The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/14/17 Trump finally condemns
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 14, 2017
Guest: Barbara McQuade, Bob Ferguson, Farah Pandith, Brian Levin, Jamal
Simmons, Brian Darling
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: Right here on MSNBC, THE BEAT with Ari
Melber starts right now. Hey, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Hi. Thank you, Katy. One woman killed,
two police officers dead in a crash, over 30 injured and two days had to
pass before the President would call out this hate by name.
White nationalists rallying around a demonstration that exploded into this
deadly violence. And while some of the demonstrators invoked Donald Trump,
it took bipartisan pressure to get the president to specifically condemn
hate groups today.
This may not ultimately be a turning point in the Trump presidency, but it
certainly marks another way that this president is different as he
struggled to do what most people consider the bare minimum in standing up
to this weekend’s hate.
And now, across the political spectrum today, Americans speaking out
against President Trump, one ray of unity emerging in the wake of the
president’s initial response to this horror.
And as for his second try, Trump is striking a new tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Today, the suspect in the attack is facing arraignment on a murder
charge. James Alex Fields is 20 years old. He traveled from Ohio to that
protest in Virginia. Authorities charging him with second-degree murder and
malicious wounding and they are holding him without bail. He was allegedly
infatuated with Nazi Germany according to a former teacher.
I want to get right to today’s news with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a
Democrat from California, and a very outspoken leader of Congress with
regard to the presidency of Donald Trump.
With that in mind, Congresswoman, I just want to know your thoughts about
what he has done in response to this tragedy since it occurred this
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I would like to just remind many
of the listeners that I have always said that this President defined
himself during the campaign, the way that he mocked a journalist who was
disabled, the way that he talked about grabbing women by their private
parts, the way that he treated his own Republican colleagues in the
primary, calling them names.
I never thought that this was a man who should be president of the United
States of America and I have always known that he was dog-whistling to
certain elements in our society. So, I was not surprised at all that he did
not condemn the white supremacists or any of those, the KKK.
When he made his first statement, the way that he walked away from the
press conference when he made the original statement, when he refused to
name them really told you where he stood and what he was thinking.
So, now that he’s been pressured after, what, almost three days by both
Republicans and Democrats, he is reading a statement that has been prepared
for him and his advisors have told him, wait, this is very serious, you
have been condemned, you have been criticized by both sides of the aisle,
you’ve got to say something.
So, they convinced him to come out, but it’s not in his heart. It is not in
his heart and you could see that. And so, again, I am not surprised. I feel
bad for the innocent people who voted for him who thought he was going to
be about change.
I feel sorry for them, but they are finding out who he is. And for those
people who are aligned with him no matter what he does, they are going to
find out that the American people and the real patriots, the real defenders
of this democracy, the real folks who want to see people come together are
not going to stand with them and him forever.
MELBER: What do you think he revealed in his response here? Is this simply
a desire to avoid, in your view, alienating people who may be his
supporter, do you think he revealed something about his heart or state of
WATERS: Well, no, in this latest press conference or statement that he
gave, he simply was doing a political thing in my estimation, in my
judgment. It took him so long and he was being advised that both sides of
the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, were criticizing him and this was a
danger for him and his presidency.
And so, they convinced him to come out and read this statement which he
read, but, you know, if he had really been concerned, if he really cared,
when he learned about the incident in the beginning, he would have come out
without notes, without a prepared statement and simply said we will not
support or allow these white supremacists, the KKK, the alt-right to
continue to act this way, to harm people, to put people at risk, to come
into our communities and create this kind of chaos and danger. It would’ve
been easy for him to do, but he didn’t do it because it is not in his
MELBER: And Congresswoman, take a listen to David Duke speaking at that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DUKE, EX-KKK LEADER: This represents (INAUDIBLE) we are determined to
take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.
That’s why we believe him. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he
said he’s going to take our country back. And that what we’ve got to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: My final question to you is your response to that and how do you
think - during this time of stress and tragedy for the country, how should
Americans respond to that?
WATERS: Well, I think that Americans haven’t seen what took place in
Virginia. And listening to Duke speak, they know that something dangerous
is going on and that there has been a rise in this kind of thought and
these actions since this president has been elected.
There are those who thought, at one time, that this president would become
presidential at some point, that he would be transformed, that he would
transition into the presidency. It is never going to happen.
This is a dishonorable human being who does not deserve to be president of
the United States of America. And everyone should join with me in wanting
to impeach him. He does not deserve to represent us.
Not only is he putting this whole country at danger, undermining our
democracy, but our allies are thinking less of us now across the world. And
so, I have no hope for him.
I don’t believe that he will ever be the kind of honorable human being with
good values that will be working on behalf of all of the people. I think he
will continue to go after that small constituency of people who are haters,
people who are racist, people who do not believe that others have a role
and should participate in this democracy in the way that they should, and
so I have no hopes for him. And I would not like to see him continue in
MELBER: Congresswoman Waters making it clear where you stand and giving us
some context today. I really appreciate it.
WATERS: You’re certainly welcome.
MELBER: Leaders in both parties have been fairly unequivocal in rebuking
Donald Trump’s initial approach here over the past few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He missed an opportunity to be
very explicit here. These groups seem to believe they have a friend in
Donald Trump in the White House.
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: This isn’t a time for innuendo. This is a
time to lay blame, to lay blame on bigotry, to lay blame on white
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He wants us to have
affection for one another and love one another. Mr. President, that’s not
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: You had David Duke name-checking the
president of the United States. And this was a moment, Chuck, obviously,
where the president could have elevated himself. Instead, he came up small.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I told the president yesterday twice, this language,
this rhetoric, this hatred has got to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to bring in Jonathan Capehart, a writer for “The Washington
Post” as well as an MSNBC contributor and NBC senior political editor Mark
Murray, two people who can give us some context here.
Jonathan, obviously, we are not just talking politics on a day like today,
although politics is part of the problem according to those who believe, as
Congresswoman Waters was just alleging, that there is a political
distortion in Donald Trump’s response to this based on who he may perceive
as partly his supporters.
You have written eloquently for a long time about this interplay. Why don’t
you tell us what’s on your mind watching all of this here heading into
Monday evening with some days behind us now?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, WRITER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”, AND MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
The problem the president has had from the very beginning - when the images
were coming out of Charlottesville is that he has got a moral problem.
He didn’t have the moral clarity to step forward and say that what was
happening in Charlottesville was wrong. He didn’t have the moral clarity to
step forward and say that David Duke invoking his name to justify white
supremacist conversion in Charlottesville was not something that he
And I think that the president didn’t have the moral authority - given the
way he ran his campaign and given the way he has run his administration -
he doesn’t have the moral authority to have what he said on Saturday and
what he said earlier today to have those words stick.
And part of the problem is that he has people associated with white
supremacy mere steps away from him in the Oval Office. Steve Bannon is the
chief White House strategist. This is a person who told “Mother Jones”
during the Republican Convention that he made Breitbart News, where he was
the chairman, a platform for the alt-right, which is just a gussied up
version of saying white nationalism and white supremacy.
So, the president can say whatever words he wants to say that he thinks the
nation needs to hear and who his administration, the grown-ups around him,
think he needs to say in order to calm things down, but he has surrounded
himself with people who have a white nationalist agenda.
And so, again, as the president is saying these words, meanwhile look at
what is happening in the Justice Department, Homeland Security, this so-
called voter fraud commission that is out there that lots of people say is
all about the business of purging the voter rolls of people from exercising
their constitutional right to vote.
So, I’m very concerned like a lot of people that the president couldn’t
rise to the occasion, such an easy occasion to show leadership, to show the
American people that you deserve the trust that they’ve placed in you in
order to be their leader, and he just failed.
MELBER: And, Mark, thinking about what John was saying and then the David
Duke factor and whether there is patterns, I want on a play two clips here
of Donald Trump’s very different reflections on who David Duke is and
whether you want anything to do with him. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about
white supremacists. And so, you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed
to be talking about people that I know nothing about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you see as the biggest problem with the Reform
Party right now?
TRUMP: Well, you’ve got - David Duke just joined, a bigot, a racist, a
problem. I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mark, how problematic is it if Donald Trump’s defense with these
issues is, well, he doesn’t know, he doesn’t want to be involved, it’s just
a hands off, and then you run the tape and you see well, in some cases, he
knows quite a bit.
MARK MURRAY, “NBC” SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, and, Ari, to take a step
further, we’ve seen over the past two years, either candidate Trump or
President Trump criticize almost anyone and members of his own party,
members of the media.
You have even see him criticizing the chief executive at Merck after Merck
decided to pull out of the president’s commission on manufacturing in the
wake of what happened in Charlottesville.
The president sometimes has a very quick trigger finger when it comes to
his tweets or just unabashed criticism, but that clip that you played just
about a year-and-a-half ago or a year ago when it came to David Duke and
then certainly would have seen from Saturday was a president who was
unwilling to go that extra step to criticize. And I think that that
disparity is very important to consider.
And when you just look overall on Saturday, the president, as Jonathan
mentioned, really did fail the presidential leadership test.
On Monday and today’s do-over, we did see Republicans, who were more
complementary of how we handle things. You will have seen Sen. Tim Scott,
the Republican African-American senator from South Carolina, who did praise
what President Trump ended up saying today, but he also went a step
further, Sen. Scott did, by saying it would’ve been much more impactful had
he done it on Saturday.
And that two-day delay, 48 hours, I think is incredibly important on the
president’s ability to rise to the occasion to demonstrate leadership
during either a time of tragedy, a time of horror or shock, to be able to
unite the country, not necessarily your voters who voted for you in 2016,
but some people who might not have.
MELBER: Right, absolutely. I appreciate both of your points here at a time
when the country is, obviously, really reflecting on, as you put it, what
is the type of leadership they want. Jonathan and Mark, appreciate it.
Now, is there a double standard about who the president deems a terrorist
and those whom are just criminals and thugs. Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP
will bring her expertise to us after the break.
Also, Bob Mueller closing in on interviews for the West Wing. We’ll explain
who he wants to talk to and whether that means there’s a different approach
than what Paul Manafort received.
And also, later today, we have a special report for you only on THE BEAT,
what you don’t know about the Trump travel ban. We just hit the halfway
mark and we’ve got some new reporting on how it is going. Stay tuned.
MELBER: Was the Charlottesville attack terrorism? It’s still early for
authorities to gather all the facts needed to answer this question, but
President Trump has certainly avoided the term, a level of restraint he has
not applied when news broke of other attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has tweeted, “really bad shooting in
Orlando, police investigating possible terrorism.”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump tweeting just a short time ago,
“Another terrorist attack in Paris.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump took that last bit out of context
plainly and repeatedly attacked the mayor on Twitter, “At least 7 dead and
48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there is no reason to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump also dubbed the June incident in the Philippines a terror
attack, which local police contradicted, and while Trump had previously
complained President Obama didn’t call terror attacks by Trump’s preferred
term, radical Islamic terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He doesn’t want to acknowledge it. He will never acknowledge it. Why
can’t he say radical Islamic terrorism?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: While these may sound like word games, we know some kinds of terror
attacks do not get nearly as much attention as others. Take this recent
study from Georgia State University, which says, “the terror attacks by
Muslim perpetrators in the US got 449 percent more coverage than similar
attacks when the only difference was the other attacks were committed by
people who were not Muslim.”
Trump is also out of step with his own attorney general on this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, “ABC NEWS” HOST, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Was this
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it does meet
the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute. We are pursuing it
within the Department of Justice in every way that we can make it, make our
MELBER: Sherrilyn Ifill is president and director-counsel of the NAACP’s
Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Matt Miller, a former aide at the
Justice Department to Attorney General Holder. Thank you both.
Sherrilyn, do we know enough to say whether this was terror and is there a
SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR-COUNSEL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND
EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. Well, I am never a fan of describing things very
early on before we know exactly what has happened. But if there ever was a
no-brainer, it was this one.
This was a rally in which people were carrying Confederate flags, flags
with a Swastika on it, in which they were yelling and shouting white
supremacist remarks and Nazi slogans.
And we now know who the individual was, we have the photo of him walking
with the white supremacists, carrying the shield. He barreled this car
deliberately into a crowd and backed it up out of that crowd killing
Heather Heyer and injuring many others.
If ever there was a time that you could fairly early on describe something
as an act of terrorism, I think this would be one of them, and so it’s
quite telling that the president has been unwilling to use that language.
Of course, he also has not spoken out about the killing of Ricky Best on
the train in Portland in May, an army veteran who was killed by a white
supremacist. He has not talked about Richard Collins, an ROTC member killed
by white supremacist at University of Maryland. He hasn’t talked about the
mosque bombing in Minnesota a week ago.
So, this is not the only time that the president has found the ability to
restrain himself from calling something an act of terrorism that is an act
MELBER: Right. And thank you for giving us some of that very specific
examples, which provide further contrast, I think.
Matt Miller, Jeffrey Goldberg, who is the centrist, center-right sometimes
reporter for “The Atlantic” had pretty unsparing terms on this today.
“Trump’s refusal to call out radical white terrorism for what it is at
precisely the moment America needs its leadership to take a unified stand
against hatred marks what might be the lowest moment of his presidency to
date.” Matt, your view?
MATT MILLER, FORMER AIDE AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL
HOLDER: I think Jeffrey Goldberg is absolutely right about this. I think if
- had this been someone connected to ISIS, even if it had been someone
connected to MS-13, I think you would have seen the president tweeting
within an hour.
I think you would have seen the attorney general releasing a statement
within an hour, not waiting till much later in the day, really 10 or 11
o’clock at night before he did. You would have seen the federal government
mobilize its resources in an entirely different way.
I think it is good, though, that the Justice Department has now opened a
civil rights investigation. The attorney general has declared this domestic
terrorism. It is important they’re taking that step, but it doesn’t seem
like the president is willing to come along.
Obviously, he got dragged kicking and screaming into making that statement
today, but there is a real double standard when it comes to - as to if he
is willing politicize some, as you pointed out, the one in Manila actually
wasn’t even a terrorist incident and those that he tries to downplay and
MELBER: And, Sherrilyn, I want to play for you some of Hillary Clinton on
the campaign trail. On the one hand we always know when politicians are
fighting about this kind of thing, it doesn’t yield the most light.
On the other hand, when you look at this situation over the last several
days, and this highly unusual response from a president and many people
have explained it, you included, why it’s so troubling.
You look back at some of the warnings that were offered during the campaign
about precisely this issue of hate. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is taking hate
groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican
We know who Trump is. A few words on a teleprompter won’t change that. He
says he wants to make America great again, but more and more it seems as
though his real message seems to be make America hate again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How do you view that warning now?
IFILL: The same way I viewed it then. There was nothing about that
statement that sounded particularly political to me because all the
evidence was there that this is, in fact, what was happening. And it has
been happening and continuing since the campaign. And frankly, passed the
inauguration by the president’s own policies.
Look, today, the president came out and made a prepared speech. He looked
at pains to do so. It looked a little bit like he was a hostage, but he
made the speech that he felt he had to make. There was no passion in it.
When the president speaks from his heart, we know what it looks like, we
know what it sounds like. This is the same day that this morning - his
first act was to offer a tweet against the CEO of Merck, an African-
American, who out of his own personal conscience decided to step down from
the president’s manufacturing council and made an eloquent statement about
the importance of diversity in this country and why his personal conscience
was so moved.
And the president’s reaction was to ridicule it and to make a terrible
snarky juvenile remark against him.
Later, we were hearing also that the president has apparently told someone
at “Fox News” that he’s considering pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This is
the sheriff that was engaged in racial profiling rampantly in Arizona and
was convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to obey a judge’s order to
stop engaging in racial profiling and who is scheduled to be sentenced on
And he described Joe Arpaio apparently to “Fox News” as a great American
and that he is sorry to see what has happened to him.
So, these two things happen on the same day that the president steps out
and reads from a teleprompter a statement that he feels compelled to make.
So, it’s disingenuous at the very least, cynical as well.
And this is why I have said that until the president acts, until he
disbands his so so-called election integrity commission and stops
demonizing African-American and Latino voters, until he drops the Muslim
ban, until he drops his claim that LGBT individuals are not covered by our
civil rights laws in the employment area, until he reverses his tweet on
the military transgender ban, until he starts doing things that actually
show that he stands for equality and justice, I would be hard-pressed to
believe the kind of statement that he was compelled and felt compelled to
MELBER: Sherrilyn Ifill and Matt Miller, two individuals with extraordinary
law enforcement and civil rights experience, appreciate your time today.
IFILL: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Coming up, a different story that is not getting lost yet. The
Russia enquiry, Bob Mueller has a new focus on a man who did work inside
the White House for Trump and does not anymore.
And a BEAT special report. We are now halfway through Trump’s 90-day travel
ban and we’re going to talk to someone suing over that ban. The attorney
general of Washington State.
MELBER: “Washington Post” reporting new details about efforts to set up
Trump campaign meetings with Russian officials. And another report out in
“The New York Times” saying Bob Mueller wants now to interview key White
House aides in his probe.
Let’s get right to it with former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade. Paul
Manafort famously got this predawn raid. No one is going to raid the White
House that way. And we’re hearing that there is, in this report, the idea
of Bob Mueller having a more cooperative approach with other White House
Explain to us these different approaches.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
MICHIGAN: Well, it makes sense that this would be the natural next step in
an investigation. Once Mueller and his team have looked at all documentary
evidence, maybe have looked at surveillance evidence, the next step would
be to interview people, and you know, to go into the White House, you’re
certainly not going to interrogate people in a forceful way. Your first
approach will be to interview a universe of people and then narrow down
those who possess relevant evidence and then call them to testify before a
MELBER: Do all of those White House aides then need their own personal
lawyer or can they rely on the government?
MCQUADE: Well, no, they - if they have personal exposure, they may need to
hire a personal lawyer to advise them about what exposure they may have,
what information they have if they need to cut a deal. Now, many of them
will simply be fact witnesses who haven’t committed any crimes whatsoever.
But for those who might have some criminal exposure, they might want to
hire their own lawyers.
MELBER: And what about people who’ve advised on the search for an FBI
Director, the decision to remove Jim Comey. I mean, there are people there
in the White House who may have been brought in for optics reasons,
strategic reasons, press reasons. Do they have to worry about whether
they’re being pulled into what some have described as a potential
MCQUADE: I think so. And I think that you know, there certainly are the
big names that we’ve heard of. But my guess is that Robert Mueller will
also want to talk to people whose names we may not know. Some of the lower
level aides who were involved who can be fact witnesses in this, they may
have criminal exposure as well but he’s going to want to talk to all of
them to find out who knew what, who said what, to help him in his quest for
MELBER: Fascinating. And obviously no signs of Bob Mueller letting up
anytime soon if he’s getting these interviews scheduled or working on it.
Barbara McQuade, thanks for your time.
MCQUADE: Thanks very much.
MELBER: Now, it is the halfway mark on Trump’s 90-day travel ban. We have
a special investigation you’ll see only here on THE BEAT, including some
news on the worldwide vetting review that Trump famously called for.
MELBER: President Trump’s travel ban officially took effect in late June
and we’re now passing the halfway mark of this 90-day policy. It bars
migrants from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya. And after all
the controversy, our question tonight is how is the travel ban actually
working? For our special report, we surveyed over a dozen security and
immigration experts and former government officials. And we learned about
how this ban is playing out. First, the Department of Homeland Security
and the State Department confirmed Trump’s call for a worldwide review of
vetting, has now been completed. Officials gave a report on that review to
President Trump, we can tell you, on July 10th.
Now, this is new and it indicates the White House already has some Intel to
inform the decision on whether to continue this ban when it automatically
expires in another 45 days. Officials declined to describe what the review
says, but a DHS official does tell us, changes have already been made from
the review on the way they do vetting. Number two, we found many experts
who say this ban is not making the U.S. much safer. Experts telling us the
ban’s focus on those six countries doesn’t automatically strengthen our
national security, and that some customs officers are even facing new
challenges over how to implement the ban.
Marco Lopez, the former Chief of Staff for Customs and Border Protection,
told us that officers are spread too thin because they’re focusing on
confirming immigrants having bona fide relationships. And he told us
that’s one less person you have to focus on real threats based on
intelligence. DHS has not provided information on whether the ban has
singled out terror suspects over the past 45 days, or stated which
countries are providing what the Trump administration views as inadequate
info about their own nationals. And then finally, third, the
administration is using a new form we’ve learned to enhance vetting. We’re
going to show you that in a moment. But that is all how the ban is working
at the halfway mark. As for whether it is even legal, well, the Supreme
Court as you may recall will hear this case in October. It will be very
likely the largest test of executive power in the Trump era.
Now, for more context on this special report, we have Washington State
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, he led the charge against the initial travel
ban, was the first state that took the administration of Donald Trump to
court and they had several incremental victories, procedural victories as
you may recall. Thanks for joining us, Attorney General.
BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thanks for having me,
Ari. I really appreciate it.
MELBER: Absolutely. This is something that got a lot of attention before
it went into effect. Do you have any idea here, halfway mark this week,
how it’s actually working, and if it’s as bad as you’ve alleged in your
opening legal attacks on the bill?
FERGUSON: Yes, well, first, thanks to you and your team for that
reporting. I find that interesting that there’s been a report the
President’s had since about early July, that’s of interest to me. So, hey,
from our standpoint, that first travel ban, that Washington State sued on,
that was a big victory. As you know, the President rescinded that initial
travel ban and then adopted this revised one that is more narrow, working
its way now to the Supreme Court. The key question is going to be whether
or not the Supreme Court even issues a ruling or decides that to runs its
course, it’s no longer in effect and the Supreme Court no longer needs even
reads the decision on the merits of this revised travel ban.
MELBER: So you haven’t heard about that report, but you’re saying, A,
you’d love to see that, I don’t know if that is something you can legally
request and B, if the whole thing is over, you’re saying that it - that it
may go away?
FERGUSON: Yes. I think a key question will be whether President Trump
reauthorizes the executive order. As you pointed out in your introduction,
the executive order is for a limit duration, 90 days in one context, 120
days in another context. It will essentially run its course by the time
the Supreme Court takes up the oral argument in October. It would not
surprise me. As you know, Supreme Court is disinclined to rule in cases
that are not active, that there’s not actual controversy. So unless Donald
Trump re-ups that travel ban, it would not surprise me if the Supreme Court
decided they did not need to actually reach some (INAUDIBLE) issues
associated with this revised travel ban.
MELBER: Right. Well, you’re raising a great question for the White House.
They wouldn’t tell us their plans on that. And nor would we expect them
to. But they did give us a statement here at THE BEAT. I want to read
from our original reporting. They said this travel order refugees ceiling
and heightened vetting requirements are vital to keeping America safe.
Foreign terrorists constantly trying to infiltrate the U.S. through
migratory flows and we can’t allow a sanctuary for terrorists and
extremists on our shores and in our communities. The administration will
continue to take necessary and lawful action to keep violent radicals from
entering our country. When you see a statement like that, it sounds pretty
reasonable. I presume you would also want to keep those radicals if
they’re prone to violence out of the country, or in your case out of
Washington State. What’s wrong with what the - what the White House told
FERGUSON: Well, there is two things that a President needs to do. A
President needs to keep us safe, that’s number one. But number two, the
President must do so in a way that follows the constitution and our laws.
That’s where Donald Trump ran into trouble with that first travel ban where
he suffered defeat after defeat and finally gave up. And now we’re, as you
know, going before the Supreme Court on the revised travel ban. But I
think he still facing significant constitutional hurdles before the Supreme
Court. I just think it’s a distinct possibility the Supreme Court won’t
have to rule because again, it gives up a limited duration.
One more point just really quickly, Ari, is that keep in mind we filed the
first lawsuit in that first travel ban many, many months ago. The
President’s had seven months or so to do this extreme vetting he’s been
talking about. He didn’t have to wait around. So the President’s had
many, many months to put this into place. I’m anxious to see what they’ve
actually come up with.
MELBER: All right. Well, we’re going to keep an eye on the reporting. As
I mentioned, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, thank you so much.
The next part of our special report here, right now, NBC, we have obtained
the new vetting forms, the Trump administration is asking the Consular
Generals to use the vetting around the world. The State Department
confirming to us on the authenticity of these documents. You can see this
form here supplemental questions for visa applicants and they’re asking,
have you traveled to any country in the last 15 years, what locations have
you visited, how did you pay for it and there’s also a section strictly
devoted to the applicant’s social media history which has been a big deal.
Now, we know these forms are in circulation. What we don’t know is how
they’re impacting all of those who are trying to get into the United
States. For more, I want to bring in Farah Pandith. She served on Bush
43’s National Security Council, was also appointed by Hillary Clinton as
the first ever State Department Special Representative to Muslim
Communities. Thank you for joining. You looked specifically at this form,
it has some of the things that prior administrations were criticized for
not looking at, like social media. Your view?
FARAH PANDITH, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO MUSLIM
COMMUNITIES: You know, Ari, first of all, thank you very much for having
me this evening. It’s really important to remember, almost a month before
another anniversary of 9/11, that we’ve spent a lot of time since our
country was attacked looking at groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS and others
who use an ideology of us versus them to radicalize young people around the
world. And while it’s important, certainly, to look at different
components of how to keep us safe, the issue is that you cannot build an
idea wall. And as I look at the Muslim ban, and I think about what we’re
doing around the questions specifically social media, it doesn’t tell you
the full picture of what’s happening to these young kids who are finding
the appeal of groups like ISIS interesting to them. And that’s what we
should be puncturing.
MELBER: Do you think the administration should release a public
accounting? We’re at the halfway mark, which is why we’re digging into
this but perhaps at the end of the 90 days, explaining whether this thing
works or from your experience in government, is that too hard to do because
of the security implications?
PANDITH: If your assessment is that you’re going to conclude that because
there has not been an ISIS inspired attack since President Trump has become
President, it means that the ban is the thing that we can look to as the
reason why we have a faulty premise and the policy implications for that
are very dangerous. From my perspective, looking at radicalization over
the course of the last decade, I can tell you that there is far more that
we as the United States should be doing to decrease the ability of
extremist groups like ISIS to lure in young kids in our country, and around
the world. And a Muslim ban is not the thing that’s going to keep us
safer. A comprehensive program to make sure that radicalization doesn’t
happen will mean that ISIS will not have armies. That is what we should be
MELBER: Farah Pandith thank you for bringing all your experience to this
conversation. And we’re going to keep watching where the - where the ban
PANDITH: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up, how do we actually, as a society, want to respond to
these hate groups. I’m going to speak with someone who has been tracking
white nationalist groups for over three decades. And at this hour, we can
tell you protesters are right now marching through New York City. Where
are they headed? Directly to Trump Tower. We’ll give you any updates on
how this live protest unfolds tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTY WALSH, BOSTON MAYOR: We know (INAUDIBLE) so my message is clear to
this group. We don’t want you in Boston. We don’t want you in Boston -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mayor of Boston there, speaking out to the potential types of hate
groups or protesters that could go there. I’m also going to show you
something we mentioned just before the commercial break here. In Trump
Tower, and that area surrounding it on Fifth Avenue, protests are
gathering. We’re getting this live into our newsroom right now, this new
footage. These are people who are saying, you can hear them, chanting, and
they want to be standing up against hate, standing up for messages of what
we’re seeing there.
You can see peace and love, swastikas marked out, and they are surrounding
essentially walking around Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. It is as you can
see with your own eyes, a very peaceful protest thus far, as we hope it
will remain. We’re going to keep a close eye on that. And that’s really
the context for the discussion I want to have with our next guest. Brian
Levin is a Director at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. He
analyzes hate crimes and has also been monitoring and attending these hate
rallies and white supremacist groups for over 30 years. First of all,
thank you for joining.
BRIAN LEVIN, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM DIRECTOR: Thank
you so much, Ari.
MELBER: Brian, the reason we wanted to set aside time to speak with you
one-on-one is precisely the same reason why I think people are peacefully
out there protesting today, and trying to do something positive. And the
question to you I pose is big but the question is, how do we in this
society civically in our own lives try to stand up to this hate when we -
when we see it confronting us?
LEVIN: I think we’re doing exactly that. Peaceful protests, the right of
the people to peaceably assemble to petition the government for redress of
grievances. As you know as a Cornell Law grad, go big red. What we - what
we need is leadership from the top. And one of the things our research has
shown is that statements by political leaders appear to have a direct
correlation of the incidents of hate crimes. For the five days after
President Trump proposed his Muslim ban as a candidate, we had an 87.5
percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. Contrast that with President
Bush’s statement six days after 9/11 saying Islam is peace at the D.C.
mosque, a decline in anti-Muslim hate crimes of 66 percent.
So we need leadership. But we also need something that presidents have
done for some time, whether it was President Kennedy talking about the
University of Mississippi or President Eisenhower with respect to Little
Rock or even President Bush the elder, Bush 41 when he signed the hate
crimes statistics act. We need to set equality as a moral foundation of
this nation and President Trump, unfortunately, has not really done so.
His response today -
MELBER: Let me jump in, Sir. Brian, let me jump in and play, this is it
what he did say initially.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We condemn in the
strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and
violence on many sides, on many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Does your research suggest that’s the right - best response to
prevent further actions?
LEVIN: No. And look, we don’t have to look at my research, just go to
these white nationalist web pages where they say, hey, President Trump’s
inability to condemn us right away explicitly is a wink and a nod. He’s
re-tweeted materials from Nazi groups, including false information about
the levels of black crime where he talks about crimes by immigrants which
are actually lower than native born Americans. So, what we need is some
moral leadership, and I think what we have to have is - I don’t know if
we’re going to get him to do it. But we can do it, we have a voice, and
this can start in our local communities and thank you for the coverage that
you’ve provided to give people a voice where they might not have had it.
We need to send a message to these groups that yes, you have a first
amendment right, but so do we, and we condemn your bigotry root and branch.
MELBER: Right. And that’s something that goes to citizenship, not to
politics and goes to the kind of country we want to live in. Brian Levin,
thanks for your work, and joining us. And I want to tell you, in the wake
of this attack, there are growing calls for guess who, Steve Bannon to get
a pink slip, why? We’ll explain next.
MELBER: When Donald Trump is under fire for his prepared statements, the
scrutiny often turns toward Steve Bannon. Trump keeps a very lean staff
and few aides are successful at putting words in his mouth. But insiders
say Bannon does have that ability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You also
got this sort of Bannon-bart influence in there which I think is a snag on
the President. He has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean Bannon and Breitbart? Steve Bannon?
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. The whole thing is nonsensical. the president has a
very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda that are
serving their own interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They include Steve Bannon?
SCARAMUCCI: Oh, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Anthony Scaramucci there saying, it would be bad to be out of the
mainstream, but that’s exactly where Steve Bannon likes to be. He ran
Breitbart News as a counter weight. The mainstream conservative media like
Fox News boasting it was the platform of the alt-right, and while the site
has a broad range of topics, even some of his own former associates say it
has become a hub for racists at times. So the question is whether that
kind of support was a feature or a bug of Bannon’s site. Just as the
question during Trump’s campaign was whether these white supremacists were
simply political freeloaders or whether Donald Trump actually welcomed
MELBER: Jamal Simmons is a Democratic Strategist, Brian Darling a former
Aide to Rand Paul. Jamal, your answer?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, Ari, I just got to
tell you, my family, my grandmother grew up about 30 miles east of
Charlottesville in a little town called Kents Store, Louisa County. And I
talked to some of my relatives who were there today, we were slaves in that
county. I can take you to the place where my family worked the soil. And
to have the idea of people walking around with torches in the middle of the
night and my family is talking about how people in the area are standing
up, feeling more bold. That boldness comes from places like Breitbart,
comes from people like Bannon. And I think it is a feature we’ve seen
Donald Trump over the course of the last couple years. And we’ve seen him
really come out whether it was the immigrant ban or bringing people up on
stage where victims of immigrant crime. It had to take them 48 hours to
mention the victim of a terrorist attack. This is not a bug, this is a
feature and Steve Bannon is part of the problem.
MELBER: You know, we’ll put up some of Breitbart’s headlines Brian and
give you a chance to speak to this. I mean, is this really what President
Trump should have in the Oval Office?
BRIAN DARLING, FORMER RAND PAUL’S AIDE: Well, I write - I have written
three op-eds this year from Breitbart, I look at Breitbart as a
conservative site with so many stories. I mean, they have 35 million page
views every single month. This is a website that has a variety of
opinions. And to call it an alt-right you know, white supremacist
platform, I think is wrong. I mean, you don’t see Richard Spencer writing
there, you don’t see these extremists having platforms there, I think what
is happening, people are disparaging Steve Bannon.
SIMMONS: What about Milo?
DARLING: He’s not writing there anymore.
SIMMONS: Well, he was when Steve Bannon was there.
DARLING: Well, I mean, he’s not there anymore. I actually - he wrote a
piece about the alt-right that I think many people point to, to try and tie
the alt-right to Breitbart but ultimately, I think, it’s a bit outrageous
for people to disparage Steve Bannon and to disparage Breitbart and
conflate them with people who are bad. The people who Donald Trump -
MELBER: What about - Brian, what about on Bannon himself? I mean, you’ve
got Rupert Murdoch and others now on the New York Times calling for his
ouster. Do you think Bannon should say?
DARLING: I think he should stay. I think guys like McMaster pushing for
nation building foreign policies, policies that I didn’t vote for. I
support a more restrained policy. And I - there’s a big fight in the
MELBER: Jamal, final word.
SIMMONS: Ari, I think this is a moment where it’s not just about the
partisanship, this really isn’t partisan. This is about what kind of
society do we want to have, what kind of civilization do we want to have.
Do we want to have a country where everybody gets to participate or one
where white people are the only ones who get all the best benefits? And I
think people like Bannon and Breitbart are advocates for this alt-right
movement that says they want hate to be the norm in this country instead of
people trying to figure out where to get along. And I want ever Republican
MELBER: Jamal Simmons -
SIMMONS: I think to stop and say the same thing.
MELBER: Jamal Simmons and Brian Darling. Thank you so much. “HARDBALL”
with Chris Matthews is next, and Chris is back so stay tuned.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Silence is consent, let’s play HARDBALL.
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