Beto O’Rourke Interview Transcripts: Beto Makes Series of Media Appearances Slamming Trump
In the wake of a deadly mass shooting in his home town of El Paso, Texas, Beto O’Rourke appeared on television several times in the past few days to convey his emotional response. He went hard after Donald Trump and the media, openly calling Trump “a racist” and saying that his rhetoric encouraged the violence in El Paso. Read the full transcript of his series of interviews right here.
Beto O’Rourke Snaps Over Trump Rhetoric and the Media
Speaker 1: 00:00 Is there anything in your mind that the president can do now to make this any better?
Beto O’Rourke: 00:04 What do you think? You know the s*** he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know … Members of the press, what the f***? Hold on a second. It’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism. He’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence. He’s inciting racism and violence in this country. I don’t know what kind of question that is.
Nan Whaley: 00:39 This is a visual for the people that we’ve lost. There will be time to take action, but let us come together as a community as we work to heal. We are here to heal tonight. We’ll respond united as we always do. Thank you.
Speaker 4: 01:06 Do something.
Beto O’Rourke Morning Joe Interview Transcript
Donald Trump: 00:00 You know they have a word. It sort of became old fashion. It’s called a nationalist and I say, “Really? We’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist.” Use that word.
Speaker 2: 00:24 Joining us from El Paso, his hometown, in the city he represented in Congress, democratic candidate for president, Beto O’Rourke. Beto, it’s great to have you back on the show. Given the horrible timing and circumstances. I’ll start with your very personal and emotional reaction, frustration with the media’s questions, frustration with the entire situation, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Frustration with the president and his white supremacy and his racism, but how now to break the hold that he has on republicans? Because that’s the missing link right here.
Beto O’Rourke: 01:06 Yeah. I think that’s a big part of the challenge that we have right now. If we don’t call this out, if we don’t do something, our silence becomes our complicity, not just in the hatred and the racism from the president, but in the violence that we saw here in El Paso just a couple of days ago.
Beto O’Rourke: 01:25 This is a city that in an average year will lose 18 people over the course of the year. In one day, 20 people killed in a hateful, racist, murderous rage, in part, inspired by this president. So we’ve got to ask everyone in this country, I could care less about your party. You got to stand up and be counted on this one. There are too many voices that today are still silent.
Joe: 01:51 So congressman, there are too many voices that are still silent. We await republicans calling out the president’s hate speech that obviously inspired this killer. If you read his own words, there has been one exception at least. Texas General Land Office Commissioner, George P. Bush, called on Americans to stand against “white terrorism.”
Joe: 02:17 Bush the son of Florida’s a former governor, Jeb Bush issued this statement on Twitter Saturday writing in part that white terrorism was a real and present threat that we all must denounce and defeat. Former deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, commended Bushes statement tweeting in part killing random civilians to spread a political message is terrorism.
Joe: 02:39 FBI classifies it as domestic terrorism, but white terrorism is more precise. Beto, the Obama administration in the early years took a lot of grief for not calling Islamic terrorism by its name according to conservative critics. Other than George P. Bush, we have the same problem with republicans who are afraid to call white terrorism, white terrorism.
Beto O’Rourke: 03:09 We do have that problem with republican office holders at large. But in the case of George P. Bush, and Ted Cruz for for that matter, who had some strong words about this kind of terrorism, they need to take the next step and connect that to president Trump and the fact that he has repeatedly talked about an invasion.
Beto O’Rourke: 03:29 He has described human beings from Mexico and Central America as an infestation at a rally in your home state of Florida. When he asks, “How do we stop this,” and someone yells out, “We shoot them,” he laughs along with the crowd, ginning them up to talk about sending her back, defending Nazis and white supremacists and clansmen as very fine people.
Beto O’Rourke: 03:54 We, George P. Bush, all of us, have to acknowledge that there’s a real consequence. If we do not do that, if we don’t connect the dots for the people, we’re going to continue to have this same problem going forward. And so I’m grateful for the start that they’ve made. They need to finish the job and make that connection.
Joe: 04:15 So congressmen, you talk about that connection that needs to be made, the dots that need to be connected. And yet, we’ve had warnings time and again, I’m sure you saw the former FBI head of counter terrorism, Frank Figliuzzi four days before El Paso saying, “I saw all the warning lights blinking before 9/11. I see those warning lights again. The president’s hateful rhetoric is going to lead to more white supremacist killings.” It’s not like republicans haven’t been warned about this for years now. And yet, they continue in silence to not call the president out by name. They just won’t say it.
Beto O’Rourke: 05:03 That’s right. I do think that this extends to much of the media in this country. The president has not been shy. He’s not been saying this behind closed doors. This is out in the open. All people of one religion inherently defective and should be banned from the shores of this country.
Beto O’Rourke: 05:25 The only modern Western democracy that I can think of that said anything close to this is the Third Reich, Nazi Germany talking about human beings as though they are animals, making them subhuman to make it okay to put their kids in cages. We’ve lost seven children in our custody just over the last year in this, the wealthiest, the most powerful country on the face of the planet, saying that he wants more immigrants like those from Nordic countries, the whitest places on the face of the planet.
Beto O’Rourke: 05:57 This president, his open racism is also an invitation to violence. We’ve seen a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years. So Joe, you’re absolutely right. The writing has been on the wall since his maiden speech coming down that escalator describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.
Beto O’Rourke: 06:17 The actions that follow cannot surprise us. And anyone who is surprised is part of this problem right now, including members of the media who asked, “Hey, Beto, do you think the president is racist?” Well, Jesus Christ, of course he’s racist. He’s been racist from day one, before day one, when he was questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Beto O’Rourke: 06:37 He’s trafficked in this stuff from the very beginning. And we are reaping right now what he has sown and what his supporters in congress have sewn. We have to put a stop to it.
Eddie Glaude.: 06:47 Congressman, this is Eddie Glaude. We’re obvioiusly-
Joe: 06:50 Eddie Glaude, really quickly, let me add one insult also, one racist slur into this conversation. The president of United States also called Hispanics breeders. So he talks about an infestation. He calls Hispanics, breeders, calls Mexicans rapists. Again, it’s obvious where this leads. Go ahead, Eddie Glaude. You’ve got the next question.
Eddie Glaude.: 07:13 Congressman, we’re at an inflection point. We’ve had these moments in our history where the country had to make a choice of which direction we would go, kind of the disease in our soul kind of made itself known. You’re running for president. And you’re running for president in an environment where we are deeply, deeply divided, where the choice is right in front of us. How would you step into the breach? What would you say to bring us together as the president of the United States, following someone like Donald Trump? How would you march us into the future given what we’re currently experiencing now?
Beto O’Rourke: 07:55 I saw it last night in El Paso, at vigil in this community, thousands of people came forward, democrats, independence, republicans, folks who may not vote or register at all, every tradition of faith, every walk of life, people who’ve been Americans for generations, folks who live in Ciudad Juarez, or just got here to El Paso yesterday, but everybody coming together to ensure that we are not defined or divided by our differences.
Beto O’Rourke: 08:25 This country very consciously, 243 years ago, decided not to define ourselves by race or ethnicity or common ancestors. We said, “We are all created equal.” We’ve never fully fulfilled that in this country of course, but that person in the position of public trust in the White House should do everything within his power to bring us together, that more perfect union that we always endeavor to achieve. That is our opportunity right now at this moment in El Paso.
Beto O’Rourke: 08:54 I’ve got to tell you though. Though we bore the brunt of this hatred, we’re also the best example for this country going forward. A city of immigrants that is one of, if not the safest cities in United States of America today, not despite, but because we come from the planet over to call this community and this country home.
Beto O’Rourke: 09:13 Their very presence makes us stronger, safer, and more successful than we would have been. Otherwise, we lose sight of that at our peril and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that America remembers this at this defining moment of truth.
Speaker 7: 09:26 So Congress off that answer you’ve participated in two debates, stood on the stage with a bunch of other democrats and each of you gets about seven seconds to talk about soybeans and healthcare and everything like that. And at a certain level, they’re all important issues. But there’s a school of thought, congressmen, that there is really only one issue right now facing this country, and it’s the incumbent president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Do you believe that that is really the only principal, most important issue for the country going forward? Removal of this president?
Beto O’Rourke: 10:06 Yes. Nothing else is possible unless Donald Trump is defeated in November of 2020. you will not be able to successfully confront climate change if you have a man in the White House who will not utter the word, who does not believe in facts or the truth or science, someone who is trying to take away healthcare from our fellow Americans. You will not be able to get to universal care. But perhaps even more important than all of that, you have someone who is actively dismantling this democracy, undermining every single institution, the sanctity of our elections, the fact that he’s invited foreign powers to invade this country, not once in 2016 but again, this very year sought to obstruct the pursuit of justice into what happened in our democracy, undermines and ridicules federal judges, including those who are Mexican Americans based on their ethnicity. He seeks to drive us apart, to divide us, to make us afraid, to make us angry.
Beto O’Rourke: 11:05 And to some degree, as we saw in El Paso on Saturday, he is succeeding. So yes, he is an existential threat to the future of this country, at least to a democratic future for this country. And he must be stopped. That drive has to transcend partisanship. Republicans, independents, democrats alike must see this as necessary for a successful future for this country.
Walt Isaacson: 11:31 Congress O’Rourke. It’s Walt Isaacson. You just said it’s an existential threat. Mike Monaco has been talking about it’s the one big thing. And Eddie says we’re at an inflection point. But when we’ve been there before, it wasn’t just that we tried to tweet it, or we tried to say a few good things. People got out into the streets and marched the way they’re doing in Hong Kong right now, the way they did in Puerto Rico to change things.
Walt Isaacson: 11:56 Why do you think there hasn’t been more of sort of just a mass feeling that every month we have to march the way we did before when we were in what you call existential crisis in this country.
Beto O’Rourke: 12:14 I’m beginning to see that, or perhaps all of us are beginning to see that in this country. The students who are marching, not just for their lives, but for all of our lives, the young people who are forcing the conversation on climate. We just celebrated the 55th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Like any Texan, I’m really proud of Lyndon Baines Johnson signing that into law and using his initial political capital to get it passed.
Beto O’Rourke: 12:41 But that was really forced by the kids in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 that children’s crusade. 1200 of them are arrested on the first day of the march. Kids going up against fire hoses that can peel the bark off of a tree. That kind of sacrifice shocked the conscience of this country and it galvanized the political will necessary to get that done.
Beto O’Rourke: 13:04 I see those movements beginning all across this country and much like in 1963, so often led by young people. They are going to force this change. They get it perhaps better than anyone else. And so I’m optimistic, believe it or not, more hopeful than I’ve ever been given the challenge that we faced this moment of peril.
Beto O’Rourke: 13:25 This country is gonna rise to the occasion. It really will. So let’s have faith in one another at a moment that the president wants us to fear one another. Let’s have hope for the future and then let’s act on it. And that’s what I’m trying to do every single day. Certainly right here in El Paso right now.
Beto O’Rourke Chris Hayes Interview Transcript
Chris Hayes: 00:00 Joining me now, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who represented El Paso in Congress for six years. A native of that city. First of all, Congressman, how are folks in El Paso doing and coping right now?
Beto O’Rourke: 00:15 People in this community are so incredibly strong. I was just at University Medical Center visiting with people who have suffered the most grievous wounds you can imagine. People who also had family members who were shot, family members who unfortunately were killed. And the strength, the determination that they show, the care that they’re receiving from these extraordinary doctors and nurses and frontline staff. The love in this community. Lines around the block in order to be able to donate blood to in some way be able to help out our fellow El Pasoans. And in this community of immigrants, 85% Mexican-American, a bi-national community. [inaudible 00:00:56] and El Pasoans alike coming together in a display of confidence and courage and strength and love in the face of this hatred. I’ve never been more proud of El Paso than I am right now.
Chris Hayes: 01:10 How do you make sense of what happened this weekend? There.
Beto O’Rourke: 01:15 You just did a wonderful job of making sense of this for us, Chris. It is that hatred in which the president traffics. The racism that he promotes. The violence that he encourages. No one should be surprised. No one should be asking themselves how this could happen in our country. It’s very clear in this president’s maiden speech as a candidate for the highest office in the land. He chose to talk about communities like mine, to describe Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. He did not only welcome violence against them, he literally sent us service members, thousands of them to the border, for what reason? To meet kids who had just fled 2,000 miles for their lives. Who show up here penniless, defenseless, as vulnerable as a human being can be. He wants you, he wants people, he wanted that killer to be afraid and then to act on that fear.
Beto O’Rourke: 02:09 And you know what? He did? 22 people dead now in this community. A community that has been forever changed but will not be defined by this because though we have borne the brunt of this racism and this hatred and this attack, this community also holds the answer. We are one of the safest cities in America because we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers and people from the planet over who have found a home here in El Paso and by their very presence have made us stronger and more successful and more secure than we could’ve ever been otherwise. This is the example that the country needs right now.
Chris Hayes: 02:47 I don’t think the politics here matter that much. I mean who’s got the bigger path of the country. But I guess I wonder, are you confident? Do you have bedrock and unshakable faith that your vision is the vision of the majority of this country? That the rejection of the way the president talks is what most Americans want to hear.
Beto O’Rourke: 03:13 We very consciously started out 243 years ago on the premise that we were all created equal. We consciously chose not to define ourselves by our differences or by race or ethnicity or common ancestry. We’ve never quite lived up to it. But until now, until this administration, we never really stopped trying to live up to that. I believe in the people of this country. I certainly believe in the people of El Paso, Texas, and they are showing us the way right now.
Beto O’Rourke: 03:44 Yes, I’m optimistic and I’m hopeful whether or not you can believe it in the face of this massacre, in this tragedy. We are so much bigger and stronger and more confident than this. We see in our differences nothing to be afraid of. In fact, we don’t tolerate, we don’t respect, we fully embrace these differences as foundational to our safety, to our security, to our pride as Americans.
Beto O’Rourke: 04:09 We’re going to get back on track. We are going to reject this president and his racism. Everyone who traffics in it, everyone who has aided him, those members of Congress who have yet to speak out against this president and draw the connections between his language, his rhetoric, and the violence that we’re seeing.
Beto O’Rourke: 04:26 You mentioned in the opening, hate crimes on the rise every single year for the last three years. The mosque in Victoria, Texas burned to the ground on the same day that Donald Trump signed a band proporting to ban all Muslim travel to the United States of America. We know what’s happening right now. The people of this country do. It’s time for their elected leaders to say as much, for members of the press to be very clear, to stop equivocating. Don’t ask if the president’s racist, you know, the president is racist. Don’t ask if he had a role in what happened in El Paso. He absolutely did. Now it’s time for us to act.
Chris Hayes: 05:04 Do you think there’s a world in which there are people who are still supporting the president who are persuadable on this? Who are amenable to the kind of vision that you’re sketching, about what an inclusive Americanness looks like?
Beto O’Rourke: 05:25 I do. And at this moment of such great division, when we are so polarized, when we were being driven further apart every day by this president, through this anger and through this fear that he wants us to feel, I really believe in our ability to come together. To say from the outset, do not care who you voted for last time for president, what party you belong to, how many generations you can count yourself in American, or whether like seven of the victims from this shooting, you live in Ciudad, Juarez. That you’re here. That you’re part of this community. That you’re a human being. That’s what matters first and foremost and we are going to treat you that way. As I travel Texas, as I travel this country, that’s what I see. That’s what I hear. That’s what I feel. That’s what we are going to live as a country going forward. I’m confident of it.
Chris Hayes: 06:17 Alright. Beto O’Rourke, former congressman from El Paso running for president. I want to just say that you’ve been hearing this from everyone but the entire nation standing with the folks down there and in Ohio as well. Thanks a lot.
Chris Hayes: 06:28 Hey there. I’m Chris Hayes from MSNBC. Thanks for watching MSNBC on YouTube. If you want to keep up to date with the videos we’re putting out, you can click subscribe just below me or click over on this list to see lots of other great videos.
Beto O’Rourke Chris Cuomo Interview Transcript
Chris Cuomo: 00:00 Beto O’Rourke is tired of the media asking him whether he thinks the president is racist. He believes everything is as obvious as the circumstances that surround us. The answer of course for him is yes, and he’s urging the president not to come to El Paso as planned on Wednesday. Let’s bring in the 2020 contender to get his reaction to what we heard from president Trump today, who did finally condemn white supremacy kind of. It is good to have you here. I know this is home for you and I know that’s how they feel about you. They are happy to have you here. What do you want this community to know about what this situation says about them?
Beto O’Rourke: 00:35 This is the strongest, most courageous, and to use the word that you just used, resilient community you will find in America, maybe in the world. The courage with which people have met the most grievous wounds, the fact that they’ve lost family members, the fact that multiple family members were shot at and some killed in this attack, and meeting this moment with kindness and love and generosity, a bi-national community. Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas, three million coming together unlike any other place on the earth right now. Not only did we bear the brunt of this hatred and this racism and this attack, but we might also be the best example for this very divided country at this moment. So could not be more proud of El Paso than I am right now.
Chris Cuomo: 01:19 Remind me to show you what this woman Alma made for me today when she saw us here. Rose will give it to me. Just remind me at the end of the interview, but first, so you say we have to be better. We have to see the bonds of love and those that connect us. But you don’t think the president should come here. Why?
Beto O’Rourke: 01:36 I was just talking to somebody, listening to a woman who came up and said hello to me and she said, “Why is he coming here when he hates us?” She’s reflecting the fact that he described Mexican immigrants. This is a town of Mexican immigrants, as rapists and criminals repeatedly has warned of an invasion, trying to make us afraid of those who do not look like the majority of this country. He’s described human beings as an infestation, which you or I might describe cockroaches or termites, but not human beings. And you only get kids in cages. You only separate them from their parents. You only lose the lives of seven children in our custody in this last year when they’re at their most desperate and vulnerable. You only have an attack like this when you have a president who gives people permission to act on this hatred and this racism and this intolerance, and so we must connect those dots. And if we fail to do that, we are then complicit in the violence that we will continue to see across America.
Chris Cuomo: 02:30 I take the cogency of the argument. Here winds up being the challenge, is that the easy fix here is to call people who do what this man did, terrorism under the law. Give our prosecutors and investigators the resources like they have against Isis and al Qaeda, root out where they meet and talk and plan, and punish them the same way. How do you think you’re going to get that done if you keep it very, they’re over here and we’re over here, even on this issue?
Beto O’Rourke: 02:56 I think you connect everyone and everything that’s happened over the course of this administration, not just a rise in hate crimes, every single one of the last three years, but the mosque in Victoria, Texas burned to the ground on the day that President Trump signed his executive order seeking to ban Muslim travel or the Tree of Life synagogue shooting where the killer talks about the caravans that the president was warning us about trying to make us afraid about the US service members that he deployed here to this community. One of the safest places in the United States of America. That kind of fear that he ginned up, that hatred was an invitation to violence and it did not just affect El Paso or Pittsburgh or Gilroy or Victoria. It is happening all over this country. That’s how we bring everyone in. Republican, Democrat, Independent, rural community, big city alike, all Americans first before anything else.
Chris Cuomo: 03:45 Respond to what the president said today and what was his effort to unify and move past the us versus them. Take a listen.
President Trump: 03:53 The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online, consumed by racist hate. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.
Chris Cuomo: 04:17 Now, I’ve heard the critique. Oh, he didn’t write that. Fair enough, but he said the words and he did say white supremacy is hate and should be treated as domestic terror.
Beto O’Rourke: 04:29 Yeah. Important for you then to say that this is the same man who called white nationalists and clansmen and neo-Nazis, very fine people, who asked for more immigrants who look like those in Sweden and Norway, that the whitest places on the planet while describing immigrants from Haiti as full of AIDS or countries in Africa as shithole nations. This is the most racist president we’ve had since perhaps Andrew Johnson in another age and another century, and he is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we’re seeing right now. You cannot leave that just to me to say that. It’s got to be you and those who are helping this country understand what is happening in our name to connect those dots of these actions that can seem unconnected or disparate or random or just strange, that they’re not. They’re all of a pattern and they all follow what this president has set from that maiden speech when he ran for the highest office in the land, describing the people of this community as rapists and criminals. Talking about people as though they are animals or subhuman.
Beto O’Rourke: 05:29 This necessarily results … You saw that manifesto. The words that he was using were many of the same words that the president has been using. We cannot allow him to get off scott free just because he gave a speech here today. We cannot let him get off without any complicity or justice or accountability, given what he has done and made possible here. There has to be justice at the end of the day.
Chris Cuomo: 05:53 There will be an election. And in the meantime, between and then and maybe after, how do you make these people safer? How do you get to some place that the majority of the country already is, which is all hatred be treated the same way, all gun sales should be checked the same way? How do you get these simple things done if both sides are standing behind walls of righteous indignation?
Beto O’Rourke: 06:16 I don’t know about both sides on this one. As I travel the country-
Chris Cuomo: 06:19 No, I don’t mean it as an equivalency. I’m saying that you are opposed to what he is about and he has his supporters around him who feel that they must defend him to keep their access to power.
Beto O’Rourke: 06:28 Yeah, I don’t know. As I listen to people in this country, they know that we are owed something far better than this. This division, this hatred, this intolerance, this racism does not reflect El Paso, Texas. It does not reflect the United States of America. This community, you see an average of 18 murders a year. One of the safest places in America today. It took someone from outside of this community who was willing to drive hundreds of miles to bring this kind of hatred here. We have to show that that is the exception, not the rule, but that will become the new normal if we allow it to be.
Beto O’Rourke: 07:03 If we don’t stand up, if you’re not counted on this, and as important as it is for me and for you to say this, for those Republican members of Congress who are silent on this matter or who talk about white nationalist terrorism, but then do not link it to a president who has invited it and made it possible in this country and in my hometown, in this community, they are then part of the problem and it is their constituents, I mentioned elections earlier, who must hold them accountable. And I hear that loud and clear here in El Paso. I feel that from the rest of the country right now.
Chris Cuomo: 07:32 Well, here’s what you’ve got motivating you. So this is what I wanted to show Beto. So this woman Alma, she goes by [Scosh 00:07:38]. It’s a long story to the nickname, but she took this rock, which is from El Paso, which is over there. She says, “These aren’t about walls. This is about what makes us up as the foundation of us.” She painted the virgin mother on it. She did it herself this morning and said, “I give you this because I want you to hold it close to your heart because it’s heavy like our hearts are heavy. But it also shows that we believe in something better.” That, to me, is El Paso.
Beto O’Rourke: 08:01 Pure El Paso. Beautiful. Yeah. And we are so glad that you’re here transmitting the story of this community. This shooting, these murders, this terrorism will not define us. The way in which we overcome this, our strength, our ability to come together, not despite, but I would say because of our differences. That’s what makes us so special. I think that’s what makes us the example that the rest of the country needs right now. This is very much El Paso.
Chris Cuomo: 08:25 People have been great here. They want leadership. They want better. We’ll see what happens, Beto. Thank you for giving voice to the frustrations.
Beto O’Rourke: 08:30 Gracias.
Chris Cuomo: 08:30 Appreciate it. Beto O’Rourke is here. You can hold the rock, but you can’t have it. It means too much to me.