On Wednesday, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe announced his bid to return to the governorship. But McAuliffe is joining a field with complex racial and gender dynamics at play. Three of the other Democratic candidates are Black. If elected, Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) or Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) could each make history as the commonwealth’s first female governor — and the country’s first Black female governor. Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax is also in the running. WAMU reporter Daniella Cheslow joins us to talk about the latest news.

And we sit down with D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine to discuss his office’s lawsuit against the Trump Organization and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, for mismanaging funds and ‘grossly’ overpaying to hold events at a Trump hotel for the president’s 2016 inauguration. We also talk about the latest news in the DoorDash settlement, police reform and much more.

Sorting political fact from fiction, and having fun while we’re at it. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Produced by Richard Cunningham

Guests

  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; Contributing Writer for Washington City Paper; @tomsherwood
  • Karl Racine Attorney General, District of Columbia; @AGKarlRacine
  • Daniella Cheslow Politics reporter, WAMU; @Dacheslow

Transcript

  • 12:00:26

    KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University in Washington, welcome to The Politics Hour starring Tom Sherwood. Tom is our Resident Analyst and Contributing Writer for Washington City Paper. I usually welcome him to the broadcast, but he was here last week and I wasn't. So, Tom Sherwood, welcome me back.

  • 12:00:49

    TOM SHERWOODHello, everybody. And welcome back, Kojo. You were kind of missed.

  • 12:00:53

    NNAMDIThank you very much. It's so great to feel welcomed. Later in the broadcast we'll be joined by Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine. Joining us now is Daniella Cheslow, who is a WAMU Reporter covering Virginia politics. Daniella, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:01:08

    DANIELLA CHESLOWHello, Kojo. Great to be here.

  • 12:01:11

    NNAMDIBefore we get to Virginia politics, Tom Sherwood, I think it's fair to say that Paul Sarbanes was an institution -- a political institution in these parts. After all he served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. His son, John Sarbanes, now sits in the House as a representative of the state of Maryland. But the bad news, of course, is that Paul Sarbanes passed this past week at the age of 87 years old. He was one of the members of the Judiciary Committee who introduced the first articles of impeachment against President Nixon back in 1974. Talk a little bit about Paul Sarbanes.

  • 12:01:53

    SHERWOODWell, he -- we can throw the world institution around pretty easily these days. But Paul Sarbanes was an institution in the State of Maryland. As you said, five terms in the U.S. Senate. And I will just tell you when he died on Sunday -- after he died on Sunday the tributes from around the country poured in from the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, you know, who is originally from Baltimore.

  • 12:02:19

    SHERWOODBut I thought Senator Ben Cardon said it best in a simple sentence of the things he did say. He said that "Maryland mourns the loss of an incredible public servant and champion of the Chesapeake Bay." It's important to mention the Chesapeake Bay, because Paul Sarbanes spent his life fighting for the Bay even as he was participating in national and international events, and you mentioned, the Watergate era.

  • 12:02:48

    SHERWOODHe was just an extraordinary person. And he also predates the loud generation of politicians. He was quiet. He was effective. He was well-liked across the aisle. All these things we would have said about him where he still living and still in office. And so it's a real loss for the state for him to die. He led a good life and Maryland is better for it.

  • 12:03:12

    NNAMDIRest in peace, Senator Sarbanes. Now on to the politics at hand.

  • 12:03:16

    SHERWOODOh, can I -- do I have time? I apologize. I meant a quick little question. You mentioned John Sarbanes, his son, who holds the seat his father used to hold. John Sarbanes last year told a funny story about growing up during the Watergate era. His father would come home -- this was before computers. And his father had stacks and stacks of transcripts of Nixon tapes and all kinds of records. And he kept them neatly organized on the front hall radiator.

  • 12:03:48

    NNAMDIAnd they never burned up? In those days radiators used to get pretty hot.

  • 12:03:50

    SHERWOODWell, apparently they didn't have the heat turned up that high.

  • 12:03:54

    NNAMDIDaniella, on Wednesday, former Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, announced that he is running for governor once again. That election is next year. But how can he run? Remind us first of the unusual rules in Virginia.

  • 12:04:08

    CHESLOWSure. So in Virginia you can serve two consecutive terms as governor, which means that when McAuliffe's term ended in 2018 that was it for him in statewide elected office, but now he says he's back. And this is a very unusual move. Only one other person in Virginia has served two inconsecutive terms as governor.

  • 12:04:24

    NNAMDISo McAuliffe is going to try to do that. Daniella, McAuliffe is a fundraising machine and well-known in Virginia. But he's joining an already crowded Democratic field in the race for governor and historic in terms of race. Tell us what this field looks like and how have the other candidates reacted to his candidacy?

  • 12:04:41

    CHESLOWSure. So McAuliffe announced this week and he was surrounded by African American elected officials. His three campaign co-chairs are some of the most prominent African Americans in Virginia politics. That includes Charniele Herring in the House of Delegates, the Mayor of Richmond, Levar Stoney, and also, I believe, L. Louise Lucas in the Senate. And all of his rivals are also African American. They include Jennifer Carroll Foy, state delegate from Prince William County -- she just announced she's going to be stepping down to focus on her campaign -- and State Senator Jennifer McClellan of Richmond as well as Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.

  • 12:05:19

    CHESLOWSo I think here McAuliffe has to make the case of why him? Why another white man again when there clearly are so many people in the ranks who have been coming up as the Democratic Party of Virginia has been getting more and more diverse and as you're seeing the House of Delegates, the General Assembly getting more and more diverse. What new ideas or new proposals does he bring to the table that make it worth resurrecting him as opposed to going for someone new?

  • 12:05:45

    NNAMDITom Sherwood, it was widely speculated after Terry McAuliffe left office that he would run for some kind of national office. That has not materialized. Why do you think he decided to come back to run for governor?

  • 12:05:58

    SHERWOODWell, you know, he did prepare to run for president. He has a pack and he was planning to run for president. But when it was clear that Joe Biden was going to run, he knew he was not going to run in the same lane as Joe Biden. So he backed from that. And he's been very active in the off-year elections. The 2017-2019 elections, Terry McAuliffe was around the State of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia as much as any candidate helping to support people.

  • 12:06:32

    SHERWOODDaniella raises -- and you raised the right issue. Is this the time for an old white guy to be running for governor? Well, I'm an old white guy reporter and I think Terry McAuliffe, I talked to some people in Virginia, Adam Ebbin, who's the State Senator from the Alexandria area. He was supporting Jennifer McClellan last year. Attended a fundraiser for her and would have supported her for governor, but he thinks Terry McAuliffe was a very good governor when he was governor and Republicans controlled the legislature. He thinks Terry McAuliffe would be a great governor if the Democrats are in charge of the legislature.

  • 12:07:15

    SHERWOODSo there's a lot of currents in the state going on right now. Terry McAuliffe will have to show that he's -- and I think he will, because he's such a showman himself, that he recognizes this racially fraught era right now. But he still thinks he can lead.

  • 12:07:33

    NNAMDIDaniella Cheslow, we talked about Terry McAuliffe being surrounded by African Americans when he made his announcement. But the fact of the matter is that three of the other likely candidates, at least three of them, are also African Americans. What are they saying about Terry McAuliffe's entry into this race?

  • 12:07:50

    CHESLOWOh, they are certainly not happy about it. And, you know, Jennifer McClelland and Jennifer Carroll Foy have said they feel like someone new has to come out. Kirk Cox, who's running on the Republican side has called Terry a retread. And there's also a new group out that was founded two weeks ago. It's called Her Excellency Virginia 2021. It's a grassroots group of women and men activists, who are trying to support they say any Democratic woman would do.

  • 12:08:18

    CHESLOWBut when I was talking to one of their founders this morning, Susan Platt, she said she believes that Virginia has moved the ball the forward in so many ways. And now is the time to turn the torch over to women. She said, of course, it would be easier if we had one woman. But there are so few women who step forward to run for governor in Virginia that she doesn't feel it would be right to tell either of them to step down. So I think that is a real challenge that faces anybody who hopes to overcome the fundraising machine and the political clout that Terry McAuliffe has in Virginia.

  • 12:08:48

    NNAMDILet's look -- go ahead, Tom.

  • 12:08:51

    SHERWOODAnd Delegate Foy, now she resigned her seat in the legislature. Maybe Daniella can speak a little about that. She's the least known. She's probably the most liberal of the three -- of those three candidates and we're not even talking about Justin Fairfax yet. But she stepped down from her Prince William seat. She's not going to be in the General Assembly anymore. She says -- I think a mother of two. She needs the time to raise money. She's a progressive and she needs to get her name out. She's the least know probably among the major candidates. So she's got a lot of work to do.

  • 12:09:23

    NNAMDICare to comment, Daniella?

  • 12:09:24

    SHERWOODJust so you know, you can't raise money during the legislative sessions if you were a member of the legislature.

  • 12:09:30

    CHESLOWYeah. I mean, it's definitely a way of saying that she's not hedging her bets because, you know, if she doesn't make it for governor then she's not going to have a seat in Richmond either. But I think, you know, she has found herself right now at the center of several of the major issues that Virginians are talking about. She's a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. They were identified as having pervasive racism. Just this week they took down the statue of Stonewall Jackson that stood on campus for decades. She's also a public defender. And so when it comes to issues of criminal justice, she speaks with quite a lot of authority to that. And I think she feels like this is the time for having a very progressive voice in office.

  • 12:10:10

    SHERWOODWhat about the idea that Virginia is a Joe Biden state not a Bernie Sanders state? Terry McAuliffe has a lot of strong support up in Northern Virginia. The state has, you know, not been electing these far -- these right wing conservatives or even far left Democrats. Is this not a purple kind of state in the middle for the candidates? Because you have Amanda Chase on the Republican side. She said she's Donald Trump in heels. And she's a State Senator I think from Leesburg and she's running and she's running against her own party. She's running as an Independent. So the Republicans are still on the far right side almost. Kirk Cox is a moderate conservative some would say. It just seems to me the state is not ready for a very progressive person or maybe it is.

  • 12:11:06

    NNAMDIDaniella.

  • 12:11:07

    CHESLOWThat's an -- yeah, that issue of where are the extremes of the Virginia political spectrum is something that I think both parties are grappling with. And you mentioned, Tom, Amanda Chase. Just this past weekend, the GOP State Central Committee approved nominating their candidate for governor by convention rather than a primary.

  • 12:11:26

    CHESLOWAnd Amanda Chase, the State Senator from Chesterfield, was a big part of that. She is a fire brand. She has said things like, Democrats hate white people. And at the same time she's got quite a big following. She's got quite a lot of people after her on Facebook. And right now her only declared rival is Kirk Cox, the former House Speaker. Other people are exploring bids there. That includes outgoing Congressman Denver Riggleman, Northern Virginia businessman Pete Snyder.

  • 12:11:51

    NNAMDILet me interrupt you for a second, Daniella.

  • 12:11:52

    CHESLOWOh, go ahead, Kojo.

  • 12:11:54

    NNAMDIWe're going to ask you to stick around after the break. Can you do that?

  • 12:11:57

    CHESLOWOf course.

  • 12:11:58

    NNAMDIOkay. We'll stick around. And before we get to the Attorney General for D.C. we've got a few more questions for Daniella. But we do have to take a break now. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:12:20

    NNAMDIWelcome back to The Politics Hour. We'll soon be talking with D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. But we asked WAMU Reporter covering Virginia politics, Daniella Cheslow to stay on for a while because before we took that break, Daniella both you and Tom were discussing the Republican Party and the fact that Senator Amanda Chase of Chesterfield who is a Republican is likely to be running as an independent. But, please explain how we got here because Virginia Republican leaders have chosen to hold a convention instead of the regular primary for the governor's race. Why did they come to that decision?

  • 12:12:56

    CHESLOWThat's right, Kojo. There was a fear that Amanda Chase would basically garner support among the base and strip Kirk Cox. And this is also a year where Republicans are feeling very optimistic, because Joe Biden is the White House, a Democrat, and often, though not always in Virginia, the state elects a governor of the opposite party of the president. So with all of this momentum and promise a lot of people have started talking about campaigns and there was worry that there would be a splitting of the field and Amanda Chase would take it away.

  • 12:13:25

    NNAMDIAnd so that's how we got here. Before you go, you have to talk about D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham. He's leaving the District in early 2021 to become the Police Chief in Prince William County, Virginia. You covered this for WAMU. I heard that story yesterday. What are you hearing about it?

  • 12:13:40

    CHESLOWYeah, so I asked the County Board of Executives Chair Ann Wheeler, she's a Democratic, why she was among the people who voted 8-1 to approve Newsham for the new hire. She said she really liked that he presided over a diverse workforce in D.C. About 50 percent of police officers in D.C. are African American. Out in Prince William it's fewer than 10 percent even though that share in the county population is about 22 percent for African Americans. Some in the county have really welcomed him, the police union chief, for example.

  • 12:14:11

    CHESLOWOn the other hand, I sat in on a meeting in Prince William County where you had real generational and racial split with older whiter residents saying they welcome Newsham. They're excited to have someone with three decades of big city experience. And younger more diverse residents saying, you don't get it. Why did you -- they didn't like the way that he treated protests in Washington. They felt that the D.C. police were too aggressive with protestors. They look to his record of resisting some of the recent changes in policing in D.C. And they said that they wanted to see someone who was more forward looking and if possible a chief of color. And they felt that Newsham was not the person they were hoping for.

  • 12:14:49

    NNAMDIWe're going to ask Attorney General Karl Racine in a little bit about his evaluation of Police Chief Peter Newsham. But, Daniella Cheslow, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 12:15:01

    CHESLOWThank you so much, Kojo.

  • 12:15:03

    NNAMDIAnd, of course, joining us now is the Attorney General of the District of Columbia Karl Racine. Karl Racine, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:15:12

    KARL RACINEThank you very much for having me, Kojo. I hope that you and yours are doing everything possible to stay safe.

  • 12:15:20

    NNAMDIYes. It's not me I'm worrying about. It's that Tom Sherwood, but, Tom Sherwood.

  • 12:15:23

    SHERWOODIs it possible that we can go right to the police chief?

  • 12:15:27

    NNAMDIThat's what I was thinking. Well, Attorney General Racine, Chief Peter Newsham as we just heard is moving on to become the Police Chief at Prince William County Police Department. There are some differences of opinion in that county about him. But how do you evaluate his tenure as police chief here in the District and -- well, first let's start with that.

  • 12:15:48

    RACINESure. Look, the chief has served in the District of Columbia for 31 years. I guess the last almost six years or so -- or four or five years I forget exactly, have been as chief. I think it's important to note that there was a major, major reform effort during his tenure. And that obviously the credit there is to be shared. Chief Ramsey did an incredible job of coming in and bringing DOJ to actually put MPD under a consent order. Cathy Lanier established community trust in the District of Columbia. And the chief filled her very large shoes. I look at the chief as a person who went I needed to really work hard with him on tough issues such as reforming the way that MPD interacts with juveniles, you know, he was game. And certainly I appreciate that.

  • 12:16:48

    RACINEI think, you know, the chief definitely worked hard and tried his very best. And I wish him luck. This is a critical time, however, for the District of Columbia to really bare down and get with the community and understand the most important function of police really is not only to keep us safe, but they do that by establishing trust. The trust that I referred to related to Cathy Lanier. And I think now is the time to redouble those efforts and to be creative in regards to how policing looks.

  • 12:17:23

    NNAMDITom Sherwood.

  • 12:17:24

    SHERWOODMr. Attorney General, first of all I want to say I have not spoken to you since your mother, Dr. Mary Racine died, a strong force here in education in the District of Columbia. So my condolences to you and your family.

  • 12:17:37

    RACINEThank you, Tom. And, Kojo, I know that you've also always shown tremendous love and admiration respecting my mom.

  • 12:17:43

    NNAMDII considered a friend certainly in terms of how she explained politics in Haiti to me.

  • 12:17:49

    RACINEI want to thank you for those beautiful words that you expressed shortly after her death. That meant a lot to our family, Kojo.

  • 12:17:56

    NNAMDIYou're welcome.

  • 12:17:57

    SHERWOODNow if I could just back to the chief. Were you surprised like the mayor? I reported that the mayor found out the chief was leaving about an hour before it was announced by Prince William. Were you surprised? And also were you -- you said some very nice things about him. And he would say he was very liked -- most of the communities of the city and only some didn't like him. But do you think he should of -- would you have supported him if he had stayed on as chief?

  • 12:18:30

    RACINEYou know, I tried to be more ...

  • 12:18:32

    SHERWOODWere you surprised and did you support -- would you have supported him if he wanted to stay on as chief?

  • 12:18:36

    RACINESure, Tom. Yeah, I was surprised. I had no, you know, notice nor am I saying I should've had notice, but I was quite surprised by the abrupt nature of that, as well as, you know, the apparent lack of knowledge of, you know, others who maybe should've known or should've been informed. So that did surprise me. With regard to your other question -- I'm sorry, can you just refine it a little bit for me?

  • 12:19:04

    SHERWOODI don't remember it either.

  • 12:19:08

    RACINE(laugh) Maybe it'll come back.

  • 12:19:11

    NNAMDIWell, let's move...

  • 12:19:11

    SHERWOODWould you support -- I think -- well, go ahead, let's move on. There's so many other issues I want to get to.

  • 12:19:17

    NNAMDICOVID-19 cases continuing to climb in the D.C. area. Mayor Bowser has tightened coronavirus restrictions banning indoor gatherings of more than ten people. Starting December 14th, D.C. restaurants will have to limit in-person dining to 25 percent capacity. What do you think of Mayor Bowser's handling of this recent surge?

  • 12:19:38

    RACINEWell, you know, I look at the numbers very carefully every single day. We're fortunate that the city council and our terrific judiciary chairman, Charles Allen, provided the office of attorney general for the last couple years with some real good data analysts. And, you know, D.C., in a relative way in regards to positive tests, is doing well relative to the country. We're about number 42, if I remember correctly from this morning.

  • 12:20:04

    RACINEIn regards to deaths on a per capita basis we're number 12. And so, of course, that's concerning. And where those deaths occur is even more concerning, you know, in particular 7, 8 and 4, black, brown, vulnerable communities. And it just speaks to all that we need to do to focus more on those communities. People of color have been, you know, I think in many ways, not only in D.C., but elsewhere, forgotten.

  • 12:20:36

    RACINEThe last point I want to make. My niece is fantastic and she's visited here safely. She commends Dr. Nesbitt, because she says that in Philadelphia the whole testing regime was complicated, delayed and frankly costly. Here in the District of Columbia where she's been tested she says, in contrast, it was actually quite easy.

  • 12:21:01

    NNAMDITom Sherwood.

  • 12:21:03

    SHERWOODThe question I asked you, it was, would you support Chief Newsome if he were to be staying on as police chief or did you think it was time for him to go? That was the second half of the question.

  • 12:21:15

    RACINEYeah...

  • 12:21:15

    SHERWOODAnd then I have another...

  • 12:21:17

    RACINE...yeah, I remember...

  • 12:21:17

    SHERWOODWas that a yes?

  • 12:21:19

    RACINENo, no, no. I'm not the councilmember. I don't have oversight. The mayor does that. The council has oversight. And the issue obviously is no longer a question, so I don't see any value in opining on something is not a current...

  • 12:21:34

    SHERWOODGood enough. Good enough. We'll move on. Let me ask you about your Cure the Streets Program. You and the mayor, and I've always talked about how you guys don't get a long and the mayor gets mad at me, because I say you don't get along. She says you do get along. But you have a Cure the Streets Program and the mayor has a competing neighborhood safety and engagement program, both working in the streets to reduce violence.

  • 12:21:58

    SHERWOODHomicide is up 20 percent this year. There's lots of violent crime and issues. People are worried. There's a lot of stress because of the pandemic. Why is it that you and the mayor have competing neighborhood organizations and not just one for the city?

  • 12:22:12

    RACINESure, Tom. And I want to be really clear here because it's your word competing. The mayor's never used that word that I'd seen and we've talked about both the ONE's office run by people I respect as well as Cure the Streets. And what you don't know is that ONE and Cure the Streets talk regularly. And so I don't view this as a competing program. They're two programs that have different frameworks, models and processes and do two different things. And perhaps it's complicated, you know, to report that but that is the case.

  • 12:22:52

    NNAMDIWe're talking with...

  • 12:22:53

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) What's the major difference, if you don't mind, just the one major difference between what you do and what her organization does?

  • 12:22:57

    RACINEOh, sure. That's an excellent follow-up. Cure the Streets is focused on very narrow geographic areas where the data has demonstrated that there's extreme gun violence. And Cure the Streets focuses on identifying people, who are credible messengers who come from those areas. Indeed many of the Cure the Street employees are folks who have been just as involved. The ONE's program is more dispersed citywide. It also has other aspects such as a job training program and the like. As you know, the office of attorney general does not provide those kinds of services. So our program is narrow and geographic.

  • 12:23:44

    SHERWOODIf Kojo will let me, I'd like to ask one more political question before he asks a serious question.

  • 12:23:48

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Only got about a minute left in this segment. Go ahead.

  • 12:23:51

    SHERWOODI'll ask the question (unintelligible) . You've been on national television three times the last several days and again this morning. You said last March you'd consider going into the Biden Administration if a post were suitable to you. Have you been vetted for any post and are you still willing to join the Biden Administration if a position opened up that you liked? Have you been vetted?

  • 12:24:11

    RACINESure, to -- yeah, to be very honest with you, I don't know whether I have been vetted. In regards to whether I would go into a Biden Administration or continue as an elected official in the District of Columbia or choose to do something else, I think at this point in time there's been a change in my thinking. And all things are in play.

  • 12:24:37

    NNAMDIMeaning that you would consider any and all other options?

  • 12:24:41

    SHERWOODIncluding running for mayor?

  • 12:24:44

    RACINEYeah, I think things are in play.

  • 12:24:47

    NNAMDIOkay. Then we'll have to go with that. We've got to take a short break. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:25:12

    NNAMDIWelcome back. Our guest is Karl Racine. He's the attorney general for the District of Columbia. General Racine, once you said all things are in play, I'm pretty sure that that's got Tom Sherwood all agog. So, Tom, what's the follow up you'd like to ask? This is The Politics Hour.

  • 12:25:26

    SHERWOODWell, it's clear. I mean, he was very active in the council races this past year. He had a pretty good success rate. His leading candidate Ed Lazear for at-large lost in the at-large race for the council. I mean, he's very active. Mr. Attorney General, you're extraordinarily active in city politics, but you're also keeping a hand out of it. So why don't you just say you're going to run for mayor and let -- if the mayor doesn't -- or whether she does or not, then we can go to lunch.

  • 12:25:58

    RACINEWell, Tom, I'd love to have a socially distant and appropriate lunch with you without regard to politics. But, no, what I said, and I appreciate you correcting my syntax, is that all, you know, are in play. And what that means is, the job of attorney general is awesome. And I hope the residents of the District of Columbia know what we focused on, which is we focused on using the law to help our most vulnerable residents. And we've also focused on making sure that the District of Columbia could be viewed as a town, a city, a future state that actually is capable of having the best office of attorney general in the country. And candidly and modestly speaking, my colleagues and their talent and work, they've achieved that.

  • 12:26:43

    RACINESecond, I'm the president, as you know, of the National Association of Attorney General. I can't wait to dig in, as I had two weeks ago, into our initiative, which is combating hate. It's going to be really hard for me to move away from that next year in '21 where we're focused on combating hate, something that's necessary and something that's part of the reason why the District of Columbia is not a state. With respect to...

  • 12:27:08

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) The election for mayor is actually after 2021. It's in 2022, so that'd be a great record of achievement for you if you're running for mayor.

  • 12:27:19

    RACINEYeah, and as I said...

  • 12:27:20

    SHERWOODIf Kojo will let me, let me...

  • 12:27:23

    RACINEGo ahead.

  • 12:27:23

    SHERWOODI'll don't think we'll get any more precise wording out of you as the skilled attorney that you are. The council has passed legislation for early release for people, who were convicted of crimes before they were 25, to let them out -- let a judge let them out if they've served 15 years, had good behavior and then shown rehabilitation. The law previously was 18 years. Did you support that law moving the age up to 25, the time you commit a crime?

  • 12:27:53

    RACINEYes. And I think that Charles Allen, again the judiciary chair has done an incredible job. Follow the date, follow the evidence. What he's seeking to do is bring fairness and justice and a reversal of the mass incarceration mindset. Importantly, judges, D.C. superior court judges, some of the best in the country, they're not going to let any violent individual out because 15 years is up. They'll be rigor. The victims perspective, which is incredibly important, is going to be considered and the judges are going to make the best decisions they can.

  • 12:28:28

    SHERWOODAnd Joe Biden, President-Elect, this week joined the chorus of people telling civil rights leaders this week that the Democrats made a mistake by saying defund police when they meant reform police. But defund police is handed a heavy axe to the Republicans in campaigns like the campaigns in Georgia January 5th. Do you agree that defund police is a poorly-worded slogan?

  • 12:28:54

    RACINEWell, I do associate myself with Congressman Jim Clyburn who called it, you know, just too broad slogan-neering. That's why I corrected you on your word competing programs, because I've never used that word, nor have I heard Mayor Bowser use competing when talking about violence interruption. So, yes...

  • 12:29:14

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) Not publicly.

  • 12:29:15

    RACINE...slogan-neering was problematic.

  • 12:29:18

    NNAMDIWell, let's talk about violence interruption and hate, because you mentioned that you are the first elected attorney general for D.C. and now president of the National Association of Attorneys Generals. By the way, congratulations on that.

  • 12:29:31

    RACINEThank you, sir.

  • 12:29:32

    NNAMDIAnd you mentioned one of your main priorities will be combating hate crimes and extremism. The District's law enforcement agencies reported over 200 hate crimes in 2019 alone. And the FBI reported 51 hate-motivated killings in 2019. What do you believe is causing this rise in hate crimes both around the country and in this region? And what plans do you have to reduce hate crimes in the District, because, I guess, you have to start at home.

  • 12:30:01

    RACINEYou really do, and you hit it. Since 2015 -- 2015 through 2019 in the District of Columbia, we've reported tripling of hate offenses. Nationally, as you indicated, 51 hate crime murders in 2019. We needn't look too far and just think about Charlottesville. Think about a Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston. Think about the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Think about El Paso with the shooting of nearly two dozen Mexican-Americans.

  • 12:30:38

    RACINEOur problem of hate in this country is deeply rooted, and it honestly came the day that the settlers arrived. And we've not really addressed that. What they did was they obviously exiled the Native-Americans. They considered them to be less than human savages. They then, when the Native-Americans could not, you know, agree to be slaves, they went ahead and imported slaves from Africa, again, characterize less than human. We need to understand that this is in our history. In some ways it's in our blood and we've got to combat it at its root.

  • 12:31:20

    RACINEOnce we understand and live the truth that we are essentially all the same -- and this goes beyond race. It also goes to gender, sexual orientation. In D.C. I want to emphasize that the transgender community is disproportionately impacted. Nationally it's people of color, who are disproportionately impacted.

  • 12:31:44

    RACINEWhat my hate initiative seeks to do in the AG room with 56 attorneys general throughout this country, is to have the attorneys general lead a conversation that this country has not been ready to have about how it is we can be honest and talk about race and bias. And by doing so, minimize and reduce the incidents of it.

  • 12:32:11

    RACINEYou asked a question about why is it on the rise. It's on the rise, because it's never been addressed. And, of course, it's on the rise, because hate groups have gotten care, comfort and support from President Donald Trump. We know that and the stats show it. So we're looking at real tangible progress. I've got many suggestions including, of course, involving our children in real discussion around the history of our country and how we can turn the page.

  • 12:32:43

    NNAMDIWell, you mentioned President Donald Trump and you mentioned what you're trying to do with the Association of Attorneys General. Do you get a sense that your colleagues and the association, in particular your Republican colleagues, are supportive of this cause even as they seem to support President Trump?

  • 12:33:02

    RACINEI think the whole President Trump factor and the chokehold that he has on the Republican Party -- chokeholds, by the way, as you know, don't end well, people can die and parties can die as a result of a chokehold, is problematic. With respect to how it's going to impact our initiative, you know what, I got to tell you. We started about ten days ago and I had twelve Republican attorneys general come out in a video with me introducing the hate initiative. And they all encouraged every single one in the room to stand up against hate. I think hate is unpopular. I look forward to having a person stand up and defend it.

  • 12:33:45

    NNAMDITom Sherwood.

  • 12:33:46

    SHERWOODThere's so many issues, we could take a whole hour on this, but let me ask you a consumer issue...

  • 12:33:51

    RACINEI welcome that, Tom, bring me back.

  • 12:33:52

    SHERWOODYes, I know you do. I know you do. You have joined with a multistate group of attorneys general suing Facebook. Everyone has heard of Facebook, is probably on Facebook. Is the intent to break up Facebook, is that your intent? Do you think that's what the solution is for -- and Google was sued, I think, last week. Are these large tech companies -- without getting bogged down in all the details that lawyers can do, do you want Facebook broken up?

  • 12:34:24

    RACINELet me answer that question in just ten seconds to remind the viewers and the D.C. consumers that the office of attorney general in the District of Columbia actually sued Facebook about 18 months ago in light of the fact that half of the D.C. residents who have a Facebook account had their privacy misused and violated contrary to laws what we allege and contrary to Facebook's own policies.

  • 12:34:52

    RACINENow, the 48...

  • 12:34:53

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) What happened to that lawsuit?

  • 12:34:55

    RACINEWe're winning that case. Facebook has tried to dismiss the case. Their motion to dismiss was denied. We're in the throes of discovery and we'll see where it goes. I want to tell you, I am so proud of my colleagues at the office of attorney general who continue to advance cases virtually in the District of Columbia.

  • 12:35:15

    RACINENow, on the antitrust case, you asked about the ultimate remedy. You know, I think that the cart's before the horse. Our allegations do make the case for breakup of aspects of Facebook. Why? Because we allege that it has a monopoly power, certainly, in social media, and that it is using its monopoly power to crush competition. The evidence is clear, when Facebook sees a potential competitor, guess what it does. It absolutely tries to gobble it up, either buying it out or freezing it out through the contracts (unintelligible) ...

  • 12:35:58

    NNAMDIWe only got...

  • 12:35:59

    SHERWOODSo you want to break it up.

  • 12:36:00

    NNAMDI...we only have about a minute left, Mr. Attorney General, but last year you entered a suit against DoorDash, a food delivery service over its misleading tipping policy which ended in a settlement for $2.5 million. Now, you're ordering them to reverse their commission fee increase. We had someone call into the show yesterday saying that a prominent fitness club in the District is violating the restrictions imposed by the mayor on these kinds of businesses. How is the District enforcing these issues or restrictions on local businesses? And what should someone do if they know of violations?

  • 12:36:32

    RACINEIt's a great question. You can call the office of attorney general, www.oag.gov. The phone number is 202-727-3400. With respect to DoorDash we sued them earlier and settled for $2.5 million including total redress to drivers whose tips went into the coffers of DoorDash as opposed to the drivers. And we're going to make sure they follow DoorDash. D.C. law, they've got an excellent council Roy Austin, and I think he's going to make sure they do that too.

  • 12:37:04

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much.

  • 12:37:05

    SHERWOODCan I ask a yes or no question?

  • 12:37:07

    NNAMDINope. Karl Racine is the attorney general for D.C. General Racine, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:37:12

    RACINEThank you.

  • 12:37:13

    NNAMDIToday's Politics Hour was produced by Richard Cunningham. Coming up Monday, public health expert and emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen joins us to answer your coronavirus questions and discuss the importance of public trust in the vaccines. Plus, ever wonder why thunder is so loud or if it's true that no two snowflakes are alike? We've got Meteorologist Chester Lampkin from WSA9 to answer all your weather questions on our next Kojo for Kids. That all starts at noon Monday. Until then, you have a wonderful weekend and you too, Tom Sherwood, and stay safe. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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