The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/17/17 Dems push Trump censure.
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 17, 2017
Guest: David Wohl, Tom Perriello, Zach Roberts, Christina Greer, Howard
Fineman, Ruben Gallego
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: Folks, some updates of Barcelona,
plus the other domestic news. Hey, Ari, take away, sir.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: We`re doing both and I appreciate that,
Chuck. Thank you.
Two tests facing the Trump administration today. The president doubling
down in the face of bipartisan rebukes of his moral leadership. Democrats
in the House are drawing a line and will join me in a moment to explain why
they think it has come to this.
And the other test, a terror attack rattling a key US ally. We begin with
a quick update on that attack in Barcelona. This van killed 13 people,
injured over 100. Authorities have made two arrests.
So, before we begin and turn to the domestic politics, I want to go to
London where NBC`s Ali Arouzi is doing our reporting, what do we know at
ALI AROUZI, “NBC NEWS” CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ari, a Catalan government
official said that the death tolls from the attack in Barcelona is at 13
confirmed dead and the figure could rise above that. Hundred people have
been injured when that van mowed into pedestrians in Las Ramblas.
The authorities are telling us that 15 people who are in the hospital have
very serious injuries. Now, a senior official in Spain`s Catalan region
says that the van attack that killed those 13 people is connected to an
explosion last night in the south of the city, which one person died and
injured several more.
In a press conference, he gave the nationalities of the two suspects
detained. He said that during a press conference that one is a Moroccan
and other is a Spanish national. They said the arrests were made near the
site of that explosion.
But he said neither of the detained suspects was the driver of the van.
Now, the authorities in Spain have called for three days of national
mourning to honor the people that have been killed in this attack.
And, Ari, we`ve been learning over the course of the day from experts who
we`ve been speaking to that Spain has become a hot bed of jihadist
activity, especially in Madrid, and they`ve been anticipating something
like this for quite some time.
And as I`m sure you remember, in 2004, there was that devastating Al Qaeda
attack, which killed almost 200 people, so they`ve been waiting for this
moment and unfortunately it has happened. Ari?
MELBER: Right. And it did echoes of that election day attack. Just
terrific. Ali Arouzi, thank you for your reporting. We will stay on that
and update as warranted, as night falls there.
But this week here in the United States began with a debate about removing
the statue of a politician. Today, for some, it has turned to a debate
about removing an actual politician. A Democratic Congressman making a new
impeachment push and Al Gore proposing a faster way to get rid of Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had give Trump one piece of advice, what it
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, there are markers in the sand, but that approach was
resignation or impeachment is an outlier. I think we know that.
But there is another backlash against Trump`s position on Charlottesville
that could pick up more steam. Word tonight that Democrats are formally
introducing a resolution to censure President Trump tomorrow.
Censure is a rare and significant step for any legislative body to
consider. The US Senate has only done it once to President Jackson in 1834
because he refused to turn over a presidential document to the Senate.
This 1834 cartoon shows the context. Henry Clay sowing his mouth shut.
The rebuke so controversial, Jackson supporters campaigned on it for years
and won a vote to formally reverse that censure.
Now, this was a political firestorm in the 1800s. The move would surely
(INAUDIBLE) if it picks up steam in today`s polarized environment. And
here is why it could get traction.
Democrats pushing Congress to basically say officially what a growing
number of Republicans have already been tweeting this week that there can
be no moral equivalence about neo-Nazis and white supremacy.
Most Republicans have been saying that generally. And tonight, we have
some news for you. We can report the number saying it specifically to
condemn Trump by name has grown to 11, including a senator from the second
most devastated state in the Confederacy during the Civil War, Tennessee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The president has not yet been able to
demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to
demonstrate in order to be successful. He also recently has not
demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, that`s a Republican view. What Democrats in the House are
doing here is trying to push essentially what they call an important and
tough question on Republicans in that course of criticism.
If this is your moral stand, can you possibly vote against the same
position when offered in an official congressional censure.
And I`m honored to say tonight, on this important story, we have in studio
with me Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York and Congresswoman Bonnie
Watson Coleman of New Jersey.
And you both are planning to introduce the censure resolution.
Congresswoman Coleman, what is the purpose and do you think you could
actually get the votes?
REP. BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, let`s pray that we
could get the vote. I think this is a pivotal moment.
I think that the president has just been so far outside of what a good
leader, a decent and sane leader should be that Republicans are now
verbalizing more publicly what they`ve been saying to us privately.
And hopefully, this will provide the momentum for them to express in a
formal way. This is simply an expression of Congress taking a position
with regard to something that the president has said.
MELBER: Can I ask you about that?
MELBER: You used that word formal. Speak to us about why that matters.
Speak to us, if viewers are saying, well, maybe this was wrong, but these
Republicans who have spoken out have already done so, what is achieved by
doing it through the actual formal process in Congress.
COLEMAN: Well, first of all, it`s put it on the record. It becomes a part
of our official record, of our displeasure, our concern.
I think that this is the latest in a manifestation of several things that
this president has done that gives us tremendous pause. But we`ve not been
able to awaken that sort of pushback from our colleagues on the other side
of the aisle.
But what has happened this weekend and his response to it has been so
heinous to just give validity and support to neo-Nazis and neo-Confederate
and white supremacists that this might be the moment when even our
Republican colleagues are willing to go on the record, so to speak.
MELBER: Do you think it could actually help national unity?
COLEMAN: I certainly do. I think that this has been a very divisive
administration, not only in the things that is said, and let us not forget
the things that is done, and that this is simply a manifestation of the
kind of racism and other phobias and isms that they`ve demonstrated through
policies, that they`ve been pushing forth in this administration that are
economically and socially oppressive.
And so, I think that we`ve reached a point now where it`s just - no excuse
can be given to this president for what he did and did not do over this
MELBER: Congressman Nadler, take a listen to Tim Scott, Republican
Senator, on all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m not going to defend the
indefensible. I`m not here to do that. What we want to see from our
president is clarity and moral authority. That moral authority is
compromised when Tuesday happens. There`s no question about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If Republicans say that, does that mean in your view they should
be for this censure?
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Yes, they should be for the censure.
The censure is necessary because, among other reasons, for many reasons,
and Bonnie expressed some of them, but the president is normally seen as
speaking for the United States or for the United States government.
And when the president speaks in such moral calamity, when he equates neo-
Nazis and white supremacists and violent people with people who were
opposing them, when he seeks to create a moral equivalency with white
supremacists and neo-Nazis, with decent people, he must be rebuked.
And Congress must officially say, on behalf of the United States, Congress
is the other branch of government, the judiciary can`t speak, that this
does not represent the American view, this does not represent the American
people. We represent the American people and this is morally objectionable
and the United States is a moral country even if it has an immoral
MELBER: When you talk about who the president is speaking for, the White
House has said his tweets, infamous or famous as they may be, are official
statements. Here was the one this morning that said, “sad to see the
history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the
removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Part of his statement.
What do you think he`s saying there, bringing this back up Thursday
NADLER: He is saying the same thing. And our beautiful monuments he is
referring to are monuments to traitors, to people who went to war against
the United States, who resulted in the deaths of over 600,000 American
soldiers on both sides, in defense of the indefensible, in defense of
He said, where does it stop with Washington, with Jefferson. Washington
and Jefferson were patriots. The people, we are talking about, were
traitors and they were traitors in defense of slavery.
And if he doesn`t recognize the moral distinction there, and the moral
distinction today between neo-Nazis and white supremacists and decent
people and the United States, then Congress has to make that clear.
COLEMAN: I agree 100 percent. I think this is an opportunity for Congress
to stand up. I think that this is a modest actually action on the part of
Congress that Republicans should not be afraid or concerned to sign on to
They should be willing to do so to establish to their constituents that
they are there to serve them, they are not here to serve Donald Trump, and
so this is an opportunity for all of us to come together.
And our country needs us to come together, and so Congress can be a very
important element to this to communicate to citizens all across this
country, whether you`re black or Jewish or white or whether you`ve got an
infirmity or whatever your situation is, you may be gay, whatever it is,
you`re part of this fabric of this great United States of America and we
are there to serve the interests of our constituents.
MELBER: And in your mind, you`re in Congress, you have to work with any
president, do you believe that President Trump is genuinely confused as to
what happened in Charlottesville and who is responsible or do you think he
is lying about it?
COLEMAN: I don`t think he`s confused. I think he sees it through this
very skewed lens. And I`m very suspect of him because we are engaged in so
many deflections behind his behavior that he does it so inappropriate that
we`re not paying attention to some of the policy.
COLEMAN: We`ve got to pay attention to the fact that he is creating this
voter fraud situation, we`ve got to pay attention to what his attorney
general is doing to affirmative action and the safety and protection of our
people, we need to pay attention to decisions that economically and
socially impact everyday people. So, we`ve got to stay awake on a lot of
different levels at the same time.
MELBER: You mentioned that. We have covered the Voter Fraud Commission,
which is important. I know both of you. As leaders on the civil rights
issues, I`d love to have you both back to talk about that if you`d consider
COLEMAN: We`d love to.
NADLER: We`d love that.
MELBER: Thank you. And we`ll be watching what happens tomorrow, as you
introduce this resolution. Congressman Nadler and Congresswoman Coleman, I
Coming up, how is Steven Bannon now explaining those seemingly incendiary
comments he made about his own colleagues in the Trump`s White House. He
says they help the president.
Also, today, picking up on what we were just discussing, I have for you a
fact check on THE BEAT examining some of Trump`s claims and what actually
Also, you want to see these three new magazine covers. These are objective
publications, commenting on what they view as hate endorsed by the
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Steven Bannon under fire for a new unusual interview. And he says
this is a good week for the Trump White House. Bannon spoke to “Liberal
American Prospect”, airing his differences with Trump on North Korea,
criticizing Pentagon officials for “wetting themselves” and arguing that
the Trump approach to white nationalist violence in Charlottesville is a
Bannon saying the Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics,
I got them. I want them to talk about racism every day that the left is
focused on race and identity and we go with economic nationalism, we can
crush the Democrats.
On that score, he may be in sync with Trump who doubled down on his defense
of the Confederate statues today, showing he is sticking to this topic.
Bannon later claimed he didn`t know this discussion with the reporter was
on the record and then told a British tabloid that, in either way, his
comments drew fire from Trump and thus he successfully changed the media
narrative with a single phone call.
Note that, like his boss, Bannon appears fixated on the media part of all
of this, but racism and North Korea are not narrative challenges, they are
not plot devices. They are problems in reality, not the reality show.
I`m joined now by Kurt Bardella, who worked with Steve Bannon at “Breitbart
News” and “The Daily Beast`s” Margaret Carlson. Thank you both. Kurt, you
have suggested there are two things happening right now. What are they?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESMAN, “BREITBART NEWS”: Well, one of two
things. One, Steve is bombastically speaking out, knowing that maybe he`s
on the chopping block and he`s trying to send out the signal of strength
that if he goes, he`s going to try to go out a hero to all of those alt-
right supporters that congregated around his platform, Breitbart, every
If he`s not going, if he knows he`s not going to be fired, if he knows that
President Trump will never get rid of him, he is sending the message loud
and clear to anybody inside the White House that he`s coming for them, that
he cannot be stopped, that he really is basically the president of the
He talked about overruling policy set out by Trump. He talked about
removing people at the State Department, at the Defense Department. He`s
essentially saying that he`s going to the entire show and no one can stop
him, he is not going to be fired, get over it.
MELBER: Right. And then, if there is chaos, he welcomes it. Margaret, I
don`t know if you`re a big Batman Dark Knight fan, but when Batman is
struggling to understand the Joker, one of the lessons he has to learn is
that the Joker wants chaos. So, to interpret him as a rational actor,
seeking objective doesn`t work, for your analysis, I offer this quote from
Steve Bannon in the New Yorker.
“Bannon`s really goal for many years, Ryan Lizza wrote, especially since he
took over Trump`s operation, has been to actually to defeat the Republican
Party. “If Trump wins, it changes everything because the Republican Party
is never going to go back to what it once was.” Margaret?
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, “THE DAILY BEAST”: So, let`s go back. So, if
you want me to refer to the Joker in the White House, obviously, President
Trump thrives on chaos. He keeps everyone off-balanced. He himself is
off-balanced. We never know what he is going to do next.
And for Bannon, or Mr. Bannon as Trump refers to him now, living on thin
ice is the way he likes to live. He survives, he keeps going and putting
out that this off the record is kind of preposterous because no
conversation with a reporter, much less on you don`t know, is off the
Reporters say to other reporters at dinner, oh, by the way, this is off the
record. So, this is not the case.
Or that by doing this, he`s drawing fire. Trump - that`s the excuse for
President Trump that ever more preposterous tweets take away from the one
before and change the subject, but it`s cumulative.
MELBER: Right. Well, Margaret, are we allowed to go off the record now or
it does not work like that?
Margaret: The great Richard Holbrooke once was on camera and he said, oh,
by the way, this is off the record.
MELBER: This interview is off the record, baby. Well, I remember Richard
Holbrooke fondly. That sounds like his wry sense of humor.
Margaret, take a listen to, of course, Donald Trump, as you say, talking
about Mr. Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like him. He`s a good
man. He is not a racist. We`ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but
he`s a good person and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is he staying or going?
CARLSON: Did he add, like the way they treat me. I don`t think he will go
soon. And Trump has to be very careful. I think Reince Priebus stayed on
for a longer time than he might have because he`s worried about what
Priebus knows and might say.
And this probably goes doubly for Steve Bannon, who was involved in a lot
of stuff in the campaign that Trump might not want out, but I think he goes
because Bannon is making it between him and General McMaster. And General
McMaster is going to win that one, as he should.
MELBER: Kurt, briefly, do you agree?
BARDELLA: We`ve got one side Steve Bannon and then the other side
everybody else. And every day that goes by, with every single interview,
crazy comment, he`s still there. And at the end of the day, Trump is
making the conscious decision to keep, who I think is his boss Steve Bannon
by his side because he`s afraid to fire him.
MELBER: Kurt Bardela and Margaret Carlson, thank you both. I appreciate
CARLSON: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Now, Donald Trump`s effort to blame “both sides for violence in
Charlottesville” shocked many around the country, but it has now begun
getting a lot of repetitions.
We have a special fact check on that issue coming up. And also, this
Trump/Pence relationship more complex than ever, but you can have both
sides of the both sides debate. We will explain later.
MELBER: President Trump famously blamed both sides for violence in
Charlottesville and faced a backlash from civic leaders, Republicans and
Democrats, but many Trump surrogates and supporters continue to echo that
argument this week.
The fact is that authorities charged one person with murder, James Alex
Fields, along with charges for his injuries of 19 other people. Fields was
with a white supremacist before the crash and police say “the alt-right”
was behind this rally and that it violated the terms of their permit in the
way they gather.
Authorities, independent observers and reporters on the scene documented
how white supremacists drove most of the violence in Charlottesville. And
by the way, Trump`s broader claim that both sides may be generally
responsible is also false, as studies show most extremist murders in the US
are by right-wing hate groups, followed by Muslim terrorists, with only 2%
by left-wing extremists.
I`m joined by Attorney David Wohl. He is a frequent campaign surrogate for
Donald Trump on Fox News and other outlets where you may have seen him.
And we want to dig into this important debate.
Now, David, the authorities found one side responsible for Heather Heyer`s
murder and those 19 injuries, the authorities found the rally organizers
engage in unlawful assembly and, as you know, independent observers have
documented several one-sided assaults by white supremacists. So, shouldn`t
President Trump and his supporters start by acknowledging those facts?
DAVID WOHL, TRUMP SURROGATE: Well, he did absolutely condemn that side.
In fact, this is the statement. “Racism is evil and those who cause
violence in its name are criminal thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis and white
supremacists,” so he did that.
But there is another side, Ari. And the far left, the alt-left, the Antifa
lefts are causing tremendous violence all over the country. I have seen
it. I saw it at campaign rallies last year. My daughter and I went to a
rally here in Orange County. We couldn`t even leave the venue because the
protesters there weren`t protesters, they were there to destroy, they lit
cop cars on fire, they were burning trash -
MELBER: David, in Charlottesville, which is where we started, obviously,
you were invited to speak about that.
WOHL: Right, right.
MELBER: In Charlottesville, what evidence do you for violence by the
peaceful counter protesters against the white supremacists?
WOHL: Peaceful counter-protesters that brought bats, swords. In one case,
I saw a flamethrower used by a gentleman against the KKK protesters or the
people that attended that rally. It was not peaceful.
What did they do? Just find those weapons there laying around. They
brought them to the rally. Ari, the far left in this country right now is
not about protesting. It`s about if we see something we don`t like, we
If someone`s about to give a speech and we don`t agree with the content, we
create a violent atmosphere that prevents the speech from taking place.
That`s where it`s boiling down to. And Trump knows that. And he also
knows that no matter what he says, Ari, and you know this too, it will be
condemned, the left will say it`s not good enough, he didn`t say the right
MELBER: David, we`re here to talk about the facts, not conjecture about
how Donald Trump`s word will be reviewed. But let`s look at the facts
because this is, obviously, important. If you look at the civilian victims
in Charlottesville, right, which is our topic, you have the fatality. I
spoke to that.
You had 35 hospitalized injuries, 19 from that driver associated with the
Unite the Right, three counter protesters and, by our count, 13 who do
If you look at some of the counter-protester victims, these are people who
were documented as attacked by those people at Unite the Right. Heather
Heyer, of course. Deandre Harris, Natalie Romero, Marcus Martens, Bill
Salva (ph), Bill Burke, Renee Hall, these are people who were injured and
And I want to read to you from what one of the National Front white
supremacist group said about their side, again, with regard to who were
victims. They said afterward, from the National Front, we had zero
vehicles damaged. All our people accounted for and moved a large amount of
men and materials in and out of the area. For those claiming that there
was violence on both sides, can you name any victims of what you are
WOHL: Well, we have 13, as you indicated, that were unaccounted for. So,
I`m imagining that some of those were on the right side of the protest.
But, look, I`m not justifying.
MELBER: Right. But just to be clear on the evidence -
WOHL: (INAUDIBLE). I`m not justifying it. He was wrong. He is a killer.
MELBER: Right. It`s so important when the president makes these claims
and other people repeat them. At this moment, you can`t name a single
WOHL: I haven`t seen the police reports. Neither have you. So -
MELBER: No, sir. I have just put on the screen the reporting we have,
which is based on eyewitness accounts, on police report, we spoke to the
police today about this locally. So, I am working of the evidence. I take
your point that we all need to work of the evidence.
But I am asking you how can you back up the president`s assertion that both
sides caused this violence if you don`t have the name of a single victim of
the alleged violence.
WOHL: I absolutely can. Ari, you are saying that because there are more
injured on one side that it must mean the other side was more violent. The
violence was equal in nature. The fact that maybe - and I`m saying maybe,
because I can`t confirm this, more were injured on one side doesn`t mean
that the other side is absolved of criminal responsibility. They`re not.
They were both equally violent. The attacked each other. It was out of
control and both are worthy of condemnation, and that`s what Mr. Trump
MELBER: Right. So, again, I don`t know how you can substantiate equal,
which is a measurement, if you don`t have any evidence to balance.
For your response, let me play for you the police chief`s statement about
the origins of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that one side was more responsible than
another for instigating the violence?
AL THOMAS, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE CHIEF: This was an alt-right rally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Your response?
DAVID WOHL, TRUMP SUPPORTER: My response is the alt-right did have a
permit. They sought a permit, they were given a permit, the court affirmed
the permit when it was challenged. The other side did not have a permit.
That`s important because that means the other side`s behavior was per say
illegal. When they got there and they decided to counter demonstrate, they
didn`t bother – and they never bother with permits, Ari, and the media
never holds them accountable. It`s always the other side that has the
permits but it`s like, well, they are the alt-right so they had to have it
and we don`t care.
MELBER: Are you aware – are you aware that counter protesters had two
WHOL: I`ve not heard anything to that effect.
MELBER: Well, I`ll put it up on the screen, this is reported out by
Washington Post. I will fact check and confirm part of your claim. You
are correct, there was a Unite the Right permit for Emancipation Park and
there were two permits for two other parks for the counter protesters. I
can also tell you if we`re speaking with the legality of the permits which
is the underlying question, right? Number one, I think you would have to
agree, they didn`t have a permit to drive into people to kill or murder and
to injure. And number two, it`s important that if you want to get into the
law, the Unite the Right folks ultimately were determined to have violated
the use of their own permit that you cite. And that`s why the authorities
cleared the area.
WOHL: How was that? Why, because they were attacked by the other side.
That`s a violation? And listen, as far as you suggesting that the murderer
who drove his car into the innocent young woman – obviously that`s a
criminal act, obviously, if that happened the way it looked like it
happened. That`s murder and no permit covers that.
MELBER: Well you ask me on how they violated, I`ll put it up on the screen
so folks can understand it because again, the evidence matters. I hope you
and I can at least begin with that premise.
WOHL: Yes. I`ve been practicing law for 30 years. So I definitely agree
MELBER: Charlottesville city official statement alert. Unlawful assembly
declared for that rally at Emancipation Park. And that was as of 11:35
WOHL: Right. And that`s – my understanding, that proclamation was made
because it turned violent when the counter protesters, the anti – the far
left thugs arrived. And that`s why it was declared not a lawful assembly.
They have every right to do that but as we know, the cops also failed in
their duty to spread the two sides apart and they perhaps could have saved
that young woman`s life if they had.
MELBER: Well, you look at that and you look also at intent. And this is
something where I`m hearing you appearing to echo some of the what the
President suggested, which is these are just groups of people. But we all
know intent matter a great deal in life and law. The intent of this rally,
by again, its own organizers appeared to be white hate, white supremacy,
and violence, again, on the evidence because it matters. The flyer
promoting this Unite the Right rally, we can put up on the screen. I think
folks have seen it. It includes not only the Confederate Flag but these
bird insignias that echo the Nazi insignia. Do you think that is an
important thing that should tell everyone to stay away from that kind of
WOHL: Well, Ari, like Mr. Trump`s Daughter, son-in-law and grand kids,
like you, I`m Jewish and I abhor this type of behavior. I abhor these
thoughts, I abhor you know, the Klan and everything they stand for. So the
reality is though that they got a permit. Free speech trumps that as far
as protesting and demonstrating as long as you don`t turn it into a violent
event. And my understanding is that it only turned violent when the other
side approached them and themselves turned violent.
MELBER: I appreciate your point. I appreciate you engaging this. But
again, I just – closing on that point, do you acknowledge and should the
President acknowledge that the invocation of Nazism in organizing the event
does tell you there`s potentially violent intent?
WOHL: No, I don`t think so, Ari. If these people are crazies, they`re
violent, they believe in something that`s 150 years in the past. Let them
stand alone. Let them demonstrate, let them make fools out of themselves.
But don`t engage them physically because then you look bad and then you get
prosecuted. And Mr. Trump thoroughly condemned this. He completely
condemned the Nazism, the KKK, everything they stand for. It`s just that
the media won`t accept it.
MELBER: I understand the idea of ending on the media. It`s not about the
media. This woman was killed. There`s murder charges –
WOHL: I agree. It`s horrible. It`s horrendous.
MELBER: a – other people were injured, and the President apportioned
blame without evidence in a manner that is misleading. I think, I
appreciate you engaging me with this honestly but you have also today made
claims that you don`t have the evidence for. We`ve provided – and this is
our duty as you say as media to the public. We provided a lot of evidence
of why it was more one sided. Those wishing to dispute that you`d have to
bring evidence. Now, if you – if you want to come back – go ahead,
WOHL: No, you can`t look at it with – on a magnifying glass on this event
alone. You have to look at the last several years and the violent left
extreme, Ari. And now know darn well that these people didn`t just come
there to counter protest. This – the Antifa, the far-left has been very
violent and very vocal. They shut down everything they disagreed with
lately and that`s the bigger picture that we have –
MELBER: Sir, respectfully, I know the opposite and it`s on the screen and
you said a wider lens, it`s nine years, it`s 74 percent of the murders
being related to right-wing extremists followed by Islamic extremism and
followed by –
WOHL: You know what Ari, do me a favor – do me a favor. Spend one day
talking about the wonderful positive things that Mr. Trump is doing for
this country. The stock market is skyrocketing, small business index
skyrocketing, the consumer confidence is skyrocketing, that would be a
great thing, great public service I hope you do.
MELBER: Well, we talk to a lot of folks, including you. We`ve had you on
the floor, Mr. Wohl, thank you for your time.
WOHL: You have. And I thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you. Still ahead, two witnesses to that violence react to
this important factual debate. And later, Vice President Pence returning
from the foreign trip he was on early and struggling at times to apparently
defend President Trump`s recent comments. Also, Trump heading to Phoenix
for a campaign rally next week but the City`s Mayor wants him to stay home.
I`m going to speak with the Congressman from Phoenix about that, ahead.
MELBER: We`re back with more of our reporting and fact checking on what
actually happened in Charlottesville. We have in our coverage here, two
eyewitnesses who were there. Former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello
represented Charlottesville and was a witness to the rally on Saturday,
Photojournalist Zach Roberts attended the rally and was photographer –
doing photography, Christina Greer, Professor of Political Science in
Fordham University as well. Congressman, your reactions to Mr. Wohl as a
Trump surrogate and the claims that he made.
TOM PERRIELLO, FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSMAN: You know, that`s the kind of
dangerous enabling that just woefully ignores the facts. You obviously
called him on the permit thing. He was repeating a talking point that has
been debunked. We`re talking about a rally that was violent long before
the tragic death of Heather Heyer. I was there for three hours watching
Nazis and alt-right people punch women in the face. There was an absence
frankly of intervention from law enforcement that did create many very
tense scenes. You had clergy on one side being pushed around.
It was an incredibly tense moment but it also needs to be in the context,
this was not just a weekend. This was a four-month campaign by the alt-
right starting with the Tiki torch rally months ago (INAUDIBLE) calling for
a KKK rally a month ago and then this. So this has been a summer of
building their rhetoric and hate and violence. And I was very proud of how
many people from Charlottesville frankly all generations and races came out
to make very clear that we were not going to allow them to scare people of
color in our community.
MELBER: Right. And you talk about the targeting of people of color. That
obviously occurred. We`ve been covering that all week Zack. I know you
covered it on the ground at some personal risk. We only – some of us
obviously were there. I wasn`t. But Deandre Harris is a story that we`ve
been reporting on. We can show some of that video because I know you saw
it. He was attacked. It seemed to be reports that the law enforcement was
not very helpful to him. We`ll show some of the videos here. And this is
photos I believe that you took afterward. Tell us what you documented.
ZACH ROBERTS, PHOTOJOURNALIST: I documented a brutal beating of a 20-year-
old Special Ed Teacher, that he was marching along with the white
supremacists just saying go home. And then, they turned and started
hitting him with clubs, with their fists, with everything that they had
after – as you can see in the photo, everything at their – at their
ready. And immediately afterward I turned and was con fronted with a man
with that had a handgun pointed in their direction at ready. And so this -
- to say that both sides, it was even handed even is beyond belief.
MELBER: Right. And for viewers, this is part of the video the gentlemen
we`re talking about. Mr. Harris here was on the ground. He`s at the lower
left at one point being hit by many different people with weapons. There
he is trying to escape. It doesn`t look at any point from the video that
was trying to be in an altercation himself or fight back. Was that what
ROBERTS: That`s what-that`s what I witnessed at least. He ran as quick as
we could. I mean, even if he was trying, he had six – five or six people
beating him with metal poles and also part of the parking arm that he was
thrown into with helmet – I`m sorry, with shields that he was pushed into.
So there`s no – there`s no way that this was even handedness that the past
guest talked about.
MELBER: The past guest, Professor Greer is a common Trump surrogate. He`s
been on air a lot. What was your response to what he said?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Well, the Trump
administration has talking points that they are very good at putting out.
We know that this is the Salesman who`s been on television. He`s treating
this entire country as essentially The Apprentice Season 25. And
unfortunately, we`re all along for the ride. So they decide in the morning
what they`re going to say. It doesn`t matter if it`s complete and total
lies and they just repeat it. And they have Fox repeat it and they had
their various Web sites repeat it, they have all their surrogates repeat
it. If you say it enough times and enough people say it, then it becomes
fact, especially for Trump supporters.
And Trump has made it clear, as they said last night, either you`re with
Trump or you`re an enemy. So his loyal, very loyal supporters and the Lily
livered Senators and members of the Republican Party aren`t really stepping
up and saying these actually are false truths. They are blatant lies and
we won`t stand by it. They`re saying we should back away from this but not
calling the President out by name and saying this is clearly not a both
sides argument. We can look at the data. We can look at all of these
visuals and see people with swastikas, people with torches, people who are
very much evoking a 1920s, `30s, `40s, 50s, racist ideology. And we have
to confront the fact that our President is a white supremacist sympathizer.
He`s a Nazi sympathizer. And until we can fully say that and recognize
that the people who work with him and work for him are also Nazi
sympathizers and KKK sympathizer, we`re not going to be able to pull this
tree up by the root.
PERRIELLO: Absolutely. I think you know, if it walks like a duck and
sounds like a duck, at this point we need to stop thinking Donald Trump is
misstating things or off the talking points. These were his off the cuff
remarks and they do represent sympathy for Nazis and white supremacists.
That was who was there this weekend. He said there were some good people
in there. They would have had to walk through multiple lines of heavily
armed white nationalist militias, people with swastikas, people with
Confederate flags and guns in order to be inside of that space as a good
person. They would have to walk through clergy, interface clergy that were
praying for racial justice. Those were the people that he thought were
good people inside and again, this is a very real thing.
Now, we need to look structurally at how this relates to issues we need to
talk about. I mean, a neo-Confederate candidate for Republican Governor
just came within a point of winning the nomination in Virginia this summer.
So at the same time that obviously there was a particularly hateful and
dangerous group that came to my hometown of Charlottesville, we also need
to understand that we have broader structural problems we need to address.
So it`s important to have people calling out white supremacy and Nazism but
we need to set the bar slightly higher than that in terms of our
expectations of our conservative brothers and sisters.
MELBER: Right. And the facts aren`t always available in first hour but
the facts have only been overwhelming that conclusion. I end on one point
which was Unite the Right organizers publicly writing before the event, “I
can assure there will be beatings. Gloves are off. If you read about the
event in advance, you knew what you were going to and if you didn`t – as
said Congressman – you showed up and saw what we just showed.” I don`t
know how many good people would stick around for much of that. Former
Congressman Tom Perriello, Christina Greer, Professor and Zach Roberts who
was there thank you so much.
Vice President Pence cutting an overseas trip short racing back to the
White House. We`ll tell you why. That`s next.
MELBER: Right now President – Vice President Mike Pence is flying back to
the political crisis here in the U.S. cutting short his trip to South
America. Pence will be greeted by some stark covers on newsstands, the
Economist shows Trump`s screaming into a mega phone shaped like a KKK hood.
The New Yorker shows Trump on a boat blowing into a sail that is shaped
like a KKK hood. And Time Magazine shows a a figure making a Nazi salute
while draped in the American flag. Joining me now is Howard Fineman,
Global Editorial Director for the Huffington Post who has written
eloquently about all of these issues this week. Start with what you see
and if you`re willing, what you feel when you look at those covers?
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: Well, what
I see in those covers is both a condemnation and a validation. The
condemnation by the journalists involved at the Economist, and the New
Yorker, and Time Magazine, but I see a validation in the mind and the
strategy of Donald Trump of exactly the way he is proceeding to try to hang
on to power, and that is to sow division wherever he can and to look to
undermine any institution or arrangement or accommodation or understanding
or group of people that he has to that he sees in his way. Some people
have called it trolling and I think that`s what his aim was on Tuesday in
the lobby of his tower. And he went down there with a specific purpose to
provoke outrage. Outrage first of all on the media.
When he went down the elevator, he knew exactly what he was going to do.
That was not an accident. And the set-up was not an accident either. The
echoing marble hallway, the shouted questions from reporters, that was all
a piece of video that Trump wanted to produce to provoke outrage both on
the left from his opponents, but outrage from his supporters that he was
being unfairly treated in their eyes. That was an emblem of how Trump has
operated in business, how he operated in the campaign that he won with
shrewd targeting of the resentment and anger, and the way he`s going to try
to survive now.
MELBER: Yes, you`re talking about the deliberate use or misuse of the
perception of grievance. I mean, (INAUDIBLE) famously said, the far right
provides a symbol and a mechanism for the power of the majority and they
seek the pity of the minority. War on Christmas when there isn`t one. Do
you think Donald Trump in your view hatches that plan in advance?
FINEMAN: Yes. I think that`s his instinct but I also it`s his strategy.
And even if Steve Bannon goes, I don`t think it will change. This is how
Donald Trump operates. He operates by dividing and sowing chaos when he
can to be the last person standing. So within the last few days, he has
taken on the establishment, if you will, the main stream, if you will, over
the question of denouncing the KKK. He`s talking about going out to
Arizona next week in Phoenix where he may or may not pardon Sheriff Arpaio.
MELBER: Well, you mention that that`s why we have to go because I have the
Phoenix Congressman next.
MELBER: I want to talk to you as much as I want to talk to you. Howard
Fineman thank you.
FINEMAN: OK, thanks a lot.
MELBER: As mentioned, Trump did not go to Charlottesville but he`s headed
to Phoenix. That`s next.
MELBER: At this moment, we can tell you the White House has not announced
any plans for President Trump to go to Charlottesville but he is planning
to go to Phoenix on Tuesday for a campaign style rally and some now are
saying he`s not welcome. Congressman Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from
Arizona who`s district includes the city if Phoenix. Do you want the
President to come to town?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Absolutely not. We don`t need his side
show. You should not be having a political rally just after such a
horrible thing. I`m convinced he`s only doing this basically just to stir
up more trouble and to cause more resentment and to add. You know, above
all, there`s the threat that he`s going to pardon Arpaio, a criminal that
has been convicted by our American justice system. This is not the way a
president should be acting. You know, Phoenix is not his stage to be
acting in such a manner.
MELBER: Well, you mentioned Arpaio. Let`s listen to Donald Trump
encouraging people to vote for that man`s re-election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He`s good man.
He was one of the first endorsers of Donald Trump. Vote for Sheriff Joe.
They don`t love tough people in this country anymore that know how to do
their job and fair people. He`s tough. He`s fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What do you say to the White House argument that he`s the
President and he can hold whatever kind of events he wants, political
fundraising or otherwise, wherever he wants.
GALLEGO: No, he certainly can`t. He does have that right but whether he
should do it or not is a different question. It just further proves that
this person, the President, is not really acting in a manner that a leader
should. That his administration that surrounds him does not keep the best
interests of the United States in mind. And at the end of the day, this is
just another side show to his presidency, which is more like a reality show
than it is like an actual well-run organization.
MELBER: Do you think that he views himself as President for all people in
the United States?
GALLEGO: No. I think he sees himself as a President for Trump and only
Trump industries and only what Trump cares about. He doesn`t care about
anyone else. He will jettison any interest group, any people that has
support and don`t support him in the long run just to protect himself and
to protect what his hidden personal interest. He couldn`t care less about
the dignity of that office. He couldn`t care less about the precedence it
sets when Presidents like him act on the manner they do or the type of role
model he is. He`s – it`s just shameful. He`s just one big shameful blot
on the history of the United States.
MELBER: Congressman Ruben Gallego at the center of this. We wish
everyone, of course, a peaceful time there next week. Thanks for joining
GALLEGO: Peaceful peace.
GALLEGO: Yes, thank you.
MELBER: I`m Ari Melber, you have been watching THE BEAT. You can always
e-mail me at ari @msnbc.com. We do read them. In fact, we even made
segments out of some of your e-mails. We appreciate that. Don`t go
anywhere because “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The monuments man. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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