GOP Congressman grilled. TRANSCRIPT: 8/27/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests:
Danielle Moodie-Mills, Mark Thompson, Roger Johnson, David Enrich, Michael McFaul, Danielle Twemlow, Ellen Weintraub
Transcript:

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That is probably the future of opioid makers down

the road. Thank you very much for your reporting.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

 

TODD: That`s all we have for tonight. It`s been a busy day. We`ll be back

tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY again tomorrow ends you know why.

You never know what`s going to happen. “THE BEAT” though starts right now.

Ayman Mohyeldin is in for Ari.

 

Good evening, Ayman.

 

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Hey, good evening Chuck. Thank you very much.

Hello there everyone. I am Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. We have a lot

to get to tonight. Disturbing new NBC reporting on Donald Trump pulling

money from disaster relief to fund his immigration agenda.

 

Plus Trump scrambling to respond to reports of bed bugs at his Florida

resort as he pushes to hold a world summit there next year. And critics say

Republicans are hobbling the agency in charge of keeping our election safe.

 

A key player in that fight, the Chair of the FEC is going to join us here

but we start tonight with the new revelations of Trump raiding Homeland

Security funding to pay for his immigration policy. NBC news learning

company officials are pulling more than $270 million of Homeland Security

funding including $155 million from FEMA`s Disaster Relief Fund to pay for

immigrant detention centers and temporary hearing facilities for asylum

seekers waiting in Mexico.

 

Now this money was meant to be used to respond to hurricanes and other

natural disasters. Instead the Trump administration now using it to fund

his immigration plan and today one of his top border officials insisting,

they won`t hold migrant children in detention indefinitely. They just want

to be able to threaten it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MARK MORGAN, ACTING CBP COMMISSIONER: This is not about indefinite

detention. If anybody says that, that`s an absolute lie.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you put the word indefinite in there but it doesn`t

mean they`re going to have indefinite. It`s in order to get them processed.

Stay or go, right?

 

MORGAN: That is accurate, Bryan and what we`ve seen is time and time again

just like you said, if we put limitations in there, then they gain the

system and they get past that and we end up having to release them so

putting that word in there allows us to maintain them during the process.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: The other big development we`re tracking tonight. New signs that

Trump`s trade war is alienating a part of his own base. The New York Times

reporting farmers are increasingly frustrated with Trump`s standoff with

China, with a growing number “losing patience with Trump`s approach and

suggesting it will not take much to lose their vote as well.”

 

And Trump can`t afford to lose more of the country because his approval

rating, well, it is sinking in every single battleground state. One GOP

operative warning if this economy falters then I think he`s a goner and I

think the Senate will be in trouble.

 

All of these signs of trouble as Trump contends with a new primary

challenger and a former top White House aide hammering him in public.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NIXON: He believes people should raise serious questions about the mental

instability of the President.

 

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FMR WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Of course.

 

NIXON: And maybe even invoke the 25th Amendment. Do you agree with him on

that?

 

SCARAMUCCI: A thousand percent. He said he was the chosen one. He said he

was the king of the Jews. He compared President Xi and Jerome Pal and said

which one is a bigger enemy to the United States. He`s all over the map

acting irrational and unstable.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: All right, with me now Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of the

SiriusXM radio show WokeAF and Rev. Mark Thompson, host of the `Make it

Plain` podcast. Great to have both of you with us.

 

Danielle, let me begin with you. From 30,000 feet this looks like chaos, is

it?

 

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, SIRIUSXM RADIO SHOW WOKEAF: It is chaos and I

would imagine that if I were inside of the White House, that`s exactly how

it would feel. I mean, the reality is that Trump has lied himself into the

White House.

 

He has lied himself into this situation and there`s only so long that you

can keep something going before it begins to unravel and what he sold us is

that he was a businessman, that he was the art of the deal, that he could

do no wrong and what we know is that since he`s been in office, that we

have started to trend downward.

 

And so the trade war that he is doing right now with China, it is hurting

the very people that he said that he was going into the White House to help

and that is problematic because there`s only so much pain according to

Lindsey Graham that people are willing to take.

 

MOHYELDIN: Yes, we`re going to talk a little bit more about the farmers and

those that are affected by the trade war later on in this show but I`m

curious to get your thoughts because anything Anthony Scaramucci who served

albeit briefly in this administration was a loyal and fierce defender of

this President even before he got into the White House.

 

He is now talking about trying to get people to invoke the 25th Amendment

to remove this man from office. What does that in of itself say?

 

REV. MARK THOMPSON, HOST, MAKE IT PLAIN: Well, it says that a former

supporter now agrees with many of us that he`s not well. he is unstable.

He`s all over the place. He`s exploiting his own wife the First Lady to

solicit some type of solidarity with a crazy dictator saying they met and

they never did. He doesn`t know the difference between England and United

Kingdom.

 

He said on yesterday that it Barack Obama lost to Ukraine?

 

MOODIE-MILLS: Yes.

 

THOMPSON: What is - what is he talking about? He doesn`t understand climate

change and even fundamentally, I know you`re going to get to farmers, if I

need the farmers` votes, why would I do anything to hurt them. So he`s even

harmful to himself so 25th Amendment, whatever it takes and I know

Scaramucci can talk about 25th Amendment. Democrats need not to give up on

talking about impeachment.

 

MOHYELDIN: Let me read you guys how the New York Times has been describing

Trump today. “The way he negotiates at times involves facts that may not be

facts, statements that may not have been said and episodes that may not

have occurred and at times, he denied saying what he actually said.

 

MOODIE-MILLS: He`s delusional.

 

MOHYELDIN: I mean, I`m curious to get your thoughts because he`s also gone

on the record saying that he got a call from China, that China wants to

negotiate. No Chinese officials have come out to confirm that report so how

does anyone navigate this landscape when you have a President who is as

you`re saying delusional?

 

MOODIE-MILLS: He is absolutely delusional and you heard Mnuchin had to walk

back that statement where he said that he got a call from China and he

said, oh, we`re in discussions which I guess could be emails, I guess could

be text messages but the idea is that the President has created this crazy

reality, this alternate universe that he is living in where facts don`t

matter and the statements said he`s making, no one can verify and the idea

is that he continues to do this and he`s pushing us further and further

into this trade war by trying to puff out his chest at the G7 and saying,

I`m in talks with China.

 

No, you`re not like no one is verifying this and the fact is that we need

to continue to call it out because it does look like he`s incredibly

unstable. Let me talk to you guys about the reporting NBC has today that

the President`s directing some funds away from FEMA disaster relief towards

his immigration policy.

 

Talk to me a little bit about the messaging that is sending. You`ve got a

hurricane. Hurricane Dorian heading towards possibly even hitting Puerto

Rico, a territory that is still ravaged and still suffering from last

year`s hurricane and now you`ve got the President diverting finds that

could be helping people to implement his immigration policy.

 

THOMPSON: Well, again, the clinical delusional. He obviously binged watched

Shark NATO over the weekend. And he can use that money because he`s got the

army and they`re going to send nukes to fight the hurricanes. So yes, I

mean none of that makes any sense but that`s what he does.

 

We - it`s become a cliche because we`ve always said you know, it`s like

he`s in a reality show but he really, really is because that`s what you do

on reality shows. It`s not a real thing but you kind of ad lib and go.

 

MOHYELDIN: It`s scripted.

 

THOMPSON: Right.

 

MOHYELDIN: It`s scripted reality.

 

THOMPSON: And on his show you know, he was really a make believe CEO

because we know he doesn`t do anything so he`s a make believe President

acting and just saying whatever he wants to say. His obsession with

immigration is rooted in his xenophobia and racism.

 

Now tomorrow is anniversary Dr. King`s I have a dream speech and he is the

opposite of what Dr. King stood for. When Dr. King said you know, little

black boys and girls, little white - I have a dream little black boys and

girls and white boys and girls will walk together.

 

Donald Trump`s dream is that little brown boys and little brown girls will

be separated from their parents, that`s not anything that we need in

America right now and it is further dividing in this country and it`s about

time I pray, that those that supported him thus far wake up and realize

this is not the way we need to go.

 

MOHYELDIN: Let me get your thoughts on this really quickly Danielle. The

Hill reporting that Republicans on the Hill are nervous. They want to try

to create a bit of a firewall for the Senate come 2020 because they know

that this White House is in serious jeopardy falling to the Democrats.

 

How concerned should they be that this President could go down, could even

take down the Senate with them.

 

MOODIE-MILLS: He`s going to take down the Republican party with him and

they need to be very concerned about that. Those people who keep having

conversations in private that we keep hearing about and reports, oh, we`ve

talked to some Republicans in private and they really disagree with the

President on immigration, on climate change, on all of these things but

nobody`s saying it publicly.

 

And frankly the American public is starting to recognize that Mitch

McConnell is the reason why we don`t have sensible gun reform. Why we don`t

have a lot of things that we could because the House has passed over 140

pieces of legislation that have died on arrival at the Senate because of

Mitch McConnell.

 

So it`s between Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump who will bring down this

party and they need to figure out whether or not they want to remain in

power or they want to rebuild themselves post Trump.

 

MOHYELDIN: Danielle and Mark, stay with me for a second because I want to

switch gears. We talked about farmers here for a moment. I mentioned the

growing frustration with the Trump administration from farmers. My next

guest is actually the head of the National Farmers Union which represents

hundreds of thousands of family farmers and it`s slamming the President`s

new round of trade talks saying, “Every time Trump escalates his trade war,

China calls his bluff - And why would we expect any differently this time

around?

 

Between burning bridges with all of our biggest trading partners and

undermining our domestic biofuels industry, President Trump is making

things worse, not better.”

 

Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union is here with me.

Sir, thank you very much for joining me this evening. First Sir, let me get

your perspective in terms of what you`re hearing from the farmers and the

family farms that you`re speaking to on a daily basis about this ongoing

trade war?

 

ROGER JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: Well, you need to start

with the understanding that there`s a lot of financial stress in

agriculture right now. Net farm income is about half of what it was six

years ago. There`s - farm debt is at near record levels. Farm bankruptcies

are going up.

 

All of this stuff that you`ve been talking about creates an enormous amount

of uncertainty. When we talk about Trump and trade and China, we sometimes

forget that this is the President that is also offended the leaders of a

lot of the other major markets around the country, around the world.

Whether it`s starting with Mexico, with Canada, with the EU, with Japan,

you just go around the world and there have been disparaging comments made

about leaders and about people.

 

And these are folks that farmers sell our products to. We`re enormously

dependent on them so it isn`t just about China, it`s about our reputation

around the world and the fact that we`re losing markets and it`s hurting

our economy.

 

MOHYELDIN: And Mr. Johnson, I am sure though you and the farmers you

represent have heard the President on the trail at his rallies always

touting how well the farmers are doing and in fact, he himself has in the

past always boasted that farmers love him. One poll shows that 71 percent

of farmers support President Trump.

 

How do you explain that with what you`re describing now that the farming

industry has been hurt but at the same time the President also says farmers

like him?

 

Listen, farmers historically have tended to be Republican. They`re

conservative, they`re independent. They on the one hand, they don`t want

government telling them what to do. On the other hand, they want government

policies to be market friendly. They want the government to be involved in

negotiating trade agreements that work for them and what we`re seeing is

that the economy in agriculture is just in a lot of trouble right now.

 

And so at some point those sort of feelings about who you prefer, you also

have to think about your economic future and I think at the end of the day,

more and more farmers are coming to understand that listen, what this

person is doing is harming our reputation and it`s literally going to take

us decades to get some of these - we may never get some of these markets

back.

 

China used to be our top market. They`re number 5 last year for

agriculture. We`ve lost over $20 billion worth of sales in China, just

agricultural sales so I mean this is - there`s just a lot of stress here.

 

MOHYELDIN: So let me - let me ask you about your reaction to what Senator

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said which is, hey, you just got to accept

the pain. What do you say to that senator?

 

JOHNSON: Well, I think we`ve been accepting a lot of pain. We`ve been

dealing with a lot of pain. At the end of the day, you know when it`s time

to vote, farmers are going to go to the polls just like every other

American does and they`re going to - they`re going to think about a lot of

different things.

 

But one of the things that they`re going to have to be thinking about this

next year is are they still going to be in business the next year or the

year after. Their financial circumstances are becoming very, very troubling

right now.

 

MOHYELDIN: All right, Roger Johnson Sir, thank you very much for joining

us. Danielle Moodie Mills, Mark Thompson as well, thank you here on set.

Coming up, Trump`s bank makes a critical admission in the subpoena fight

over his tax returns. Plus Trump makes a bizarre new pitch to host a world

summit at his Doral resort.

 

And Attorney General Bill Barr drops $30,000 for a party at Trump`s DC

hotel, believe it or not. Also we`re going to talk to the voter who

confronted a GOP lawmaker for blocking gun reform and opposing the violence

against women act. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. You`re watching

The Beat on MSNBC.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MOHYELDIN: Breaking news in the fight over Trump`s tax returns, lawyers for

Deutsche Bank confirming the firm holds tax returns relating to subpoenas

for Trump, his companies and his immediate family members. The bank will

not publicly confirm exactly who those returns belong to, claiming that

would reveal specific details about how its customers conduct business.

 

It is the latest twist in house Democrats` legal battle to get Trump`s

financial records. In fact late last week, judges clashing with Deutsche

Bank lawyers on this very issue.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JUDGE: Does the bank have tax returns of any of the named people or

entities?

 

LAWYER: Your honor given contractual obligations and other legal

obligations, that`s unfortunately not a question that we`re able to

address. The bank has contractual -

 

JUDGE: What privileges are you asserting?

 

LAWYER: The Bank has contractual obligations to its clients related to

confidential -

 

JUDGE: You think you can contract away the opportunity to answer a court`s

question without a privilege such as the Fifth amendment or something

comparable? You can just say, “We told our client we won`t do it.”

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: So the judge is clearly skeptical of Deutsche bank`s argument

but it even got more heated.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JUDGE: I`m not asking you for the content of them at all. I`m asking you,

do you have them?

 

LAWYER: Even just answering that question I think could run afoul of -

 

JUDGE: You think it could?

 

LAWYER: Yeah, your honor. We`re not in a position to answer that question

based on the relevant statutes.

 

JUDGE: If we want an answer to that question, we go to court to seek an

order?

 

LAWYER: Well, we`d be happy -

 

JUDGE: I`m serious.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: The judge is in fact serious and so is Congress. In fact, last

week the lawyer for Democrat in this case revealing that they are

investigating “massive amounts of Russian money including possible money

laundering.”

 

I`m now joined by David Enrich, New York Times Finance Editor who is

writing a book about Trump`s relationship with Deutsche bank and Maya

Wiley, a former civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York.

David, let`s start with you first of all. You`ve been investigating this.

 

When you look at what the news came out today, what do these filings

realistically tell us?

 

DAVID ENRICH, FINANCE EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, the bottom line here is

that we now know beyond any doubt that Deutsche Bank is sitting on a vast

trove of Trump`s personal and corporate financial records, not just his tax

returns but all sorts of other corporate records, going back over the full

scale of the bank`s 20 year relationship with him.

 

These tax returns themselves, it`s unclear how useful those are going to

be. My understanding is that the bank has kind of the first summary pages,

the first 2 or 3 or 4 pages of tax returns for a number of different years

and so it`s unclear to me how useful that actually it`s going to be.

 

It`s certainly not as useful as if that you had all the schedules attached

and all of the minute detail which is where I know Democrats and certainly

a lot of journalists are - have been for years now dying to get their hands

on.

 

MOHYELDIN: Yes and to that point, how does this Maya, help the Democrats in

their legal cases? They continue to piece more information. If in fact as

David was saying that it`s not the full scope of the tax returns with all

the schedules and how comprehensive or extensive it is, what if anything

does this change in the game?

 

MAYA WILEY, FMR CIVIL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Well, I think

there are actually two issues here. So one is of course the more

information Democrats can get, the more likelihood they`re able to identify

whether there are other sources or other people they should be subpoenaing

records from.

 

So that`s one reason why investigators in this case, Congress would want as

the most information they can get around his tax returns. I agree with

David around how much information they`re really going to get is an

important question.

 

But the other is the legal issue. The Trump administration has taken -

first of all, Trump -Donald Trump himself has taken a very aggressive and

legally weak argument that essentially says this is just a political attack

on me and I have a right to privacy despite holding the most powerful chair

in the country.

 

MOHYELDIN: Yes, you bring that up and I - just let me play this for you

really quickly because you brought up his reaction to all this. He`s been

extremely defensive about. Watch what he said in the past.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maybe I`m going to do the

tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.

 

If I decide to run for office, I`ll produce my tax returns absolutely.

 

REPORTER: What is your tax rate?

 

TRUMP: It`s none of your business, you`ll see it when I release it.

 

You don`t release your returns until the order is complete. When the order

is complete, I`ll do it. My tax returns against my lawyer`s wishes, when

she releases her 33,000 emails -

 

I mean, I became President. No, I don`t think they care at all.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: Why is he so defensive to the point that you are making his

defense why is he so defensive about his tax returns?

 

WILEY: So we`ve heard several things so far that suggest reasons he might

be offensive. One for example, is New York Times reporting about him -

about how much money he has lost. I mean there is certainly the factor of

running on being an excellent businessman with perhaps a financial record

that shows you`re not.

 

The second is implications in whether of whether he`s overstating earnings,

overstating deductions, implications about whether he`s actually committed

tax fraud for example or insurance fraud for that matter.

 

I mean, Michael Cohen got up and said, he did these kinds of things all the

time and suggested that might be a problem. But third and this is where the

counterintelligence point comes in, right? The Counterintelligence

Committee also wants this information because Robert Mueller all but

confirmed counterintelligence investigation of the FBI, not that

surprising.

 

Lots of reasons to suspect there - there might be ongoing investigations of

some form. Deutsche bank is a bank that has been in bed with Russia for a

long time and it is one of the only banks that would lend money to Donald

Trump.

 

So if you want to understand whether or not Russia has any leverage over

Donald Trump, that`s a good place to look.

 

MOHYELDIN: All right so I feel like we have the perfect guest to answer

that question for us. You`ve been looking at the relationship between

Donald Trump and Deutsche bank for the past 20 years. Without giving away

all of the reporting unless you want to give away the key nugget of what

you found, tell us a little bit about this relationship. Why has it become

the focal point of Maya was saying, in this three-way nexus between Russia,

Deutsche bank and Donald Trump?

 

ENRICH: Well, as she said, Deutsche bank is the only mainstream bank that

has been willing to touch Donald Trump consistently for the past two

decades and it`s also one of the only mainstream banks in the world that

has been deep in bed and in hoc with the Russian government and with

Russian banks tied to the Kremlin and with people very close to Putin.

 

So that you know, the most generous explanation is that it`s an incredible

coincidence and but the reality is based on our - the reporting we`ve done,

there are people inside Deutsche bank, in the compliance department and in

the anti-money laundering parts of the bank where they were seeing

suspicious stuff with Jared Kushner`s accounts, with Donald Trump`s

accounts.

 

I mean people repeatedly tried to blow the whistle and their concerns were

overruled because the bank was so desperate to keep making money off of

these very lucrative clients. Donald Trump clearly is very eager to keep

his finances secret. We don`t - the bottom line is we don`t quite know why

but it`s clearly for some reason and I think sooner or later we`re probably

going to find out.

 

MOHYELDIN: Yes, we`ll see if in fact these Democrats in the House Judiciary

Committee will find out. Maya Wiley, David Enrich, thank you both very much

for joining us.

 

Turning next to Trump lashing out at reports of a bed bug infestation at

his Doral resort, believe it or not if he pitches world leaders on meeting

there. It`s raising red flags about potential conflicts of interest. Joyce

Vance and Michael McFaul are here in less than 30 seconds.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MOHYELDIN: Today Donald trump making a new unusual pitch for the next G7

summit to be held at his Doral resort in Florida, tweeting today that it`s

a false and nasty rumor that there are bed bugs at his resort but it`s more

than a rumor. Trump actually settled a lawsuit back in 2017 over bed bugs

at Doral.

 

A traveler sued the resort after his back, face and arms were riddled with

bites after a night`s sleep in one of the luxury suite and then there`s

this. 524 health code violations reported at Doral between 2013 and 2018.

Inspectors found approximately 20 to 25 live roaches on the walls,

baseboards and floors in the kitchen, food prep area.

 

It was so bad, they recommended the kitchen be actually shut down but of

course this problem is bigger than bed bugs and cockroaches. Trump is

pushing a plan that basically forces foreign governments to pay him to

attend a diplomatic summit.

 

This at a time when foreign diplomats seem to be seeking favor with company

spending lots of money at his hotel in Washington DC. It`s hard to remember

now but before Trump took office. He promised that he distanced himself

from his businesses as President. Watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: My two sons who are right here, Don and Eric are going to be running

the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner.

They`re not going to discuss it with me. These papers are just some of the

many documents that I`ve signed, turning over complete and total control.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: All right so these continued conflicts of interest prove that`s

not the case. In fact moments ago reports that Trump`s Attorney General

Bill Barr just booked Trump`s to DC hotel for a $30,000 private holiday

party. Joining me now is former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance and former

U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.

 

Is no bed bugs Joyce, the best pitch for a world summit, you think?

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: This is such a theater of the absurd.

It`s so hard to imagine that we`re at a point where the President is using

his official role as the leader of our country to hawk his failing resort

and forced foreign leaders pay for it but you know, joking aside, this

violates the emoluments clause.

 

It`s not a close call, it shouldn`t be tolerated. The fact that we`re here

I think tells us how over time, we`ve accepted the small degradations of

norms from Trump to the point where something so outrageous can be taking

place.

 

MOHYELDIN: Yes and joking aside, you do raise up a really interesting point

about the emoluments clause but does this Doral controversy really reveal

that he was never serious about separating his business from the office or

the presidency?

 

VANCE: He`s shown absolutely no inclination to create separation. It`s

unprecedented for a President not to put his asset producing income into a

blind trust. The trust that he has no control over. Trump said he would do

that during the campaign. Then it became this sort of nebulous process

where he would give his adult sons control. We know he`s not separate. He

spends time on the properties. He continues essentially to use the office

of the presidency as a way to advertise for these businesses that create

income for him and his family. It`s a for-profit presidency.

 

MOHYELDIN: Ambassador McFaul, Trump has name dropped, by our count, his

properties, almost 70 times as president of this country. If you are a

foreign diplomat, if you are a foreign minister, or even just a foreign

government, what kind of message does that send everytime he is dropping

one of his properties suddenly in his speeches

 

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: It diminishes

the president of the United States of America. It diminishes our Commander-

in-Chief. It diminishes the leader of the free world. There`s no other way

to think about it.

 

That`s the way people are reacting. That is the way other leaders are

reacting. And there`s simple solutions. There are better solutions. There`s

something called Camp David, for instance, fantastic setting, fantastic

security.

 

President Obama hosted the G8 Summit there in 2012. That would be an

appropriate special place to hold the G8. Not this, kind of, you know,

whatever location, or other places. It`s just not appropriate for the

president the United States.

 

MOHYELDIN: Ambassador, I`m curious to get your thoughts really quickly in

terms of how Russia has been front and center of the G7 debate with the

reporting that the president, behind the scenes, has been fervently trying

to reinstate them, part of this group without nothing in exchange, without

any kind of commitment from them either to stop the cyber meddling,

withdraw from Crimea. How do you square that pack? How do you explain what

he is doing?

 

MCFAUL: I can`t explain it. I`m sorry. I`m not going to try to explain it.

It is not in America`s national security interests for the president of the

United States to be giving a gift to Putin and getting nothing in return.

 

And by discussing this idea, when Putin has not left Crimea, he has not

left eastern Ukraine, he has not changed any of his behavior that got him

thrown out in the first place, again, it just undermines the president of

the United States. He is supposed to be defending our national interest not

Vladimir Putin`s.

 

MOHYELDIN: And to that point Joyce, let`s bring it back to William Barr for

a second. Bill Barr booking a $30,000 holiday party at Trump`s hotel. On

the surface that may look innocent, a holiday party booked at a lavish D.C.

hotel. But it also seems to be very sinister that it is at a Trump hotel.

 

VANCE: The recording on this says that Barr went to DOJ ethics officials

and was told that it was okay to do this. Other large hotel properties in

D.C. were already booked for this day. But even if it`s technically okay,

this makes you stop and think about whether or not this attorney general

really has the judgment that it takes.

 

He went into this knowing that if it became public it would create more

controversy over the appearance of impropriety and whether the Justice

Department was independent from the president, or simply carrying out

policies, and now personal practices that were an effort to curry favor

with the president.

 

It`s bad for the Justice Department and you know, Ayman, if I worked for

DOJ, and I want to give my boss a holiday gift, I`m limited to $20 under

DOJ ethics rules. Last time I checked $30,000 was a lot more than $20.

 

MOHYELDIN: Yeah. There`s no doubt that the Trump Organization would benefit

from any party at that hotel venue. Ambassador McFaul finally to you sir.

Russia blocked two U.S. senators from visiting that country. Is this how

Putin responds to Trump`s praise? I mean, again, Vladimir Putin banning

American senators from entering Russia. On the other hand you`ve got the

White House inviting the Russian president to a G7 Summit, or wanting to at

least

 

MCFAUL: Well, first just on its merits this is bad. We need to have

conversation we need our senators to go there. As somebody who`s banned

from traveling to Russia, because of Vladimir Putin, I just think this – 

it doesn`t mean you`re going to agree. But we have to have communication.

 

But secondly, it`s a great point. You know, why is it always on us that we

need to improve relations with Russia? What has Vladimir Putin done in the

last two and a half years? Not one thing has he done to try to improve

relations with the United States.

 

And this is just one more instance where he`s not doing that, which all the

more begs the question, why is President Trump so anxious to please Putin?

And as I said before I`m no longer going to try to explain it.

 

MOHYELDIN: One of the unknown mysteries of this administration. Joyce

Vance, Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you both very much.

 

Still ahead, my live interview with a voter who confronted a GOP lawmaker

for opposing gun reform. Also, I`m going to talk to a top elections

official about why a key agency is hobbled ahead of the 2020 elections.

Plus the Trump White House fact checks Trump on something he said about the

first lady.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MOHYELDIN: And the national fight over gun laws crystallized in a fiery

town hall exchange with constituents grilling a Republican lawmaker for

answers. All of it caught on tape. It happened at a town hall hosted by GOP

Congressman, Steve Watkins of Kansas. Watch as he gets pressed on his

opposition to background checks and to reauthorizing the Violence Against

Women Act, which would tighten some gun laws.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DANIELLE TWEMLOW, MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA CO-LEADER:

We`re not really putting our resources in what we do know works which are

red flag laws, closing the loopholes on background checks, the domestic

Violence Against Women Act, which you voted against.  I will state that –

 

REP. STEVE WATKINS (R)-KANSAS: Ma`am listen, hold on. That is completely

inaccurate, inaccurate characterization.

 

TWEMLOW: What is your vote on that?

 

WATKINS: It was full of poison pills that, you know, a sensible,

conservative Republican –

 

TWEMLOW: It is a law that has been enacted for quite some time. That only

came up to vote because of expiration and you chose not to reinstate it.

 

WATKINS: Because it had poison pills that didn`t exist in there before.

 

MOHYELDIN: Indeed, Congressman Watkins did oppose reauthorizing the

Violence Against Women Act this year. It passed the House anyway, but has

stalled in the Senate, as many others have. Now, you heard the Congressman

mention poison pills in the bill. Well, the crowd actually pressed him on

that. Watch.

 

WOMAN IN CROWD: What were the poison pills?

 

WATKINS: The poison pills we can go into (INAUDIBLE) anytime you`d like –

 

CROWD: Please! Why not now?

 

WATKINS: We`d be happy to. We can blast a press release on it if you`d

like. It had poison pills in it.

 

WOMAN IN CROWD: What are the poison pills?

 

WATKINS: The specifics, I don`t want to give inaccurately.

 

WOMAN IN CROWD: Because you don`t know? Or you don`t want to answer?

 

WATKINS: No. We`ll submit a press release.

 

WOMAN IN CROWD: He doesn`t want to answer.

 

MOHYELDIN: Okay. So we followed up with the Congressman. In fact, The Beat

reached out to Congressman Watkins office for details about the so-called

poison pills that were in that. We have not gotten a response. The NRA,

they actually opposed the bill, citing new language aimed at curbing gun

ownership among domestic abusers.

 

With me now is that activist who confronted Congressman Watkins, Danielle

Twemlow. She is a co-leader of the local chapter in Topeka, Kansas, of the

gun reform group, Moms Demand Action. Great to have you with us. And thank

you very much for taking the time to join us.

 

First of all, you heard from Congressman Watkins, you know, deflect the

question about poison pills. We reached out to him. He did not respond to

us. Have you heard from the congressman any further details about those so-

called poison pills?

 

TWEMLOW: We actually reached out to him as well today. More than one of us

– more than one of his constituents and really received, kind of, the same

roadblock that we received yesterday, that no new information at this time.

And when they are ready, they will be posting it on their website. And so,

no new information now.

 

MOHYELDIN: All right. Well, we`ll certainly follow up with him as well in

the coming days. I want to get your thoughts on one of the responses the

Congressman said in that town hall. He said that there is clearly no

definitive solution for gun violence. I`m curious to get your response, as

somebody who lives this day in and day out on the front lines, what is your

response to the Congressman saying there is no definitive solution?

 

TWEMLOW: Well, there isn`t a magic way to end all gun violence, but that

certainly shouldn`t stop us from doing things that can make a difference.

And we do have some fairly decent information that, you know, having

stronger background checks would definitely help curb some of this day-to-

day violence that we see.

 

One hundred Americans a day are killed by gun violence in America. And that

is certainly something that we shouldn`t just take lightly, that we

shouldn`t just say it`s going to happen. Enough is enough. And we

definitely need to stand firm on making sure that we`re doing things to

help curb this problem.

 

MOHYELDIN: Danielle, I want to play –

 

TWEMLOW: One thing that I happen –

 

MOHYELDIN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

 

TWEMLOW: Go ahead, I`m sorry.

 

MOHYELDIN: No, no, please go ahead.

 

TWEMLOW: One thing that I pointed out was that, many of us at the end of

the day, when we leave our house, when we go to sleep at night, we lock our

doors. We lock it as a security feature. We do it, because it helps deter

some crime. And it makes us feel safer. And that`s very what we need to

look at. We need to do things. We need to start somewhere to make everyone

feel safer.

 

MOHYELDIN: This is a sign of the times that we are living in. It is back-

to-school season. It is in full swing. I want you to take a look at some of

the new items that parents are buying their kids in this report. Watch.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KSDK NEWS: Parents are now buying bullet-proof backpacks.

 

WTLV-TV: Some are calling this a sad reality. The fact that you can simply

go to one of these stores like OfficeMax right behind me and pick up one of

these bullet-proof backpacks.

 

STEVE NAREMORE, TUFFPACKS CEO: This is one of our 12 by 18 inserts.

 

TODAY SHOW, NBC: Steve Naremore`s company, TuffyPacks, makes bulletproof

inserts for backpacks. Ninety five percent of his customers are parents who

received this guide, which shows how kids should use the backpack along

with other survival tips.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: I have no words to describe that. What is your response?

 

TWEMLOW: I agree. I have children myself. I have worked within a school and

it`s really disheartening to believe that we`re putting this burden on our

children and their day-to-day lives. The research is not suggesting that

this isn`t a safe way for our children to live from day to day, that it is

the jobs of our senators, of our Congress, people to be enacting laws that

are keeping their constituents safer, not putting the burden on children,

on schools. And it`s not healthy.

 

MOHYELDIN: I can`t imagine what it`s like to be a parent having to explain

to your first grader how to use a backpack as a bulletproof shield.

Danielle Twemlow, thank you very much for taking the time to join us this

evening.

 

Up next, how Mitch McConnell is undercutting election security in this

country. The head of federal elections is here on that live, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MOHYELDIN: All right. This does not sound good. The federal agency in

charge of policing America`s election laws is about to get seriously

impaired just as the 2020 campaign heats up. And it`s happening in part

because of Mitch McConnell.

 

Okay, here`s the deal. The Federal Election Commissions is supposed to have

six members. Right now, it has four, the minimum required by law to vote as

a body and enforce election laws. This week, one member announced that he

is stepping down effective Saturday, meaning the FEC won`t be able to form

a quorum, essentially paralyzing the agency.

 

In a moment, I`m going to speak with the chair of the FEC, Ellen Weintraub,

a Democrat. She is urging the Senate to speedily confirm new members. But

Mitch McConnell has left one nomination stall for two years. And Donald

Trump has yet to nominate anyone to fill the other vacancy.

 

All of this coming amid warnings from security agencies about foreign

meddling in the 2020 elections. And just months after Trump said he`s open

to accepting foreign aid.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If somebody called from a country, Norway,

“We have information on your opponent.” Oh, I think I would want to hear

it.

 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC`S GOOD MORNING AMERICA CO-ANCHOR: You want that

kind of interference in our elections?

 

TRUMP: It`s not an interference. If they have information, I think I`d take

it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: Joining us now is Ellen Weintraub, chair of the FEC. Thank you

very much, Madam Chair, for joining us. I`ve got to get to that statement

that we heard from the president in a moment. But let me begin with the

news about the resignation of your colleague and how that will affect the

work of the FEC as the election season really begins to heat up.

 

ELLEN WEINTRAUB, FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIR: Thanks for having me.

First of all, let me assure your viewers that the agency is not closing its

doors. We have a very dedicated professional staff. We will continue to

come to work to fulfill the agency`s important mission of following the

money and making sure that the American people are informed as to who is

supporting which candidates, and what those candidates are doing with the

money that they receive.

 

So all of that will go on unimpaired. However, without a quorum, we will be

unable to resolve any enforcement matters, to issue any advisory opinions,

to issue any new rules. And this is obviously not a good situation for us

going into what will undoubtedly be a hard fought election season with lots

of money being raised and spent. We need to have a full quorum so that we

can respond to events as they develop.

 

The good news is that in the past, the president and Congress have shown

that they are capable of moving quickly when they are motivated to do so.

And Commissioner Petersen is a great example of that. He was confirmed a

mere 12 days after he was nominated. So if the president can make some

nominations quickly and the Senate can confirm them quickly, the agency

will not be impaired for long. And I urge them to do that.

 

MOHYELDIN: So what is your understanding of why this hasn`t happened so

far? As we mentioned there in the intro, that Mitch McConnell has stalled

one of the nominations for almost two years.

 

WEINTRAUB: Well, I`m not going to characterize what`s happened, or why it`s

happened, or who`s caused it all. That is above my pay grade. The way the

system works is the president has to make the nominations. The president

nominates people of his own party and usually takes the advice of Senate

leaders and the other party for the nominees of that party.

 

We have had one vacancy on the Democratic side for over two years and one

on the Republican side for a year and a half. There is somebody who`s been

nominated and there hasn`t been a hearing on that nomination for a

Republican seat. But I honestly cannot tell you – they`re not consulting

me –

 

MOHYELDIN: Okay.

 

WEINTRAUB: – on nominations.

 

MOHYELDIN: Can you comment at least on some of the measures that are in

front of Congress that have been blocked, that would shore up and secure

our elections that have been blocked by Mitch McConnell?

 

WEINTRAUB: Well, again, I don`t want to cast any stones here, but there are

a number of very important measures that have bipartisan support in the

House and in the Senate that would help to shore up our elections going

into the 2020 elections. That would help with election security, that would

help with disclosure, that would help make sure that the state and local

governments that are responsible for administering the elections have the

resources and the cybersecurity tools that they need in order to make sure

that the election goes on unimpaired.

 

And I, again, would just urge Congress, particularly the Senate, to take up

those bills, vote them out, and hopefully the president would sign them.

 

MOHYELDIN: And Madam Chair, your reaction to the president saying he would

accept help from a foreign country?

 

WEINTRAUB: Well, the law is pretty clear that candidates in the United

States are not allowed to accept assistance from foreign countries. So I`m

hoping that was an off-the-cuff remark and that the president would not, in

fact, do that.

 

MOHYELDIN: We certainly hope he is watching tonight as well. Ellen

Weintraub, thank you very much for making that absolutely clear.

 

Ahead, the VMAs, they get a little political with tough direct messaging to

Trump from the country`s biggest pop stars.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MOHYELDIN: We just saw something unusual, the Trump White House fact

checking Trump about this statement at the G7.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It`s a country with tremendous potential. I

also say that by the way with respect to North Korea, Kim Jong-un, who I`ve

gotten to know extremely well. First lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un,

and I think she`d agree with me, he is a man with a country that has

tremendous potential.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: That seemed off since there`s absolutely no reporting at all to

suggest that the First Lady ever met with the North Korean leader. The

White House eventually issued a clarification saying, quote, “President

Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements

of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim. And while the first lady

hasn`t met him the president feels like she`s gotten to know him too.”

 

And last night politics took center stage at the Video Music Awards. The

rapper French Montana spoke out against Trump`s immigration policy and

Taylor Swift talked about her music video calling to extend civil rights

protections to the LGBTQ community.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TAYLOR SWIFT, AMERICAN SINGER: In this video several points were made. So

you voted for this video means that you want a world where we`re all

treated equally under the law, regardless of how we identify. At the end of

this video, there was a petition for the Equality Act, which basically just

says we all deserve equal rights under the law. And I want to thank

everyone who signed that petition, because it now has half a million

signatures, which is five times the amount that it would need to warrant a

response from the White House.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOHYELDIN: As of now the White House has still to respond to that petition.

 

That does it for me. You can catch me every morning on “MORNING JOE FIRST

LOOK” right here on MSNBC at 5:00 a.m. Eastern. “HARDBALL” with Chris

Matthews is next.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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