FBI arrests suspect. TRANSCRIPT: 8/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Stephanie Valencia, Malcolm Nance, Annise Parker

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  On Monday, one of the things we`re going to be

watching is the start of the criminal trial for former White House counsel

in the Obama administration, Gregory Craig. He`s the only Democratic

administration official who`s been caught up in any of the prosecutions

that derive from the Mueller investigation.


Mueller`s team passed on the Greg Craig prosecution to other federal

prosecutors. That trial is going to start on Monday. They had initially

charged him with two felony counts. A judge this week threw out one of the

two felony charges.


So he`s just going forward on one felony count related to work he did in

conjunction with President Trump`s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. It

should be a fascinating trial that`s going to start on Monday.  We`ll be

watching that before we get back to you here on Monday night. Now it`s time

for the “Last Word.” Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening,



ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. You have yourself a

fantastic weekend and we`re watching for this on Monday.


MADDOW:  Thank you. Appreciate it.


VELSHI:  I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell on this Friday night.


Breaking news, the FBI has arrested a Nevada man who they believe wanted to

attack LGBT and Jewish targets and he was promoting white supremacists

ideology. Agents say the suspect had illegal firearms and had bomb making



We`ll have more on that in just a few minutes but we begin tonight with the

president`s own accusations of encouraging white supremacists and the

continued backlash over Donald Trump`s divisive and inflammatory rhetoric

leading up to the deadliest attack targeting Latinos in recent U.S.



The El Paso shooter`s manifesto referenced Trump`s language saying his

attack was quote “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” And in an

affidavit filed today “The New York Times” reports that the shooter

divulged to the police that his target was Mexicans. The very same people

that President Trump slandered the day he announced his campaign for

president in this video here.


A “USA Today” analysis of the rallies Trump has held since 2017 found that

Trump has used the words predator, invasion, alien, killer, criminal and

animal at his rallies while discussing immigration more than 500 times. The

Trump administration isn`t treating these people any better.


The administration is accused of intentionally separating children from

their parents at the border and caging them in overcrowded detentions,

sleeping on concrete floors with insufficient food or showers. Today, child

welfare services are grappling with caring for children who were left

stranded after ICE arrested nearly 700 undocumented workers in Mississippi

on Wednesday, the largest raid in a single state in U.S. history.


Roughly 300 of those people are still being detained. “BuzzFeed” reported

that hundreds of children across Mississippi missed school yesterday

because they were afraid to leave their homes. School and welfare agencies

were not alerted about the raids because it could have botched the

operation, ICE officials told NBC News.


As one ICE Official said, “We`re a law enforcement agency, not a social

services agency.” One worker who witnessed the raids said. “I`m thinking of

the separated families, fathers and mothers deported, children left alone

because their parents were arrested. What I saw was traumatic, painful.”

Well, traumatic and painful, but the cruelty is the point. Today Donald

Trump was asked specifically about this lack of preparation.




KRISTIN WELKER, JOURNALIST, NBC NEWS:  Why wasn`t there a better plan in

place to deal with the migrant children in Mississippi?



have to go in, you can`t let anybody know. Otherwise when you get there,

nobody will be there. But I want people to know that if they come into the

United States illegally they`re getting out, they`re going to be brought

out. And this serves as a very good deterrent.




VELSHI:  A very good deterrent. “The Atlantic`s” Adam Serwer says that the

real deterrent is exactly the cruel conditions immigrants and asylum

seekers face at the border under President Trump.


In his piece entitled – from last year – entitled “The Cruelty is the

Point,” Serwer writes. “Trump`s only true skill it the con; his only

fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight,

white, Christian men and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty.

It is that cruelty and the delight it brings them that binds his most

ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear.”


But Donald Trump`s immigration policy is causing pain on the other side of

the border as well. NBC News correspondent Cal Perry crossed the border to

see how Mexico is handling the overflow of migrants and those deported from

the United States and join us live from Mexico City. Good evening, Cal.


CAL PERRY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, good evening, Ali. As you said, this

administration is changing immigration and asylum in America. They`re

changing what it means to be an immigrant in America. But as we found out,

these policies have a wide ranging impact that go beyond America`s borders.

In this case all the way to Mexico`s border with Guatemala.




PERRY (voice-over):  In Tapachula, Mexico most people are from somewhere

else, and everybody has a story.


Did you think about going to the U.S.?




PERRY (on camera):  Why not?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because I got deported already.


PERRY (on camera):  What is it like here in Tapachula?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don`t know. It`s bad for the expression but it`s not



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right now the situation in America is very difficult

for illegal immigrants.


PERRY (voice-over):  President Trump isn`t just affecting the lives of

migrants. He`s shifting policy inside Mexico. His tune on the country has

recently not so subtly shifted.


TRUMP:  I want to thank, by the way, the country of Mexico. They`ve got

21,000 soldiers on the border right now. I`m starting to like Mexico a lot.


PERRY (on camera):  This is the new reality for the Mexican government ever

since President Trump threatened this country with tariffs, 11,000 new

National Guardsmen have been stood up along the border with Guatemala. For

the commander here and his personnel, the mission is as tenuous as the



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation):  Our function is to give security

and support the immigration department.


PERRY (voice-over):  For security reasons, the military insisted we conceal

his identity.


What`s the stated mission of the soldiers who have been stood up here on

the border?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation):  We can`t hit them, we can`t touch

them, can`t follow the migrant.


PERRY (voice-over):  Traveling back and forth between Mexico and Guatemala

has been a part of daily life and commerce for centuries. It`s only in the

era of President Trump that you now officially need an I.D. when reaching

the Mexican side of the river.


PERRY (on camera):  That show of force along the border with Guatemala is

only half the story. The Mexican government is setting up centers like this

one in an attempt to get migrants to register. It`s their way of trying to

bring some semblance of order in what is very clearly a chaotic situation.


PERRY (voice-over):  People from all over the world queue up and jockey for

position by the gates that seem to swing open at random. Authorities both

eager to get people into the system and at the same time are overwhelmed by

the volume of human traffic.


All the while people are stuck here, many after a treacherous journey,

afraid still to show their faces. Fearing it`ll hurt their chances of

eventually making it to the United States.


As night falls on this border town, we meet Ishmael (ph). His parents

brought him to California when he was only 3 years old. Recently deported,

he`s trying to get back to the only life and family he knows.


PERRY (on camera):  Are you trying to get back?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am. I am trying to get back.


PERRY (on camera):  How are you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Either legally or if possible illegal.


PERRY (on camera):  So, you would cross back illegally if you have to.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, definitely.  Just to be back with my family.




PERRY (on camera):  Ali, Ishmael told us he feels like a foreigner living

in Mexico, that he`ll do whatever it takes to get back to his family in

California even if he dies trying to cross illegally. Look, as you said,

these policies are advertised as deterrents, in many ways they are. But the

cost of that is human suffering, people in detention, people who have been

separated from their families, deportations or in this case, people stuck

at international borders unable to move in either direction. Ali.


VELSHI:  All right, Cal, stay with us. I want to bring in Stephanie

Valencia. She`s on the advisory board of the Latino Victory Fund and is co-

founder of Equis Labs, and Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the

Northern District of Alabama and an MSNBC legal analyst. She wrote a new

piece about her experiences as a prosecutor with ICE. Welcome to both of



Stephanie, you and I spoke earlier this week. I want to get your take. It`s

been a remarkable week for Latinos, Hispanics in America both with the

killings from last weekend, the targeted killings, then with the ICE

roundup in Mississippi. You said to be last week that things have changed,

people are becoming aware of the fact that this targeting now has a price.



Absolutely. And trust me, Ali, there are a lot – many more places I`d

rather be on a Friday night than talking about the kind of attacks on the

Hispanic and immigrant communities that have happened over the last week,

and quite frankly over the last several years.


I think what was clear from Cal`s piece is that, you know, the slash and

burn approach to Trump`s immigration policy is not solving the root causes

of migration. People are coming to this country because they are fleeing

violence and persecution. And they come here to seek a better life and more

safety for themselves and their families.


And in addition to that, we have an economy as we saw earlier this week

with the Mississippi immigration raids, an economy that relies on immigrant

labor, and we cannot be hypocrites as American citizens here, including

Donald Trump, who “The Washington Post” again revealed earlier today in a

piece, had the reliance of immigrant labor at his hotels.


And so we as a country need to understand that our economy ultimately does

rely on immigrant labor and that, you know, people who are literally

putting food on our table, chicken that we – many of you probably had in

chicken salads earlier this week, were people that were separated from

their families.


Whether it`s DACA, large scale immigration raids targeting workers, but not

employers, whether it is kids in cages at the border or rounding up and

starting to detain U.S. citizens, which has happened multiple times under

the Trump administration.


The slash and burn policy is not working, and there is only one thing to

think is that, you know, ultimately he`s going after the Hispanic and

immigrant community. Obviously, the messages that he`s sending is resulting

in acts of violence on our community in places like El Paso.


And so we have to put a stop to it, and we have to stand up. And what wave

seen in the last week is we`ve seen lots of leaders, hundreds of leaders

signed onto our op-ed that ran in “The Washington Post” earlier this week.

But people are fed up and people are awake.


VELSHI:  And you were one of the authors of that op-ed. Joyce, let`s talk

about when President Trump became president and John Kelly was his Homeland

Security secretary, they talked about the fact that if you were not a

serious criminal or a criminal, you were not going to be targeted for



His elegant term for it was bad hombres. But they were talking about the

kind of people who are a threat to society, a menace to society. In fact,

to Stephanie`s point, many of the people who we know, we have reported on

who have been targeted for immigration action and deportation have been

people who have been working in the United States 5, 10, 15, 20.


We know of instances 25 to 30 years including some of these people who were

arrested in Mississippi. Tell me about how we`re supposed to think about

these ICE raids because you were a prosecutor who had jurisdiction over

some of these things.


JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYS:  So the way you think about this sort of a

situation as a prosecutor is it`s important to prosecute the most culpable

people and the people who represent the greatest threat to your community.

In a situation like this, that would mean seeing if you can prosecute the

employers who after all are the ones who were employing all these people



And also if you`re going to look at people who were in the country without

legal immigration status, you want to focus on removing those who were

violent, those who were engaged in criminal activity. Both of those items

should be the priorities, but this week we saw law enforcement go after,

you know, what prosecutors would call low hanging fruit, going into a

workplace and arresting people who were at their jobs.


VELSHI:  And Stephanie, I want to play – people have maybe seen this

before, but I think it`s important to play a little bit of the sound of an

11-year-old girl whose father was taken in the ICE raids in Mississippi. I

want to talk to you on the other side about this.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Government, please put your heart. Let my parents be

free with everybody else please. Don`t leave the child who are crying and

everything. I need my dad and mommy. My dad didn`t do nothing. He`s not a





VELSHI:  Stephanie, those images, that girl tells us a story that we have

been covering for the last – more than the last year, about a line we

cross when it comes to humanity, right? That girl, her father was arrested,

but we have seen children who have been detained.


We have seen children detained at a cost to taxpayers that would be higher

than spending a night in a Four Seasons hotel who don`t get clothes and who

don`t get toothpaste and who don`t get showers. What – this is about more

than immigration. This becomes our humanity.


VALENCIA:  It absolutely is. It absolutely is. And that little girl`s voice

has kept me up at night, all week since the Mississippi raid happened.


And for people who aren`t shaken to their core by hearing that and hearing

the fear and sadness in her voice because she does not know the next time

she is going to see her father, and was picked up on the first day of

school for her, which should be a joyful and happy day for a kid her age.


You know, this is call to conscience for all Americans like, do we – are

we okay as United States citizens, with the way that we are treating people

like that who again, who are part of our communities, who are putting food

on our table, who are doing back breaking work in our country?


Are we okay with how they are being treated and I think this is call to

conscience. I think the images that we see of children being separated from

their parents, of kids in physical cages, you know, it really is awakening

a set of people beyond just the Hispanic community.


The Hispanic community and the immigrant community in this country feels

very much under attack, but I think that because of what we are seeing and

what we are hearing every single day now, I think a broader set of people

are becoming aware and they are angry about it.


And I do think that this is also a wake-up call for Republicans to step up

and be a call to conscience, you know, and really speak and work with their

conscience. I think as Joyce said, we should really be thinking about how

we create an immigration system that works to put a pathway to, you know,

put many of these folks on a pathway to citizenship.




VALENCIA:  But to also focus our enforcement resources where they matter

most, which is getting, you know, the scariest criminals out of our

country. But I think ultimately this is the time for us to rethink what

immigration in this country should be moving forward.


VELSHI:  Yes. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, right. You can

keep those hardworking people who are in this country here, Cal, and you

can completely put your enforcement efforts behind people who are

conducting, you know, criminality and behavior that is unsafe for

Americans. Cal?


PERRY:  Right. And listen, don`t forget, 300 of the 600 people that were

swept up in those raids were Americans, right. I think Donald Trump and

Stephen Miller, and I think we need to say that name, Stephen Miller, are

changing the fabric of what the means to be American and what it means for



You know the thing about traveling around the world and reporting and then

returning home to America is that America is the place that protects

people. America is the safe place that people can come, that they can apply

for asylum when they`ve reached America and they`re on American soil.


And what`s happening now is they`re going in detention facilities. We`re

putting kids in cages. We`re separating families. We`re deporting people

including Americans. And it has not only changed the fabric of America, but

it has changed how the world is looking at the United States of America.


People here in Mexico are afraid on the front pages of the papers. There

was quotes from this gunman that said, “I was trying to shoot as many

Mexicans as I could,” and we didn`t hear anything from the president of the

United States for 48 hours. People here noticed that and they`re talking

about it, Ali.


VELSHI:  Joyce, Brett Stevens, conservative has written in “The New York

Times,” “that the right attempt to down-play this specifically ideological

complex of the El Paso massacre is a transparently self-serving effort to

absolve this president of moral responsibility for his damaging rhetoric.

This, too, shouldn`t wash. The president is guilty in a broad sense of a

form of incitement.”


To Stephanie`s point, this is as clear an opportunity as one gets for

Republicans to be able to say this isn`t America. This is a bridge too far.

But that doesn`t seem to move this president.


VANCE:  It really doesn`t, Ali. And if this president wanted to

disassociate himself with that sort of racist sentiment, he could very

clearly take to twitter or do an interview and say I don`t want anyone to

harm Mexicans.


You know, whether these people are legally in our country or not, American

citizens of Hispanic origin, no one should use violence against other

people. And I think it`s remarkable that from Charlottesville on, we`ve not

seen this president make any sort of statement like that at any point in



Every Republican elected official needs to be asked if they believe if they

continue to stand with the president or how they view the need for violence

in this society.


VELSHI:  Joyce Vance, Stephanie Valencia, Cal Perry, thank you all for your

contribution to understanding this very troubling issue.


Coming up, breaking news that the federal government has arrested a

suspected white supremacists who was allegedly planning to attack Jewish

and LGBT targets armed with an assault rifle.


And is President Trump pushing Texas toward the Democrat? Former Houston

mayor Annise Parker thinks it`s possible. She`s going to join me at the end

of the hour.




VELSHI:  Amid controversy at Fox News over Tucker Carlson insisting that

white supremacy is a hoax and the Trump administration refusing to give

Congress data on white supremacist domestic terrorism, we have breaking

news tonight.


Just six days after a white supremacist killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas,

the FBI has arrested a white supremacist in Las Vegas who was allegedly in

possession of illegal firearms and bomb making materials. Twenty-three

year-old Conor Climo was arrested Thursday morning and charged with one

count of possession of an unregistered firearm.


According to the criminal complaint, the FBI seized an AR-15 rifle and a

bolt action rifle from Climo`s bedroom along with bomb making components.

Climo allegedly discussed attacking a Las Vegas synagogue and a bar that he

believed catered to the LGBTQ community. Climo also reportedly used

derogatory racial anti-Semitic and homosexual slurs in online



In 2016, a local Las Vegas news report featured Conor Climo patrolling his

Las Vegas neighborhood in a tactical vest carrying AR-15 style assault

rifle and 120 rounds of ammunition. Climo faces a maximum penalty of 10

years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


Joining me now is Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive

programming at SiriusXM radio and an MSNBC political analyst and Joyce

Vance is back with us. She has extensive experience prosecuting possession

of illegal firearms and destructive devices cases.


Joyce, good to have you back. Zerlina, good to see you. Zerlina, this

complaint as I read it is detailed and remarkably disturbing. Not just in

what he`s alleged to have planned, but in his degree of comfort –




VELSHI:  – in talking about it freely to the FBI, and as we saw, in news

reports.today have planned but in his degree of comfort in talking about it

freely to the FBI, and as we saw in news reports.


MAXWELL:  Well, I think that we`ve reached a point in this particular

moment in history where it`s all out in the open and there is no shame

attached with having these kinds of feelings, expressing them out loud,

going onto these forums, sort of finding your tribe so to speak and going

back and forth with ideas and slurs.


I think what`s most disturbing – not just that he`s a security guard by

day, that`s alarming.


VELSHI:  Right.


MAXWELL:  There needs to probably be a better vetting process for that

employer. But that he had bomb making materials.




MAXWELL:  Which is separate and apart from the conversation we`ve been

having all week about access to AR-15 and assault-style rifles.


VELSHI:  Right. Correct.


MAXWELL:  So I think that when you`re talking about the FBI being able to

find these folks who want to do people of color harm, you know, the

addition or the necessity for bomb making material to sort of flag this

person and the FBI to take action, that`s really alarming to me.


I`m glad that the FBI was able to do something and intervene before anybody

got hurt, but it seems like, you know, you shouldn`t need to have the

pieces of a bomb in order to be flagged by the authorities.


VELSHI:  To flag – and Joyce, the complaint details the work that the FBI

did. And it does seem quite impressive that they were able to coax out this

guy had – I mean, he was ready to burn up a synagogue. He wanted to set

fire to it, explode a bomb and kill everybody inside.


But what`s Zerlina says is interesting to me and I`d love to get your take

on this as a prosecutor. The fact that these things seem to be out in the

open, the fact that there does not seem to be shame associated with going

out in the media and saying what you believe about people, is that good or

bad from an investigative and prosecutorial standpoint?


VANCE:  You know, what we know from the complaint in this case is that this

defendant was talking online in chat rooms to undercover employees. First,

to a confidential source and later to an FBI online employee. It`s unlikely

that they were telling him that they were law enforcement.


They were instead learning about his intent, whether he was committed to

staying in the Nevada area and so forth. And he was remarkably forthcoming.

Apparently, there is in fact a space online where people feel very

comfortable talking about their desire to harm people because of their

religion or because they are a part of the LGBTQ community.


It is a good thing for law enforcement, though, because it means that here

that the FBI was able to prevent a crime. It`s not another El Paso where

we`re looking at the aftermath. And the line that Zerlina is talking about

here, why do we have to wait until he has a bomb.


The FBI has to be careful. They can`t prosecute someone for speech. But

here where there`s the actual potential for violence he`s crossed the law -



VELSHI:  I want to just – we`re going to get Joyce back in a second. I

want to just play a remarkable clip that appeared on Las Vegas` ABC station

in 2016 in which they were focusing on this Conor Climo because he was

walking around in tactical outfits with a very serious weapon. Let`s just

watch a bit of this.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How many bullets are in here?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Times four magazines, Conor Climo says the weapons

are necessary since he`s patrolling alone.


CLIMO:  If there is a possibly very determined enemym, we have at least the

means to deal with it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So you were briefly in the army?


CLIMO:  Very briefly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That`s all Conor would say about that. As far as what

he`s going to be looking for.


Define suspicious activity. What does that mean?


CLIMO:  People like they`re outside when they`re probably not supposed to



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How would you determine that?


CLIMO:  You know, I`d just be walking and then I just see, you know, like





VELSHI:  OK, that was in 2016, Zerlkina, and he`s talking about a very

determined enemy, you know, and the people he`s going to – and now, the

context around this is that this guy`s real problem was with Jews and gays.


MAXWELL:  Right.


VELSHI: and who else, I mean –


MAXWELL:  And whoever else.


VELSHI:  Usually it goes in groups, right? This becomes really interesting.

This is guy who`s walking around with weaponry, bragging about the fact

he`s ready to take on an enemy –


MAXWELL:  Right.


VELSHI:  – and then we find out who the enemy is.


MAXWELL:  In some ways I feel like it reminds me of George Zimmerman,



VELSHI:  Patrolling his area.


MAXWELL:  Patrolling the neighborhood and then killed Trayvon Martin and –


VELSHI:  Who he thought was a threat.


MAXWELL:  – who he – right, but I think –


VELSHI:  But he or he had convinced himself was a threat.


MAXWELL:  Convinced himself that Trayvon was a threat when he was not. And

I think that, you know, what`s scary about this is imagine if that was a

black person walking around with a giant gun in the neighborhood. I don`t

think that we should shrug when we see white men anymore doing these



I mean, there have been sort of viral photos of people in open carry state.

My parents live in an open carry state. And so that`s something that we`ve

have to adjust to being from New Jersey and just being around guns more and

then being out in the open.


And my question is always, why do you need the gun in Tropical Smoothie

when you`re just getting your breakfast smoothie?


VELSHI:  Right.


MAXWELL:  It seems to me that the normalization of having these giant guns

in places where they`re not really necessary, I mean, the argument that you

need it for self-protection or somehow you need it to be the good guy with

the gun. What we`ve learned this week, well that is a fallacy.


That is not something that prevents these massacres from happening because


VELSHI:  Right. Texas is full of their guys with guns –


MAXWELL:  Exactly.


VELSHI:  – and guys would kill to (inaudible) legal right.


MAXWELL:  They`re everywhere. They`re everywhere. And they`re not

preventing these massacres. So, perhaps we should try to tackle other

strategies in finding these extremists online and stopping them like they

did in this case.


VELSHI:  Joyce, I want to read – we have Joyce back, by the way and I`m

glad about that. Joyce, I want to read from the criminal complaint. I think

you`ve had a look at this as well that was filed in district court in



It says, “In a journal found in his room, Climo sketched a picture of an

attack of a Las Vegas bar that he viewed as catering to homosexuals.

Additionally, in the same sketch, Climo drew what he described  he grew

what he described as two infantry squads attacking the bar with firearms

from the outside and one attacking it with a firearm from the inside. Where

does all this fit into the law? Does that qualify as something more than

free speech if you`re drawing pictures of a place being attacked?


VANCE:  So he`s not charged here with having drawn those pictures. The

charges and the complaint are very narrowly drawn to illegal possession of

the components of the destructive device, the bomb making items. But these

sorts of sketches and the other items in his room may help law enforcement

put together a better picture of what his ultimate goals were.


There may be other witnesses. He may have acquired other items. Often

people who were involved in making bombs will have a separate site which is

their bomb making facility because it`s dangerous to put those components

together. You don`t usually want to do that in your living room.


So this is complaint, what we`ve seen so far in this case but it may well

turn into a superseding indictment with additional charges down the road.


VELSHI: By the way, he apparently had the fluid components of the bomb and

the circuitry on a shelf in his bedroom. So I don`t know whether that tells

you that he`s uniquely sophisticated because he seemed to have some bomb

making ability or that`s kind of ridiculous to keep bomb making stuff in

your bedroom.


VANCE: You know, the complaint is pretty specific here and it says he has

components that he could readily combine to put together a destructive

device. That both triggers the criminal violation that he`s charged with

and it does tell us that we have someone who`s gone to the trouble of

learning how to put a device together and of acquiring all of these

components including the ignition components.


VELSHI: Remarkable. Joyce thanks good to see you as always. Joyce Vance and

Zerlina Maxwell, thank you both you for joining us tonight.


Coming up is the President choosing personal loyalty over loyalty to the

country inside the nation`s security apparatus? Malcolm Nance is my next







UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An Acting Defense Secretary an Acting Chief of Staff,

an Acting Interior Secretary.


TRUMP: It`s easier to make moves when they`re acting. Really I like acting

because I can move so quickly gives me more flexibility.




VELSHI: I like acting, that`s the way President Trump describes how he

liked to staff his cabinet back in February. Normally when a cabinet level

official resigns or is fired the President of the United States appoints a

new person to the position who is then confirmed or rejected by the Senate.

That`s how this is supposed to work.


But it`s no secret that President Trump has had some problems staffing his

administration, so he often relies on acting officials. Just a week ago

John Radcliffe, the President`s nominee to replace the outgoing Director of

National Intelligence Dan Coates had to withdraw from consideration after

news outlets found that he had seriously embellished his resume.


That melt the role would likely be filled for the foreseeable future by an

acting director. According to DNI policy the person who was supposed to

fill that role was this woman, Sue Gordon, a Career Intelligence Official

who had served under both Republicans and Democrats.


The only problem was that Sue Gordon is a Career Intelligence Official who

has served under both Republicans and Democrats. That meant she was likely

to lead the agency as someone who was actually interested in intelligence

gathering and not as someone who would just tell the President what he

wanted to hear.


So yesterday the President announced that Sue Gordon would be retiring and

that the job of Acting Director of National Intelligence would go to Joseph

McGuire, the current Head of the National Counter Terrorism Center.


In her resignation letter Gordon made it clear that she was not leaving by

choice writing I offer this letter as an act of respect and patriotism, not

preference. You should have your team. We don`t know yet if Joseph McGuire

will be the kind of loyalist that President Trump prefers.


The Senate will not get to question him. Therefore he takes the all-

important job because even though he`s Trump`s handpicked choice, he is an

Acting Director. And as such does not require a Senate confirmation



What does that mean for our Nation`s Intelligence Services? When the

President fires people who tell him what he doesn`t want to hear and

circumvents Congress` role in overseeing who will replace them. I`ll ask

MSNBC Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Analyst Malcolm Nance that

question next.






TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell

you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you talk to your intelligence

chiefs today about displeasure you have with their –


TRUMP: I did. And they said that they were totally misquoted and they were

totally it was taken out of context. So what I do is I would suggest that

you call them. When my intelligence people tell me how wonderful our run is

if you don`t mind I`m going to just go by my own counsel.




VELSHI: That`s how President Trump usually talks about America`s

intelligence community. But now he`s getting a chance to actually reshape

it. Malcolm Nance is an MSNBC Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Analyst.


Malcolm, the President talked about in January with that clip we showed

from January 31st that he said his intelligence people were misquoted and

taken out of context. That was at congressional testimony. So I`m not sure

what he thought was misquoted and taken out of context because we`ve got

the tape?


This is just remarkable, that the President of the United States is

choosing loyalty over Career Intelligence Officials.



this point by the choice of Admiral Joe McGuire he thinks he`s choosing

loyalty over intelligence experience. Look, Sue Gordon was a commensurate

intelligence professional 30 years at the agency Deputy Director at

National Intelligence.


She knew how to shape the strategic plan of how the United States was going

to collect information against terrorists and our near peer adversaries of

China, Russia, Iran and whatever threats that came up in this world.


Her depth of knowledge comes from that and then managing those 17 agencies

to meet the strategic goals the United States so that it`s not we are all

protected. Admiral McGuire, I think Donald Trump has made a strategic

mistake himself.


He is the Head of the National Counter Terrorism Center. He`s a former navy

S.E.A.L. Admiral, Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. He`s a user

much less of an intelligence collector or a manager.


But the problem is for Donald Trump is that Joe McGuire is not going to be

politicized. He is not a yes man he is not going to be allowed to be turned

into a person that will just allow the President to believe what he wants.


VELSHI: So this is an interesting point because when the President replaced

Janet Yellen as the Head of the Fed, there was no complaint about the work.

Janet Yellen was doing good, he is a very experienced. He brought in his

own guy Jerome Powell, and how he`s fighting with his own guy because

Jerome Powell is trying to resist being politicized by the President.


But to the end by the President, the fact that you`re somebody else`s

person or you existed before he got there is enough to make him question

whether or not you`re working in his interest.


NANCE: Yeah, and this is his mistake. He views the whole world as a series

of cronies and lackeys. And when you`re talking about the intelligence

community particularly you`re talking about the top, you know, the top

S.E.A.L. Admiral who by the way was close, personal friends with Admiral

Bill McRaven, a person who Donald Trump has very, very contentious

relationship with to put it at the least.


They have a professional military ethos. They have an ethos with regards to

their oath to the constitution of the United States. And I don`t think he`s

going to violate that in any sense of the word. He may be more diplomatic,

Admiral McGuire, but Donald Trump sees these guys out of central casting.

He sees the navy S.E.A.L., he sees the trident on his chest and that`s all

he thinks and he thinks oh, those guys are on my side.


He is going to get an intelligence organization and apparatus that is going

to be even more aggressive than what I think Sue Gordon would have done

because McRaven is a forward operator. He ran the shooters and so he now

understands how from the shooter`s collection needs to be brought up into

that broad space operational field, and he won`t – he won`t lie when North

Korea launches a ballistic missile and tell the President that that`s your

best bet.


VELSHI: That`s the important part, right? This is one of those things where

the intelligence community by definition sometimes works in a way that most

Americans don`t understand what they`re doing and don`t understand the

value of it.


Nobody in America, virtually nobody outside your community understood who

Sue Gordon was or knew who she was? But there is a dangerous in

politicizing this because it`s the kind of thing autocrats do.


NANCE: Yes, it is. And I met Sue Gordon when she was at CIA. These are

people you would never notice passing on our streets because their

commitment is to the constitution of the United States, to doing that job

day in and day out and taking care of their people.


Care and feeding of the intelligence apparatus is the job. But if the

President of the United States thinks that he`s getting Vladimir Putin

2,000 which is where he brought on his KGB friends to support him and then

turn then nation state into an intelligence apparatus and then use those

skills to, you know, corrupt the world, that`s not going to happen for

Donald Trump unless he puts a political lackey in, and then the

intelligence community can only produce the material. We can`t make them

consume it, but we`re going to keep doing it the professional way.


VELSHI: Malcolm, always good to see you, thank you sir, Malcolm Nance. All

right, coming up Mexican-Americans and suburban women is President Trump

driving them both away from the Republican Party and driving Texas toward

Democrats? That`s next.




VELSHI: Call it the growing texts that is, the growing trend of Texas

Republicans not running for reelection. Just this week, Congressman Kenny

Marchant became the fourth Republican in the State to bow of the 2020

election. Three of the four represent competitive Texas districts.


After a generation of dominance in Texas, Republicans are finally facing

the same challenges as their counter parts in other parts of America. “The

New York Times” explains by linking themselves to President Trump and his

incendiary brand of nationalist politics, they are alienating the sort of

suburban voters who are once among the Republican Parties` most dependable



Two Freshman Democrats Colin Allred and Lucy Fletcher were pushed to

victory in 2018 in part because of this realignment and Democrats are

hoping that this shift will lead to more gains next year. As VOX points out

in 2018, six incumbent Texas Republicans kept their seats by less than five



Democrats have made clear those seats will be high priorities after Senator

Ted Cruz won his reelection bid by less than three points last year, more

party members voiced concern about the chances for Senator John Conan (ph)

who is up for reelection next year.


Several factors are making Texas so competitive all of a sudden. One of

them is a rapidly diversifying population. The number of Latinos in the

state has grown by 1.9 million since the 2000 census accounting for more

than half of Texas` population growth.


Another factor is Trump`s unique unpopularity. A June Quinnipiac Poll found

that 48 percent of Texans approved of Trump`s job performance while 49

percent disapproved. After the break we`re going to talk with the Former

Democratic Mayor of Houston about the path for Democrats in the lone star







REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): The two largest growing groups of voters are

minorities and young people and the Republican Party should be talking to

those groups of folks. I always say in Texas if the Republican Party in

Texas doesn`t start looking like Texas then there will not be a Republican

Party in Texas.




VELSHI: That was Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas one of the four

Texas Republicans who will not seek reelection in 2020. Joining us now

Annise Parker Former Mayor of Houston and the President and CEO of the

LGBTQ Victory Fund. Mayor, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.




VELSHI: What`s the shift all about in Texas? Obviously, all of Texas isn`t

the same as Houston an urbanizing center diversifying full of immigrants,

with sort of more urban concerns. What happened in the rest of Texas that

was supposedly so solidly red that shows some threat of turning blue?


PARKER: The big cities in Texas have long been big blue islands in the vast

red sea of Texas. They were big blue islands. They were urban surrounded by

reliably Republican suburbs and then the vast rural areas.


What`s happened is that those reliably Republican suburban rings around the

big blue urban areas have begun to go purple and it`s not just in Houston

but it is in San Antonio, it`s in Dallas, it`s in Austin, it`s in El Paso.


And when you combine a very large urban population in rapidly growing

cities with these suburbs that shift, I won`t say they`ve turned blue but

they definitely purple, they`re thoughtful, educated voters and they are

more issue voters than party voters and their party has left them behind

and fortunately, we`ve had candidates and the issues to bring them toward

the Democratic side.


VELSHI: So this is interesting when you say they`re more issue voters than

party voters, a lot of people who are not from Texas who wouldn`t

necessarily think that because there has been a long mythology about Texas

being a conservative place, which, you know, in the last few decades has

been a Republican place. What are the issues that are pushing some of these

folks over to thinking about democratic candidates?


PARKER: Well, Texas is still a very conservative place but again

conservative and the Trump brand of Republicanism doesn`t necessarily

equate. You saw the Bush family move very much away from Trump in the last

election, but you also see that some of the suburban areas and I`m most

familiar with Harris County and the area around Houston.


The suburban communities had become much more international. Large South

Asian populations, large Asian populations moving into the suburban area so

the demographics are changing but also, the voters in those communities are

turned off by divisive social messages.


And when you look at what is happening in terms of immigration issues, of

trade issues, sort of the classic Republican issues, their party has left

them. They are then turning to who are the best candidates in the race

rather than who is the Republican in the race?


And fortunately for us, we`ve had some really great Democratic candidates.

And Beto O`Rourke when he ran his statewide campaign was a game changer.

One of the things that happens to candidates is that we fall into the trap

of talking to people that agree with us.


One thing that Beto did masterfully was that he talked to all of Texas and

he campaigned in all of Texas and what we discovered or we were reminded of

is that when we have the kitchen table conversation about real issues that

matter, people respond.


VELSHI: Mayor, good to talk to you. Again, thank you for being with Mayor

Annise Parker, Houston – Former Mayor of Houston. That is tonight`s “Last

Word.” “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up tonight on the day we learned that the El Paso

gunman admitted to targeting Mexicans, the President on route to vacation

predicts Congress will pass what he calls intelligent background checks for









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