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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Mathews" - Transcript: "Trump rips Fed Chair."

Interview

Date: Aug. 23, 2019

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MATTHEWS: Well, last night, Trump tweeted: "I am hopeful Congress will engage with my team to pass meaningful legislation that will take a -- make a real difference, and, most importantly, save lives." I`m joined right now by former Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke. Beto, thank you so much for joining us tonight. And let`s talk about your -- what you have been saying. You said that the president`s words have animated this violence. Explain the connection between words and shooting people.

O`ROURKE: When he was making his case to the country, announcing his candidacy for the presidency, he talks about Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, repeatedly warned of invasions from Mexico and Central America, called asylum seekers animals, called them killers, called them predators, put their children in cages, deported their parents back to the very countries from which they fled. And you talked about this a little bit in the run-up to this interview. At that rally in May in Florida, when he`s warning of this invasion, and he says, how do we stop these people, someone yells out, "Shoot them."

MATTHEWS: Yes.

O`ROURKE: And the crowd roars their approval, and he smiles. He says this is OK. And in the face of gun violence that has claimed 40,000 lives just in the last year, he`s done nothing. He`s complicit, actually corrupted by the NRA. So he`s driving a lot of this violence. And I want to make clear, racism in America did not start with Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

O`ROURKE: But he`s given it new life. He`s welcomed it into the open, and along with that, the violence that drove somebody literally 600 miles from Allen, Texas, to El Paso to kill 22 people in the city. So we have got to connect those dots, or we`re not going to stop the next mass shooting or the next act of domestic terrorism inspired by white supremacy.

MATTHEWS: What do you think he`s up to when he does this? Because he`s -- the president is not stupid. He knows how words work. He knows how to rev up a crowd, when he says hit them on the way out. Remember that? He would do that to any protester. He would yell at the people, rough them up. The police, he says, don`t worry about banging their heads on the roof of the car when you put them in the squad car. He almost prescribes violence.

O`ROURKE: Yes. I mean, part of the genius of this country is, more or less, we`re able to resolve our differences peacefully, democratically. I got a lot of hell from going to his inauguration in 2017. And I said, I go not to celebrate the man, but the fact that we can still pull this off more than 240 years later.

MATTHEWS: Yes, good point.

O`ROURKE: And yet he`s going to fundamentally destroy this ability for us to disagree in an agreeable manner, inviting that violence, telling people of color to go back to their own country, though they were born here, though they`re U.S. citizens in America. The day he signs his ban on Muslim travel to the U.S., the mosque in Victoria, Texas, burned to the ground. A gunman walks into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh raving about caravans financed by wealthy Jewish Americans. The president of the United States raving about caravans, and when asked if George Soros is funding them, says, who knows, maybe he is. So you`re right. This guy knows exactly what he`s doing.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

O`ROURKE: What he`s doing is ripping apart an already divided country and inviting violence into our politics and into our communities. Latinos here in El Paso, throughout America now feel like they have a target on their back, in large part thanks to Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about your fight in the primary. You have moved up a bit. You`re getting a little -- breaking from the lower pack. You`re in a category of your own, really, I think, in sort of the third tier. You may not like to hear it, but you are moving up. And my question is this. If this all ends at the end of next May, and the Democrat -- because Seth Moulton just dropped out of the race and said he`s fearful this will happen -- and the Democratic Party picks a nominee that appears, whether they are or not, very left, and the American electorate, which is generally centrist, has to choose between Trump, who is awful to a lot of people, and someone they`re very much afraid of because they`re so far left, do you worry about that, like Seth Moulton, who is worried, when he quit the race today?

O`ROURKE: Chris, I`m so focused on being that nominee, on being able to carry Texas and its 38 Electoral College votes, revving up, not just Democrats, but bringing independents and Republicans as well who no longer have a home in the party of Donald Trump, much the way we did in Texas.

MATTHEWS: Will you carry Texas? If you get the nomination, will you carry Texas?

O`ROURKE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Beto O`Rourke, thank you for joining me.

O`ROURKE: Absolutely.

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