Trump facing bad poll numbers. TRANSCRIPT: 8/16/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Barbara Boxer, Neera Tanden, Chris Lu, Mehdi Hasan, Nikole Hannah- Jones, Aaron Regunberg

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump’s entire political success has

been and is.  His awareness of those lonely millions who felt left out in

cold by those good people who can we all agree might have worked a little

harder to keep their faith.  And that’s HARDBALL for now.  “ALL IN” with

Chris Hayes starts right now.







vote for me.


VELSHI:  A panicked president tries the hard sell.


TRUMP:  Because your 401(k)s down the tubes.  Everything is going to be

down the tubes.


VELSHI:  Tonight, how new polling and possible recession are reportedly

rattling the president.  Then –


TRUMP:  I’m going to speak to some of your union leaders to say I hope you

get to support Trump, OK.


VELSHI:  New reporting on workers in a Trump crowd that were ordered to

show up or not get paid.  Plus, ICE protesters run down by a corrections

officer and Trump T.V. comes to his defense.


LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST:  He thought to do what is within his

rights which is to proceed to park his vehicle and go to work.


VELSHI:  And Trymaine lee and Nikole Hannah-Jones on the legacy of slavery

in America 400 years after it began.  ALL IN starts now.




VELSHI:  Good evening from New York I’m Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. 

Donald Trump appears to be in deep trouble when it comes to winning re-

election and he seems to know it.  He’s reportedly rattled after a week in

which we saw the market stumble on fears that the economy could be heading

into recession.  And now he’s facing a round of new poll numbers that

border on catastrophic.


A poll conducted by none other than Fox News finds the Trump isn’t cracking

even 40 percent support in matchups against the leading Democratic

presidential candidates.  He trails Joe Biden 50 percent to 38 percent. 

He’s down to Bernie Sanders – he’s down – Bernie Sanders is at 48 to

Donald Trump’s 39.  He’s losing to Elizabeth Warren 46 percent to 39

percent.  He’s trailing Kamala Harris 45 percent to 39 percent.  And his

approval ratings continue to be pretty terrible.


Nationwide Fox found that 56 percent of registered voters disapprove of

Trump’s job performance and things are not looking better for him in key

states.  A polling this week found Trump with a net negative approval

rating in states like Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and

Wisconsin, all states that he won in 2016.


Republicans are trying to put the best possible face on the disastrous poll

numbers after a conservative think-tank released a poll showing that Trump

barely leads the Democratic contenders in North Carolina.  Republican

National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel posted a celebratory tweet

crowing that Trump is “beating every leading 2020 Democrat.”


That prompted a data journalist for The Economist to respond with this.  “A

poll from right-leaning think-tank shows Trump within the margin of error

versus Biden Sanders and Warren in a state that leans six points to the

right of the nation, and the Republican chairwoman thinks this is good



Of course, polls can and will move in the run-up to the election but things

probably aren’t going to get better for Trump if the economy falls into a

recession that can be traced at least in part to a trade war with China

that he created.


Just this week the Dow had its worst day of the year dropping over 800

points in a single day on signs that a recession could be on the horizon. 

Now, publicly Trump has been pretending that all is fine with the economy

but privately it’s a different story.  He’s reportedly quote sounded

anxious and apprehensive and essentially been retreating into fantasy to

make himself feel better.


A Republican close to the administration telling The Washington Post that

Trump has been telling some confidence that he distrusts statistics that he

sees reported in the news media.  “He’s rattled.  He thinks all the people

that do this economic forecasting are a bunch of establishment weenies,

elites who don’t know anything about the real economy and they’re against



Last night in New Hampshire, Trump told his supporters that they have to –

they have to back him or face financial ruin.




TRUMP:  I know you like me and this room is a lovefest.  I know that.  But

you have no choice but to vote for me because your 401ks down the tubes. 

Everything is going to be down the tubes.




VELSHI:  Joining me now to talk about all of this Zerlina Maxwell, Senior

Director of Progressive Programming for Sirius XM and an MSNBC Political

Analyst, former Senator Barbara Boxer Democrat of California, the co-host

of the Boxer Podcast and Neera Tanden a former policy director for both

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and the President

of the progressive think tank the Center for American Progress.  Welcome to

all of you.


Neera, let’s start with you.  The president moving as we said into a hard

sell now.  It’s no longer I’m the better candidate but you better vote for

me or someone else is going to tank the economy in a week that he’s widely

thought to be tanking the economy.



knew obviously economic news, bad economic news is a problem for any

president.  But Trump isn’t a particularly precarious position because

first of all, his approval ratings are lower than his – people’s views of

the economy.  So it’s clearly the economy has been bolstering him.


Now, the economy goes south and it can be tied to his actions which is very

unusual for a presidents.  They have good news economic news, there are

very bad economic news, but it’s not usually their actions that can be so

directly tied to what he’s doing.


So obviously the trade war in just the general lack of ability to plan

business investment itself as declining.  That’s very much related to the

erratic nature of this White House and the decisions they make.


So I think he understands he’s particularly vulnerable to poor economic

news and that’s why he’s saying insane things about your 401k plan. 

Obviously, it’s just a massive scare tactic that any rational person which

never applies to him, but applies to him less this week than in prior



VELSHI:  Barbara Boxer, the fear goes deeper.  There is reporting from

around the White House that his advisers are saying they’re not prepared

for a recession.  They’re not even thinking about how that’s going to work

out.  We’re ten years and two months into an expansion.  Everybody should

be thinking about the fact that there might be a recession.


Does somebody who doesn’t acknowledge his contribution to an economic

downturn and certainly has no planning in place for what would happen if

there is one, I think the issue is going to be how does he possibly even

start to see America through such a thing?



during the Great Recession, the greatest recession since the Great

Depression.  And I remember standing on the Senate floor, my state just was

losing jobs hand over fist, there were hundreds of thousands of jobs lost

month after month, and then remembering when we got calls from the Bush

administration, you have to bail out the banks.  It’s a nightmare we’re

going to lose our whole economy.


And here you have a man who criticized deficits and debt and we don’t

really get to talk about that much.  You do once in a while but most people

gloss over it.  He’s got trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can

see.  Now, what does that mean it means when you do start to tank, you have

nothing in your toolbox.  Interest rates are fairly low so where do you go.


And so I do agree if there’s really no thought.  And in my very early days,

I was an economics major and I was on Wall Street.  Then it wasn’t thought

of as such a terrible villain.  And you know, people hate volatility in the

market.  It’s very – it’s very worrisome because one day you think you’re

going OK, then you’re not going OK so they flee the market.  And you’re

right he doesn’t have anything in his toolbox.


VELSHI:  Yes.  And you know, Zerlina, I’m not sure if Barbara Boxer got the

memo that the tax cuts are going to pay for themselves.  They’re not going

to actually cause a greater deficit or greater debt.  But this is the

thing, right.  That’s what Donald Trump says.  He says these things.  He

goes on he speaks at rallies and he just says things that are now provably



Some people don’t even bother correcting him anymore because they’re just

lie after lie after lie.  But the fact is there are some people who are

believing him.  There are some people who are going to believe that you

can’t let the Democrats touch this economy because they’ll tank it, not his

trade war with China, not his economic policies, not his tax cuts that have

actually increased the deficit something as Barbara Boxer said he railed

against when campaigning.



have to remind myself of every single day is that Donald Trump only got 26

percent of eligible voters.  And so the economy to Neera’s point absolutely

has bolstered his support and he’s you know, up in the 30s because there

are a lot of people who did get tax cuts, corporations and rich people, not

necessarily the average American worker.


And so I think that Donald Trump you know, has essentially been coasting

here on a 77,000 vote margin that gave him the Electoral College.  And the

chickens are coming home to roost.  You cannot you know, perpetually lie

every single day to the American voter and then when it comes time to tell

the truth about the economy no one’s going to believe you.


So I think that yes, he probably is fairly rattled because the only issue

that he had going for him was the economy and I guess racism which isn’t

really an appealing message.


VELSHI:  Though he uses that at rallies as well sometimes.  Neera, here’s

the question.  Are the chickens coming home to roost?  Obviously, if

there’s an economic downturn in which unemployment increases, wages fall,

that will have a material effect on people, they’ll feel it.  And probably

if prices go up because of this trade war as they’re starting to, people

will probably see it.


So at what point does the president’s ability to say anything he want at

these rallies coincide with reality?


TANDEN:  So I mean, we should be clear that already lots of Americans feel

like they – that there’s been an economic boom for other people, not for

them.  So he already has to deal with that.  And it does affect a fair

number of his voters.  The big challenge he has is that as you see in polls

– and it’s not just one poll it’s multiple polls, not – it’s not just

states he won by a little bit, it states like Arizona.


A Republican hasn’t faced a real race in Arizona in decades.  The fact that

Trump is underwater in the state like Arizona is probably one of the

reasons why he’s rattled because that should be rattling for anybody and

that’s where – that’s from where the economy is now.


So I think this is a real I think he’s rattled for a very good reason and

what he will do is what he always does which is attack the opposition.  He

will – I don’t think – you know, he can’t really blame Obama for this

economy though he may try because he’s taken so much credit for it.


But he will do what he tried to do yesterday which is to say if you vote

for Democrats, this terrible thing will happen.  You’re – the economy will

tank more or worse because that’s really his only tactic.  It is to destroy

the other side.


I assume people will remember that the economy was pretty good at the you

know – particularly the second term of Obama, but Democrats have to make

the case and we have to be clear that when there are challenges, they’re

his challenges and it’s because of the actions like the trade war and the

deficits and other things, actions he’s taken.


VELSHI:  Barbara Boxer, let’s talk about Congress.  The count – the number

of Democrats supporting an impeachment inquiry now 124.  Representative

Anthony Brown came out in favor of it today.  It’s more than half the

caucus.  Talk to me about the politics of impeachment in an environment

like this where Donald Trump is weakening.


BOXER:  I tend to take my cues from Speaker Pelosi.  I know her for so

long.  And I think what she’s come around to is there’s just no choice. 

You know, if there’s high crimes and misdemeanors and it goes way beyond

the Mueller report and obstruction of justice to you know a president who

winks and nods at white nationalism and tells women of color in the

Congress to go home and the rest.  I just think there’s no choice.


And I do believe it’s – the Congress is going to have to do everything. 

They’re going to have to keep on passing legislation.  I want to point out,

they have passed great legislation such as raising the minimum wage.  It’s

been 12 years since that’s been done.


And where’s the check from Mexico Mr. President to help us with our

deficit?  You know, we have to keep reminding the people of these things. 

Where’s the infrastructure bill?  You gave it away Mr. President when you

gave that huge tax cut.  That puts people to work.  I know that.  I was

proud to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee.


So look, we have to look at this president.  We have to uphold the

Constitution.  The Congress does.  They take that oath.  And if it leads to

impeachment, so be it.  But there’s lots of other things out there

including a backdrop of you know, chaos, and diversion, and narcissism. 

And as Vice President Biden says, the soul of our country is really on the



VELSHI:  Barbara Boxer, Zerlina Maxwell, Neera Tanden, thank you all for

joining me on this Friday night.  Coming up next, union workers have their

pay held ransom unless they attended a speech by President Donald Trump. 

His captive audience after this.




VELSHI:  All right, on Tuesday, President Trump appeared at a Pennsylvania

Shell petrochemical plant to give what was billed as remarks on American

energy and manufacturing.  It was a non-political event if there is such a

thing in 2019.


Of course, because it was a Trump event, he bragged about the economy and

he attacked Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, the media, and

the Academy Awards for good measure.  Now, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

reports that the workers standing behind Donald Trump in their matching

high visibility clothing were not given a realistic option to not attend.


The Post-Gazette reports that rules sent to union leaders said attendance

was not mandatory but – and this is a very big but, “only those that

showed up at 7:00 a.m., scanned their pro cards and prepared to stand for

hours through lunch but without lunch would be paid.  No scan no pay the

rules said.”


These people are standing there is if they all chose to be there.  Maybe

some of them are Trump supporters.  Now that we know the option was to

attend or take the day off and not get paid, it casts their presence in an

entirely different light.


One union leader told the Post-Gazette, one day of pay might amount to

around $700 in pay benefits and a per diem payment that out-of-town workers

received.  So basically these workers had to go unless they wanted to pay

basically it was going to cause some 700 bucks not to attend in some cases.


Not only that, they were given a list of rules about their behavior.  No

yelling, shouting, protesting, or anything viewed as resistance will be

tolerated at the event, the paper read.  And so these workers stood like

props behind the president at an event that was not supposed to be a rally

and listen to him say things like this.




TRUMP:  I’m going to speak to some of your union leaders to say I hope you

go to support Trump, OK.  And if they don’t, vote them the hell out of

office because they’re not doing their job.  It’s true.  Vote them out of





VELSHI:  All right.  Then President Donald Trump stood in front of those

workers and claimed responsibility for the project that they’re working on.




TRUMP:  We have thousands of tons of concrete aluminum and steel and nearly

6,000 of the strongest, toughest, and most talented workers anywhere on

earth.  I know.  It was the Trump administration that made it possible, no

one else.  Without us, you would never have been able to do this.




VELSHI:  That last part is just straight-up untrue as The Associated Press

reports, “Shell announced its plans to build the complex in 2012 midway

through President Barack Obama’s term in the White House.  Lots of going on

here.  Joining me is more – with more on the President’s captive audience

as Chris Lu, White House cabinet secretary under President Obama and former

Deputy Secretary of Labor.  Chris, good to see you.  Thank you for being

with us.




VELSHI:  Your thoughts on this, a staged crowd, people who were told you

don’t get paid if you don’t show up.  It does seem a little not the way

things are supposed to be in 2019.


LU:  Yes, Ali.  We have seen a lot of bizarre events from Donald Trump

since he first announced four years ago.  This is clearly one of the most

bizarre.  And this idea of holding a captive audience offends me as

somebody who helped plan President Obama’s travel.


We never had to force people to show up there.  We never made people stand

for 10 hours without lunch.  We never docked them their pay if they didn’t

show up.  It also frankly offends me as the former Deputy Secretary of

Labor who worked to ensure that American workers had opportunities and one

of the opportunities is you don’t have to listen to a forced speech by your



But there are so many just crazy statements that he makes.  This idea that

Obama would have stopped this project.  This project was as you said

proposed in 2012 it was approved in June of 2016 before Obama left office. 

In fact, if there’s one person who potentially impeded the construction of

this plant, it’s Donald Trump.


Pat Toomey, Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania complain that the

President’s steel quotas on foreign steel were preventing the construction

of this plant.  So actually, if there’s anybody who potentially helped this

thing up, it was Donald Trump.  And then there’s a whole litany of just

missed statements and gaffes and lies.


And the kicker of all this thing is that this ended up becoming an official

event.  So American taxpayers paid for this entire travesty.


VELSHI:  Yes, that’s – right, we paid for it and it became a rally.  I

mean, I think the average person watching this show is – has become

confused over what the difference is between an official event and a rally

because the rhetoric sounds similar.


Now, we don’t air a lot of these rallies so people don’t realize he gets

much more animated at these rallies and he says things – you know, he

stands there while people chant “send her back” and things like that.  But

we do see these events that are supposed to be you know, actually official

events that feel much like what political rallies used to feel like.


LU:  And until this administration, there was a clear line that if the

president was appearing in official context, he did not talk about his

reelection.  And if he did talk about his reelection, the entire cost of

this including Air Force One, all the staging for the event get paid for by

political parties or by his campaign reelection.


And so he’s essentially profiting as he always has by blurring this line or

just trampling all over the line yet again.  And this is just normal now. 

And there again is no fuss at all from Republicans in Congress who would

have lost their minds had Barack Obama had done this.


VELSHI:  Let’s talk a little bit about the – what the law says about this. 

Are you allowed to do that?  Are you allowed to dock people there, pay if

they don’t – if they don’t do a political thing?


LU:  Well, look, I think – I think it’s a little fuzzy and I think the

union leadership has to answer for why they did this.  So essentially what

they said was this is not a mandatory event.  But if you choose to sit this

out, we will pay you for the day off, but it will not count towards the

overtime that you would have earned for that week.


And as you pointed out, that extra overtime potentially amounts about $700

a day.  So again, not mandatory but they suffered a pretty severe financial

penalty for not attending.


VELSHI:  What a thing.  Chris, thanks very much for joining me.  Good to

see you as always.


LU:  Always.


VELSHI:  Chris Lu.  All right, coming up next, the President tonight

attacking a congresswoman for declining to go to Israel after he told

Israel not to let her in.  Mehdi Hasan joins me with his thoughts on

Rashida Tlaib next.




VELSHI:  Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has a history

of being outspoken about her principles.  Back in 2016, long before she

became a member of Congress, she was part of a group of women who staged a

protest against Donald Trump at a campaign speech in Detroit, Michigan. 

That’s her in the middle.  She was escorted out of that event.


Last year, she went on to run for Congress and won become one of the first

two Muslim American Congresswomen.  Shortly after she was sworn in,

literally on the same night, Congresswoman Tlaib was caught on camera

promising to impeach the president in words I cannot repeat right now on



When what she said all but dominated the news cycle, she made no apologies. 

I will always speak truth to power and she hasn’t backed down since. 

Yesterday, Congresswoman Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were blocked from entering

Israel at the urging of President Donald Trump.


For Tlaib, that visit, that trip was going to include a visit to her

grandmother who was from the occupied West Bank.  She lives there.  Well,

today, the Israeli government changed course.  They said that Tlaib could

come if she agreed in writing not to promote boycotts against Israel during

the trip.


Congresswoman Talib initially agreed then changed her mind saying she would

not be silenced.  Here with me now someone who’s been closely following

Donald Trump as he increasingly leans toward authoritarianism and who has

been following this story as it continues to develop, Mehdi Hasan is a

Columnist at the Intercept and the host of Up Front on Al Jazeera.


Mehdi, look, the irony of the Rashida Tlaib stuff is that at some point a

few weeks ago that the president said “send them back,” Rashida Tlaib is

from Detroit but her parents are actually from Palestine.  She was going

back and then he told Israel to stop her.


Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant of President Obama said that Trump

can’t even keep his racist demands straight.  What do you make of this



MEHDI HASAN, COLUMNIST, THE INTERCEPT:  Surprised Donald Trump has no

consistency or principles.  What do I make it a mess, Ali, two big

takeaways.  Number one, the President of the United States who Styles

himself as a great patriot, nationalist, wants to make America great again,

wants to stick up for America in the world, allies with a foreign

government in order to throw two duly elected members of the United States

Congress under the bus simply because they are women of color, they are

Muslims, and they are strong critics of his.


He doesn’t care about the fact that they’re members of United States

Congress.  He allies with the Netanyahu government saying yes, don’t let

them in.  Outrageous, unprecedented – even AIPAC, even AIPAC comes out and

says this is not a good move.


Number two, the other big takeaway…


VELSHI:  By the way, which has been clear about the fact that they are not

on the same side as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar…


HASAN:  Not at all.  Not at all.  They’re very much on…


VELSHI:  …about Israel, yeah.


HASAN:  They’re very much on Netanyahu’s side on everything else.


But here’s the big other takeaway related to Israel and the debate in the

United States, which Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have done so much to kind

of highlight, which this is stark proof, if any more was needed, that the

occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a reality, that the Israelis

control the lives, the everyday lives, the freedom of movement, the freedom

of speech, of ordinary Palestinians to the extent that a Palestinian-

American, who is a member of congress, wants to come to visit her

grandmother and she’s told you must sign a letter giving up your freedom of

speech.  That’s absurd.  Even Steney Hoyer, Democrat who has criticized

Ilhan and Rashida, big supporter of Netanyahu, even he came out today and

said this is unprecedented.


VELSHI:  So, that would be a problem for anybody, but there’s – if any

American were blocked for a lot of reasons, except that America has given

Israel, since 1945 in some fashion or other, whether it’s deals or direct

assistance or military aid, something along the lines of about $143

billion, about three plus billion last year, or in the 2017 fiscal year. 

Only Iraq and Afghanistan were ahead of Israel in 2017.  But historically,

no one is even close to Israel as a recipient of American money.


Last night Bernie Sanders was on the show and had a few that maybe this is

the opportunity to rethink whether that’s a good return on investment. 

Let’s listen to what he said.





members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a

firsthand look at what’s going on?  And I’ve been there many, many times. 

But if he doesn’t want members to visit, maybe he can respectfully decline

the billions of dollars we gift Israel.




VELSHI:  Your take on that.  American members of congress pass and

determine that money  going to Israel, two of them got blocked.


HASAN:  So I remember interviewing Bernie Sanders a couple of years ago

when he first floated the idea of making U.S. aid conditional on behavior,

which it really should be.


And, by the way, Ali, you mentioned the U.S. gives aid, it’s congress,

really, who gives

that aid.  And it’s two members of congress who are being blocked.  Ilhan

Omar has said that we should use U.S. aid as leverage, to get Israel to

stop violating international law, stop building illegal settlements. 

Bernie is saying similar things.  I’m sure Elizabeth Warren and others will

soon follow.


What’s interesting now is that Netanyahu and Trump have made Israel a

deeply partisan and  polarizing issue in the United States.  They’ve become

the biggest recruiters for the BDS movement,

the boycott movement, that so annoys them.  That’s the irony.  They’ve

taken this issue and actually energized it.


And people who don’t like Trump’s racism at home are saying, well, why

should we ally with Netanyahu’s racism abroad?  So, it’s become a very much

a partisan issue.  The Democratic base, which is younger, less white than

the rest of the party, is far less pro-Israeli than other generations and

other Democrats, all the polls show that.  And not a good direction for

Israel if Israel continues to behave in this illegal, and, yes, racist way.


Tim Kaine said today Prime Minister Netanyahu, lift your Muslim ban.  It’s

Netanyahu’s Muslim ban to go with Trump’s Muslim’s ban.


VELSHI:  Mehdi, good to see you as always.  Mehdi Hasan for us.


HASAN:  Thanks, Ali.


VELSHI:  All right, coming up, the corrections officer who drove through

ICE protesters resigns.  I’ll talk to one of the organizers of that event

who watched it all happen, next.




VELSHI:  A corrections officer who drove his truck into a crowd of

protesters outside an ICE facility in Rhode Island has resigned.  The Wyatt

Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island, is a

privately run holding center for migrants held by immigrations and customs

enforcement.  Two nights ago, a group of protesters from the never again

project gathered outside the building to call for the end of ICE

detentions, forming a line in front of the facility’s parking lot.  And

when a corrections officer who works in the facility approached that

parking lot in his truck, things turned very ugly.


The video I’m going to show you is disturbing.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Shame, shame, shame!








UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The world is watching!  The whole world is watching.  \


CROWD:  The whole world is watching.




VELSHI:  Organizers say five protesters were hospitalized after being

struck by that black pickup truck.  Guards from the detention center also

deployed pepper spray on the crowd following the truck incident.  The man

believed to be the driver, Captain Thomas Woodworth, was initially placed


leave.  And today he resigned.


The Rhode Island attorney general and the state police are now

investigating the incident.  Equally shocking is the reaction of people who

are supposed to be a little more responsible with what they say, especially

at an age where terror attacks have taken place that look a lot like that





DOBBS:  In jurisdictions all around the country, by the way, what they

committed is assault.  Trying to stop and block a vehicle is considered

assault.  It must just gladden your heart to see a bunch of demonstrators

at an immigration customs enforcement facility blocking the path of a guard

and then complaining about the fact that he sought to do what within his

rights, which is to proceed to park his vehicle and go to work.




VELSHI:  All In asked Fox Business Network for a comment on Lou Dobbs’

endorsement of a truck driver purposefully driving his vehicle through a

crowd of protesters.  We have not received a reply.


Joining me now is Aaron Regunberg  .  He is a former Rhode Island state

representative, who helped organize the Never Again protest at the Wyatt

Detention Facility, and was there when the incident happened.


Aaron,  our view is from one perspective where you see the truck turning

and making a right turn into the crowd.  We can’t see what happened right

at that line where people were.  Where were you and what did you see?



along that line.  And I’d actually like to give a little context for that

demonstration.  It was a peaceful protest.  This was hundreds of Jewish

Rhode Islanders, alongside immigrants and allies of all

faiths, who came together on Tisha B’Av, the week of Tisha B’Av, that’s the

most powerful Jewish day of mourning, to mourn this state’s sponsored

violence that we’re seeing at places like the Wyatt, at ICE detention

facilities.  And to say that we’re not going to allow Rhode Island

institutions to continue partnering with ICE and perpetrating that



So, again, it was a peaceful demonstration.  It was full of prayer and

song.  There were faith leaders, there were rabbis, there were imams.  And

then as you showed at one point, the prison officer drove his truck into a

line of peaceful demonstrators that included three minors, it included

seniors and elders, a number of people were hit, several were hospitalized.


And then a squad of prison guards marched out of the Wyatt and pepper

sprayed this crowd of

young people, of seniors, of elders.  It was…


VELSHI:  I just want to add – I want to interrupt you, because we’re

showing this picture of the truck.


REGUNBERG:  So, what happens, the truck goes up there at quite a clip.  I’m

a little surprised.  Clearly, you can see the protesters.  Everybody was

wearing a brightly colored shirt.  What happened?  When that truck came up,

did it hit anybody at the first instance, or once everybody stood up?


So it initially drove up.  It did hit several people.  We rushed forward to

make space to try to shield some of the folks that were sort of pushed back

that were on the ground.  So as you saw, it paused.  And then it’s very

clearly deliberate.  He made a choice to then accelerate through the crowd

once again.




VELSHI:  I don’t know if you heard Lou Dobbs’ comment that the protesters,

you were doing  something unlawful by preventing a vehicle from getting

through.  What’s your take on that, that he was doing something lawful, he

was trying to get to his parking spot?


REGUNBERG:  Well, obviously there is no right to drive a truck into a crowd

of peaceful demonstrators.  That is a violent act.  It’s assault.  And I

think for us the real lesson was to see that if this system is willing to

unleash that kind of violence against us, against peaceful protesters with

cameras and media and lawyers there, you know, what is happening behind

those walls?  What kind of violence is being perpetrated on immigrant

detainees who do not have cameras, who do not have  bystanders, who do not

have legal access to anything that can shield them from that violence?


VELSHI:  I’m a little curious.  When this happened, and then the truck

seems to get stopped a

second time, people sort of got on it and stuff, and then you see these

corrections officers coming out and momentarily you see the pepper spray,

there we go, what – was the officer in the car, was he apologetic?  Was he

belligerent?  Did the officers who came out have some sense of what had 

just happened or they pepper sprayed the crowd?


Because that seemed to be not the right thing to do.


REGUNBERG:  It was not. Certainly there was – no one was apologetic.  The

prison guards came out very aggressively to pepper spray, and people were

put in real harm’s way.


And it underlines why we are in this fight.  It underlines why we are

coming together to say never again, because this is too violent of a system

to allow to continue operating.


VELSHI:  Too violent of a system indeed.  Thank you for being with us.  We

appreciate it.


Aaron Regunberg is a former state legislator, and he was there and an

organizer of the protest.  Thank you, sir.


Just ahead, an amazing new project on the lasting legacy of slavery in

America.  400 years after the first African slaves set foot on this land. 

Trymaine Lee and Nikole Hannah-Jones join me ahead.




HAYES:  We know Donald Trump is obsessed with his crowd sizes, which is why

the hashtag #emptyseatmagatour that has been trending on Twitter today is

such a masterful troll, highlighting examples of empty chairs at Donald

Trump rallies.


Take a look at this example.


But there is another issue at those rallies that is clearly bothering the

president, all the protesters.  And he has found an interesting way to deal

with it recently.  Instead of just continuing on with his speech and

talking over them, he stops mid-sentence, turns around and stares until

they stop, for whoever long it takes.




TRUMP:  In Chicago last year…




TRUMP:  This guy was running against a so-called star.




TRUMP:  Minnesota, great state.






VELSHI:  It really happens that way.


It happened again last night at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire.  And

after a whole minute, a whole minute of standing silently, an apparently

frustrated Trump started throwing insults.




TRUMP:  That guy’s got a serious weight problem.  Go home, start

exercising.  Get him out of here, please.  Got a bigger problem than I do. 

Got a bigger problem than all of us.


Now he goes home and his mom says what the hell have you just done.




VELSHI:  There are a lot of things wrong with that, but perhaps what the

president got most  wrong is that the guy he was talking about, the guy

with the weight problem is actually one of his own supporters.


His name is Frank Dawson.  He is a retired law enforcement officer.  The

president called him from Air Force One last night after the rally, notably

not to apologize.  In fact, The New York Times

reports that Trump claimed he wasn’t even talking about him.


Either way, Frank Dawson didn’t seem to care.  When interviewed today, he

basically said thank you, Mr. President.  May I have another.




FRANK DAWSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER:  He said hey, that guy needs to lose a

little weight.


Everything is good.  I love the guy.  He is the best thing that ever

happened to this country.






VELSHI:  400 years ago this month, in 1619, 20 enslaved Africans arrived in

what would become the United States, ironically, a place called Point

Comfort in the British colony of Virginia.


The 1619 Project is a remarkable commemoration of the 400-year anniversary

and the legacy its The New York Times magazine.  Joining me now, Nikole

Hannah-Jones, the domestic correspondent for The New York Times magazine,

focusing on racial injustice.  She conceived this massive 1619 Project and

produced it with The New York Times.  She also wrote the lead piece

entitled “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were

written.  Black Americans have fought to

make them true.”


Also joining us at this table, MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee who

contributed to the project with his piece on the wealth gap that separates

black and white America.


Thank you to both of you for being here and for this remarkable project and

the remarkable work that it has taken to get it done.


Your argument here, it’s written in sort of a sub-headline.  It says

America wasn’t a democracy until black America made it one.




VELSHI:  It’s a very long piece that I think everybody should actually

read.  It printed out as 20 pages for me.


What’s the argument in the shorter version?


HANNAH-JONES:  So the argument is basically two pronged.  The first

argument is that we were a country based on both an idea and a lie, that

our founding fathers as they were writing these words of liberation and

that – saying they were going to found a country based on the individual 

rights of men were also holding one fifth of the population in bondage, and

those people would receive none of those rights.


And the second prong is that black people actually believed in those words

and took those words literally and have spent really the entire time we’ve

been in this country fighting to make those words real and to make our

constitution, which actually was somewhat anti-democratic, it excluded the



VELSHI:  More than somewhat.


HANNAH-JONES:  Right, women were excluded from the franchise, native

people, black

people.  It codified slavery, even though it never mentions the word.  But

black people fought to make those ideals real for all Americans.


VELSHI:  You mean really fought.  I mean, dying in the Revolutionary War,

dying in the Civil

War, dying in the economic pursuit of making this the wealthiest country in

the world.


HANNAH-JONES:  Absolutely.


So, the very first person to die in the Revolutionary War is a man named

Crispus Attucks,

who himself had run away.  He was a fugitive from slavery, and fought for a

freedom that his own people wouldn’t see for another 100 years.


Black people have fought in every single war in this country and to this

day are the highest percentage of people who fight in the military.


So we’re much more likely to be in the military than any other group.


VELSHI:  Which means die for your country.


HANNAH-JONES:  Exactly.  But outside of that, outside of just fighting in

external wars, black Americans have also had to fight an internal war.  So,

if you do the body count of how many black people have died trying to get

the right to exercise a franchise, trying to get the right to be seen as

equal citizens before the law, they were always having to wage both an

internal war and an external war.


VELSHI:  Trymaine, this is not just a commemoration of something that

happened 400 years ago, the piece you’ve written is about how this is

currently a fight.  And the fight now, and this is where – this is where

my work is done, is in economics.  The median wealth for white families,

the point at which white family – half of all white families have more

wealth and have less is $171,000.  That’s everything, that’s homes, cars,

bank accounts, all that kind of stuff.


For black families, it’s one-tenth, it’s one-tenth the value.  And that’s

because we have not been able to build up the ownership society in black

America as we have in white America.  There haven’t been the houses to pass

down, or where they have been, which you point out, sometimes they’ve been



TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  So, it’s not just the inability to

acquire the wealth, right, it’s once you’ve got the wealth and any degree

of progress made, of success, it was violently stripped away.  And I think

that’s one of the points I think is often missed is that the violence it’s

taken to maintain this system, this caste, the way it is now, it was very

violent and very bloody.


And I think that’s one thing that’s really important about this project is

the reframing, because it’s been intentionally misframed all this time. 

And so trying to set the record straight that black folks didn’t just fall

from the sky and here we are one-tenth of the wealth, struggling to make

ends meet and send your kids to college and get housing.


There’s been an intent here all along.  I think that’s the part that has

been missing.  Really looking at – you know, there’s a saying I like that

you can’t separate the leaves of a tree from the roots.  And when it comes

to our American experience, the violence, the wealth stripping, what I call

the violent economic dispossession that folks experienced, especially in –

there was a sweet spot right  after Emancipation with Reconstruction and

there was so much hope.  But then the redemption.  The pendulum of white

supremacy swung back so hard and so violently, and we’ve never recovered.


VELSHI:  Nikole, you make an argument in here about the flag when you were

a little girl, and

your father would fly the American flag, and everything you had learned. 

Your learned experience at that point in school and in society was that

this wasn’t really as much your America as it was white America,  And you

didn’t really get why your dad was flying this flag, and you have learned

that it was

his flag, and black people’s flag, and earned to be their flag as much as

it was anyone else’s.  And your pride in America grew from that



HANNAH-JONES:  Absolutely.  If you look at from our founding documents, if

you look at the

Supreme Court ruling that said black people no matter if they were enslaved

or free could never be citizens of the country of our birth, if you look at

the fact that it took until 1968 before black people got full legal

citizenship in this country.  As a child, it was very perplexing to me,

because I had always been taught through society, through reading texts in

school, that we actually weren’t fully citizens, that this country did not

belong to us.


VELSHI:  Why is my dad so happy  to fly that flag?


HANNAH-JONES:  Exactly.  Abraham Lincoln called us a troublesome presence

and actually tried to ship black people out of this country after



So to see my dad fly that flag, it seemed like he was kind of bowing to our

subordination, that he was admitting that.  But really through working on

this project and having to think about the role that black people have

played, and really the undying faith that black people have had in this

country, made me understand that we have as much right, and maybe more in

some ways, to be patriotic about

this country and claim the flag of this country, and that there’s no shame

in our ancestral lands beginning here.


And that always felt like that was shameful to me, that slavery had erased

a connection to our ancestral land.  But really what I’m arguing is through

slavery we created ourselves as a new people, and we should have a

tremendous amount of pride to the accomplishments that we have made here on

these lands.


VELSHI:  Trymaine, are we, in your opinion, in 2019 the face of racism and

white supremacy and bigotry and division like we haven’t seen in a long

time in America.  Are we actually heading toward possibly righting this

wrong because we’re talking about, because people are having conversations

around righting some of these historical wrongs even through things like



LEE:  Righting the wrong would be a big step forward.  I think first is a

true accounting, a true reflection of who we say we are, because the

picture so many people have grown up with of what America is, we always

kind of knew that it was false, because we’re living a different kind of

reality.  And I think until we first have that full picture, we will

continue to be un-moored.


But that first step of realizing that we aren’t still just some sub-human,

second class – because a lot of people grew up, whether they’re racist or

not, grew up – they’re inferior, they must be.  But that other part of the

story of their legacy is tied into everything that we’ve experienced.


VELSHI:  I’m so grateful to both of you for that. 


Unfortunately we’re out of time, but we will continue this discussion.  I

guarantee that.  I have a lot of shows in this place,  so you’ll come back

and talk to us.


Nikole Hannah-Jones, Trymaine Lee, thank you to both of you.  Please read

that article.


That’s All In for this evening.  Chris Hayes will be back Monday.  “The

Rachel Maddow Show” starts now.












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