdue should come now. Immediately.
I call on Congress to act this month on measures that would be a first step in this direction. Starting with real police reform.
Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds. Congress should put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.
There are other measures: to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month.
No more excuses. No more delays.
If the Senate has time to confirm Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution, it has time to pass legislation that will give true meaning to our Constitution’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”
Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission.
I’ve long believed we need real community policing.
And we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices.
And the federal government should give them the tools and resources they need to implement reforms.
Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession. All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening.
And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right.
We know, though, that to have true justice in America, we need economic justice, too.
Here, too, there is much to be done.
As an immediate step, Congress should act to rectify racial inequities in the allocation of COVID-19 recovery funds.
I will be setting forth more of my agenda on economic justice and opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.
But it begins with health care. It should be a right not a privilege. The quickest route to universal coverage in this country is to expand Obamacare.
We could do it. We should do it.
But this president — even now — in the midst of a public health crisis with massive unemployment wants to destroy it.
He doesn’t care how many millions of Americans will be hurt— because he is consumed with his blinding ego when it comes to President Obama.
The President should withdraw his lawsuit to strike down Obamacare, and the Congress should prepare to act on my proposal to expand Obamacare to millions more.
These last few months we have seen America’s true heroes. The health care workers, the nurses, delivery truck drivers, grocery store workers.
We have a new phrase for them: Essential workers.
But we need to do more than praise them. We need to pay them.
Because if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by America’s great middle class — by our essential workers.
I know there is enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand.
And I know so many Americans are suffering. Suffering the loss of a loved one. Suffering economic hardships. Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color — and on black and Native communities in particular.
I know what it means to grieve. My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many. But I know what it is to feel like you cannot go on.
I know what it means to have a black hole of grief sucking at your chest.
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of my son Beau’s passing from cancer. There are still moments when the pain is so great it feels no different from the day he died. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn all that anger and anguish to purpose.
And, Americans know what our purpose is as a nation. It has guided us from the very beginning.
It’s been reported. That on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, little Yolanda King came home from school in Atlanta and jumped in her father’s arms.
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “now we will never get our freedom.”
Her daddy was reassuring, strong, and brave.
“Now don’t you worry, baby,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s going to be all right.”
Amid violence and fear, Dr. King persevered.
He was driven by his dream of a nation where “justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Then, in 1968 hate would cut him down in Memphis.
A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington.
He told us that though the arc of a moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
And we know we can bend it — because we have. We have to believe that still. That is our purpose. It’s been our purpose from the beginning.
To become the nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
To become the nation defined — in Dr. King’s words — not only by the absence of tension, but by the presence of justice.
Today in America it’s hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. I know that. You know that.
The pain is raw. The pain is real.
A president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But our president today is part of the problem.
When he tweeted the words “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” – those weren’t the words of a president. They were the words of a racist Miami police chief from the 1960s.
When he tweeted that protesters “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs … that’s when people would have been really badly hurt.” Those weren’t the words of a president — those were the kind of words a Bull Connor would have used unleashing his dogs.
The American story is about action and reaction. That’s the way history works. We can’t be naïve about that.
I wish I could say this hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending.
The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years.
A tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character.
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
It’s never a rout. It’s always a fight. And the battle is never finally won.
But we can’t ignore the truth that we are at our best when we open our hearts, not when we clench our fists. Donald Trump has turned our country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.
He thinks division helps him.
His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being he leads.
I ask every American to look at where we are now, and think anew: Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we pass on to our kids’ and grandkids’ lives? Fear and finger-pointing rather than hope and the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety? Self-absorption and selfishness?
Or do we want to be the America we know we can be. The America we know in our hearts we could be and should be.
Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either.
But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate.
I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain.
I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.
It’s about you.
And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.
To build a better future. That’s what America does.
We build the future. It may in fact be the most American thing to do.
We hunger for liberty the way Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass did.
We thirst for the vote the way Susan B. Anthony and Ella Baker and John Lewis did. We strive to explore the stars, to cure disease, to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can.
We may come up short — but at our best we try.
We are facing formidable enemies.
They include not only the coronavirus and its terrible impact on our lives and livelihoods, but also the selfishness and fear that have loomed over our national life for the last three years.
Defeating those enemies requires us to do our duty — and that duty includes remembering who we should be.
We should be the America of FDR and Eisenhower, of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., of Jonas Salk and Neil Armstrong.
We should be the America that cherishes life and liberty and courage.
Above all, we should be the America that cherishes each other – each and every one.
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.
So reach out to one another. Speak out for one another. And please, please take care of each other.
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we can’t do. If we do it together.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a positive reform agenda to address systemic racism and police brutality amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police brutality conducted by independent, outside agencies – not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.
While standing firmly in support of the protests against police brutality, the Governor said that protest for its own sake would only work against the cause, but that there needs to be a clearly defined list of actions that need to be articulated.
“You want to make that moment work,” he declared. “Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, ‘Here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.’ That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protesters are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse.”
And Cuomo also differentiated between the those who are exercising their Constitutional First Amendment right to protest against those who are taking advantage to loot and vandalize, giving Trump the opportunity to deflect and discount, and shift focus to himself as the “law-and-order” strongman. Indeed, there are reports that White Nationalist group is posing as Antifa on Twitter, calling for violence. Trump is proposing to designate Antifa a terrorist group, and is using them to justify calling out military against protesters – which would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.
“There’s no doubt that what the President’s trying to do here is turn the attention to the looters rather than the point of the protest, which is genuine outrage,” Cuomo said in an interview with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC. “”You look at what happened with Mr. Floyd, you have to be outraged. It’s not just Mr. Floyd in an isolated situation, it’s been years and years of the same situation. You can go back to Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner – it’s a long list.
“They want to make this about looting and criminals rather than the killing. That’s what they’re trying to do. In New York, we did have large protests and we do have people who are, I think, exploiting the protest. There’s no doubt that there’s some people who came out and did looting and criminal activity. You have some disrupting organizations that are seizing upon the moment. We want to make sure that order is maintained and we’re putting in place a curfew.”
“Use this moment. You look in history, Nicolle, when did change come? Change came when the people insisted on change. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.”
Cuomo ordered a curfew of 11 pm in New York City, and doubled the number of police, from 4,000 to 8,000. However, that was not enough to stop a spate of acts of looting and vandalism.
The protests come just as New York City was hitting the milestones in the fight against COVID-19, which has taken more lives – and more disproportionately in communities of color – in the city and state than anywhere in the country or world. The Governor said that if there was any “silver” lining in the timing, the protests are happening when the infection rate has been cut from 20 percent to 2 percent but still raised concerns of reigniting the spread of the pandemic.
Here is a transcript of Governor Cuomo’s remarks:
We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City. Now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could, in fact, exacerbate the COVID-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see there’s mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything that we have done. We have to talk a minute and ask ourselves what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?
We have protests across the state that continued last night, they continued across the nation. Upstate we worked with the cities very closely. The State Police did a great job. We had, basically, a few scattered arrests, upstate New York. But the local governments did a great job, the people did a great job, law enforcement did a great job. The protestors were responsible. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either, upstate.
I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It’s frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there’s no excuse for it. No right minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It’s not just Mr. Floyd, it goes back – there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We’ve them here in New York City. What’s the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo? Or Abner Louima? Or Eric Garner? What is the difference? What have we learned? Nothing?
So, yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there’s a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police. But it’s something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called “The Tale of Two Cities.” People still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there’s two Americas. Two sets of rules. Two sets of outcomes. Two sets of expectations. It’s true. It was true then, it’s true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there’s not inherit injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there’s not inherent injustice.
Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide. More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionally than white Americans. Of course, there’s chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there’s no doubt that it’s been going on for a long time and people are frustrated, and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there’s no doubt, that this nation as great as it is has had the continuing sin of discrimination. From before the nation was formed and it started with slavery. And it has had different faces over the decades, but it’s still the same sin. That is true. That is true. So let’s use this moment as a moment of change? Yes.
When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus, and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people. That’s when change comes. “Well, the leaders lead!” Baloney. The people lead. And then the politicians see the people moving, and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this State, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said, “enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ people— they can’t marry? How is that constitutional? How is that legal?” You have your own preference— God bless you. But how in the law, do you discriminate between two classes of people. We passed marriage equality.
After the Sandy Hook massacre, after all those years we tried to pass common sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened, and the people said, “enough. You’re killing children? Young children in schools with an assault weapon? In the Sandy Hook massacre. Enough.”
And in that moment, we passed common sense gun safety in the State of New York. Record income inequality? People said, “enough” and passed a real minimum wage in this State that went all across the nation. There’s a moment for change, and is there a moment here? Yes. If we’re constructive and if we’re smart, and if we know what were asking for! It’s not enough to come out and say, “I’m angry, I’m frustrated.” OK. And what? “Well, I don’t know, but I’m angry and frustrated.”
And you want what done? You need the answer. “Well, I want common sense gun reform.” OK, what does it look like? Here it is— three points. “Well I want to address income inequality.” Well, what do you want? “Here’s what I want. Minimum wage at $15. Free college tuition.” What do you want?
You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage! But then you say, “here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.” That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local District Attorney doing the investigations— I don’t care how good they are— there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department every day and now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of that police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interests can be real or perceived. How can people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation? It shouldn’t be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put attorney general in charge of investigations where police kill an unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. There is no self-policing. There’s an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real.
If a police officer is being investigated, how is there disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? By the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That’s relevant too.
We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district. $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can’t. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation? Well, when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can’t find funding to help children who live in poverty? No, you can find it, United States. You just don’t want to. It’s political will. When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let’s be honest, the federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will, they find the money.
The federal government went out of the housing business and never re-entered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis. Of course you do. You don’t fund affordable housing. I’m the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with Section 8 and building new public housing. And we just stopped, and we left it to the market. Now you have an affordable housing plan. That’s what we should be addressing in this moment. And we should be saying to our federal officials, “There’s an election this year, a few months away. Here’s my agenda. Where do you stand?” Say to the congress, the House and Senate, “Where’s your bill on this?”
I heard some congressional people talking saying well maybe they’ll do a resolution. Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say in theory I support this. Pass a law, that’s what we want. A law that actually changes the reality, where something actually happens. That’s government’s job is to actually make change. Make change. You’re in a position to make change. Make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make the change. And have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it’s just screaming into the wind if you don’t know exactly what changes we need to make.
And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that’s not protesting. That’s not righteous indignation. That’s criminality and it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don’t want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I will tell you what they’re going to say. They’re going to say the first thing the President said when this happened. They’re going to say “These are looters.” Remember when the President put out that incendiary tweet? “We start shooting when they start looting or they start looting, we start shooting?” That’s an old ’60s call. The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don’t want progressive change. And you mark my words, they’re going to say today, “Oh you see, they’re criminals. They’re looters. Did you see what they did breaking the store windows and going in and stealing?” And they’re going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they’re all criminals, they’re all looters. That’s what they’re going to do. Why? They don’t want to talk about Mr. Floyd’s death. They don’t want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting they say “Oh yeah, that’s scary. They’re criminals.” No, look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That’s the video we want people watching.
Now, I don’t even believe it’s the protesters. I believe there are people who are using this moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal. And here’s a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who are there to quote unquote protest. They’re not from their community. They don’t know where they’re from, extremist groups, some people are going to blame the left, some people will blame the right. It will become politicized. But there is no doubt there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, it’s a coincidence they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random. So, can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people and forces who will exploit that moment and I believe that’s happening.
But we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity one week before we’re going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don’t even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don’t even know. We won’t know possibly for weeks. It’s the nature of the virus. How many super-spreaders were in that crowd? “Well, they were mostly young people.” How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their brother or their mother or their sister and spread a virus?
New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening. From the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united, we were respectful of each other. We were disciplined. Wearing the mask is just discipline, it’s just discipline. Remember to put it on, remember to pick it up, remembering to put it on when see someone, it’s just discipline.
It was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That’s what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York. Even with the New York toughness, even with a New York accent, even with a New York swagger. We’re loving. That’s what we’ve done for 93 days in a way we’ve never done it before. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don’t think it ever will again, in my lifetime. Now you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don’t know if that’s true and I don’t know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again.
Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we had to have hand sanitizer? Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything and it’s true. It’s true for the state, it’s true for a nation. When you come together and you have one agenda you can do anything. You want to change society, you want to end the tale of two cities, you want to make it one America? You can do that, just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end.
People united can do anything. We showed that, we just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart. We have to be smart right now. Right now in this state. We have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda. This is not persuading government officials to change. This is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart.
With Attorney General
William Barr facing criticism for his direct involvement in extorting Ukraine
to engage in a bogus investigation intended to harm Democratic candidate for
2020 Vice President Joe Biden and opening a criminal investigation into the
intelligence officers in the CIA and FBI who initially investigated and exposed
Russian meddling in the 2016 Election and contacts with the Trump campaign,
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposals unveiled earlier this month to restore
trust in the federal judiciary are particularly noteworthy in light of
widespread concern that the judiciary has been politicized. This is from the
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren
detailed how she will strengthen the ethical integrity and impartiality of the
federal judiciary. Her plan will ensure that judges do not hear cases where
they have conflicts of interests, strengthen our nation’s ethics rules for
judges, and ensure accountability for judges who violate these rules.
Under her plan, investigations into judicial misconduct
could continue even when a judge resigns from office or is elevated to the Supreme
Court. This provision would allow the judiciary to reopen the investigations
into Alex Kozinski, Maryanne Trump Barry, Brett Kavanaugh, and any other judge
who benefited from this loophole.
In December 2017, more than 15 female law clerks alleged that Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski committed sexual misconduct and created a “hostile, demeaning and persistently sexualized environment” for employees. According to their accounts, Kozinski inappropriately touched female clerks and showed them pornography in his chambers.
The basic premise of our legal system is that every person
is treated equally in the eyes of the law – including judges. Our judiciary
only functions properly when it lives up to this promise, and it risks eroding
its legitimacy when the American people lose faith that
judges are ethical and fair-minded.
That’s why today I’m announcing my plan to strengthen the
ethical integrity and impartiality of the federal judiciary. It’s time to
ensure that judges do not hear cases where they have conflicts of interests,
strengthen our nation’s ethics rules for judges, and ensure accountability for
judges who violate these rules.
Recusing Judges and Supreme Court Justices with Conflicts
In 2011, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James
Hill ruled in favor of Johnson &
Johnson in a case brought by a woman who suffered from a
malfunctioning medical implant. He did so while owning as much as $100,000 in
the company’s stock. The same judge ruled on three other cases involving
companies in which he owned stock – and ruled in favor of the company each
time. Judge Hill, unfortunately, is not alone: one study identified 24 cases in
which judges owned stock in a company that appeared before them in court.
A basic principle of our federal judicial system is that
judges make decisions as disinterested, impartial observers – stepping aside
when they may not be able to decide cases objectively. This principle should
also bar judges from being the final arbiter of whether they can be objective
in the first place.
It’s time for fundamental reform:
Prohibit judges from deciding for themselves whether they
should recuse from a case due to a conflict. When a litigant believes
that a judge cannot consider a case in an unbiased manner, the litigant may
file a recusal motion asking for another judge to decide the case instead. But
our current system gives judges enormous discretion to decide for themselves whether
to grant recusal motions where their objectivity is challenged. My plan will
instead empower the Chief Judges within regional circuits to establish a
binding recusal process. It will also require courts to publish its reasons any
time judges are disqualified from a case without a recusal motion, including
when judges voluntarily recuse or when an automated conflict-checking
software disqualifies them.
Ban judges from owning or trading individual
stocks. It’s not enough for judges like James Hill to recuse in cases
with conflicts of interest – my plan would eliminate the appearance of
impropriety by banning federal judges from owning or trading individual stocks,
while allowing them to instead invest in conflict-free mutual funds or open new
investment accounts managed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
Law firms follow rules like these to avoid the appearance of financial
conflicts with the interests of their clients. Judges should certainly be held
to the same standard.
Require Supreme Court Justices to provide written
explanations of recusal decisions when a litigant challenges for recusal. If
a Supreme Court Justice has a conflict of interest, they are ethically
obligated to recuse themselves from considering a case, but the law allows them
to deny recusal motions without even providing an
explanation. Under my plan, when a party asks for a Justice to
recuse, the Judicial Conference will issue a non-binding, public advisory
opinion with its recommendation – and the challenged Justice will publicly
explain their final recusal decision in writing. Because all recusal decisions
will be a matter of public record, future litigants will understand these
conflicts and know when to bring recusal decisions of their own.
Strengthening Ethics Rules for All Judges.
Every lawyer in America is subject to ethics rules. Federal
judges are generally subject to a Code of Conduct that
applies the most basic of these principles to members of the judiciary.
That means that Supreme Court Justices can go on trips with litigants,
like Justice Scalia did when he heard a case involving Vice President
Cheney after going hunting with him –
without an independent ruling on whether it was proper to do so. It means
Justices can receive large speaking fees and all-expenses paid trips to fancy
conferences, like Justice Thomas did when the Federalist Society, an extremist
right-wing legal group, flew him to Palm Springs and
paid for meals and transportation for four days. And it means that someone
like Brett Kavanaugh can
face accusations of lying to Congress – without a full and fair
investigation by the judiciary. These actions could violate
the Judicial Code of Conduct,
but because unlike all other federal judges these Justices are not bound by a
code of ethics, they are immune from any judicial investigations into
We must act now to fix this – and that means strengthening
the Code of Conduct for all judges.
Here’s where I would start:
Extend the Code of Conduct to Supreme Court Justices. When
Judge Kavanaugh was elevated to the Supreme Court, 83 ethics complaints that had been
lodged against him were dismissed – and because the Supreme
Court is not covered by a Code of Conduct, no procedure exists to file new
complaints. Questions are oftenraised about the
behavior of Supreme Court Justices, such as Justice Thomas’s 13 years of
financial disclosures that failed to list $690,000
in payments to his wife from the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing judicial
activist group – but these actions are beyond the scope of current rules.
Enough. My plan applies the Code of Conduct for United States
Judges to Supreme Court Justices – and places the Judicial
Conference in charge of violations. My plan also allows individuals to file
complaints against Supreme Court Justices, just like they can against all other federal judges.
Strengthen the Code of Conduct to ensure a fair and
impartial judiciary. When judges accept gifts or financial
contributions from interested parties, public trust in a fair-minded judiciary
erodes. My plan strengthens the Code of Conduct so that judges generally cannot
receive paid speaking fees or
all-expenses-paid trips from outside organizations. To ensure that
judges continue to interact with the public without the appearance of
impropriety, my plan also establishes a modest fund to help cover reasonable
Real Enforcement for Judicial Misconduct.
When a lawyer violates the ethics rules, their state’s
judiciary can investigate their behavior and impose disciplinary punishment,
including stripping their licence to practice law.
But the panels of judges
that investigate judicial conduct complaints have limited disciplinary power beyond
asking the judge to voluntarily resign or asking the House of Representatives
to consider impeachment proceedings – a request the House is free to
It’s time for real accountability for judges. Here’s how
Continue investigations into judicial misconduct even
when a judge resigns from office or is elevated to the Supreme Court.
In 2016, Federal District Court Judge Walter Smith faced a judicial
investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of
court employees and drinking on the
bench while presiding over cases. Judge Smith resigned, and the complaints
filed against him were dismissed.
My plan extends the authority of the Judicial Conference to former judges so
that individuals under investigation cannot simply resign from the bench to
avoid accountability. This provision would allow the judiciary to reopen the
investigations into Alex Kozinski, Maryanne Trump-Barry, Brett Kavanaugh, and any
other judge who benefited from this loophole.
Provide strong disciplinary authority to judicial ethics
watchdogs, including the ability to strip non-vested taxpayer-funded pensions
Under today’s rules, even if retired judges could be investigated, the Judicial
Conference has no meaningful tools to discipline them. American taxpayers are
paying for the more than $180,000-per-year retirement pay of Judge Smith, Judge
Kozinski, Judge Trump-Barry, and several other judges who left office during
investigations into their behavior. We need to restore real accountability
within our judiciary.
That’s why my plan provides disciplinary tools to the Judicial Councils and
their parent organization, the Judicial Conference, including the ability to
strip sitting or retired judges of their non-vested pension benefits by making
retirement pay for new judges explicitly contingent on the absence of serious
misconduct. In addition to strengthening these disciplinary tools, my
administration will also work to prevent judicial misconduct against employees
and law clerks by supporting strong climate surveys,
questionnaires to court employees about the work environment in our federal
courts, to help the judiciary understand how to improve the culture within our
Create a new, fast-track impeachment process for federal
judges who commit impeachable offenses.
The Constitution reserves the impeachment of judges for only the most egregious offenses. But
when a judge commits a serious offense or ethical violation, we need to make
sure that there is a prompt investigation – and that Congress takes action.
It’s time to fast-track the process for judges who commit impeachable offenses.
My plan would strengthen the process to certify
that a judge may have committed an impeachable offense, and would ensure that
any impeachment referrals will trigger a series of automatic rules under which
the House Judiciary Committee will conduct a thorough investigation and vote
without unnecessary delay. These reforms will ensure that judges who commit
serious, impeachable offenses will more likely be promptly removed from office.
These changes will not only allow us to ensure
accountability for bad actors, including reopening inquiries into the conduct
of offenders like Brett Kavanaugh. They will also hold the vast majority of
judges who act in good faith to the highest ethical standards, and in the
process, begin to restore accountability and trust in a fair and impartial
“Equal Justice Under Law,” is what is inscribed above the entrance to the Supreme Court.
No One is Above the Law. Justice Without Fear or Favor.
Alas, these clichés can be thrown onto the ash heap of myths that are really only fantasy, along with American Dream, American Exceptionalism and the biggest lie of all: one person, one vote.
What we see all around is the ability for the wealthy, the powerful and the connected to evade justice. One way is by simply affording a battery of top lawyers which poor people, dependent upon funds-strapped public defenders, cannot, so are pressured to accept plea deals even if they are innocent and then branded for the rest of their lives, while wealthy people can have their arrest record expunged, or excuse their crime as the result of “Affluenza,” as Texas teenager Ethan Couch, did despite driving drunk without a license and killing four and injuring nine people. On the other hand, when 16-year old Cyntoia Brown, killed the pimp who kept her as a sex slave and had been beating her, she was tried as an adult and sentenced to life without parole.
If Paul Manafort, accused of 11 counts including money laundering millions of dollars, were a poor black teenager, he would be in jail for weeks, even months, instead of comfortably ensconced in one of his multi-million dollar homes (and that’s only because of the strong argument that he has the money, means and foreign ties to make him a flight risk – otherwise he would be out and about).
How different from Kalief Browder, a Bronx teenager held at Rikers Island for three years without ever being convicted including 400 days in solitary confinement, was so damaged the 22-year old committed suicide when he was finally released. Or the thousands of people held in jail because they can’t afford bail, losing their job, home, family.
Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. get waved aside for defrauding buyers in their Soho coop after their lawyer makes a hefty contribution to DA Cy Vance’s election campaign, but Eric Garner gets put in a choke hold, thrown to the ground, and suffocated to death for selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street. That’s called a “quality of life” crime and it apparently is a capital offense. So is an innocuous traffic violation: Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was arrested during a traffic stop and found hanging in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, three days later.
Imagine a defendant claiming “I didn’t remember, but after reading the newspaper accounts, it jogged my memory,” as an excuse for lying to federal officials and Congress. And this is the Attorney General, who has taken such a strong stand for Law & Order, along with his boss, Donald Trump, who has no problem at all breaking laws, dismissing laws, ignoring or overturning Constitutional protections. Actually Jeff Sessions, as a prosecutor and Senator, didn’t harbor any sympathy for anyone who “can’t recall” – prosecuting a rookie police officer whose memory failed, and, of course, Hillary Clinton, but he’s used that phrase dozens and dozens of times in his own hearings, and even outright lies (I never met with any Russians during the course of the campaign; didn’t know of anyone in the campaign who did) – perjury, lying to Congress – will likely go without consequences.
Instead, the nation’s highest law enforcement officer has stopped prosecuting hate crimes, police brutality, systemic discrimination in sentencing and prosecution, and voter suppression, and authorizes Gestapo-like tactics to round up undocumented immigrants without due process and the relaunch the “war on drugs” as a pretext for heavy-handed policing. Meanwhile, Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy Devoes is no longer taking steps against sexual assault on college campuses.
Nowadays, the wealth in the justice system is also related to threatening lawsuits to anyone who dares bring a complaint, such as sexual assault (Trump, Roy Moore), or literally buying up the Fourth Estate so that the press is no longer free and no longer the watchdog against abuses of power (Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts buys chain of local papers to shut them down). Latest: Koch Brothers’ investment arm providing $650 million toward $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. Won’t have effect on editorial? Well, the big donors to PBS used its weight to prevent the documentary, “Citizen Koch” from being televised.
The Rule of Law is now routinely trampled by Trump: attacking a judge’s impartiality because of his Hispanic heritage; challenging the ruling of the 9th Circuit against his unconstitutional Travel Ban, pardoning Sheriff Arpaio (sending a message to other conspirators) and supporting Roy Moore for the US Senate, who not only has had credible accusations of committing felony pedophilia and sexual assault, but twice was removed for defying Supreme Court rulings, otherwise known as the “Rule of Law.”
Here are just some of the many ways the justice system and Rule of Law is being overturned:
Obstruction of justice: Trump has not only dismissed the federal prosecutors like Preet Bharara who were investigating Trump’s dubious financial dealings including money laundering for Russian oligarchs, but is now personally interviewing candidates in the regions where Trump has business investments. This follows his dismissal of James Comey as FBI director for failing to give his oath of loyalty and ending the investigation into Michael Flynn and Russian meddling into the 2016 election.
Politicizing justice: The pressure from Trump to get Sessions’ DoJ to launch a special counsel investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Uranium One deal and (yet again) her emails (ironic considering Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon were all found to use private emails once they got into the White House), is a Banana-Republic move against a political opponent.
As Sally Yates (who exposed Michael Flynn and was fired as Acting Attorney General by Trump for refusing to enforce his unconstitutional Travel Ban), the Justice Department isn’t there to “go after his enemies and protect his friends”
For the first time since Nixon era, the Department of Justice has sought to block a merger of a telecom company (then it was ITT, today it is ATT), for personal reasons. AT&T is seeking to acquire Time Warner – which on face of it, especially for a consolidation-happy, bigness is bestest administration that has no problem with monopolies and oligopolies, even to the point of overturning regulations to allow Sinclair to massively control local TV stations. But Trump has made clear he hates CNN, and has made it a condition of allowing the sale for Time Warner to divest of CNN. The DoJ is doing Trump’s bidding.
Stacking courts with political hacks: Trump has a flurry of judicial nominees who are political and ideological hacks, enabled by the way Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has abused his power in the first instance to withhold the confirmation process for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and now, by overturning the long-standing tradition of a Senator using a “blue slip” to blackball a judicial nominee – something that Republicans used incessantly to block Obama’s ability to make appointments, leaving a staggering number of vacancies. Yet four of Trump’s nominees – an unprecedented number – have been designated as “Unqualified” by the American Bar Association. Among them Brett Talley, with just three years practicing law, has never tried a case, and who was rated unanimously “not qualified” for a federal judgeship by the American Bar Association — their lowest rating; who withheld from his Senate questionnaire that his wife is the chief of staff for the White House counsel, who has pledged support for the NRA, mocked gun control, retweeted Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook was a hoax, and called for Hillary “Rotten” Clinton to be locked up.
Controlling the press/de-fanging the Fourth Estate: the role of a free press is to serve as a watchdog on those in power, especially the government. Trump has waged an actual de-legitimizing campaign, calling every story and every media organization which raises questions about his governance and his administration as “fake news”, actually threatening to take away a broadcast license, and now, sending his DoJ to challenge a merger between AT&T and Time Warner not because it is monopolistic, but to force Time Warner to shed CNN. And yet, the Trump Administration’s FCC, under Ajit Pai, a former Verizon executive, has no problem with the merger of ultra-conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group with Tribune Media which would violate existing regulations intended to block a monopoly of political viewpoints in a media market; the merger would mean that “Trump TV” would reach 72% of American homes. This follows Pai’s determination to overturn net neutrality, which is designed to give a level playing field across the now ubiquitous and essential cyberspace,
Just this week, James O’Keefe, whose scams have brought down Acorn and Planned Parenthood, through his Project Veritas, tried to scam the Washington Post in order to bolster Roy Moore. O’Keefe should be prosecuted for industrial sabotage and fraud. They are intent on damaging the Washington Post’s reputation, which costs them money, and force the real press to spend more time and money in their investigative reporting which obstructs publication. What they did is no different than poisoning a Tylenol bottle. But a politicized DoJ, under Sessions, won’t prosecute.
On the other hand, a West Virginia reporter was arrested simply for shouting out a question about health care at (then) HHS Secretary Tom Price and a Code Pink activist was arrested, prosecuted and tried for giggling during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing.
Unequal Justice: Take for example how George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s murderer, was acquitted based on Stand Your Ground laws, but Marissa Alexander, who fired a warning shot to scare off her enraged estranged and violent husband who was about to beat or kill her, was found guilty after just 12 minutes of jury deliberation and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Personhood laws that states are trying to install set up more imprisonments of mothers who lose their children to miscarriage, who are shown to drink or do drugs during pregnancy, or who seek to abort a pregnancy. (A hidden provision of the Republican tax plan would create personhood for a fetus, and pave the way for abortion to be illegal and mothers prosecuted for miscarrying or bad behavior during pregnancy, stripping the woman of civil and human rights.)
The way that women who have been victims of sexual assault, become victimized by the predators with the assistance of the judicial system is the reason that so few have come forward before to charge Trump, Roy Moore and others.
Discrimination in sentencing: African-American men serve prison sentences that average almost 20 percent longer than those served by white men for similar crimes, according to a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. There has a consequence for voting rights as well, with as many as 6 million blacks (one in 13) disenfranchised because of a prison record.
School to prison pipeline: 67,000 preschool kids, 3 and 4 years old, are being suspended or expelled a year for ‘infractions’ that might be considered normal development, but African American kids are twice as likely to be punished in this way, setting the stage for failure in school and ultimately a path to prison.
Privatizing Prisons: Meanwhile, AG Sessions has abandoned efforts to reform sentencing guidelines which profit private prison companies and have made the US the most incarcerated country on earth. His renewed War on Drugs policy – overturning Obama’s effort to empty prisons of unfairly sentenced individuals – assures they will be full, and profitable.
Raise your hand if you believe Jared Kushner will ever go to jail for lying to Congress and federal agent, conspiracy, treason, dealing with sanctioned Russian banks and oligarchs, and obstruction of justice? Can you imagine what would happen if instead of Don Jr., it was Chelsea Clinton who met with the Russians? But as long as you can imagine a different result depending upon who is president, judge, prosecutor or defendant, or which party is in control of Congress, there is no “Rule of Law” or equal justice.
Is there anything more abominably Orwellian than Donald Trump coming to Long Island, pretending to be the “Law & Order” guy, while cheerleading police to engage in extra-judicial violence against “suspects” (which according to American jurisprudence, are “innocent until proven guilty”), at a time when systemic racism is responsible for disproportionate sentences for minorities and underprivileged (no “affluenza” defense for them!), and extraordinary numbers of unarmed blacks being murdered by police for such “capital” offenses as a broken headlight?
This from the man who thinks he is above the law, that the Rule of Law does not apply to him or his family, who would obstruct justice by firing his FBI Director and threatening to fire his Attorney General (ironically, the guy who is enforcing Trump’s Law & Order agenda, overturning consent decrees by local police forces and returning to disproportionately harsh prosecutions and sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses), the guy whose immigration force are going after teenagers and mothers of American citizens for the crime of being undocumented, rather than the “bad hombres” he claimed?
This from the man who freely obstructs justice, abuses his power, and asserts his unlimited power to pardon his family members, aides and even himself? The guy who really believes he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it?
The guy who would deprive constitutional rights, who advocates torture, looks to militarize the police and overturn rules that restrain the way they deal with suspects.
Trump pronounced a ban on transgender individuals in the military in a series of tweets, without consulting with his generals (as he claimed) or informing the Defense Department, in the same week he designated “American Heroes Week.” The guy who used his privilege to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War, who demeans those who volunteer to serve in the military. He did that to deflect attention from the cascading catastrophe in his administration – the failure to repeal Obamacare (and deprive millions of health care), the kerfluffle (covfeffe?) over his humiliation of the Conservatives’ favorite, Jeff Sessions, and the outrageous remarks by his new communications director and Trump “Mini Me” Anthony Scaramucci.
It was the American Heroes theme that brought him to Long Island, where he similarly tried to change the subject and reignite the love from his base by reigniting hatred against Hispanic immigrants. Hence the focus on MS 13 gang violence and his baseless conflation of immigration, refugees and criminal activity, with swipes at Obama and Hillary Clinton thrown in for good measure.
Here is a highlighted, annotated transcript of Donald Trump’s remarks July 28 to Long Island law enforcement officials on MS-13 gang violence during “America Heroes” week :
2:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. This is certainly being home for me. I spent a lot of time right here. I was in Queens, so I’d come here, and this was like the luxury location for me. And I love it. I love the people here. Even coming in from the airport, I sat with Nikki Haley, who’s here someplace. Where’s our Nikki? Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is so incredible. (Applause.) And she’s seen crowds in her life, and she said, boy, those are really big crowds. Crowds of people all lining the streets, all the way over to here. And it’s really a special place. And so when I heard about this, I said, I want to do that one.
But I really wanted to do it not because of location, but because, as you know, I am the big, big believer and admirer of the people in law enforcement, okay? From day one. (Applause.) From day one. We love our police. We love our sheriffs. And we love our ICE officers. And they have been working hard. (Applause.) Thank you. They have been working hard.
Together, we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we’re going to destroy the vile criminal cartel, MS-13, and many other gangs. But MS-13 is particularly violent. They don’t like shooting people because it’s too quick, it’s too fast. I was reading — one of these animals was caught — in explaining, they like to knife them and cut them, and let them die slowly because that way it’s more painful, and they enjoy watching that much more. These are animals.
We’re joined today by police and sheriffs from Suffolk, Nassau, Dutchess and Ulster counties; state police from New York and New Jersey — many of you I know, great friends; Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers; and law enforcement personnel from a number of federal agencies. So we’re loaded up with great people — that’s what I call it.
And I want to just tell you all together, right now, the reason I came — this is the most important sentence to me: On behalf of the American people, I want to say, thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
And I don’t think you know how much the public respects and admires you. You’re saving American lives every day, and we have your backs — believe me — we have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days. Not like the old days. (Applause.)
You know, when you wanted to take over and you used military equipment — and they were saying you couldn’t do it — you know what I said? That was my first day: You can do it. (Laughter.) In fact, that stuff is disappearing so fast we have none left. (Laughter.) You guys know — you really knew how to get that. But that’s my honor. And I tell you what — it’s being put to good use.
I especially want to thank ICE Director Tom Homan, who has done an incredible job in just a short period of time. Tom, get up here. I know you just — (applause) — Tom is determined to rid our nation of cartels and criminals who are preying on our citizens. And I can only say to Tom: Keep up the great work. He’s a tough guy. He’s a tough cookie. Somebody said the other day, they saw him on television, and somebody — they were interviewed after that; they said, he looks very nasty, he looks very mean. I said, that’s what I’m looking for. (Laughter.) That’s exactly what I was looking for.
And for that, I want to congratulate John Kelly, who has done an incredible job of Secretary of Homeland Security. Incredible. (Applause.) One of our real stars. Truly, one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars. You know, the border is down 78 percent. Under past administrations, the border didn’t go down — it went up. But if it went down 1 percent, it was like this was a great thing. Down 78 percent. And, in fact, the southern border of Mexico, we did them a big favor — believe me. They get very little traffic in there anymore, because they know they’re not going to get through the border to the United States.
So that whole group has been incredible, led by General Kelly.
Let me also express our gratitude to the members of the New York Delegation here today: Congressman Chris Collins. Where’s Chris? Oh, Chris, right from the beginning he said, “Trump is going to win. Trump is going to win.” So I like him. (Laughter.) I didn’t like him that much before; now I love him. (Laughter and applause.) Dan Donovan — thanks, Dan. (Applause.) Thank you, Dan. And Lee Zeldin, who I supported right from the beginning, when they said he didn’t have a chance of beating a pretty popular incumbent. (Applause.)
And I saw him in a debate. I said, I think this guy is going to win. But he fought a pretty popular guy, and I said, I think he’s going to win and went heavy for him, and he won. And he won pretty easily, didn’t you? Pretty good. I’m proud of you. Great job.
And, of course, a legend, somebody that we all know very well, sort of my neighbor — because I consider him a neighbor — but he’s really a great and highly respected man in Washington, Congressman Peter King. (Applause.) Very respected guy. He is a respected man that people like to ask opinions of. I do.
Congressman King and his colleagues know the terrible pain and violence MS-13 has inflicted upon this community — and this country. And if you remember just a little more than two years ago, when I came down the escalator with Melania, and I made the speech — people coming into this country. Everyone said, what does he know? What’s he talking about?
And there was bedlam. Remember bedlam? And then about two months later, they said, you know, he’s right. So I’m honored to have brought it to everybody’s attention. But the suffering and the pain that we were going through — and now you can look at the numbers — it’s a whole different world.
And it will get better and better and better because we’ve been able to start nipping it in the bud. We’ve nipped it in the bud — let’s call it start nipping in the bud.
And MS-13, the cartel, has spread gruesome bloodshed throughout the United States. We’ve gotten a lot of them out of here. Big, big percentage. But the rest are coming — they’ll be out of here quickly, right? Quickly. Good. (Applause.)
So I asked Tom on the plane — he was never on Air Force One — I said, how do you like it? He said, I like it. (Laughter.) But I said, hey, Tom, let me ask you a question — how tough are these guys, MS-13? He said, they’re nothing compared to my guys. Nothing. And that’s what you need. Sometimes that’s what you need, right?
For many years, they exploited America’s weak borders and lax immigration enforcement to bring drugs and violence to cities and towns all across America. They’re there right now because of weak political leadership, weak leadership, weak policing, and in many cases because the police weren’t allowed to do their job. I’ve met police that are great police that aren’t allowed to do their job because they have a pathetic mayor or a mayor doesn’t know what’s going on. (Applause.)
Were you applauding for someone in particular? (Laughter.) It’s sad. It’s sad. You look at what’s happening, it’s sad.
But hopefully — certainly in the country, those days are over. You may have a little bit longer to wait.
But from now on, we’re going to enforce our laws, protect our borders, and support our police like our police have never been supported before. We’re going to support you like you’ve never been supported before. (Applause.)
Few communities have suffered worse at the hands of these MS-13 thugs than the people of Long Island. Hard to believe. I grew up on Long Island. I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know about this. And then all of a sudden, this is like a new phenomenon. Our hearts and our nation grieve for the victims and their families.
Since January ‘16 — think of this — MS-13 gang members have brutally murdered 17 beautiful, young lives in this area on Long Island alone. Think of it. They butcher those little girls. They kidnap, they extort, they rape and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here. They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs. They slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful, quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They’re animals.
We cannot tolerate as a society the spilling of innocent, young, wonderful, vibrant people — sons and daughters, even husbands and wives. We cannot accept this violence one day more. Can’t do it, and we’re not going to do it. Because of you, we’re not going to be able to do it. You’re not going to allow it to happen, and we’re backing you up 100 percent. Remember that — 100 percent. (Applause.)
[WAS HE TALKING ABOUT THE 33 PEOPLE A DAY KILLED BY GUN VIOLENCE? NO.]
It is the policy of this administration to dismantle, decimate and eradicate MS-13 at every other — and I have to say, MS-13, that’s a name; rough groups — that’s fine. We got a lot of others. And they were all let in here over a relatively short period of time. Not during my period of time, believe me. But we’re getting them out. They’re going to jails, and then they’re going back to their country. Or they’re going back to their country, period.
One by one, we’re liberating our American towns. Can you believe that I’m saying that? I’m talking about liberating our towns. This is like I’d see in a movie: They’re liberating the town, like in the old Wild West, right? We’re liberating our towns. I never thought I’d be standing up here talking about liberating the towns on Long Island where I grew up, but that’s what you’re doing.
And I can tell you, I saw some photos where Tom’s guys — rough guys. They’re rough. I don’t want to be — say it because they’ll say that’s not politically correct. You’re not allowed to have rough people doing this kind of work. We have to get — just like they don’t want to have rich people at the head of Treasury, okay? (Laughter.) Like, I want a rich guy at the head of Treasury, right? Right? (Applause.)
I want a rich guy at the head of Commerce. Because we’ve been screwed so badly on trade deals, I want people that made a lot of money now to make a lot of money for our country.
And, by the way, as I was walking up, they just gave me the numbers. Our numbers just came out this morning. GDP is up double from what it was in the first quarter. (Applause.) 2.6 percent. We’re doing well. We’re doing really well. And we took off all those restrictions. And some we’re statutorily stuck with a for a little while, but eventually that statute comes up, and we’re going to be able to cut a lot more. But we’ve sort of liberated the world of creating jobs like you’re liberating us and the people that live in areas.
But I have to say, one by one, we are indeed freeing up these great American towns and cities that are under siege from gang violence.
Look at Los Angeles. Look at what’s going on in Los Angeles. Look at Chicago. What is going on? Is anybody here from Chicago? We have to send some of you to Chicago, I think. (Laughter.) What’s going on?
I mean, you see what’s happening there? There’s no — do we agree? Is there something maybe — (applause) — is there something — I have to tell you one Chicago story.
So Chicago is having this unbelievable violence; people being killed — four, five, six in a weekend. And I’m saying, what is going on?
And when I was running, we had motorcycle brigades take us to the planes and stuff. And one of the guys, really good — you could see a really respected officer, police officer. He was at the head. He was the boss. And you could see he was the boss. He actually talked like the boss. “Come on, get lined up.” Because I’d always take pictures with the police because I did that. My guys said, don’t do it. Don’t do it. (Applause.)
Other candidates didn’t do it that I was beating by 40 points, can you believe it? But I did it. Maybe that’s why I was winning by 40 points. But other candidates wouldn’t do it, but I always took the pictures with the police.
But we’re in Chicago, and we had massive motorcycle bridges, and you know those people have to volunteer. I don’t know if you know that, but from what I understand, they have to volunteer. And I had the biggest brigades. I had brigades sometimes with almost 300 motorcycles. Even I was impressed. I’d look ahead and it was nothing but motorcycles because they’d volunteer from all over various states.
But this one guy was impressive. He was a rough cookie and really respected guy. I could see he was respected. And he said, “All right, come on, get over here. Get over here. He’s got to get to work. Get over here.” And I said, “So let me tell — you’re from Chicago?” “Yes, sir.” I said, “What the hell is going on?” And he said, “It’s a problem; it can be straightened out.” I said, “How long would it take you to straighten out this problem?” He said, “If you gave me the authority, a couple of days.” (Laughter.) I really mean it. I said, “You really think so?” He said, “A couple of days. We know all the bad ones. We know them all.” And he said, the officers — you guys, you know all the bad ones in your area. You know them by their names. He said, “We know them all. A couple of days.”
I said, “You got to be kidding.” Now, this is a year and a half ago. I said, “Give me your card.” And he gave me a card. And I sent it to the mayor. I said, “You ought to try using this guy.” (Laughter.)
Guess what happened? Never heard. And last week they had another record. It’s horrible.
But we’re just getting started. We will restore law and order on Long Island. We’ll bring back justice to the United States. I’m very happy to have gotten a great, great Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not only nominated, but approved. And, by the way, your Second Amendment is safe. (Applause.) Your Second Amendment is safe. I feel very good about that. It wasn’t looking so good for the Second Amendment, was it, huh? If Trump doesn’t win, your Second Amendment is gone. Your Second Amendment would be gone.
But I have a simple message today for every gang member and criminal alien that are threatening so violently our people: We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you, and we will deport you. (Applause.)
And, you know, we had some problems with certain countries. Still do with a couple, but we’ll take care of them — don’t worry about it. Anytime we have a trade deficit, it’s very easy — which is almost everywhere. We have trade deficits with almost every country because we had a lot of really bad negotiators making deals with other countries. So it’s almost everywhere, so that takes care of itself.
But we had certain countries in South America where they wouldn’t take the people back. And I said, that’s okay, no more trade. All of a sudden they started taking their people back. It’s amazing, isn’t it? They used to send to the former Secretary of State of the country, “Please call. Would you please work it so that we can take” — and they used to just tell her, “No, we won’t take back.” They take back with us, every single time. We’re having very little problem. Are we having any problem right now with that? Huh? You better believe it. Give me the names of the few problems. We’ll take care of it, I’m telling you. (Laughter and applause.) It’s unbelievable.
One of the old people — one of the people that represented the other administration — I said, why didn’t you use that, the power of economics? “Sir, we think one thing has nothing to do with another.” I said, oh, really? So we’ll have big deficits and they won’t take back these criminals that came from there and should be back there? Well, believe me, to me, everything matters. But they’re all taking them back.
ICE officers recently conducted the largest crackdown on criminal gangs in the history of our country. In just six weeks, ICE and our law enforcement partners arrested nearly 1,400 suspects and seized more than 200 illegal firearms and some beauties, and nearly 600 pounds of narcotics.
The men and women of ICE are turning the tide in the battle against MS-13. But we need more resources from Congress — and we’re getting them. Congress is actually opening up and really doing a job. They should have approved healthcare last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh, boy. They’ve been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that? The swamp. But we’ll get it done. We’re going to get it done.
You know, I said from the beginning: Let Obamacare implode, and then do it. I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode. (Applause.)
Right now, we have less than 6,000 Enforcement and Removal Officers in ICE. This is not enough to protect a nation of more than 320 million people. It’s essential that Congress fund another 10,000 ICE officers — and we’re asking for that — so that we can eliminate MS-13 and root out the criminal cartels from our country.
Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster. And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause.)
It’s essential that Congress fund hundreds more federal immigration judges and prosecutors — and we need them quickly, quickly — if we’re going to dismantle these deadly networks. And I have to tell you, you know, the laws are so horrendously stacked against us, because for years and years they’ve been made to protect the criminal. Totally made to protect the criminal, not the officers.If you do something wrong, you’re in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We’re changing those laws. But in the meantime, we need judges for the simplest thing — things that you should be able to do without a judge. But we have to have those judges quickly. In the meantime, we’re trying to change the laws.
We’re also working with Chairman Bob Goodlatte on a series of enforcement measures — and he’s a terrific guy — to keep our country safe from crime and terrorism — and in particular, radical Islamic terrorism. (Applause.) A term never uttered by the past administration. Never uttered. Did anybody ever hear that term? I don’t think so. But you heard it from me.
That includes cracking down on sanctuary cities that defy federal law, shield visa overstays, and that release dangerous criminals back into the United States’ communities. That’s what’s happening. They’re releasing them. So many deaths where they release somebody back into the community, and they know it’s going to end that way. That’s the sad — they know it’s going to end that way. We’re ending those procedures. (Applause.) Thank you.
We have to secure — I spoke to parents, incredible parents. I got to know so many parents of children that were so horribly killed — burned to death, beaten to death, just the worst kind of death you can ever — stuffed in barrels.And the person that did it was released, and you’d look at the file, and there were letter after letter after letter of people begging not to let this animal back into society; that this would happen, it would happen quickly. It wasn’t even like it would happen over a long period of time. They were saying it would happen quickly. It’s total violence. He’s a totally violent person. You cannot let this person out.
[DOES IT SOUND PLAUSIBLE THAT ACCUSED MURDERERS WERE SIMPLY LET GO? WHAT IS HE TALKING ABOUT. COULD IT BE THAT THE SUSPECT WAS FOUND NOT TO BE THE PERPETRATOR?]
They let the person out, and sometimes it would happen like on the first day. And then you have to talk to the parents and hold the parents and hug them. And they’re crying so — I mean crying. Their lives are destroyed. And nobody thinks about those people. They don’t think about those people. They’re devastated.
But we’re ending so much of that. We’re ending hopefully all of that. The laws are tough. The laws are stacked against us, but we’re ending that. (Applause.)
So we’re going to secure our borders against illegal entry, and we will build the wall. That I can tell you. (Applause.)
In fact, last night — you don’t read about this too much, but it was approved — $1.6 billion for the phase one of the wall, which is not only design but the start of construction over a period of about two years, but the start of construction for a great border wall. And we’re going to build it. The Wall is a vital, and vital as a tool, for ending the humanitarian disaster brought — and really brought on by drug smugglers and new words that we haven’t heard too much of — human traffickers.
This is a term that’s been going on from the beginning of time, and they say it’s worse now than it ever was. You go back a thousand years where you think of human trafficking, you go back 500 years, 200 years, 100 years. Human trafficking they say — think of it, but they do — human trafficking is worse now maybe than it’s ever been in the history of this world.
We need a wall. We also need it, though, for the drugs, because the drugs aren’t going through walls very easily — especially the walls that I build. I’m a very good builder. You people know that better than most because you live in the area. That’s why I’m here. (Applause.) We’ll build a good wall.
Now, we’re going to build a real wall. We’re going to build a wall that works, and it’s going to have a huge impact on the inflow of drugs coming across. The wall is almost — that could be one of the main reasons you have to have it. It’s an additional tool to stop the inflow of drugs into our country.
The previous administration enacted an open-door policy to illegal migrants from Central America. “Welcome in. Come in, please, please.”
As a result, MS-13 surged into the country and scoured, and just absolutely destroyed, so much in front of it. New arrivals came in and they were all made recruits of each other, and they fought with each other, and then they fought outside of each other. And it got worse and worse, and we’ve turned that back.
In the three years before I took office, more than 150,000 unaccompanied alien minors arrived at the border and were released all throughout our country into United States’ communities — at a tremendous monetary cost to local taxpayers and also a great cost to life and safety.
[DOESN’T MEAN THEY BECAME GANG MEMBERS]
Nearly 4,000 from this wave were released into Suffolk County — congratulations — including seven who are now indicted for murder. You know about that.
In Washington, D.C. region, at least 42 alien minors from the border surge have been recently implicated in MS-13-related violence, including 19 charged in killings or attempted killings.
You say, what happened to the old days where people came into this country, they worked and they worked and they worked, and they had families, and they paid taxes, and they did all sorts of things, and their families got stronger, and they were closely knit? We don’t see that.
Failure to enforce our immigration laws had predictable results: drugs, gangs and violence. But that’s all changing now.
Under the Trump administration, America is once more a nation of laws and once again a nation that stands up for our law enforcement officers. (Applause.)
We will defend our country, protect our communities, and put the safety of the American people first. And I’m doing that with law enforcement, and we’re doing that with trade, and we’re doing that with so much else. It’s called America First. It’s called an expression I’m sure you’ve never heard of: Make America Great Again. Has anybody heard that expression? (Applause.)
That is my promise to each of you. That is the oath I took as President, and that is my sacred pledge to the American people.
Thank you everyone here today. You are really special, special Americans. And thank you in particular to the great police, sheriffs, and ICE officers. You do a spectacular job. The country loves you. The country respects you. You don’t hear it, but believe me, they respect you as much as they respect anything. There is the respect about our country. You are spectacular people. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: Because of the danger of your job, which people also understand fully, I leave you with the following: Thank you and may God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)