The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/15/17 White Nationalists reaction to Trump
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 15, 2017
Guest: Michael Caputo, John Dean, Dallas Kashuba, Yochai Benkler, Jelani
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: That`s just ahead on THE BEAT with
Ari Melber, which starts right now. You won`t believe - if you haven`t
seen at all, you won`t believe what you hear, Ari. But the time is yours.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you, Chuck. And I think that`s a
fair statement. It is a significant event we`re going to show.
Late today, President Trump giving his new and detailed view of the
Charlottesville attack. Now, he defended some attendees of this white
supremacist rally. He blamed some liberals for the violence and he
contradicted his own Justice Department in apportioning that blame. There
are people trying to divide America right now with violence. Here is the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had a group on one
side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with
clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to
But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call
them the left, you have just called them the left that came violently
attacking the other group. So, you can say what you want, but that`s the
way it is.
I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think
there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don`t
have any doubt about it either.
You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently
protest, and very legally protest, because I don`t know if you know they
had a permit. The other group didn`t have a permit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: They had a permit. Now, what message does that send to these
white nationalist groups and to people around the world? Well, here is one
answer. This is brand new tonight.
Former KKK leader David Duke welcoming the president, crediting his
“honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn
the leftist terrorists.”
Now, President Trump said at first he didn`t even know David Duke was at
that rally, but he knows now. And the President claimed tonight that not
everyone was a white nationalist at that white nationalist rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve condemned neo-Nazis. I`ve condemned many different groups,
but not all of those people were neo-Nazis. Believe me. Not all of those
people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also
there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Some facts for you on this. The Justice Department under the
Trump administration right now is investigating Charlottesville as both a
potential hate crime and potential terrorist activity, but today in these
new remarks President Trump was not so sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it
whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with
a good verdict. That`s what I would call it because there is a question,
is it murder, is it terrorism and then you get into legal semantics. The
driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: These remarks appear to be unplanned and they were certainly
significant, I think, in a series of events that we have called significant
in the Trump era. Tonight`s certainly fits the bill.
And we are here on THE BEAT tonight going to play those full remarks in
full context later this hour.
Now, for immediate context and response, though, I want to bring in
California Congressman Ted Lieu; Heather McGhee, President of Demos.
And Heather, let me just start with you. You look at this situation, what
more do we understand now about the president`s views of all this?
HEATHER MCGHEE, PRESIDENT, DEMOS: I think that many people in this
country, including the majority of people who did not vote for Donald
Trump, knew that, from the beginning, when he started his campaign, calling
Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, throughout the dog whistles, the
inciting of violence, saying that, oh, in the good old days, a protester
would`ve been pulled out, dragged out in a stretcher, to his refusing to
distance himself from the KKK`s endorsement of him, to who he put in the
White House as his staffers including three known white supremacists, we
have felt that this is a president who is a president of a movement to make
America white again.
And that is, obviously, what the core base of his supporters who are on the
rise right now, who have felt very emboldened, who have felt that this is a
moment when this rising sort of zero sum idea of progress in the country,
that if you have progress for people of color, if you have more immigrants
coming into the country that somehow that means that it`s going to be at
the expense of white people.
That idea is at the core of Donald Trump`s story about this country and
it`s at the core of what you saw on Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville.
I`ve been so moved by the outpouring of exactly the opposite impression of
this country, that our diversity is what makes us great, that our people
are what makes us strong.
But we all have to recognize that there are two sides of the story, there
two sides of the national story, one that says that the fight for the
Confederacy, of white supremacy, of holding people in bondage is still
something that needs to be elevated and celebrated and one that says that
we have to keep growing as a country and finally face up to our past, so
that we can move together as one people into the future.
MELBER: Congressman, you hear Heather`s very eloquent statement about what
we just heard from the president of the United States. As someone who has
to work with him within government, your views on what we just heard and
what it reflects now days out from this killing?
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Ari. That was an abomination
of a press conference. There cannot be no ambiguity that the president of
the United States is intentionally enabling white supremacists. And I call
all Republican members of Congress to disavow President Trump and his
Heather is absolutely right. These are some of his strongest supporters,
but he shouldn`t be playing to them. He is president of all of America and
there`s not many sides to this.
There is a side of hatred and bigotry and there`s everybody else. And now,
today, we know where the President stands and that is completely
MELBER: Thank you, Congressman. And I hear your call. We often talk
politically about what the other side to do. In this case, Donald Trump
talking about two sides on the racial division. You`re talking about the
political side, you as a Democrat, what you want to hear from Republicans.
I want to add to our conversation here, a special coverage, DeRay McKesson,
a former mayoral candidate in the City of Baltimore and an activist with
Black Lives Matter.
I want to play for you Donald Trump bringing up David Duke in these new
remarks today. As you know and many of our viewers will remember, there
were great questions about whether Donald Trump knew who David Duke was
because he had previously said he was just ignorant of David Duke, although
other video evidence showed that he actually did know David Duke and had
previously called him a bigot at another point in his political career.
Here was the president on that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had
to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.
I didn`t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DERAY MCKESSON, FORMER MAYORAL CANDIDATE, CITY OF BALTIMORE: So, we know
that white supremacy is based on the ideology of hatred. When we think
about things like the Cornerstone Speech, it is a speech by the vice
president of the Confederacy, he makes it really clear that Confederacy is
founded on making sure that black people are not equal to white people,
that that is undeniable.
So, when we hear speeches like this today, we know that he is making sure
that he`s promoting his lies in an effort to get people cover for white
And that just can`t be OK. I am worried that this will enable more people
across the country to be hateful and to be openly and boldly racist like we
saw in Charlottesville.
MELBER: And the David Duke comment here, we don`t always make a habit of
just showing what David Duke is saying, but it is newsworthy given the
president`s invocation of him.
He responded to this tonight, breaking news here. Thank you, President
Trump for your honesty and encourage to “tell the truth about
Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM”, I think a
reference to a group you`re associated with, Black Lives Matter.
MCKESSON: This is so overt. So, David Duke is a known leader of the KKK.
And when he is praising the president for his remarks about race, when he
is clearly defending white supremacy, that is a problem.
So, I am hopefull that this does not encourage people across the country to
be more hateful and more openly racist, but these things today are
troubling at best.
MELBER: Congressman, I also want to play the other charges that the
president leveled. Again, for viewers who are just turning in, part of the
reason this was so significant is the country has spent a few days, not
just the political part of the country, but CEOs, business leaders, civic
leaders talking about what is the necessary and requisite minimum for a
president in responding to what was according to, again, the Justice
Department and local authorities, a one-sided violence, a real tragedy of
an attack, not something that at least according to authorities was blurry,
as you know, Congressman.
But now I am going to play this new sound, new remarks from the president
trying to apportion the blame to what he calls the alt-left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What about the alt-left left that came charging at the, as you say,
the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging - that they
came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs. Do they have any
problem? I think they do.
You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other
side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I`ll
say it right now.
You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit
and they were very, very violent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Congressman, your response?
LIEU: Keep in mind, it was a white supremacist that killed a young woman,
not the other way around. It is not equivalent to be able to put the KKK
and Nazis against any other group. These are hate groups. These are
groups that have terrorized Americans throughout our history. The
president needs to condemn them.
And he by trying to say all sides are same, he is enabling them, and that`s
what`s so disturbing. He is emboldening white supremacists and this has
got to stop.
MELBER: We`re just getting into our newsroom a lot of reaction to the
president`s latest remarks. And from what I can tell, Heather, a lot of
folks here in political and civic leadership think this might be the worst
thing that President Trump has said to date about this tragic incident.
Reading here brand-new from Governor McAuliffe, Democratic Governor of
Virginia, who has been working on this, saying “neo-Nazis, Klansman, and
white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred,
looking for a fight. One of them murdered a young woman in an act of
domestic terrorism, Governor McAuliffe saying tonight. And two of our
finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect
this community. And here, addressing the President directly, he says, this
was not both sides.
MCGHEE: I think that`s the kind of moral clarity we need to see right now.
And I really do commend former Governor McAuliffe and many other people,
including some Republicans actually, finally, who have been willing to
stand up and say that this is evil, that this white supremacist movement
As we`ve known actually, over the past decade, the leading cause of
domestic terrorism on US soil is from white supremacist fringe groups.
And the inability of Donald Trump to distance himself, really, it`s
shocking to our political system and our economic system and, frankly, to
the moral fabric of our country, but it shouldn`t be surprising because
this is who he has been from the beginning of his campaign, from the moment
that he walked into public life by being the most visible and loud birther,
incredible right-wing, far-right conspiracy theory to undermine the
American citizenship of our first African-American President.
This is who Donald Trump is. And the question now is, who are we as
Americans? Who are the people in Congress who have the only authority to
stop this person who is in the White House from continuing to, I`m afraid,
really bring the country to the brink of a level of violence that we
haven`t seen from white supremacists who feel that they are losing their
And that is exactly what Donald Trump is saying to them, has been saying
throughout his campaign. You`re losing your country, you have to take it
back, and men with AR-15s and AK-47s were armed in Charlottesville for that
MELBER: Right. And to your point, we`re reeling from a situation where
this killing took place. The authorities will ultimately determine whether
they can uphold the second-degree murder charge.
A new tweet here, reaction from Paul Ryan. “We must be clear white
supremacy is repulsive. The bigotry has countered all this country stands
for. There can be no moral ambiguity.” That tweet breaking here in our
As part of our discussion here, looking at these new remarks from the
president, I want to also add in Howard Dean, the former governor and
former Democratic Party chair.
Governor, you may have been listening to conversation here, Heather McGhee,
DeRay McKesson, and Congressmen Lieu here talking about what we just saw
and what we`re going to play in full later this hour, so Americans can
assess it themselves.
I would like your views. And I`ll throw one more piece of reporting in
because so much is coming into the newsroom. NBC confirming from a senior
White House official that these remarks we just saw “were not supposed to
be a part of any Q&A today”.
That is relevant not because of the political gamesmanship that goes into
setting up a press event, but relevant, I think, Governor Dean because it
goes back to the big question of whether we`re hearing the real Donald
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: I`m not entirely sure there is
a real Donald Trump. I think this guy is deeply ill. I really do. He`s
completely out of control. He has no consistency from one day to another.
We essentially are a country without a president. I think we will rise to
the occasion, but it`s a very difficult situation. This is not a guy who
understands anything about people. It`s not a guy who understands anything
about the foreign policy. This is a problem.
This is the first time I think probably since Andrew Johnson that we really
haven`t had any kind of a capable president whatsoever.
MELBER: Congressman, do you echo that or do you think part of the problem
is that President Trump seems to know no boundaries. We can show - I
believe we have, in our control room, some of the footage here and the
photograph of General John Kelly who is, of course, expected to be some
sort of source of discipline, but has not yet been that way.
And there is a photo of him sort of behind the stage during what was
supposed to be - there it is, him, with his arms folded. If you want to
read the body language, you can read it for yourself at home, whether he
looks like this is something that he thinks is the right call.
Congressman, is this a managerial issue or do you feel that the president`s
response this week and these ongoing efforts to sort of double down on what
he sees as an equivalence between the people who perpetrated violence and
those who were peaceful or victims, this is in your view something that
hobbles the presidency?
LIEU: Every now and then, we see glimpses of the real Donald Trump when
he`s not being constrained by his handlers, such as today`s press
conference, such as when he tweets by himself, and frankly it`s horrifying.
We can tell today that Donald Trump`s views are much closer to Nazis and
the KKK and white supremacist than to every day normal Americans.
And John Kelly can do all he wants, but when Donald Trump goes unhinged,
the American people see who he really is. And we can keep shuffling staff
around in the White House. It`s not going to change because the problem is
at the very top, and that`s with the president.
I hope he changes. I don`t think that`s going to happen. And what`s going
on is deeply disturbing.
MELBER: Congressmen Lieu, thank you for joining us and giving your
perspective. I`m going to ask Governor Dean, Heather and DeRay to stay
with us as part of our special coverage.
Ahead, President Trump`s comments on these Confederate statues and how he
dug in and seemed to draw moral equivalence between Thomas Jefferson and
leaders of the Confederacy. These were people, of course, protesting the
removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
We have a historical perspective. And later this hour, as I mentioned, if
you miss it - if you have missed it, we`re going to show, for context, the
remarks of the president here, a turning point of sorts in his reaction to
this, what many have called, domestic terror.
I`m Ari Melber and you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: President Trump spoke today with new and probably his most
extensive comments on the controversial statues that were devoted to a
Confederate leader, which ignited ostensibly those protests in
Charlottesville by white supremacists.
Now, it was Charlottesville`s official city plan to remove this statue of
Robert E. Lee that drew white supremacists, they said, to that city over
the weekend. And it was at that statue where they first gathered on
Friday, carrying those now infamous torches before marching through the
University of Virginia campus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking
down of, to them, a very, very important statue and that renaming of a park
from Robert E. Lee to another name.
You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently
protest, and very legally protest, because I don`t know if you know they
had a permit. The other group didn`t have a permit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: They may have had a permit to gather. They did not have a permit
to kill, and so it was extraordinary here just moments ago watching
President Trump saying that some of those marchers were there to innocently
protest when we know what happened.
And then he took this argument further, delving deeper into the academic
debate about this history or historical revisionism. He brought up the
founding fathers and their role in American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Many of those people were to protest the taking down of the statue
of Robert E. Lee. So, this week, it`s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that
Stonewall Jackson`s coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next
week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask
yourself, where does it stop?
George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner?
So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down
- excuse me - are we going to take down - are we going to take down statues
to George Washington?
How about Thomas Jefferson?” What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You
like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down the statue because he was a
major slave owner? Now, are we going to take down his statue?
So, you know what, it`s fine. You`re changing history, you`re changing
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Changing culture. That was where Donald Trump`s presentation
landed on today. Igniting controversies. All of this is significant
because these fights over history are not about the past. They are also
about the future and they don`t appear to be going away.
With me now is the New Yorker`s Jelani Cobb, who has written about
Charlottesville, among many other issues, and DeRay McKesson, the former
mayoral candidate of Baltimore and Black Lives Matter activist.
When you hear this president go down that road of saying that, to him,
Robert E. Lee is maybe like George Washington. And then a few days out of
these deaths, his focus is on the statues, and not the real people, the
people who lost their lives in America this week, what do you think?
JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, “THE NEW YORKER”: So, first off, I don`t think
that this is Donald Trump`s thinking. He has never been someone who
displayed a great deal of interest in history. So, I think this perhaps a
conversation, I don`t know who it is that is in his ear.
But to the more salient point, he doesn`t even express the ability to
countenance the idea that maybe slavery should tarnish the reputations of
My colleague Erica Armstrong Dunbar just put out a book recently - I would
encourage people to look at - about George Washington`s pursuit of a
runaway slave, a woman whom he pursued for all of his life with all the
power of a president and ex-president to try to prevent this woman from
gaining her freedom.
Should that taint his repetition? Yes, we should take that into account.
We just had this conversation about Monticello and their awkward
positioning vis-a-vis Sally Hemings whom they referred to as his mistress.
And this very real explanation that was required is that someone cannot be
both a slave and a mistress. That mistress implies a level of consent and
agency that has been denied, a person who was slaved. These are very real
significant issues in American history.
But Trump is not really talking about history. He is talking specifically
to those forces that feel they have been maligned, that they have been
sidelined, that they have lost out in some kind of way. And they are not
interested in the historical path. They`re interested in trying to use
that as a basis for a brief for their empowerment right now.
MELBER: Well, and you mentioned this history as a tool for today`s
politics. We took a look, along with other researchers, that when a lot of
these statues went up. And it has been, of course, pointed out, these are
not sort of original Civil War era statues in the sense of being
You look at 91 going up in that period of the civil rights organizing in
1954, 1968 or earlier in Jim Crow. DeRay, this is about the past, but it`s
being pushed by people in the south today who didn`t even live through that
MCKESSON: We know that symbols of hate encourage hate and we know that
these symbols represent an idea of the supremacy of whiteness that we know
we can`t tolerate.
What I`m mindful of with Trump is who is he talking to. He`s speaking to a
base here that likes his lies and they take his lies for boldness, whereas
we know that they are just not true. And this is not about changing
history, this is about choosing what we celebrate.
MELBER: Jelani, when you look at some of these scenes that we saw, it is
typical in American life when you see something like this to worry about
what it reflects because it`s real, because every one of those people is
doing that, and yet to take some solace in the unity that comes out of it.
When is the last time you can think of where we`ve had something this bad
exposed and not even have political leadership, civic leadership in the
country able to unite against it?
COBB: Well, it take us completely back to the pre-Civil Rights era. Like,
I just was talking earlier today about how, in the 1930s, African-American
leadership came to Franklin Roosevelt and said that we need you to take a
stand against lynching. And he said, I can`t do this because it will
alienate my southerners.
And so, we have to go that far back and say that - we had thought that we
had reached a point where these sentiments were universally rejected. And
now, within eight months of him being elected, of him taking office, we are
now questioning this.
And I think that the only fitting response perhaps would be if the five
living presidents were to make a statement, maybe jointly, that Nazism is
contrary to American values. It seems like a basic idea, but it seems like
this is the thing that we actually have to go back to asserting.
MELBER: Right. And that there has to be a reaction to this action and the
president today going farther than he did all weekend in the moral, ethical
and, honestly, criminal equivalency that he tried to draw between what
authorities have said are victims and the perpetrators in this act. Not
Jelani Cobb and DeRay McKesson, thank you both for joining our coverage.
COBB: Thank you.
MELBER: A picture does say a thousand words. This is one we are going to
continue to look at today. Brand new, the new chief of staff of Donald
Trump`s presidency taking in that speech, those unplanned remarks. We have
it for you after the break.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Senior White House official has just told NBC New
tonight, the President Trump was not supposed to answer any questions
today. One source saying the President effectively went rogue and that
members of his team are now stunned by what she just did out there. The
boss of those said team members, of course, is this man you see on the
right, Chief of Staff John Kelly sworn in just 15 days ago with one
overriding objective and the chaos. How can he do that if the chaos comes
from the very top? There he was taking in this unusual set of remarks from
the President. With me now is a man who does understand Donald Trump.
Michael Caputo is a former Trump Campaign Adviser and Governor Howard Dean
back with us. Michael, I want to extend to you the opportunity to comment
on anything that the President said today and also weigh-in in this
question of whether General Kelly is having any influence.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, it was an
infrastructure press conference and I don`t think the White House got the
headlines they wanted, obviously. And I think they were hoping to get the
message out, a very important message out about infrastructure and they`re
not going to get it out today. However, you know, like I said, you know,
before, and I`ll say it again, I think the President has you know, spoken
out against bigotry. He`s named every single racist group that was
possibly on site in Charlottesville. I also believe that anybody who
wasn`t satisfied with what the President said on Saturday or what the
President said on Monday was not going to like anything the President had
to say today. So I`m not surprised about the reaction. And frankly,
knowing Donald Trump and how he wants to run his own - his own show, I`m
not surprised he stood there to take questions.
MELBER: Do you think he was wrong to so inaccurately suggest that the
peaceful protesters were responsible for the violence? That`s certainly
not what local authorities, law enforcement of the Justice Department have
CAPUTO: No. In fact, they have said that there were violence - that there
was violence happening on both sides. Reporters on the ground during the
altercation from other networks and not just the President`s favorite
network were saying that the violence was coming from both sides. The
police in Charlottesville have said there was violent actors on both sides.
I`m sorry, I understand that it`s hard to hear that when such a racist and
incredibly terrible group were having a protest that ended up in a
terrorist attack that killed a woman. I know it`s hard to hear that but
there was violence coming from both sides and what the President said is
accurate. If that inflames people, I understand but the President has
never been shy about speaking the truth when it`s controversial.
MELBER: Governor Dean.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I think this is a guy with no moral
compass whatsoever and he`s not the real President. I mean, I think - I
didn`t think he tries to clean his mess up on Monday but this is just
ridiculous. It`s just as silly - it`s really stupid and silly. Real
presidents don`t do this. real - I mean, whether there was some violence
on both sides, one side was Nazi, racist, hates Jew, hates black people,
hates immigrants, I mean, this is a substantial portion of our country.
This is not the President for those people and it`s not the President for
me. He`s not a serious president, he has no inner ability to govern
himself or think about what`s good for the country, he only thinks about
MELBER: Mr. Caputo, the John Kelly piece of this, is he having any
CAPUTO: I believe so. I mean, the people I know in the White House say
that things are operating much smoother, that there`s a very evident chain
of the command. I think you see some of the evidence of his hard work up
until this point. I think the statement on Saturday while inadequate for
the likes of Governor Dean and perhaps yourself was approved that they were
looking to find more facts, they`re waiting to have information flowing out
of very fluid situation where there were still more rotters from the - from
the white nationalist still roaming the streets when he was speaking.
I think that reflected probably General Kelly`s signature caution. I also
think that Donald Trump`s very clear statement about all aspects of white
nationalism, white supremacy, KKK, very clear, condemnation of all those
groups by name on Monday was a reflection of General Kelly`s leadership as
well. What you saw today, might have been Donald Trump going off script.
I think it clearly was. And like I said, if you`re expecting Donald Trump
to be predictable like all other presidents and politicians are, you`re
always going to be disappointed.
MELBER: Michael Caputo, we welcome all views, we report on all views and
appreciate yours as well as Governor Dean`s today. I appreciate it.
Another important story tonight. Americans are debating, of course, the
fallout from political violence in Charlottesville and the Trump
administration is now putting pressure on demonstrators with a new sweeping
demand for the personal information of about 1.3 million computer users
according to a technology company. The tech company fighting this request
says it`s suspicious and could kill American`s rights to speak out against
Trump. It begins with this website, disruptj20.org which organize protest
aimed to shutting down Trump`s inaugural ceremony and using blockades and
marches to stop traffic in Washington. The DOJ got involved because of
scenes like this. And authorities have wide powers to arrest and
investigate the disorderly conduct.
About 230 people were arrested in D.C. for that and searches of those
defendants are typically justified but that`s 230 people. What we can
report for you tonight is that the company hosting that disrupt website now
says the Trump administration is demanding records on 1,300,000 people.
Their CEO is Dallas Kashuba is asking a judge to now to reject Trump`s
request as unreasonable violation of the first amendment that would hand
the Trump DOJ personal info on millions of political dissidents of the
current administration include what they just read online. The company
also invoking a civil rights precedent that protected NAACP members in
their right not only to speak but speak anonymously because yes, white
supremacist terrorism made it dangerous to back the NAACP. That`s from a
1958 Supreme Court case which rejected the State of Alabama attempt to
gather list of members of the NAACP finding they had a right to anonymous
in their politics.
Now, critics say in the wrong hands this Intel about visitors to this anti-
Trump Web site could be weaponized melding a Nixon`s enemy list with
today`s big data. We spoke to DOJ, they`re defending this request in court
but did not answer further questions from us about how broad the search is
and the next round was scheduled for Friday. This Friday in District Court
but we just learned late today that that has been delayed as well this big
important hearing. Now, the fight is being led by DreamHost founder Dallas
Kashuba who joins me now for an exclusive interview on THE BEAT. I`m also
joined by Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler, Author of the Wealth of
Networks. Dallas, as a company it`s easier to just comply with this kind
of requests from the Trump administration. Why are you launching this
DALLAS KASHUBA, DREAMHOST FOUNDER: Yes, it`s absolutely easier to comply
but when our customers come to us, they`re trusting us with their data, and
that trust is very important to us. So we can`t take that lightly. So we
vet all these - any of these request that comes in. and this one was much
more broader than anything we`ve ever seen before.
MELBER: You think they want to do with what your million plus visitors to
KASHUBA: We`re - that`s not how we`re thinking about it. It doesn`t
matter what they want to do. It`s just the fact that these people who come
to the website, they expect a certain amount of privacy and we believe
online privacy is a critical issue for the internet to function properly.
MELBER: Professor Benkler, how do you view this kind of search and is this
an issue here on a week when we`re talking about the rights of protesters
and the role of government?
YOCHAI BENKLER, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Well, Ari, it`s - first and
foremost, even more, a search issue, it`s a first amendment issue. It`s a
freedom of association issue, it`s a freedom of speech issue. Basically,
you`re talking about a massive searchable enemies list with detailed
information potentially about your e-mail, your credit card, what you read,
how you read it. That`s the core problem. And that includes, as you
mentioned when you started NAACP versus Alabama. You look at a
segregationists state government trying to oppose the NAACP, trying to
expose a list of who`s doing this and in order to chill the association.
That`s the core principle.
The second thing is, imagine today it were a Clinton administration asking
for all the readers of Breitbart in order to find out who might have read
and how they would have been influenced. There would have been outrage.
And so, what you get is chilling. On top of all of that, you get this
massive search of over a million records that only a tiny portion of it is
actually usable. And then you`re supposed to trust the government that it
will only search those that are very narrowly appropriate.
MELBER: Right. And that they get - they get the big data list or the
potential as you put it as some put it a potential enemies list, they get
that. Dallas, I`m going to read from a Trump Adviser Omarosa who said it`s
great our enemies are making themselves clear so that when we get into the
White House, you predicted, we know where we stand. Mr. Trump has a long
memory and we`re keeping a list. You said you don`t know what they`re
going to do with it but if you lose, do you intend to comply with the
order? Are you worried about what would happen to all these millions of
visitors to this (INAUDIBLE) or resistance website?
KASHUBA: I mean, we`re not an activism group, we`re just a service
provider. So, we do comply with laws as we need to do. We will continue
to do everything we can, you know, within our legal rights.
MELBER: Dallas Kashuba and Yochai Benkler, an important story here that we
wanted to dig in to. I appreciate you both joining us.
KASHUBA: Thank you.
MELBER: Now back to the President`s Q and A late today. This was where he
made very extensive comments about the protests in Charlottesville that are
already garnering tremendous reaction which we have featured some of which
on our show tonight. This was probably a pretty remarkable moment in
Donald Trump`s Presidency. And as we mentioned, we are now going to play
it for you in full.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn`t wait
long. I didn`t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians,
that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I
made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement but you don`t
make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little
while to get the facts. You still don`t know the facts. And it`s a very,
very important process to me. And It`s a very important statement. So I
don`t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a
political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to my
statement, I brought it. I brought it, I brought it.
TRUMP: As I said on - remember this, Saturday, we condemn in the strongest
possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It
has no place in America. And then I went on from there. now, here is the
thing. As to - excuse me, excuse me. Take it nice and easy. Here is the
thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts.
This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn`t happen yet as
we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I
need the facts.
So I don`t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I
made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman, who I hear is a fantastic
young woman, and it was on NBC, her mother wrote me and said through I
guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things. And I very much
appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really actually, an incredible
young woman. Her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said. And
honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would
have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you –
TRUMP: But unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I
like to know the facts.
TRUMP: How about - how about a couple of - how about a couple of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was that terrorism that event? Was that terrorism?
TRUMP: Say it, what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CEO. of Walmart said you missed a critical
opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?
TRUMP: Not at all. I think the country - look, you take a look. I`ve
created over a million jobs since I`m president. The country is booming.
The stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment
numbers we have ever had in the history of our country. We are doing
record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm, so the head of
Walmart, who I know, who`s a very nice guy, was making a political
statement. I mean,
TRUMP: I would do it the same way. You know why? Because I want to make
sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. And there was
no way - there was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had
to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.
TRUMP: I didn`t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts.
And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well-stated. In fact,
everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it
sooner, that would have been good. I couldn`t have made it sooner because
I didn`t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don`t know all of
the facts. It was very important -
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts
out and correctly because if I would have made a fast statement - and the
first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were
seeing. The second statement was made after - with knowledge, with great
knowledge. There are still things - excuse me - there are still things
that people don`t know. I want to make a statement with knowledge. I
wanted to know the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two questions. Was this terrorism? And can you tell
us how you are feeling about your Chief Strategist Steve Bannon?
TRUMP: Well I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his
family and this country. And that is - you can call it terrorism. You can
call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it
as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That`s what I call it.
Because there is a question, is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you
get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. And what
he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us how you are feeling about your chief
strategist, Mr. Bannon?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would echo Maggie`s question. Steve Bannon.
TRUMP: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But can you tell us broadly what you`re feeling, do you
still have confidence in Steve?
TRUMP: Well, we`ll see. Look, look, I like Mr. Bannon. He is a friend of
mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17
Senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very
much later than that. And I like him. He is a good man. He is not a
racist. I can tell you that. He is a good person. He actually gets a
very unfair press in that regard. But we`ll see what happens with Mr.
Bannon. But he`s a good person and I think the press treats him frankly
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain has called on you to defend your
National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster against these attacks.
TRUMP: I`ve already done . I did it the last time
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he called on you again, linking it to the alt-
TRUMP: Senator McCain, you mean the one that voted against ObamaCare?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he said -
TRUMP: Who is senator - you mean Senator McCain who voted against us
getting good health care?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind
these attacks and he linked that same group to those that perpetrated the
attack in Charlottesville.
TRUMP: Well, I don`t know. I can`t tell you. I`m sure Senator McCain
must know what he is talking about. But when you say the alt-right.
Define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. No, define it for me.
Come on. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain defined them as the same group.
TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at - excuse me - what
about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?
Do they have any semblance of guilt?
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. What about the fact that they came charging,
that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they
have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I`m concerned,
that was a horrible, horrible day.
TRUMP: Wait a minute. I`m not finished. I`m not finished fake news.
That was a horrible day.
TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more
closely than you people watched it. And you had - you had a group on one
side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very
violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I`ll say it right now. You
had a group - you had a group on the other side that came charging in
without a permit and they were very, very violent.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that what you call the alt-left is the
same as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: Those - all of those people - excuse me - I`ve condemned neo-Nazis.
I`ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were
neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by
any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest
the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. So - excuse me - and you take
a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were
honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not. But, many of those
people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E.
So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is
coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it
Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask
yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest - excuse me -
you take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking
down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up?
TRUMP: I would say that is up to a local town, community or the federal
government, depending on where it is located.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you against the Confederacy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How concerned are you about race relations in America
and do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?
TRUMP: I think they`ve gotten better or the same. Look they have been
frayed for a long time. And you can ask President Obama about that because
he would make speeches about it. But I believe that the fact that I
brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are
moving back into our country. I think that`s going to have a tremendous
positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming back into our
country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn
in Wisconsin, just announced. We have many companies, I say, pouring back
into the country.
I think that`s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations.
You know why? It is jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They
want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race
relations will be. And I`ll tell you we are spending a lot of money on the
inner cities. We`re going to fix - we are fixing the inner cities. We are
doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities.
It`s a priority for me. And it`s very important.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you putting what you are calling
the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?
TRUMP: I am not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I`m saying is
this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and
they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible. And it
was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a
group on this side, you can call them the left. You have just called them
the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say
what you want, but that`s the way it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both
TRUMP: Well I do think there`s blame. Yes, I think there`s blame on both
sides. You look at - you look at both sides. I think there`s blame on
both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don`t have any doubt
about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in
Charlottesville - they showed up in Charlottesville to protest -
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn`t put themselves down as neo-
Nazis. And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had
people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that
group - excuse me, excuse me - I saw the same pictures as you did. You had
people in that group that were there to protest the taking down - of to
them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert
E. Lee to another name.
TRUMP: George Washington as a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave
owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to
take down - excuse me - are we going to take down - are we going to take
down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do
you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take
down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to
take down his statue? So you know what? It`s fine. You`re changing
history, you`re changing culture. And you had people, and I`m not talking
about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be
condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-
Nazis and white nationalists, OK?
And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other
group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you
see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the
baseball bats. You got - you had a lot of bad - you had a lot of bad
people in the other group too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who has the press treated unfairly? Sir, I`m sorry,
I just didn`t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press
has treated white nationalists unfairly? I just didn`t understand what you
TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally. And I looked the night
before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking
down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure in that group there were some
bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad
people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But
you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest
and very legally protest. Because, you know, I don`t know if you know,
they had a permit. The other group didn`t have a permit. So I only tell
you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a
horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you spoken to the family of the
victim of the car attack?
TRUMP: No. I will be reaching out, I`ll be reaching out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you be reaching out?
TRUMP: I was very - I thought that the statement put out, the mother`s
statement, I thought was a beautiful statement. I tell you, it was
something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific. And
really, under the kind of stress that she is under and the heartache that
she is under, I thought putting out that statement to me was really
something I won`t forget. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
MELBER: President Trump`s unplanned remarks there, we just heard. Joining
me now, Larry Kudlow, CNBC Senior Contributor and back with me Jelani Cobb
from the New Yorker. Jelani, you look at the entire sweep of those
comments, reporting we`re getting in the news room was this was not the
White House plan. This was President going rogue, according to the one
White House official. What did we learn when he went rogue?
JELANI COBB, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Nothing that we wouldn`t have
already known if we paid attention. I mean, this is who Donald Trump has
been. People - especially people in New York who remember him going back
to the central park five days, that he`s had this kind of belligerent and
truculent attitude and some very troubling ideas about race for a really
long time. I think maybe the mask slipped a little bit today and he felt
that he was going to I guess, reverse himself. Maybe he felt compromised
by having given the statement that he made, that people actually praised.
I thought it was the right thing to do. And I don`t know what the possible
upside of this is other than personal gratification and thinking that he
has shown people that they can`t push him around or force him to actually
make morally decent statements.
LARRY KUDLOW, CNBC SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I don`t think Trump got it
done Saturday. I think he should have specifically focused on what
happened. And that came from these crazy right wingers, whoever they are,
David Duke types, KKK. I don`t know who they are. I think he should have
focused on that Saturday. I think the statement yesterday was very good.
And it covered a lot of great ground. And today, I think he`s perhaps gone
too far. You know, Mr. Trump, President Trump, if you hit him, he hits
back, OK? And I think, perhaps now this will end and he can get on with
the business of growing the economy. I will tell you this and perhaps you
will suspend belief. I`ve known him for a long time. I don`t always agree
with him and that`s disclosed on the air but I don`t believe there`s a hate
bone in his body. I do not believe it.
COBB: You have the luxury of not believing that. Well, look, other people
who are subject, other people who are in conditions, and where they have to
wonder or not, they`re having flashbacks, a black church or a church of
black people being surrounded by white men who are carrying torches don`t
have the luxury of thinking that Donald Trump is somehow or other this
great guy who happened to make a statement -
KUDLOW: Trump was not part of any of that. Trump was not a part of any of
that. And in his construction -
COBB: But he defended it. But he defended it.
KUDLOW: He did not defend it. I don`t think that`s fair or correct.
COBB: Praised by faint damnation.
KUDLOW: I think, look, a lot of people will not forgive him. I understand
that perfectly well. And there`s nothing I can say to change that. I`m
just giving you my personal opinion.
MELBER: Let me-let me ask you - and I think your opinion is very relevant
because of your experience and knowledge of him. Let me ask you in another
way. When we see disconnected incidents of violence, we often hear calls
for an entire community so as found today, out of the blue as the lawyers
would say, to say, well, because they go to this house of worship, they now
all have to condemn this act of violence. This was much closer. And what
he seemed the come out and do today was not only dilute the condemnation
but say that at a white supremacist rally, not all the people were white
supremacists. Is it good for the country for him to go down that road?
KUDLOW: What he should have done Saturday, Ari, is he should have had a
broad based heart felt unifying statement, OK. That`s what he should have
done. He didn`t get it done Saturday. He did get it done yesterday. He
did not get it done today. I will acknowledge that. I haven`t watched the
press conference in every aspect. I think, look, I agree, we are
Americans. We should be united. We should make common cause with each
other and I don`t think Trump disagrees with that, OK? But I think this
thing now has gotten out of hand. A lot of people will not as I say,
forgive Trump. I still maintain whatever errors he makes, remember, he`s
still a rookie politician. There`s not a hate bone in his body.
MELBER: We have - we have 30 seconds to “HARDBALL.” Jelani, final words.
COBB: You have a rookie politician who is the President of the United
States. And there`s a moral accountability that comes with that office.
If he wasn`t prepared to assume the moral responsibility that comes with
that office, maybe he shouldn`t have run in the first place.
KUDLOW: I think he does assume the moral responsibility. I know he`s made
some mistakes, I get that. He`s trying the correct them. I think he`ll
straighten this out. Look, he was very clear during the primaries of his
hatred for David Duke and that like. But OK, more work that has to be
MELBER: You know the business. I have to hand it to “HARDBALL.” I
appreciate you and all our guests today in dealing with a difficult
subject. And as we like the say around here, we`re all in this together.
So I hope to have you both back on. That is THE BEAT. Thank you for
watching. I`ll see you back tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Eastern. “HARDBALL” with
Chris Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: David Duke says thank you, Mr. President!
Let`s play HARDBALL.
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