The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/23/17 Trump attacks the GOP
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 23, 2017
Guest: Philippe Reines, Ato Walker, Jeff Clayton, Rob Bonta, Jeffrey
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: You can always join us with our
conversation on social media with #MTPDaily.
That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more “MTP Daily”. THE
BEAT with #AriMelber or #GreatShow or #SongLyrics getting dropped tonight?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Katy, I just want to say I thought that
TUR: Oh, thanks. Appreciate that.
MELBER: All right. I will #SeeYouLater, OK?
MELBER: #IPromiseWeAreDoneDoingThat. So, please don`t change the channel.
Unite, divide, unite and repeat.
Three speeches in three days and a lot of problematic flip flopping from
President Trump. Today, it was teleprompter Trump, speaking to veterans
about what he called healing America, but last night off-script Trump on an
angry and divisive tirade.
President Trump feeds our conflict. And no matter what they write in the
teleprompter, that is the case. So, now, he says he wants to spend a few
hours today focusing on unity, but many Americans are saying they don`t
want a part-time uniter.
Trump has been all over the place and is drawing increasing criticism for
his zigzagging from that barn burner last night to disputative unity talk
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time to heal the
wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity.
You would think they`d want to make our country great again. And I
honestly believe they don`t.
Our hearts beat for America.
Build that wall.
We have no division too deep for us to heal.
Extreme vetting. I came up with that term.
We`re people. We`re people who love. We`re people with heart.
Your other senator who`s weak on borders, weak on crime.
We never lose faith. We never forget who we are.
They`re trying to take away our culture. They`re trying to take away our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No, we don`t forget who we are. And here in journalism land, we
don`t forget the facts. Trump surpassing 1,000 false or misleading
statements in office just this week. And that is a historical record
according to “The Washington Post” fact check.
That was also on display last night. This is important. Donald Trump
wrongly telling his supporters that he claimed to strongly condemn specific
hate groups, but he removed his own references so controversial to blaming
both sides at a neo-Nazi rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and
strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK.
You look at both sides. I think there`s blame on both sides. And I have
no doubt about it.
I openly called for unity, healing and love.
You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That misleading line from Trump last night is key because it may
be a tell. He is claiming he has no regrets about his both sides
assertions after Charlottesville. And he is hiding his actual full remarks
from his own supporters.
That suggests either he thinks some of his words are better left unsaid at
this point or he just thinks even his own strongest supporters wouldn`t
like the truth about what he said about that white supremacist rally, if he
told them the truth about it.
Bill Kristol is the founder and editor of “The Weekly Standard”; Annie
Linskey, chief national correspondent of “The Boston Globe”; and Leah
Wright Rigueur is a Harvard Professor and Author of The Loneliness of the
Black Republican, which has some residence now in the wake of
Charlottesville, which the president brought back up.
We played the tape which is its own fact check, Leah. Do you think Donald
Trump doesn`t realize people can see both things that we have the receipts
or he just doesn`t care?
LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF THE LONELINESS OF THE
BLACK REPUBLICAN: I don`t think he cares. Last night was a rally. And it
was a rally for his supporters. It was essentially a four-page love letter
to his base, his core group of supporters.
And so, if it really was about unity, if it really was about telling the
truth, we would have seen that a long time ago. Instead, this is about
doubling down on all of the things that his supporters love about him and
that the rest of us are kind of looking at and saying I can`t believe he
So, that`s the attacks on the media, the attacks on other Republicans, the
attacks on liberals, on Democrats. on social justice. That`s` what we`re
seeing from Donald Trump. I just don`t think he cares.
MELBER: Bill, this is what Frank Luntz, who has polled for many
Republicans and worked with “Fox News” said about the speech last night.
“Trump doesn`t just criticize media more than he criticizes neo-Nazis, he
criticizes them more than radical Islamic terrorists.” What did you see
BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”: I think last
night we saw the real Trump. Today, we saw Trump reading from a
teleprompter, which was, you might call, fake Trump.
And last night was a big deal, I think, in this respect. Charlottesville
was appalling, I thought. And I think a lot of Republicans, even those who
are much more willing to rationalize Trump than I am, were really worried
after - shaken by Charlottesville.
Then Monday night, he gave the Afghanistan speech, which was a respectable,
sober, somewhat - reasonably presidential. And you thought maybe John
Kelly has got control. Maybe Trump realizes he really went over a line and
it`s bad for him and he`s going to change.
And in that respect, Tuesday night was a big deal. It was sort of the
confirmation that he can`t change for longer than one night, that even John
Kelly can`t control him when he goes to a rally that was foolish for him to
even go to. What was the point of that?
He`s not getting any new supporters from that. He`s just doing what he
did, which is discrediting what was a decent moment of his presidency on
So, I think actually last night was not a big deal, who cares, some rally
in Arizona, but I think actually - I talked to a couple of Republican
members of Congress today, and they were sort of once again rattled and, in
a way, confirmed in the fact that they had been rattled by Charlottesville.
MELBER: Well, and what you`re speaking to is not only that it`s one night
only, but if anything, there seems to be these counter-reactions, almost
like a child who has exerted discipline to be good for one night and then
he acts out the next night.
Annie, I see you shaking your head. I want to get your reaction to that as
well as this clip here of James Clapper, a long-time, non-partisan,
professional in intelligence raising the stakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don`t know when
I listened and watched something like this from a president that I found
more disturbing. I found this downright scary and disturbing. I really
question his ability to - his fitness to be in this office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: His fitness, Annie.
ANNIE LINSKEY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”: Yes.
Ari, I`m glad you played that moment because I think to me at least that
was one of the most chilling reactions to Trump`s speech, especially coming
from somebody as sober and as experienced as Clapper, to say something like
that and question whether or not the president of the United States is fit
It is a line of argument that you are seeing some Democrats making. You
saw Zoe Lofgren in the House has introduced legislation that would
strengthen the 25th Amendment. And I can`t even really believe I`m saying
But that is an amendment that would sort of pave the way for removal from
office. And so, that`s where the Democrats are going with this
But I also just think, when you look at the unity issue, Donald Trump has
clearly shown he is not going to be a unifier. And I think that means
other leaders in this country need to step up and play that role, whether
its Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer doing it together or Nancy Pelosi and
Paul Ryan, but he`s not going to play that role.
MELBER: Right. And then, speaking to the point that Bill was raising,
Leah, there`s an idea out there that Trump has his supporters and when he
does these rallies, they love it.
But we`ve been reporting on this, as have other outlets, here`s “The
Washington Post`s” account of what happened at this rally last night.
Hundreds leaving early. Others plopped down on the ground during it,
scrolling through their social media feeds or starting up a conversation
with their neighbors.
Now, Leah, in fairness to Donald Trump, he tweets so much, his supporters
may have just been checking whether he was tweeting during the speech. I
just want to be fair about that.
But what do you think about the concept here that even his own folks come,
show up, they hear this thing and some of them want to leave early?
RIGUEUR: Yes. It`s odd to have a campaign rally in the middle of your
first year as president. He is doing it to kind of double down, to stroke
his ego, to make him feel better because he`s in a defensive moment.
But at the same time, we do know that some of his support, right, that
really kind of - support amongst that core group is dropping away. It`s
not a lot, but it`s enough to be noticeable.
So, the next step, of course, right, is how do you consolidate that. In
particular, I think a lot of accountability goes on Republicans. What are
they going to do to hold the guy who`s at the head of their party
accountable for his actions?
MELBER: And, Bill, that comes amidst those reports about Mitch McConnell
and some pushback. Your view of that debate? Mitch McConnell, according
to “New York Times” telling aides privately, he doesn`t know if this
presidency can be “salvaged.”
KRISTOL: Yes. I think that`s kind of a big deal, president at war with
the majority leader of his own party. The psychodrama is fun to read about
and to write about and talk about, but it`s a bigger deal.
We`re going to have primaries in many, many, I think - not just Arizona and
Nevada incidentally, not just Alabama in a month, but many Republican
Senate primaries between Trump candidates (INAUDIBLE 5:05) establishment
candidates. It`s going to happen in the House too.
So, you`re going to have a party pretty deeply divided by the middle of
next year and will get worse if Trump`s numbers don`t improve and if the
Republican Congress can`t get much done, both of which strike me as likely.
One other point that really struck me about last night, and I just - as a
personal matter, kind of struck by this. Trump went to Arizona, the state
of John McCain. He didn`t mention John McCain by name, but he had attacked
him for voting against the healthcare bill in the senate.
He didn`t even have one sentence that wished John McCain well in his battle
with cancer, which is really astonishing, just as a human matter.
Can you imagine any president, President Obama or President Bush, goes to
the state of someone who`s well - the senator from that state - that`s
enough - but a very well-known senator in this case, two, three weeks after
a diagnosis is announced, and not having a courtesy sentence in there, just
wishing him and his family well.
It really is revealing, I think, that Trump didn`t think he should do that.
And also, unfortunately, that no one in the White House either thought he
should do it or was able to prevail upon him to say something gracious.
MELBER: I appreciate you raising the point, Bill. You`re talking about
humanity as something that we owe each other that is worth doing and you`re
also talking about the optics, whether people want to be seen as human and
humane or not. Apparently, both tests being failed last night.
Bill Kristol, Leah Wright Rigueur and Annie Linskey, thank you so much.
RIGUEUR: Thank you.
LINSKEY: Thank you.
MELBER: Still ahead, this story that everyone is talking about. Hillary
Clinton saying Trump acted like a creep who made her skin crawl. We have
something different on this story. An all-star panel, a feminist
perspective and the editor-in-chief of “Elle Magazine” here on THE BEAT
Plus, later an exclusive interview with the actual Clinton aide who played
Trump in her debate prep. This is his first television interview since,
yes, the 2016 election. He has been waiting and he`s making his debut here
on THE BEAT.
We also have some never-before-seen photos.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Today, Hillary Clinton spoke out in depth about her loss to Donald
Trump, not in a tweet or an interview, but in a more contemplative medium -
“Politico`s” buzzing about her new book today - which confronts what she
calls Trump`s creepy behavior at their debate, pressing a feminist critique
of a moment watched by millions.
Now, we`ve convened a special panel to discuss her blunt biography here.
Clinton campaign veteran Neera Tanden; Naomi Wolf author of the bestseller
The Beauty Myth and a book on female power; and Robbie Myers, editor-in-
chief of “Elle”, a leading women`s magazine with over a million
subscribers, almost half of its readers are millennials.
Now, we`re going to listen in here to Clinton reading from her book. This
is brand new, recounting her dilemma as Trump advanced on her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two days
before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now, we were on a
small stage. And no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring
at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable.
Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren`t repeatedly
invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly
and clearly, back up, you creep, get away from me. I know you love to
intimidate women, but you can`t intimidate me. So, back up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: In that passage, Clinton is imagining an alternative history,
where she stands allied with so many other women who say Trump intimidated
them and tells this “creep” to back up. That`s not what she did. And
Clinton is not the first woman to relive a moment of male menace and
imagine the road not taken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing
with difficult men trying to throw me off.
I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly
would have been better TV. Maybe I have over-learned the lesson of staying
calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist,
smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That standoff came two days after the world saw this, the famous
“Access Hollywood” tape and Trump`s comments there.
Now, Clinton found herself stoically attempting composure in the face of
what she cast as a truly unhinged political bully.
I`m joined, as I mentioned, by Clinton advisor Neera Tanden, author Naomi
Wolf, and Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers. Naomi, was Clinton damned
NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR, THE BEAUTY MYTH: HOW IMAGES OF BEAUTY ARE USED AGAINST
WOMEN: Well, I don`t think so at all. If this isn`t victim scenario, she
wasn`t silenced. She continued with grace and aplomb and continued
campaigning as the president of the United States of America.
So, I would say that she chose a path, she is a seasoned politician. She
didn`t confront someone who, I think, as a woman, was intimidating and
stalking her in a creepy, non-verbal way. I agree with her analysis. But
she chose a very disciplined approach.
I do think that women in our culture have no right way to proceed when a
man is intimidating or threatening them, let alone harassing and assaulting
them, because if she had chose option B, many of us would have cheered her,
but the whole thing would have turned into this dynamic of, I think you`re
intimidating me, I`m not, why are you so sensitive.
And also, remember, assertive women have been raped. Assertive women have
been raped. And a man, when he does something like that, doesn`t know,
just like a professor when he encroaches on a student or an employer when
he harasses an employee.
You don`t know if you`re harassing or intimidating someone who`s already
suffering from PTSD, who`s already been raped, who`s already been sexually
abused as a child. You do not know.
So, I think it was calculating on his part. I think he chose to stress a
gender dynamic to solidify his base of misogynist men. And I think she
chose a dignified approach that didn`t derail her campaign. It`s an
NEERA TANDEN, ?PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I honestly think
that Hillary had had a lot of experiences, where when she did pushback on
something like that or showed a flash of real emotion or even anger, I
think she has been judged harshly for that.
She says in this passage that those experiences may have built up an armor
that were a problem in this campaign. And so, I think there is a sort of
double standard here.
Hillary lived through in a campaign with Donald Trump who said all kinds of
crazy things on a regular basis, seemed really angry often.
And then whenever she kind of had a response to a reporter, it was really
dissected of whether she was unapproachable. And I think there is a lens
about how we treat women and women`s ambition about that.
But I do think it`s also really important in the book she described how
much she feels the burden of this loss, not for her, but for the people who
have been hurt by Donald Trump.
ROBBIE MYERS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “ELLE MAGAZINE”: Well, I think that there
wasn`t a woman who was watching that debate who didn`t understand what she
was feeling. And we all saw.
And I think that she was worried that maybe she was appearing like she
wasn`t strong enough or she should tell that creep to back up. We
understood what she was going through.
And I think a number of the audience - I think that women really felt
something that perhaps men didn`t, which is that we are always vulnerable
when we just move through society. We`re vulnerable to men because we are
- in one way, we`re weaker, and that`s physically weaker.
But I also think a lot has been talked about Hillary maybe not being
authentic and that maybe she was a little too polished and a little too
I don`t think you can ask your president to be too polished and too
composed. We want our presidents to be that. But maybe a flash of emotion
at that moment couldn`t have reached a certain constituency that she has.
MELBER: Each of you have raised or alluded to a double standard in the
gender dynamics, which is part of what Hillary Clinton is citing here in
this first except from the book.
We want to play for the benefit of the audience and for the benefit of
comparison a shockingly similar moment with very different repercussions
when Al Gore went a little bit into George Bush`s space. This was the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not only what`s
your philosophy and what`s your position on issues, but can you get things
done? And I believe I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A little nod from Bush is how he handled it. It was a reaction.
And I`ll put up in one of the historical accounts about this and the media
reaction to that moment you saw there.
Several days of media criticism of Al Gore`s exaggerations and criticism of
his encroachment upon Bush`s stage space and the poll numbers turned to
favor Bush. That from Test by Fire: The War Presidency of George Bush.
Neera, the observation there, and I want to be clear, we picked that
historical account because it wasn`t offered as a comparison to this.
That`s an independent history, saying that the media criticism of going
into this space hurt Al Gore, Neera.
TANDEN: Yes. On one level, you could say there are so many crazy things
Trump does that it`s hard to focus on one.
But I do think - I worked for Hillary for many years. And there was always
a concern that if she did push back on like the sexism of a question or did
seem angry that she faced a lot of criticism for that.
She definitely faced that in 1990s and 2000s. So, it`s possible that -
Robbie is right that if she had shown more anger or more just realness
about how weird it is to have your opponent basically stalking you on the
stage as you`re speaking, maybe people would have said that was a real
moment for her.
But I think you have to remember that Trump was an odd figure and she
didn`t face him on - there was a “Saturday Night Live” skit, but there
wasn`t days and days and days of ridicule for him at all for this.
And that is, I think, an example perhaps the double standard by which -
under which she lived.
MELBER: So, Naomi, square that with the fact that women who didn`t have
college education went for Trump 51-46.
WOLF: Yes. I was afraid you`d ask me that question. Look, it`s hard to
pivot from the intense empathy and identification I feel for her as a woman
as she has been stalked around the stage by someone, let`s not forgot, who
had recently been accused by many women, many credible women, echoing each
other`s stories of a specific kind of methodology of sexual predation.
He had been accused not of groping and grabbing, which are words, I think,
insult women`s experience of sexual assault and reality, he had been
accused of sexual assault, any unwanted sexual touching, people forget, is
a felony, is a crime, it is sexual assault, legally defined. So, that was
the back drop.
But she also - pivoting - made a lot of really bad mistakes, no disrespect.
I really respect - I should disclose again. My then husband was Ms.
Clinton`s speechwriter. So, I know her when she was in the White House. I
know her as the boss` wife. She is a lovely person. She is surrounded by
But they made a lot of mistakes around class and around how to talk about
women, in my experience. And they always positioned her, no disrespect, as
kind of the girl president of the class that everyone wanted to have, lead
all the other women forward and break that last highest glass ceiling, and
that is not language that emphasizes or relates to the struggles that
middle class and working-class women have economically.
MELBER: Robbie, final thought.
MYERS: Well, I think that we`re - I`ll just talk for young women right
now. I think that they`re excited to read the book and I think it was too
bad that they didn`t turn out in the numbers that we hoped that they would
But I also just want to say that 4 million people are going to turn 18 this
year. And by the mid-terms, about 8 million new 18-year-olds, and I think
they`re really energized and I think that this book is going to further
MELBER: Are you saying there is a future?
MYERS: Oh, wow!
MYERS: You mean for girls? Yes.
MELBER: I mean for girls, women, men, boys, and future for the country. I
think it`s a nice note to end on.
MYERS: (INAUDIBLE). I think you`re right, Ari. Thank you.
MELBER: I really appreciate you all giving us some time on this busy day,
Neera Tanden, Naomi Wolf, and Robbie Myers.
TANDEN: Thank you.
MELBER: Up next, an exclusive on THE BEAT. The man who played Trump in
Clinton`s debate, his first TV interview since the 2016 election. Next.
MELBER: Did Hillary Clinton get played? Her new book argues Trump managed
to play her at times in the debate or at least play on double standards
holding her back, but who played Trump?
This man. Longtime Clinton advisor Philippe Reines seen here impersonating
Trump in those top-secret debate prep sessions, days before the standoff.
In fact, he wore three-inch shoes to match Trump`s height. He practiced
Trump`s mannerisms, studying the hand gestures, noticing small things like
how Trump doesn`t make eye contact in debates.
Now, in a moment, Mr. Reines, will walk through that experience and an
exclusive on THE BEAT, this is his first T.V. interview since the election.
Debates can make or break campaigns. Reines practice some of the very
Trump tactics that Clinton is blasting today, interruption, intimidation
and his physical maneuvers, even a joking hug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen (INAUDIBLE) candidates for
president, Hillary Clinton, and Donald J. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The Clinton team also prepared for potential lurking. Here is a
photo from inside the debate prep that`s never been released before (AUDIO
GAP) lurking near Clinton to rattle her. An exercise that matched the
second debate when Trump was lurking over time around Clinton, the moment
she now says made her skin crawl and put her on the brink of telling him
back up you creep. And as promised, here with me is the man that played
Donald Trump in Clinton`s debate prep, Philippe Reines. He`s advised
Clinton in several roles of her 15 years and worked on the 2000 Gore
Campaign. You were the guest everyone wanted today so thanks for coming on
PHILIPPE REINES, PLAYED TRUMP IN MOCK DEBATES: Thank you for having me,
MELBER: Absolutely. This book, of course, discusses why Clinton lost
while also winning more votes than Trump. As you probably know, there are
several candidates who made it to the White House with margins of say, a
few hundred thousand votes, Clinton ultimately winning 2.9 million more
votes as the first woman nominee. So big picture, how do you explain such
wide popular support on a way to a loss?
REINES: Well, you know, the loss wasn`t just the 2.9 million in terms of
beating him on the popular vote. It was also the simple fact that she also
garnered more votes than anyone other than President Obama in a general
election. And to answer your question, I think we basically become the
50/50 nation and that`s not any great insight. But if you look back at
some of the maps whether it`s Reagan in `84 or Nixon in `72 or frankly Bill
Clinton in `92 or `96, it`s astounding to look at those maps. Bill Clinton
won states that it would be mind boggling to think a Democrat would win
today. Republicans lost states in that election that would be mind
boggling to think they could lose. And when you get down to 50/50, really,
any individual factor becomes out sized.
MELBER: Going into the debate, what specifically did you guys get right
and can you think of anything you got wrong in prep?
REINES: I think the point of debate prep, people might be under the
misconception that it`s for the candidate to memorize lines and recur to
take those lines. The truth is, the point of debate prep is to help the
candidate really think through what they`re going to say, what they want to
say and how they`re going to say it. And the way to do that is first and
foremost is to make sure or to do the best you can that they are not
hearing or seeing anything for the first time. That goes for the
moderator, that goes for your opponent and because of that, you do practice
– obviously, you don`t practice crazy stuff like you don`t say, can you
name all nine planets or eight planets how many they are these days. You
ask questions that reasonably could happen. You simulate circumstances
that could reasonably happen.
In this case, his lurking was something that we felt pretty confident that
he would do. Really wasn`t a close call and as we saw, I mean, even just
watching myself pretending to be creepy is creepy.
MELBER: Well do you think she is she looking at this as something she
would have done differently? I will read to you what one Clinton ally said
before the debate. Pushing back on Trump politely is key. “So there`s a
difference between his level and her level, that will be her biggest
REINES: Well, look, I think she`s not – in terms of the book, I had the
benefit of reading the whole book which I very much recommend people read.
It`s a great read, whether you like her or even if you don`t like her, I
think you`re going to find yourself learning a lot about just race and
state of things. But the part of the book where it comes up is not about
strategy or tactics. She`s not saying that she`s second guessing herself.
She`s trying to let you into her head about just how strange that is. Even
under the best circumstances, two people debating for 90 minutes in front
maybe a hundred million people has got to be nerve wracking. These people,
they do big things all the time, but even for them, it`s nerve wracking.
MELBER: Let me do a lightning round with you with the time we have left,
quick Q and A. Was trade and TPP a big factor in her loss? Yes or no.
REINES: Absolutely, yes.
MELBER: Do you think she could have won if Russia didn`t hack the
MELBER: You think she would have?
REINES: I think there are number of factors including Jim Comey, Putin not
minding his business, third, the historical curse of third term. I think
any of those things if you could change them. She lost by 70,000 votes in
MELBER: And what was her 2016 message in a sentence or two?
REINES: I think her message was simply that there`s more work to do, that
we`re on great path but there`s much left to be done and she knows how to
get it done. Frankly, I think every day we`ve seen in the last seven
months has confirmed that tenfold.
MELBER: Is that a competence – is that a competence argument?
REINES: It`s everything. I mean, Presidential Election is between two
people. There`s not a single damn thing – excuse me – that this man has
done as President that he has done well, let alone better than Hillary
Clinton would have done as President.
MELBER: Philippe Reines, I know you had a lot of places you could have
gone tonight. I really appreciate you coming here and sharing with us your
views and your history as Donald Trump.
REINES: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Thank you.
Senator Kamala Harris is leading the charge to stop people from being
jailed just for being poor, she says. We have a special look at that fight
in the Trump era, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D) CALIFORNIA: I think we can all agree whether
someone is detained before trial should be determined by whether they are a
risk to their community and society not whether they`re rich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A breakdown tonight. Senator Kamala Harris, a rising star in the
Democratic Party with new legislation to reform America`s bail system. She
argues this is civil rights priority because the system punishes innocent
people and while the rich can pay to get out, many poor people get stuck in
jail regardless of their innocence. One out of three defendants stuck in
jail not because they committed a crime but because they couldn`t find
money to pay for bail. Cost (INAUDIBLE) poor people stuck in jail awaiting
trial tend to lose their jobs, their housing, even custody of their
children which means an innocent person who`s ultimately according to
trial, could gain their freedom but literally lose their children along the
way. Senator Harris, leading a group of politicians in both parties who
say that`s wrong and that beyond those humanitarian concerns, the bail
system weighs money.
The uniforms, the medical screenings, all of it, 14 billion a year spent on
people who again, haven`t been found guilty of anything. The new
legislation says instead of throwing that money at the old system, states
should get grants for reform. Legislatures in Connecticut and New Jersey
reforming their systems, this debate is spreading. California, a state
that often leads the way has a bail reform bill up for a vote as soon as
this month backed by the ACLU, Labor Unions and the Musicians John Legend
and Common who just spoke about it at the Capitol this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON, AMERICAN MUSICIAN: Open my eyes (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Common has spent his career focusing on socially
conscious music and standing up for people. (INAUDIBLE) that comes across
in this concert.
COMMON: When you realize that this has been a systemic thing that has kept
people from having their rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Defenders to the current system counter that using money for bail
is key and (INAUDIBLE) and the risk of all this reform is that more
dangerous people could get out into the street before trial. Joining me
now Ato Walker who`s arrested in 2013 after a San Jose traffic cop
committed a wrongful arrest. The city ultimately paid him $30,000 over
that. The advocates for bail reform and who`s actually with Common
lobbying at that Capitol event. Also with me Jeff Clayton, the Director
the American Bail Coalition and Assemblyman Rob Bonta of California who Co-
Authored the Bail Reform Bail in California. Thank you all for this
important discussion. Ato, the court determines that you hadn`t do
anything wrong and you`re saying this bail discriminates, how did it impact
ATO WALKER, BAIL REFORM ADVOCATE: Well, first off, Ari, I want to thank
you for allowing me the opportunity to be on the show and bail is created a
two tiered system that tears families apart just like it tore my family
apart. I was put into jail for five days and that means, that happens to
people every single day. You have a system of – you have a system that
rewards people that have money and punishes people who don`t have money to
get out and fight for their cases. In my case, my bail was set at $85,000.
And that meant that my mother had to go into her retirement account to come
up with the 10 percent so that I can get out and be free and help feed my
family. If I wasn`t able to get out, I think I still would probably be in
MELBER: And so, Mr. when you look at that story, that`s part of what
you`re trying to do and Ato says it was 80,000 plus the median in
California is $50,000. Most people can`t get anywhere near that.
ROB BONTA, CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLYMAN: That`s absolutely right. We have one
of the highest bail amounts in the nation. Five times the median from the
rest of the nation and we are keeping people in jail who are not a risk to
the public, not a flight risk, simply don`t have enough money in their
pocket. And we are wrongly, unjustly making decisions based on the size of
individual`s wallets instead of the size of the risks. That`s wrong,
there`s a better way.
MELBER: And so, Jeff, how do you counter that. The system clearly not
perfect, I don`t think you would say that.
JEFF CLAYTON, AMERICAN BAIL COALITION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: No, I think bail
scheduled are too high in California obviously but money is a proxy for
risk. The factors the judges consider results to this decision. And
certainly, all of the consequences that flow from a wrongful arrest bail
pails with comparison. We got to pay your attorney and of course people
are going to lose their jobs and all this sort of thing. And that`s one
things that we`re looking at and talking to in some (INAUDIBLE) about.
MELBER: So, listening to your argument, why do we need a proxy for risk.
Why not use what some of these systems are reforming which is risk based
completely instead of money. I don`t think you want to go on T.V. and
claim that people who are rich enough will never pose a threat. That can`t
be the premise, can`t it?
CLAYTON: It can`t. I agree with that. And I think, you know, certainly
these risks, computers have come under scrutiny recently. They are
counting prior felons and possession of fire arms (INAUDIBLE). And so, I
think there`s a lot work that needs to be done on this risk assessment
computers if we think it`s going to replace human judgment.
MELBER: Will someone would speak to that because anyone at home listening
says wait a minute, innocent people having to sit in jail because the
(INAUDIBLE) sounds wrong. Then they hear Mr. Clayton say, well, people
with weapons can get miscounted and get on the street, that also would seem
to be a risk. How do you respond?
BONTA: Ari, you nailed it when you said that if you want to know about
risk, ask about risk. Why are we asking about wealth? Well, that has no
correlation to risk. If you want to know about risk get the facts, the
data, the evidence that tells you what the risk of an individual is. Their
flight risk, their risk to the public and that`s exactly what we proposed
with our reform. That`s exactly what Senator Harris is proposing. We
should have a system that`s based on risk. We are safer that way, it`s
more fair and just to individuals, it uses our limited public resources
more prudently than our system based on wealth. A system based on wealth
is fundamentally broken and we need to fix it.
MELBER: And so, let`s fill that in a bit because I think we`re getting to
the heart of it. So I`m happy to weigh the conversations going. Mr.
Clayton, we`ll look at the Jersey – New Jersey example here. Before they
use the number based system, you had about 8,000 people held for trial,
after it dropped by about 31 percent. So you have that decrease while
still people are obviously being held. Indeed, the majority being held
when they`ve been found to be a risk. What`s wrong with that or is that a
path to reform?
CLAYTON: Well, the part of the New Jersey system that`s good is they
decide to release on low-level non-violent misdemeanors cases and that`s
what`s driving those numbers. The problem in California is only two
percent of the Los Angeles County Jail population is low-level non-violent
misdemeanors. So, because of progressive policies in California, you know,
I just don`t think there`s the people to release like there is in New
MELBER: Mr. Assemblyman?
BONTA: You know, the current money bail system fails in two ways. It
keeps locked up and takes liberty away from individuals who are no risk to
the public, no flight risk simply because they don`t have money. That`s
wrong. It also allows individuals with enough means and enough wealth and
enough money in their pocket who are dangerous and are flight risks to get
out. That`s the system that`s fundamentally broken that paints a picture
of a system that`s failing. The jail door should not swing open and closed
based on your ability to pay exorbitance amount of money. That`s what it
does now and we need to change it.
MELBER: And Ato, you get the final word. What do you want people to know
at home who may have never interacted with someone who`s been caught up in
the justice system the way you were?
WALKER: I mean, we realistically have to look at the human cost of this.
Like, we have people that are in jail for no reason who just like myself, I
got arrested for pretty much a – what does it called – a
misunderstanding. And we have folks that are going through that all the
time. And the human cost is too great where we have to think about feeding
our families versus paying for bail. I think it`s just – I think
Assemblyman Bonta is correct that we need to focus on families first and
people first instead of thinking about money.
MELBER: Ato, Jeff, and Assemblyman Bonta, thanks for this civic dialogue
in the debate on this important issue. We hope to have more on it on THE
BEAT. Ahead, breaking political news about what President Trump has done
with the GOP Senator trying to secretly stop a bill that would strengthen
Bob Mueller`s authority. This is a big one, we have it for you next.
MELBER: Breaking news here in the 6:00 p.m. hour. Politico with the new
report that President Trump venting his frustration with two key Republican
Senators over what? The Mueller investigation. One was Thom Tillis
pushing a bill to protect Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump,
something Donald Trump`s Aides say he doesn`t plan to do raising a question
in this new report why did he care so much about the bill. Pollster
Jeffrey Pollock has advised the Democratic Reelection Committee for the
Senate and House. He works for the Democratic Super PAC that backed Barack
Obama and is an interesting political voice to have on this story.
JEFFREY POLLOCK, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: You and I were just digesting this breaking new. And you pointed
out another quote in this article from a Senior Republican Aide, this is
not a Trump critic, this is not someone opposing Republican, this is a
Republican Senior Aide, brand-new, quote, “it seems he`s always just
focused on Russia.
POLLOCK: Yes. I mean, there`s no question that this guy seems obsessed
with Russia, and that`s what – that`s sort of what some of this comes out
of. And I get asked this question all the time, when is the Russia thing
going to matters to the voters because as of right now it really has not by
MELBER: The polling you see says it doesn`t matter to any voters?
POLLOCK: Well, it may matter – certainly matters to the Democrats, but by
and large it hasn`t sort of picked up steam or something that would sort of
crush him with Republicans. His numbers have broken a little bit with
Republicans frankly over the last couple of weeks based on sort of the
various chaos that we`ve seen but Russia itself, when you ask about it
hasn`t been a main focal point. When Russia becomes an issue is when
people see it as scandal and that scandal is obviously Mueller and that
scandal is something where people see the President getting involved in
Congressional business and trying to sort of fix to stop a bill.
MELBER: And there`s a legal fact check here which is the President of the
United States does not have the personal authority to unilaterally fire the
MELBER: He has to either request it of DOJ officials who under the rules
have to find cause, which is a legally defined requirement that Mueller is
not met in any way according to what we know publicly or – and this is
something I know you`re interested in – you can go to the Administrative
Procedures Act and try to promulgate a notice and comment period to get new
rules to change the way you remove the Special Counsel, a process that can
take over a year. So, does Donald Trump know that or is he just venting in
POLLOCK: He`s just venting. There`s – when has he ever followed sort of
any processes? He just wants to vent wherever. And this is a guy who last
night was lashing out at two Republican Senators, at McConnell – excuse me
– at McCain and Flake in Arizona. He`s a lasher. That`s what he does.
MELBER: He`s a lasher.
POLLOCK: He`s a lasher.
MELBER: Would you say this is classic lasher behavior?
POLLOCK: It is. I don`t – we`ll use that word. I don`t know that it`s a
real word because we`re going to use it because that`s what this guy is.
He just goes from thing to thing. And today a remarkable – today in Reno,
he tried to be kumbaya because he realizes, look, he spent 72 minutes last
night in Phoenix and he actually started to lose his audience for the first
time. Like people literally started to walk out.
MELBER: Yes, we reported that account from the Post. And again, for
viewers here, I want to be clear Politico reporting Trump so unhappy with
the bill to protect Mueller that “He didn`t want it to pass.” A person
familiar with the call said that`s in contradiction with the White House
has claimed that he has no plans to remove Mueller. Indeed –
POLLOCK: He wants to. We know that.
MELBER: You think so?
POLLOCK: We know it. We know the guy wants it. He keeps talking about
it. If he didn`t – if he thought that there was nothing wrong, why would
he care about any of this stuff?
MELBER: Right. This may be another tell on Russia, very interesting.
Jeff Pollock, your first time on THE BEAT, thanks for joining us.
POLLOCK: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: And now a special tech version of who said it. Here is your
quote, Beatniks. How do you feel about using hashtag pound for groups?
We`ll explain. The answer is actually going to shock you potentially right
MELBER: We are back with your favorite segment on THE BEAT or one of the
segments you watch on THE BEAT, Who Said It? The quote today, how do you
feel about using hashtag pound for groups? Now, that was a tweet ten years
ago today by a former computer engineer. His name is Chris Messina. That
was the first use of the hashtag in social media. Today hash tags have
their own hashtag. Hashtag ten and it has become a tool for organization
and engagement. Consider #BlackLivesMatter or #BringBackOurGirls and who
could forget the #IceBucketChallenge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ice now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Yes, we put ice on my mug. Shall I do it right now? Maybe next
time. Now, this little symbol is used a 125 million times every day, which
kind of incredible and some of – some of us I should say are also using it
in our regular conversations, as Jimmy Fallon pointed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, AMERICAN ACTOR: Hey, Justin what`s up.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER: Not much, Jimmy. Hashtag John, what`s up with
FALLON: Busy working hashtag rising grind. Hashtag is it Friday yet?
TIMBERLAKE: Hashtag is it worth it or let me work it?
FALLON: Hastag put them in reverse. 4
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys?
TIMBERLAKE: What`s up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hashtag shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That to our show, is of course now time for #HARDBALL.
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