FBI arrests suspect. TRANSCRIPT: 8/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTIN WELKER, JOURNALIST, NBC NEWS: Why wasn`t there a better plan in
place to deal with the migrant children in Mississippi?
DONALD TRUMP. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason is because you
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
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
What`s the stated mission of the soldiers who have been stood up here on
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.
STEPHANIE VALENCIA, ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER, LATINO VICTORY FUND:
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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
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 –
ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
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.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many bullets are in here?
CONOR CLIMO, ALLEGED WHITE SUPREMACIST: Thirty rounds.
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
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 –
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?
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 –
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
This is just remarkable, that the President of the United States is
choosing loyalty over Career Intelligence Officials.
MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTER TERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I think at
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
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
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
ANNISE PARKER, FORMER MAYOR OF HOUSTON (D): Glad to be here.
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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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the