All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/14/17 Charlottesville & the backlash against President Trump

Jelani Cobb, Jennifer Rubin, Asawin Suebsaeng, Gabe Sherman

Date: August 14, 2017
Guest: Jelani Cobb, Jennifer Rubin, Asawin Suebsaeng, Gabe Sherman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: - got it right on instinct, who called it as
he saw it and called it as an American, who didn`t need 48 hours of the
country telling him what to say. That`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being
with us. “ALL IN” starts right now.



strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and

REID: Two days late, the President changes his tune on Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.

REID: Tonight, Trump`s defense for delaying his condemnation of white

TRUMP: They`ve been condemned. They have been condemned.

REID: Plus, reading between the lines.

TRUMP: Cherish our history.

Other hate groups.

Many sides, on many sides.

REID: And the reaction from Republicans.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: These groups seem to believe they
have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House.

REID: Then, the Russia investigation goes inside the White House. And the
President`s approval rating hits another historic low.

TRUMP: And I`m not sure that anybody`s done what we`ve done in a six-month

REID: ALL IN starts now.


REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes.
Earlier today this country reached a grim and ugly milestone. The
President of the United States succumbing to overwhelming pressure was
forced to clarify that he does not in fact support Nazis and white


TRUMP: Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are
criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and
other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as


REID: Those scripted comments from the President came more than 48 hours
after violent clashes broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia at a rally
held by a collection of white supremacist groups where neo-Nazis and Klan
members marched openly in full regalia with polo shirt-wearing so-called
alt-right true believers. They chanted bigoted slogans including the Nazi
German slogan “blood and soil” in the pure light of day.

CROWD (chanting): Blood and soil!

You will not replace us! You will not replace us!


REID: Now, listen to how former KKK leader David Duke described Saturday`s


DAVID DUKE, FORMER KKK LEADER: This represents a turning point for the
people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We`re
going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.


REID: And later a car allegedly driven by a 20-year-old whose social media
is littered with Nazi material rammed into a crowd protesting the rally,
wounding 19 and killing a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer. The
alleged driver who attended the rally as part of a white supremacist group
has been charged with second-degree murder and denied bond. And yet when
the President of the United States finally addressed what happened, hours
later, he chose not to denounce the white supremacists and ignored
reporters` questions on the subject.


TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display
of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. Thank you
very much, everybody.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) white nationalists -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President do you want the support of these white
nationalist groups who say they support you, Mr. President?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you denounced them strongly enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A car plowing into the people, would you call that
terrorism, Sir?


REID: Those comments were praised by the editor of a prominent neo-Nazi
website that said, “He didn`t attack us. He just said the nation should
come together. Nothing specific against us. Really, really good. God
bless him.” To just about everybody else, however, Donald Trump`s remarks
were an astounding new low. The man occupying the office that has for
decades been the leader of the free world refusing to denounce an abhorrent
ideology of racial supremacy or to call out Nazis by name. The backlash
was immediate and bipartisan with Trump`s approval rating falling to 34
percent on the new Gallup daily tracking poll, the lowest ever in that
survey. And this afternoon amid mounting pressure, the White House tried
for a redo with a reluctant President going before cameras to finally
denounce those hate groups by name but only after ticking through a list of
his supposed economic accomplishments first. Later at a second public
appearance, he declined to explain what took so long.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can you explain why you did not condemn
those hate groups by name over the weekend?

TRUMP: They`ve been condemned. They have been condemned.


REID: Tonight the President was back to lashing out on Twitter, “Made
additional remarks on Charlottesville and realized once again that the fake
news media will never be satisfied. Truly bad people.” I`m joined now by
New Yorker Staff Writer Jelani Cobb, Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Columnist
for the Washington Post, and MSNBC Political Analyst Michael Steele, former
Chairman of the RNC. And Jelani, you know, Donald Trump, it took him days
to finally denounce the Nazis and neo-Nazis and others that marched in
Charlottesville by name. But he was real quick this morning when Kenneth
Frazier who was the CEO of Merck, who was African-American, resigned from
his manufacturing council.

He went right out minutes after that announcement and tweeted “Now that Ken
Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President`s manufacturing
council, he`ll have more time to - all caps - lower rip-off drug prices.”
What do you make of the reluctance to denounce white supremacists but the
speed at which he denounces people who criticize him?

JELANI COBB, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Look at the relative amount of
provocation that it took. The letter that Frazier sent was fairly
respectful, saying that he was not going to be part of this council
anymore, and gave a very principled explanation for why he would not
continue to participate. On the other side of it, we`ve seen a group of
people who are allied with a movement that was at the center of a world war
that the United States` main claim to moral authority in the world has been
centered around defeating this force of evil, which explicitly believes in
the inferiority of other peoples. And they were responsible for allegedly
the death of an American citizen.

And yet we got this evenhanded response to it. And so it`s unconscionable
and it`s bizarre but it also opens up these other questions. When he says
that racism is evil, so the logical follow-up is do you know rescind the
comments you that made about Judge Curiel when you said that he could not
be objective because he was, “Mexican” even though he was born in the
United States? Do you rescind the comments that you`ve made about Muslims
being hostile to the United States and to America? What - where do we stop
here? Because there`s a reason. People had a real concrete reason for
believing that he was a person of like mind. And so this simply raises
more questions. The statement that he gave today raises more questions
than it answers.

REID: Yes, and you know, Jennifer, we`ve been here before, right? When
the you know, the holocaust – I remember a statement came out that erased
Jewish victims from the holocaust and you had this sort of bland statement
that a lot of white nationalists tend to go in that direction where they
try to take the Jews out of the Holocaust. And then you have today, the
behind-the-scenes from the A.P. saying that Trump later expressed anger to
those close to him, he was angry he had to do this.

He was angry about what he perceived of the media`s unfair assessment of
his remarks, believing he had effectively denounced all forms of bigotry
according to outside observers, several Trump Senior Advisers including his
new Chief of Staff urged him to make a more specific condemnations or the
negative story would not go away and the rising tide of criticism for
Republicans, et cetera. He would have endangered his legislative agenda,
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But you have seen with Donald Trump, who
does have a Jewish son-in-law, and yet this sort of reluctance to really go
directly at Nazism when to Jelani`s point the reason that the President of
the United States is leader of the free world is that we defeated the
Nazis. I don`t get it.

two things going on. One is these people are part of his base. However he
wants to phrase it and gussy it up, he wants to call Steve Bannon part of
the alt-right, the white supremacists, the white resentment, the fear, the
anger towards non-white Americans is what has fueled his campaign from the
get-go. And like it or not, that`s who these people are. They`re not a
totality. They`re not a majority of his base but they are part of it. And
he does not want to dump on them.

Second is Donald Trump, of course, is a narcissist. The definition of
anyone who is a bad person is someone who is disloyal to him. So he will
snap and hurl epithets at someone like Mr. Frazier or any aide who betrays
him in his eyes, at the Attorney General. The only qualification for being
in his good graces is loyalty. The only disqualification, the only
unpardonable sin is disloyalty to him. So I think this is classic Donald
Trump. It`s a mix of this very deliberate, manipulative, cultivating of
white resentment and Donald Trump`s famous narcissism.

REID: And you know, Michael Steele, you know, John Harwood had a great you
know, piece out today where he talked about the private disgust of
Republican Lawmakers and calling it really remarkable, the personal
disgust. And yet publicly you`ve had a lot of, you know, strong
denunciations of the neo-Nazis but still this reluctance to make that
disgust with Donald Trump public. I mean, do they get any credit for being
privately disgusted?

all. Because this is the moment, this is the seminal moment for the
Republican Party. You`re going to be defined by the stench that comes from
this. The country`s watching, the country wants a response and you cannot
have this both ways. You cannot on the one instance say oh, my God, this
is terrible privately and then publicly hem and haw and figure out a way to
sort of smooth over hurt feelings in the White House. That`s not what this
is about. This is about how you hold a country together. This is your
Lincoln moment as a Republican, Mr. President. This is not something that
is part of reality television because this is real for a lot of people out
there, particularly a family that lost a daughter, that lost a sister, and
I think that`s the thing that`s missed here more than anything else.

REID: And Jelani, you know, I don`t know why I was surprised, people were
so surprised. They`re acting so surprised. I mean, Donald Trump hasn`t

COBB: No, he hasn`t. And this is consistent I think we - people who were
New Yorkers who remember the central park five, who remember people who
were a generation before that, who remember the housing discrimination
issues, this is pretty much vintage Trump. And it`s kind of linear
progression from where he`s been. And just one other quick point about
this I think is interesting, it`s notable that we have seized upon the Nazi
element of this, that this was the line that could not be crossed. But
they were there to defend a Confederate statue. And so, we are perfectly
willing to countenance a kind of muddy or hazy morality around America`s
sin of racism, the Confederacy being directly connected to the abominable
practice of slavery in this country. It`s when we talk about something
that`s external, something that happened in Europe, something for which we
don`t feel morally culpable that we can say OK, here`s the line, we have to
stop here, we can`t - we can`t tolerate this.

REID: It`s a really good point. You know, Michael Steele, as we look -
for those who are looking at the left side of the screen or the right side
of the screen depending on your point of view, those are protesters outside
Trump Tower. Those marchers actually marched down Sixth Avenue earlier and
they`re now protesting outside Trump tower where Donald Trump is expected
to be tonight. You know, and Michael Steele, during the election you had
Donald Trump`s namesake son Donald Trump Jr. fly down to Mississippi, which
was not in contention. It was a - it`s a deep red state just to support
the confederate flag. You`ve had these you know, long known positions of
Donald Trump on things like birtherism and Republicans applauded and you
know, Marco Rubio said he`s honored to help him become President. You
know, shouldn`t Republicans do a little more self-examination? The
Confederate flag piece of this, the monument piece, Republicans have
tolerated it for generations.

STEELE: I appreciate your use of the words self-reflection because I think
that`s what`s needed here. And you don`t have that far to go. Go back to
what Reagan said, go back to what George W. Bush said, go back to that
convention speech by Bob Dole in which he pointed out the exit for those
who want to bring that kind of filth into the Republican Party. That`s the
Republican Party I think needs to step up right now. This isn`t about just
supporting the President. This isn`t about just supporting the party.
This is how we as a political party want to govern at a very critical time
and show the kind of leadership that the American people have come to
expect from us. We have a history of standing in that crucible on civil
rights, for example. Why do we relegate that to the ash bin of history
just to get a vote from a neo-Nazi? Are you kidding me? This makes no

REID: And Jennifer Rubin, we`ve had in Durham, protesters have brought
down a statue, a confederate-era statue. It is quite ironic, isn`t it,
that when those statues went up it was Democrats that were - that were the
southern conservative party and Republicans were hated by southern
Democrats. And now you have a party that isn`t really willing to denounce
these Confederate statues and in fact defending them.

RUBIN: Exactly. I began with Nixon and the southern strategy, and it`s
gotten well out of control since then. And your other panelists are
exactly right. This is something that Donald Trump has cultivated his
whole life. He cultivated it during the campaign and now I think through
our failed education system, through some laziness in the press, people
still think that there`s something to revere in these statues. These are
the people who killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and fought a war
to enslave other Americans. So I think we need some public awareness here.

REID: We`re out of time. We`re out of time. I wish we had more time.
Jelani Cobb, Jennifer Rubin, Michael Steele, I`m sorry. Thank you all for
your time tonight. And up next, taking cues from the White House. Some of
the highest staffers in the current Presidential administration and their
ties to the so-called alt-right after this two-minute break.



STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The same mentality, they don`t
know what negotiating leverage is, whether it`s China, whether it`s Mexico.
They mock you because you said hey, I`m going to build a wall and they`re
going to pay for it.

TRUMP: Oh, 100 percent they`ll pay, Steve, by the way, 100 percent. Do
you know what we lose on Mexico a year? 45 billion in trade. We have an
imbalance with Mexico. 45 billion. The wall`s going to cost you know,
they said it was going to cost 12, I can build it for 6 and it will be
bigger, better and stronger.


REID: Donald Trump and Steve Bannon have long had a cozy relationship.
That was Bannon interviewing Trump on his first Breitbart News daily radio
show back in 2015. Less than a year later Trump made Bannon his campaign
CEO and then brought him into the White House as his Chief Strategist.
Despite his ties to the white nationalist ideology calling itself the alt-
right, Bannon once even bragged that his media outlet was, “the platform
for the alt-right.” But Bannon is far from the only member of the Trump
administration with ties to anti-immigrant, anti-multicultural, anti-
Muslim, and pro white nationalist ideology. There are in fact a disturbing
number of top Trump advisers who somehow just happen to keep mimicking the
talking points of the racist fringe.

For example, after the atrocity in Charlottesville, Vanity Fair`s Gabe
Sherman reported that “When I asked a senior official why Trump didn`t
condemn C-ville Nazis, he said, “What about the leftist mob? Just as
violent if not more so.” And Gabe Sherman joins me now along with Asawin
Suebsaeng Politics Reporter for the Daily Beast who also spoke to White
House officials one of them telling him today when asked if the President
would visit Charlottesville, “Why the hell would we do that?” Well, all
righty then, let`s start - let`s start with you on this, Gabe. There does
seem to be beyond just Donald Trump a reluctance among Trump White House -
amongst White House aides to really understand the gravity of the alt-right
white nationalist sort of affinity for the President.

questions, you know, the last few days we`ve seen actions speak louder than
any of these quotes can. Donald Trump was slow to acknowledge the atrocity
that took place in Charlottesville. And I think this gets at the core of
really what Donald Trump`s governing philosophy is. This is his base. He
speaks the language of sales. He is a salesman first and he knows that
these are his most loyal customers. So why would Donald Trump including
his advisers come out and alienate the people that are going to be buying
his product, a.k.a. the voting booth.

REID: And Asawin are you able to - do you know who - can you give us your
reporting on who wrote these two different speeches? Well, not really
speeches, the remarks that Donald Trump has given on Charlottesville.

to 100 percent confirm that yet. Having said that, from my reporting over
the weekend, I can confirm that in crafting the first speech that the
President gave on Saturday, addressing the attack in Charlottesville, the
President when he was talking to aides before the speech was written and of
course before he gave it, he specifically stated that he wanted to
emphasize a restoration of law and order and the rule of law, which is
something he repeated in his speech today and something he repeated on
Twitter after his initial speech. That`s where his head is at. The
initial version of the speech was never going to be a specific denunciation
of white nationalism or neo-Nazis, it was going to emphasize what candidate
Trump and now President Trump had been known to emphasize, even though
Nazis are bad is literally the easiest gimme in the history of American

REID: It`s a layup. Yes. I mean, anything on many sides, there had been
- there had been speculation whether it was ad-libbed or written. Do you

SHERMAN: I don`t know it specifically. I do know in private that this is
what Donald Trump you know, has talked about with aides. And I think what
the issue is -I think fundamentally this White House doesn`t see the White
Nationalist Movement as a problem. They see it as a legitimate expression
of a constituent group. The same way Black Lives Matters is an activist
group. They don`t see them, I don`t think, from my reporting, as, you
know, a fundamentally bad actor. So in this calculus, the Trump White
House says well, if White Nationalists want to turn out in Charlottesville
and march, they should have the right and that the counter protesters were
as much to blame and obviously we know that`s not the case.

REID: Right. And what`s interesting about that is that if you actually
read what alt-right says about themselves, as when Milo Yiannopoulos co-
wrote this guy to the alt-right that`s on, it`s still there.
And one of the things it said is certainly the rise of Donald Trump perhaps
the first truly cultural candidate for President since Buchanan. So this
grassroots appetite for more robust protection of the Western European
American way of life, that`s one of the milder things that say on there.
They also talked about the fact that in group identity, racial identity is
a legitimate thing that white Americans should pursue and it essentially
tells you, you know, yes, we want to pursue white national identity and
identitarianism and separation. So, how - you know, it is incredibly
offensive to equate that with black people saying please don`t shoot us.

SUEBSAENG: Right. There`s a weird equivalence that happens among not just
people who read and write at Breitbart on the right, what they like to
equate Black Lives Matters and fringe groups like neo-Nazis or alt-righters
whatever you want to call them. And there is quite frankly that`s one of
the most dishonest and disgusting arguments going on right now in
conservative circles I can think of. And that is a refrain that you will
hear fairly frequently including from some conservatives who don`t consider
themselves pro-Trump.

REID: Yes, and you`ve never heard, Gabe, you know, anybody that`s in Black
Lives Matter or any you know, religious - any religious leaders were there
marching against these protests. You never heard people in these counter-
protest groups saying things like Michael Anton, who works in the White
House, used to be a right-wing blogger, who when he was blogging as
Publius, this pseudonym he used, wrote, “The ceaseless importation of third
world foreigners with no tradition of, taste for or experience in liberty
means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican
- big R, less republican - small R, and less traditionally American with
every cycle.” I don`t - I only see the alt-right talking about the
ceaseless importation of third world foreigners.

SHERMAN: Many people on the right -

REID: Will he put (INAUDIBLE)

SUEBSAENG: Many people on the right would reference pigs in a blanket when
they talk about -

REID: Those people weren`t Black Lives Matter. Go on.

SHERMAN: Well, I think, yes. I think this is a false - in other case of
false equivalence. And I think as much as anything, this is a test for
Donald Trump`s new Chief of Staff, John Kelly because you know, this is a
crisis where we could have seen leadership, where we could have seen a new
leadership in this White House. And Donald Trump, true to form I think as
you pointed out in the last block, he has not changed. He has reverted to
the same style of politics that he ran in this campaign. I think it`s
beyond the point of us expecting to see a new kind of leadership from this
White House.

REID: Bannon likely to stay?

SHERMAN: I think, you know, the more he is attacked, I think Donald Trump
you know, digs in and says that this is the far left pushing his guys out.

REID: Gorka likely to stay even with that medal from -

SHERMAN: I think Bannon clearly has probably more of a chance of staying
than Gorka because he is you know, closer to Trump than Gorka.

REID: Yes, all right, not much is going to change, Gabe Sherman, Asawin
Suebsaeng, thank you guys very much for being here. I appreciate it. And
coming up, the Robert Mueller investigation showing no signs of slowing
down. New reports say the Special Council is looking to interview current
members of the Trump administration. What they`re reportedly looking for


REID: Just hours ago yet another story dropped on the investigation into
ties between Trump`s campaign and Russia. The Washington Post reporting
that three days after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team
in March of 2016, the youngest of the new advisers sent an e-mail to seven
campaign officials with the subject line “Meeting with Russian Leadership
Including Putin.” The adviser, George Papadopoulos offered to set up a
meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russian ties
under President Trump telling them that his Russian contacts welcomed the
opportunity according to internal campaign e-mails read to the Washington

The suggestion reportedly set off concern inside the campaign including
from then Campaign Chair Paul Manafort. In a statement to NBC, a spokesman
said, “Mr. Manafort`s swift action reflects the attitude of the campaign.
Any invitation by Russia directly or indirectly would be rejected
outright.” Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that the Special
Counsel, Robert Mueller, is now in talks with the White House to interview
current and former officials. The reporter who broke that story joins me


REID: The Russia investigation is now reaching into the White House.
According to the New York Times, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is in talks
with the west wing about interviewing current and former senior
administration officials, including the recently ousted White House Chief
of Staff Reince Priebus according to three people briefed on the
discussion. One of the things Mueller might want to talk to Priebus about,
the president`s decision to fire
James Comey from his job as FBI director. Comey testified to Congress that
he had a number of interactions with the president, including a February 14
meeting in the oval office in which he said the
president, after shooing everyone else out of the room, asked him to back
off the investigation of Michael Flynn. According to Comey, Reince Priebus
was one of the people asked to leave the room.

One of the reporters who broke that piece, Matt Apuzzo, Pulitzer prize-
winning and investigative reporter for The New York Times, joins me now.
Along with Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who has litigated
multiple cases of public corruption. Thanks for being here.

Matt, I`ll start with you. So there aren`t any interviews scheduled yet, my
understanding is, but what is that process and how far up the food chain in
the White House are we talking about in terms of these interview requests?

MATT APUZZO, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It doesn`t get too much higher up than
the now former chief of staff to the president. This is kind of a back and
forth process right now. We`re not talking about subpoenas. No interviews
are scheduled.

But certainly if you`re the White House, what you`re seeing here is a fall
season that is going to be pretty busy. And if you`re hoping to push your
tax cut agenda, if you`re hoping to put your domestic
policy agenda, you`re going to have to deal with Robert Mueller kind of
looming over all of these things.

And for all of President Trump`s kind of allusions to maybe I`m going to
fire Mueller, to that`s
not decided or stay tuned, the White House is really taking a posture of we
are in full cooperation mode, we want to move past this, we want we want to
get this done as fast as possible.

I think they know that going to war with the special counsel right now is
probably not in their

REID: And Renato, I asked that question about the food chain because when
I think back to the Comey memos we saw released one of the things he said
is that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, was shooed out of the room. So
would it be logical for the prosecutors to want to talk to Jeff Sessions
because Comey said he then had subsequent conversations saying keep this
guy away from me.

Sessions was a witness to that interaction, that dismissal from the room,
which would be important if Mr. Mueller is going to try to prove that the
president had a corrupt intent when he fired James Comey, which would be
required to prove obstruction of justice.

So I would expect Sessions to be a witness in that investigation.

REID: And Matt, do we know specifically if the Comey firing is all that
the Mueller team is
interested in, or is there more that is related to sort of directly to the
Russia investigation?

APUZZO: Oh, no, it`s very broad. We obviously know that Robert Mueller is
looking at Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, and his
business dealing. They`re looking at Paul
Manafort, the former campaign chairman, not just for Russia stuff but for
general banking and financial issues.

So there are a lot of irons in the fire for the special counsel and a lot
of pressure points. If I`m the White House, I see a lot of pressure points
that Bob Mueller has to put – you know, to put pressure on my

REID: And Renato, I`m wondering, a, if the fact that we`re hearing about
the Comey piece of this signals that obstruction of justice might be the
thing the White House is in jeopardy of here.

And b, is there any chance at all that these interviews would not be under

MARIOTTI: So first of all, it certainly suggests to me that Robert Mueller
has already looked at the documents related to the Comey obstruction piece
of the investigation and is ready to move forward on that basis.

A prosecutor like Mueller would not interview people until he had already
reviewed everything
else. So it certainly appears to be a focus.

Regarding whether or not the interviews are under oath, it won`t be that
important for Mueller to have the interviews under oath because an FBI
agent will be present for all those interviews and lying to an FBI agent is
a crime.

So typically, what happens in these investigations is you permit an off-
the-cuff interview – or not off the cuff but a more informal interview so
that the person`s more comfortable and can have their
attorney present, but it`s still a crime to lie.

REID: Matt, I`m wondering just about the breadth of sort of the lawyering
up that`s taking place
inside the White House. We`ve heard names pop up like the president`s long-
time secretary, works out of Trump Tower but who people still go through to
get meetings. Obviously Reince Priebus, people who worked inside of the
West Wing.

Are people lawyering up and is there some sort of legal defense fund that
Donald Trump is
helping them to pay these bills?

APUZZO: Well, so far I`m not aware of any legal defense fund, but
obviously everybody is seeking counsel and that isn`t necessarily a bad
thing. Frankly, that`s a really smart thing in any sort of situation like

And you know, to echo the remarks that were just made, clearly we know Bob
Mueller has
got the – has got access to the Comey memos. We know that that is one
thing that`s being looked at.
The question of obstruction.

And the White House, frankly, the conservative lawyers really believe that
the president
cannot be prosecuted for obstruction under this sort of unified executive
theory of government, that the FBI director really only gets his power to
investigate from the president and since the president has the power to
pardon can he really be indicted for obstruction?

There`s going to be a legal back and forth. A little legal dancing that
occurs if Mueller wants to go down that road.

REID: You`re the former prosecutor here, Renato, do they have a leg to
stand on saying the president can`t be prosecuted for obstruction?

MARIOTTI: I`ve got to say, there certainly have to be cases where a
president, if he fired an FBI director or tried to end an investigation for
an improper purpose that that would be obstruction of justice. You can
imagine a president who received a bribe, for example, and ended an
investigation on
that basis. Is it really – under their theory that president would not be
obstructing justice, and that
just can`t be right.

I don`t think a court is going to go that way.

REID: We shall see. Matt Apuzzo and Renato Mariotti, thank you very much.
Appreciate it.

We have breaking news tonight. A second CEO has now quit the president`s
manufacturing council following Donald Trump`s response to the atrocity in

Kevin Plank, the founder and CEO of Under Armour, tweeting out “I love our
country and company. I am stepping down from the council to focus on
inspiring and uniting through the power of
sport.” Plank`s resignation follows Merck CEO Kevin Frazier`s resignation
earlier today, and he also cited the president`s response to

Donald Trump has attacked Frazier twice on Twitter since he quit the


REID: Thing 1 tonight. The escalating feud between White House chief
strategist Steve Bannon and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
Following a weeks-long war on McMaster from alt-right publications
including Breitbart, several prominent Republicans are coming to McMaster`s
aide. Senator John McCain writing tonight, “The recent attacks upon him
from the so-called alt-right are disgraceful. Such smear tactics should not
be tolerated.”

And one of the GOP`s biggest donors, Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson
declaring his
support for McMaster.

Yesterday McMaster repeatedly dodged questions from my colleague Chuck Todd
about his
relationship with Bannon.


CHUCK TODD, MSNBC: Can you and Steve Bannon still work together in this
White House or not?

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I get to work together with a
broad range of talented people, and it is a privilege every day to enable
the national security team.

TODD: You didn`t answer. Can you and Steve Bannon work in that same White

MCMASTER: I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the
president`s agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American

TODD: Do you believe Steve Bannon does that?

MCMASTER: I believe that everyone who works in the White House, who has
the privilege, the great privilege every day, of serving their nation,
should be motivated by that goal.


REID: Wow. Following those notable non-answers, tonight there`s new
reporting on Bannon`s future at the White House, and a trump allies`
foreshadowing of a shake-up. And that is Thing 2 in 60 seconds.


REID: The New York Times reports late tonight that Steve Bannon is in
limbo as Trump faces
growing calls for his ouster. Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President
Donald Trump to fire him, and reportedly at a recent White House dinner
“Mr. Trump vented his frustrations about Mr. Bannon.”
That comes as Anthony Scaramucci in his first interview since being fired
as communications
director offered this veiled prediction of Bannon`s future.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve been tough on Steve Bannon does he have to go?

president knows what he`s going to do with Steve Bannon.


SCARAMUCCI: Well, let`s leave it up to the president. It`s his decision.
But I mean, at the end of the day I think the president has a very good
idea of who the leakers are inside the White House.
The president has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his
agenda that are serving their own interests.

UNIDENDTIFIED MALE: They include Steve Bannon?

SCARAMUCCI: Yeah. Look, I mean, we`re not on a phone call and a taped
phone call, and so we`re on live television, and so I would prefer to let
the president make the decisions the president
needs to make.



TODD: Was that domestic terrorism yesterday?

MCMASTER: I think what terrorism is is the use of violence to incite
terror and fear, and of course it was terrorism.

TODD: So you do classify that as terrorism.

MCMASTER: Well, and from a legal sense there will be a full investigation
as you know, but certainly I think we can confidently call it a form of


REID: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster certainly had no trouble
calling Saturday`s
deadly racist vehicle attack in Charlottesville an act of terrorism.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
said the attack “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our

These statements by members of the Trump administration are not
insignificant. Especially considering his administration`s policies toward
hate crimes and domestic terrorism. The president`s 2018 budget proposal
would cut more than $600 million from grant programs to state and local
agencies, including pre-disaster mitigation grants and counterterrorism

And in June the administration did away with a $400,000 grant for a group
called Life After
Hate, which is dedicated to de-radicalizing neo-Nazis and stopping white

The trump administration`s mixed message on what exactly constitutes
terrorism, next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Authorities say 23-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell has
arrested. This was after 1:00 a.m. on Saturday. Authorities say he
allegedly attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosive laden
van that he had parked in an alley near Bank First.

According to the FBI, Varnell had a quote, “anti-government” sort of
ideology. He allegedly intended to targeting the federal reserve building
in D.C. at first but, according to an affidavit obtained by News Channel
4, then switched to the Bank First building because quote, “I didn`t want
to kill a
bunch of people.”


REID: Wow, on the same day as the attack in Charlottesville, a 23-year-old
man in Oklahoma City acting on what the FBI says was a hatred of the U.S.
government tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000 pound bomb.

Joining me now is Vanita Gupta, who headed the Justice Department Civil
Rights Division under President Barack Obama, Malcolm Nance, MSNBC
terrorism analyst, and Ben Howe, senior contributing editor at RedState.

Malcolm, I`ll start with you here at the table. We know that the Department
of Homeland Security did a joint report, they do these every couple of
years, on domestic extremist groups and found that white supremacists were
responsible for 49 homicides, 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 and that is more
than any other domestic extremist group including Islamic related groups.

Why do we put so much emphasis on Islamic related terrorism, people who
claim to be Islamic and not on white nationalists.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC: Law enforcement in the United States has their head
in the sand.

I train hundreds of homeland security officers every year. This state,
every squad officer in this state, their intelligence staff, and I tell
them every time, anyone that you`re going to go to guns with is not going
to be a member of ISIS or Al Qaeda. Those will be extremely limited

If you`re going to have a shootout on the streets, it`s going to be a
member of the Sovereign Citizens Movement or someone in the neo-Nazi
movement. They have guns and an ideology and they want to use them.

So long as we think that only terrorism that comes around in this world
comes from the Muslim world, you`re going to get bit and we`re finding that
out from the individual that the FBI arrested. He had an inert, but an
improvised explosive device of a car bomb, ISIS style, thousand pounds of
inert explosives, but he thought it was real when he pressed the little
detonator and the FBI arrested him.

So long as we hide away, we`re going to have incidents that surprise us in
the future.

REID: And you know, Ben Howe, going back to Oklahoma City, you`ve had
manifestations of
this anti-government extremism. In 2012 a gentleman from DHS tried to raise
that issue, he was shouted down, they withdrew the report. There`s a bit of
reluctance on the right to deal with it.

Now that we know that Richard Spencer, the avowed white nationalist is
going from campus to
campus, he`s got more of these rallies planned, Texas A&M on September
11th, he`s going back to Virginia, he`s back to Florida, is there less
reluctance after Charlottesville among conservative to deal with this?
They`re targeting young conservatives, including on college campuses.

BEN HOWE, REDSTATE: I wouldn`t say there`s more reluctance. I see a lot of
pundits and
writers that are definitely speaking up saying what they think about all of
the hate that`s been coming out of Charlottesville, but I think that it has
to come from the top.

And the alt-right which encompasses a lot of the white nationalist movement
on the right, and I`ve been saying that since they made their appearance a
few years ago, they`re in the White House.
I mean Steve Bannon is basically the leader of that movement and he`s
called himself that. He said Breitbart News is the platform for it.

And when all of these various groups were called out by Trump and everybody
applauded, he called out the KKK and the white nationalists movement, he
still left out the alt-right and there`s no excuse for that. He`s only
doing that because he know it`s part of his base, and until he gives lip
to the idea they need to be condemned, then it`s going to be a problem.

REID: Yeah. I`ll just note, for the Texas A&M rally scheduled for
September 11th has been
canceled. That one has been canceled. We still await word on the Virginia
and Florida events.

Vanita, you know, one of the issues that we did see in Virginia, according
to Governor of Virginia, these people are not only young, angry and a lot
of them are armed.

Terry McAuliffe claimed that up to 80% of the people on the streets of
Charlottesville protesting the removal of that statue were armed. Reason
Magazine did came out and refute that saying wait a
minute, they have the same tanks and body armor that every other city has
gotten from the Department of Justice. Why do you supposed that kind of
fire power wasn`t deployed.

JUSTICE: You`re talking about civilians?

REID: From the police.

GUPTA: By the police. Well, look, I think that people have – the law
enforcement has learned from the lessons of Ferguson. There`s been a lot of
training around deescalation and the like.

Right now there are questions about the policing tactics that are with
engaged that day. But I do have to wonder whether the Charlottesville
police actually had the kind of training post-Ferguson to know that going
into the streets with tanks and armor may not be the way to go because it
can sometimes escalate it.

People are asking questions is this because folks of a different race that
were out on the streets and yet the harm that was caused was so incredibly
severe that I`m hoping that right now Charlottesville is debriefing on what
lessons they`ve learned from managing what happened on Friday night and

REID: Malcolm doesn`t law enforcement have to begin to see just because
they`re young white
men in polos, you still need to treat them as radicalized people, right, if
you`re going to deal with them the way that they even dealt with peaceful
marchers in Ferguson.

NANCE: Well I understand that they had 1,000 law enforcement officers and
national guardsmen there on the site. But where I can tell you right now,
there was a failure of intelligence, a failure in their operational tactics
on the streets to get the proper heavy forces between the two sides.

I mean if they need some help, they need to go to Germany and watch how the
German police handle it. Their job is to come, segregate, keep the forces
aside and dissipate.

And I think for the most part they`re going to have to understand that
these rallies are going to get bigger. The neo-Nazis are now viewing
themselves now as a growing movement where they own the White House. And
they say that. I read their websites. We gather intelligence on these guys.

So long as they do that, they`re going to look for confrontation, but the
next time it may be an
armed weapons confrontation. There were guys out there – the governor said
they had guns better than the state police. You need to put down a heavy
force presence that shows that you can`t be overwhelmingly taken. I don`t
think they did it this time.

REID: I think it does have to come from the top. You have people who are
armed who are
getting messages that they own the White House. What can be done and are
conservatives powerless to
stop this?

HOWE: I wouldn`t say conservatives are powerless to stop this but I think
the Republican party
has certainly made clear that they`re not going to do anything to disrupt
what they consider their base in a lot of ways.

The alt-right whether or not it`s a fringe – which I do believe overall
it`s a fringe but they exalt a lot of power. At this point it would be
ridiculous to claim they don`t. They`ve got their guy in the White House.
They believe he is going to fulfill there dreams.

I think definitely people are going to find that the alt-right is going to
continue to do this and continue to feel emboldened as long as the
Republican party doesn`t really step down and say we don`t approve of any
of this and unless Breitbart News doesn`t change the way they talk about
it, we`re not going to give them exclusive interviews, we`re not going to
be going on their radio shows, we`re not going to do it any more.

So far they`re not doing that.

REID: Vanita, meanwhile on the other side in Durham you had people pull
down a statue, one of the confederate generals, you can see they pulled it
down Saddam Hussein style. So you have people on the other side not willing
to put up with being brutalized by these white nationalists groups.

You know, what do you anticipate the justice department response to all of
this is going to be?

GUPTA: Look, I think that the fiver in America right now to fight back
against white supremacy is as strong as ever. The justice department has
opened the investigation. That`s good.
But we`ve got to understand, as people have said before, there are folks
steps away from the oval office that are promoting an agenda that is an
alt-right agenda, that have the ear of the president.

You have a justice department that on a whole host of civil rights issues
have had a decidedly
anti civil rights agenda. I am heartened that the attorney general opened
the investigation, that he is labeling it an act of domestic terrorism.

But I meanwhile, along with all of the other civil rights groups that are
doing this work, am very
concerned about the attorney general`s agenda on voting rights, on LGBT
rights on a whole slew of civil rights issues trying to lock out key
segment of the American population that also reflect an agenda that is
brutalizing as well.

REID: The cycle continues. We don`t have many answers but we really
appreciate you guys
for sharing your views.

And that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts now.
Here she is. Good evening.


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