Trump heads to G7 summit. TRANSCRIPT: 8/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Jared Bernstein, Jennifer Rubin, Linette Lopez, Alexander Kaufman, Mark Takano, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Christian Picciolini




tries to fight against voter suppression that could activate and engage the

kind of voters and coalitions. They`re going to win states like Michigan

and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.




RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Corey Booker in debate night two. The Democrats

who are going to be on stage in debate three have done themselves a lot of

good, every single one of them in each of the previous two debates.


Making that debate stage is crucial. And it`s the best opportunity any of

them will have to make their campaigns bigger and more effective that

they`ve been even yet. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again

on Monday. Now it is time for “The Last Word” where Ali Velshi is in for

Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. I fully appreciate that they

have done a great job. We`re five plus months from the first caucus. And to

have that reset tonight that you did to show us sort of where they have all

stood and how they have all gained during this campaign has been really

helpful. Thank you very much for doing that.


MADDOW:  Thank you for saying that. Much appreciated.


VELSHI:  You have a great weekend, Rachel.


MADDOW:  Thanks, Ali.


VELSHI:  I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Any minute now,

President Trump is taking off for the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France after a

day of creating economic chaos in the United States. The president is

taking it abroad.


We`re going to discuss several of these crises in our hour. We start with

the president`s public meltdown on twitter, pushing the trade war between

the world`s economic super powers into a dangerous new phase. Trump set the

stock market tumbling thanks in part to a series of tweets over the last 12



It all started when he called the chair of the Federal Reserve, the guy he

picked after he unceremoniously threw out Janet Yellen who was doing a fine

job – he called Jerome Powell a “enemy of the United States” and compared

him to China`s President Xi after Powell acknowledged that trade

uncertainties were affecting the global economy.


Yes, Donald Trump compared his own hand-picked fed chair to the

authoritarian leader of China. If that wasn`t norm shattering enough for

you, the president also ordered U.S. companies to cut ties with China,

something that, in fact, the president at least today cannot do.


And we saw almost in real-time the effect of Trump`s tweets. Here is what

happened. Just after the president sent those tweets, at first jog down in

the market, the Dow dropped. It dropped fast. It never really recovered,

closing more than 700 – I`m sorry, 600 points lower. It was more than 700

points lower and made a little recovery in the last few minutes of trading.


Trump`s bizarre twitter tirade after China slapped retaliatory tariffs on

$75 billion worth of U.S. goods, and then late this afternoon, Trump made

good on his promise to respond to that move. Trump tweeted that he would be

raising the tariff rates on some $250 billion in Chinese goods from 25

percent to 30 percent.


The president also tweeted that he would increase the tariff rate on an

additional $300 billion of Chinese goods that have yet to go under tariff.

These were supposed to happen on September 1st. As you recall, the

president so generously said he will delay those until December 15th so

that it doesn`t affect anyone`s Christmas shopping.


This is arguably the worst kind of trade war because it is lose-lose.

Everybody loses. Farmers are losing. Consumers are losing because prices

are going up and we`re not selling more goods to China. It is worse in

China. There is no resolution in sight because the aim of this trade war is

entirely unclear. It is unarticulated by the president.


Nobody in the White House has articulated what success looks like. And

don`t forget, this is all happening as Trump`s own aids are warning of a

business climate that is at risk of faltering thanks in large part to the

president`s own chaotic policies.


As the “Washington Post” reports, top White House advisers notified

President Trump earlier this month that some internal forecasts showed that

the economy could slow markedly over the next year, stopping short of a

recession but complicating his path to re-election in 2020.


That`s the news tonight as the president prepares to leave the United

States for France for the G7. Former Vice President Stanley Fischer, Fed

Vice President Stanley Fischer, put it this way in a speech earlier today.


He said the president is “trying to destroy the global trading system. We

are in a system in which things are getting worse by the day.” We are in

uncharted territory as the president prepares to meet world leaders in the

midst of the latest crisis of his own making. And here at home, no one, no

one in the president`s party, no Republican seems willing to stand up to

him on his trade war or anything else.


Just think about this. Not a single Republican has denounced the president

for calling the Federal Reserve chairman an enemy or for escalating his

trade war with China or even for his Greenland debacle. That was just this

week. He was going to buy Greenland.


In fact, the Republicans National Committee and the House Republican`s

campaign arm were actually selling t-shirts in support of the president`s

idea of purchasing Greenland.


In this uncertain world, only one thing is certain, the chaos never stops.

If you thought we`d hit the peak of presidential chaos earlier this week,

back when he was buying Greenland. Today was a strong reminder that there

is always more chaos just around the corner with this president.


Leading off our discussion tonight, Jared Bernstein, a CNBC contributor and

the former chief economist and economic policy adviser to Vice President

Biden, Linette Lopez, senior financial correspondent at “Business Insider,”

Jennifer Rubin is an opinion writer at the “Washington Post” and an MSNBC



Jared Bernstein, you have seen a lot in your life and work in politics and

in business, in economics. The president starting a war with his Federal

Reserve chief, comparing him to the leader of an authoritarian nation is

something I have never seen.



got to say I don`t pay close attention to a lot of what Trump says because

it`s often meaningless. But that one just got deeply under my skin, much as

I sense it did yours and hopefully many of our viewers as well.


I have known Jerome Powell for a while before he went over to the Federal

Reserve. This is a guy who has been as thoughtful and dedicated public

servant for as long as I have known him. And for Trump, who is, as you have

said, delivering the chaos and the crazy at a rate that`s massively

accelerated from what was already too much to take.


For him to come after Powell that way is beyond norm breaking. It`s just

reprehensible. And as you also correctly point out, just kind of getting

back to the economics, now he is taking his chaos to Europe to meet with

other international leaders and, look, based on what we`ve seen, I don`t

see how that ends well.


VELSHI:  Jennifer Rubin, it`s like pig pen. He is just – he`s got a

swirling cloud of chaos around him literally to the extent of the G7. I

have never even heard of this before. I`ve covered G7s. I`ve never heard

that they`ve decided before the whole thing started that they`re not

putting out a joint communique because there is no point. They`re not going

to agree on anything.


The “New York Times” talks today about President Trump – they. He said

“Mr. Trump`s wild and unscripted pronouncements on Friday renewed questions

about his stewardship of the world`s largest economy. Even some of his own

aids and allies were alarmed by his behavior, seeming it as the flailing of

a president increasingly anxious over the dark clouds that some have

detected hovering over the economy.”


Jennifer, we were all there for 2008 and none of us want to be there again.

But if and when recession comes because it is likely it will, what we don`t

need is chaos at the helm.



Trump has always thrived on chaos. He thinks it puts his opponents on their

back heel. He thinks that that somehow makes him the big guy because he`s

able to come in and clear up the chaos that he started.


This does not work this way when you are president of the United States. It

sure doesn`t work this way when you are playing games with the

international trade system. It sure doesn`t make that any sense when you

are starting to shoot out decrees that the businesses of America will cease

doing business with China.


You know, I think his insults that the Democrats are all a bunch of

socialists kind of went out the window with that because it`s kind of a

Stalinist decree. He of course does not have the power. But who knows what

he`s going to do next? Who knows what executive order he will issue? Who

knows what court fights American businesses are going to be in.


And the shame of this is, Congress could prevent every bit of this. The

power of regulating trade and tariffs resides with Congress. They have

legislated that away and they could take that back hook, line and sinker,

even a national security excuse, which he has – exemption, which he has



And they are too chicken to do this. They could save the economy and they

won`t. So, when this economy does falter, it`s not only going to be Trump`s

fault. It`s going to be the Republicans in Congress who have not did

absolute one ounce of energy of spine to do anything about this.


VELSHI:  Linette, there is so much wrong with that hereby thing that he did

today. He said our great American companies are hereby ordered to

immediately start looking for an alternative to China.




VELSHI:  There is a lot wrong there.


LOPEZ:  If there is anything American CEOs love to do is take orders from a

trust-fund-baby-casino-bankrupting-reality-T.V.-rodeo-clown. I mean, I`m

sure that they are loving –


VELSHI:  Even if it were illegal – even if it were illegal.


LOPEZ:  And it`s not legal and I`m sure that there will be reactions in the

business community that will be very quiet. But business investment has

gone down. That is speaking very loudly to the president. The manufacturing

sector is slowing down. And the tariffs that he is about to enact will hit

the consumer. The next round –


VELSHI:  No, they won`t because China pays for it.


LOPEZ:  Oh, right. I forgot. We live in a crazy land now. But, yes, so next

round we`re hitting retail. Round after that you are hitting, you know,

toys, et cetera. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where the

rubber hits the flat screen TV in December.


And in September it`s going to be the sneakers, the jeans, et cetera. The

American consumer is keeping the global economy afloat right now. This is

the last thing that you want to do. And, frankly, he`s laying out a path to



The thing that also worries me is that Chairman Powell seems to be

internalizing some of what Trump is saying. He was talking about the Feds

responsibility to keep the expansion going. That`s like the governor of

Florida saying that hurricane season is canceled, you know?


Recessions happen. They`re cyclical. Trump may have gotten a – maybe he

had some bad luck. But he`s turning that bad luck into disaster with this

trade situation.


VELSHI:  Jared, at the top of the show I was saying that this is a lose-

lose situation, that those aren`t actually my words. They are actually your

words. You said this to me last week. You said this is the worst kind of

war because everybody is losing on every front.


We will not get the soy bean contracts back that we had with China because

they are now getting that soy bean from Brazil. The lobsters that we`re not

selling this to China, they are getting from Canada now.


The fact is we will never get it 100 percent of it back. Farmers lose

money. Americans spend more on stuff. The Chinese are suffering more than

we are. And it is – there is no articulated view of what success is here.


BERNSTEIN:  Yes. I think that`s exactly right. I mean, the only way to win

a trade war is to not be in one. And in fact, what you are starting to hear

some of these business is saying is that they have tried in many cases to

find new production platforms from which they can import the goods that are

now facing increasing tariffs in China.


And it`s just really hard to do. And by the way, note that that does not

accomplish Trump`s goal. Trump`s goal is some version of import

substitution, meaning build stuff domestically that`s being currently built

(inaudible). That`s not what we`re hearing these producers are saying.


They`re saying well OK, well – maybe I`ll go to Cambodia, to Vietnam, to

India, to Malaysia and it`s very hard to shift those supply chains and

that`s why we`re having some of the economic problems that Linette was just

talking about including diminished investment.


Now, I think the idea was that if you look at any article that was about a

potential recession in the wind over the last couple of weeks, they all

mentioned the trade war in paragraph one as exhibit A of Trump really

damaging the economy.


That was before this level of escalation and this market reaction today. So

whenever that kind of recession risk factor that`s going on, it has now

been amped up by the president.


VELSHI:  So Jennifer Rubin, there is all sorts of talk. There are people

accusing the media of amping up the idea of a recession. There are people

saying the Democrats want a recession because it will put Trump out of



Let`s be clear here. Anybody wishing for a recession is just got a black

heart. But the fact is they do happen and there is nothing that is going to

affect Donald Trump`s base or erode his support more than people actually

losing jobs and losing their wages, which actually happens in a recession.


So I would think for all of the dozens of things over the last two years

that we have heard Republicans stay silent about, I would think this would

be the one they`d say, no, no, hold on a second. You cannot run this train

right off the tracks because we`ll all lose the next election.


RUBIN:  Well, I somewhat casually sent off a tweet today how many points

does the Dow have to drop before the Republicans get into the game? 5,000?

10,000? 15,000? What is it going to finally take to get them off the stick?


And I think part of the problem here is not only is this a complete mess,

but way back when, do you remember we actually had a real problem with

China, which was the theft of the – extortion of our intellectual



VELSHI:  That is correct. That`s actually the thing that we should have

dealt with –


RUBIN:  That`s actually a thing.


VELSHI:  – and the entire world would have supported the United States in

dealing with.


RUBIN:  Exactly. And we would have signed on to TPP which excluded China,

put the pressure on China, cemented our alliances. So we have done just

about everything wrong to not only not solve our old problems but create

new ones.


And by the way, one thing we haven`t discussed is as they have refigure the

jobs numbers for the last couple of years, turns out there is 500,000 less

jobs created than we thought. So this tax cut which was supposed to land us

in plus 3 percent – 3 percent plus land –




RUBIN:  – hasn`t done that. It looks a lot weaker than we even suspected

it was. And as a result of that, what`s he going to use now? We already

have a trillion dollar deficit. What`s he going to use as a fiscal stimulus

if we go into a depression? The Fed, yes, has cut rates, but they are so

low already there is not that much room on the monetary side. So, pray

tell. How do you get the economy out of the ditch if Trump drives it into



VELSHI:  Linette?


LOPEZ:  Well, the thing that concerns me about what he was saying is that

it seems like he`s let go of making a deal and now his goal is what we call

in, you know, nerd circles decoupling with China, which is just severing

the economic relationship between the United States and China, which would

be horrific and which many worry would, you know, divide the world between

an economic and digital iron curtain.


And you would really have to choose between two Internet, two economies,

two worlds. I don`t think we want that again. And what he seems to be

moving toward full steam ahead if he can`t get his way from President Xi

like a, you know, screaming pouting child, is that he`s going to pull for

this decoupling notion and –


VELSHI:  He said it today. He tweeted it out today.


LOPEZ:  It`s very scary.


VELSHI:  Jared, explain why that`s really tough because it`s not just that

we buy stuff that`s (inaudible). This is not a normal relationship that we

would have described 20 years ago where we`re buying manufactured goods

from China. The relationship with China is substantially more complicated

than that from a currency perspective, from an investment perspective and

from what China does around the world.


BERNSTEIN:  So Donald Trump thinks that he can unscramble the globalization

omelet, and he can`t. It`s not just that we import toys and televisions

from China. We also import tons of intermediate goods. These are imports

that go into products that are produced here. So our linkage is to the

Chinese economy are not just the kind of, you know, stuff that`s on the

shelves of Wal-Mart.


And even then, as I said in my last remark, those goods are not going to be

made here. The globalization ship has left the port and now, as I`ve

mentioned, those producers are looking to import from other countries often

in Asia.


So, A, the notion of import substitution that we`ll just replace all that

stuff domestically is just not going to happen. That`s just not the

structure of the global economy. And, B, you are really hurting American

producers. It is just what you said at the beginning of the show.


Now, the farmers are getting hurt by retaliation, but it`s actually

American producers using intermediate imports and their production from

China that took the first hit and it`s continuing to deepen.


VELSHI:  Thank you to the three of you for helping me out today get started

on this very – this complicated day. We all do this a lot, but this

president can make it complicated every time he tries. Jared Bernstein,

Linette Lopez and Jennifer Rubin, thanks to all three of you.


Coming up, there`s a rapidly unfolding environmental crisis underway at

this very moment, something world leaders want urgently to discuss, but

that could set up a clash with Donald Trump. Trump chaos and G7 meeting is



And later, how the president`s recent disturbing behavior is connected to

the growing calls for immigration.




VELSHI:  In just a few minutes, President Trump will depart for the G7

meeting in France where leaders are facing what might be the biggest

problem on earth tonight. The fires currently burning and destroying the

Amazon rainforest, which affects all of us – 20 percent of the world`s

oxygen – that`s how much of the world`s oxygen supply comes from the

Amazon rainforest.


Just think about that for a second, one in every five breaths you draw,

because the Amazon absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and filters it.

It is a sink for carbon dioxide and expels breathable clean air. There is

carbon dioxide stored in the Amazon. It is why the Amazon is often referred

to as the Earth`s lungs. And the Earth`s lungs are collapsing.


Experts estimate that if we lose between 20 and 25 percent of the Amazon,

the ecosystem will fall apart and the Earth`s lungs will essentially stop

working. We are at 17 percent. That`s part of the reason that French

President Emanuel Macron is pressing for an emergency meeting at the G7 on

the Amazon fires.


Three things to understand about this story – while these fires are

burning in Brazil, their destruction is a global problem. Number two,

what`s happening in the Amazon, this is not strictly a natural disaster and

I`ll have more on that in just a moment. And n umber three, Brazil`s right

wing climate change denying president is blocking the international

community`s help.


The president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a climate denier. He`s a man who`s been

referred to as the Trump of the tropics and he ran on a platform of ending

environmental protections and opening up Brazil`s protected forest for

private industry.


Nonprofit groups have pointed to evidence that the fires are a direct

result of Bolsonaro`s policies while Bolsonaro has shockingly and

baselessly claimed that his critics started the fires themselves to make

him look bad.


NGOs, whose only concern is preserving the Amazon, its indigenous people

who live in it and the wildlife that it sustains set the fires to make the

president look bad. That`s how crazy this is.


Alexander Kaufman is a reporter at “Huffington Post” covering climate,

environmental policy and politics. He was in Brazil in March reporting on

the Bolsonaro government`s climate policy. Alex, good to see you. Thank you

for being here.




VELSHI:  This is an unmitigated disaster that will hasten the destruction

of the world. I`m not being extreme here. This is really serious. There

aren`t a lot of Amazons around the world that take carbon dioxide out of

the air. This is the worst problem because you`re burning that sink and, by

the way, putting carbon into the air in the burning of it.



world`s biggest terrestrial carbon sink. It`s also the home of millions of

people. You know, that`s one of the important things that gets lost in



It isn`t just something that affects all of us because you have climate

change that`s going to be worsened by destroying that sink. But there are

many, many people that live in that forest and many of these tribes that

are being deliberately displaced through this activity.


VELSHI:  Right. So there is logging going on, clear-cutting and then this

is what some say, the burning of the stuff that`s left behind so that that

land can be cleared for agricultural use.


KAUFMAN:  That`s right. So, you know, Brazil is a major exporter of beef,

second only to the United States.


VELSHI:  Right.


KAUFMAN:  It is also a major exporter of soy, which is why, you know, going

vegan isn`t necessarily a way to address this problem. But, you know, you

have these agricultural interests in this area.


There is the BBB lobby, the ruralistas in Brazil, the Beef, Bullets and

Bible Lobby that helped to elect Bolsonaro in the first place. And they are

very keen to see this area exploited and to become much wealthier for it.

And that is –


VELSHI:  And let`s not forget that Brazil is a beneficiary of this trade

war between the United States and China because of good stuff, the produce

that – I mean the soy beans. Brazil`s the only place in the world that

could potentially create enough soy beans to trade with China.


KAUFMAN:  That`s right.


VELSHI:  So why is – what`s Bolsonaro`s whole thing in this thing? He

doesn`t get how important the Amazon is? He doesn`t believe that it`s a

sink for carbon. He doesn`t makes it his problem. He sent a message to

Germany the other day to say, why don`t you reforest your country? Don`t

talk about mine.


KAUFMAN:  Well, Bolsonaro ran as a right wing populist. He is a hard line

nationalist, which is part of why they call him the Trump of tropics in the

first place. And he is somebody that has a long history of disregarding the

people that live there.


He is a noted racist to his long made comments about the people who live

there, calling them savages and saying that they need to be civilized. And

he is somebody who firmly believes that it is the only pathway to

prosperity for the country if they cut these things down and exploit it for



VELSHI:  Being a nationalist, where does that make one an idiot when it

comes to climate? I mean, couldn`t you be a nationalist and not want to

burn the most valuable thing in your country? Or it`s just not the case

where Bolsonaro – money from farmers is maybe or logging interest is more



KAUFMAN:  Well, I think it is important to note that the right wing in

Brazil has long had connections to the right wing in the United States. You

have a lot of industries and different politicians that have close ties.

The gun industry, for instance, has a big footprint there.


The NRA has had a lot of influence in the country there. And so, you know,

the fact that the right in the United States embraces climate denialism is

something that has been replicated there as well.


VELSHI:  I want to just play some video from Paul Rosolie who is a

conservationist who was on my show yesterday. He had just come back from

the fires. Take a look at how this looks.




PAUL ROSOLIE, CONSERVATIONIST:  I`m not going to be able to stay here long

because this fire is spreading, but everything behind me right now is the

forest that I have been working to protect for the last 13 years. It`s

burning like this every day.


There are literally millions of animals in this forest that cannot escape

right now. And if you think our planet can survive this every day in the

Amazon, you have another thing coming.




VELSHI:  There are European countries that have a lot of aid that is going

to sort of sustaining the Amazon who have threatened to stop that aid

because this – Brazil has actually rebuffed international help. It is what

Macron wants to discuss at the G7.


Donald Trump`s not that interested. In fact, he tweeted today, “Just spoke

with President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Our future trade prospects are

very exciting. Our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever

before. I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon rainforest

fires, we stand ready to assist.”


But sort of as an afterthought, like – that doesn`t seem to be alarm bells

going off in Bolsonaro or Trump`s heads that this is the Amazon. It is the

most serious thing in the world to be on fire.


KAUFMAN:  Both presidents named hard line climate change deniers who think

that climate science is a Marxist hoax to their cabinets. So, clearly, it

is not a priority for either of them. With that tweet, I will say it is

important to read behind the lines.


And what Trump is really saying there is Jair Bolsonaro, you have nothing

to worry about with countries like France and Ireland, saying that they are

going to end the trade deal that was being negotiated with the E.U. because

the U.S. is going to step in and offer its market instead.


VELSHI:  What a remarkable story. Alex, thank you for joining us.


KAUFMAN:  Thank you for having me.


VELSHI:  Alexnder Kaufman is a reporter of the “HuffingtonPost.” More than

half of the Democrats and the House of Representatives now support

impeaching President Trump. But they don`t all support it for the same

reason and the president`s most recent disturbing behavior could generate

even more support. That`s next with one of the newest members of Congress

who backs impeaching President Trump.




VELSHI: 31 members of Congress have come out in support of launching

impeachment inquiries since the August recess started with three House

Democrats coming out in favor of impeachment just yesterday.


According to NBC News, this brings the total House members supporting an

impeachment inquiry to 133. That includes 14 House Committee Chairs. How

many more are going to add their names to the list before the House returns

on September 9th?


Joining us now is one of those Chairs, Democratic Congressman Mark Takano

of California, who came out for impeachment yesterday. He is the Chairman

of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Congressman good to see you. Thank

you for being with us.


REP. MARK TAKANO, (D-CA): My pleasure, Ali.


VELSHI: Tell me what made your mind up to come out in favor of this.


TAKANO: Well, Ali, it`s as I was listening to the show before my chance to

speak to you, some - I`m impressed by just the amount of chaos and the ways

in which this President breaks norms and undermines our institutions.


There is not a lot that I can do about that. But I can do something about

standing up for the rule of law. And that`s the push back against the chaos

of this Presidency. And I`m convinced of that. I also had a chance to be

with some of my constituents to take a pulse on what`s going on in my

district. And after having done that, I`m convinced that it`s time.


It was time for me yesterday to stand up for our Constitution, stand up for

our democracy stand up for our Democratic institutions stand up for the

rule of law. This President violated the law by obstructing justice so

there is ample evidence contained in the Mueller report that demonstrates



And he obstructed justice not for a very trivial reason, but it was a very

serious thing. It was a very serious violation of the law and it had to do

with impeding and trying to stop a very significant investigation of

Russian interference into our elections, which are the foundation of our



VELSHI: Let me ask you then. There are a growing number of your colleagues

who are calling for impeachment. Some have done so as you have after going

back for their recess and talking to their constituents. What`s the - how

does that line break? Who is mostly in favor? And who is mostly still

resistant? And of those who are resistant, what is it that`s holding them



TAKANO: Ali, I don`t know really how to answer that question because what

I`m seeing are people like members, like freshmen, Lauren Underwood, who is

from a very difficult district who I had no conversation with her. She is

in a very difficult close district, maybe one of the ten most contested

districts that we anticipate in the next year. And she came out for - for

the inquiry.


Brad Snyder, a colleague of mine. He is a class mate of mine and, you know,

he actually was defeated one term and he`s come back. I`m from a district

that, you know, I was able to win, you know, rather comfortably. So there

is no pattern here of who is coming forward and who is still remaining. You

know, reticent to come forward.


I just think that what you`re seeing playing out here is a similar sort of

pattern that I remember as a 13-year-old boy watching Watergate unfold. You

know, Richard Nixon won nearly every state in union except for

Massachusetts and the District of Columbia came in with a huge electoral

victory. And it took many, many months for members of Congress to come

around to the gravity of what President Nixon had done.


I think you are seeing a similar process unfold here. Members coming to

grips with their conscious certainly it is not about the polling that`s

causing us to come forward. Most Americans are still not convinced. But I

think it`s important.


I go back to this principal of the rule of law. The rule of law is

important to uphold that no person is above the law, including the person

that holds the highest Office and the President of the United States.


VELSHI: Chairman Mark Takano, good to see you. Thank you for joining me



TAKANO: You`re welcome. Thank you.


VELSHI: Okay. Coming up next, we know where the House Democratic members

stand on impeachment. Where are the voters on impeachment? Chairman Takano

just mentioned that, we have been tracking some of the town halls in the

middle of the country where the reaction to impeaching the President might

surprise you.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made the decision a while ago but announced it today,

that I believe we should begin an impeachment inquiry.








VELSHI: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a Members-only call with the House

Democratic Caucus today reportedly told her members, “The public isn`t

there on impeachment”. But some members are having a different experience

at town halls in their districts.


Freshman Congresswoman Lauren Underwood represents a district that Donald

Trump won in 2016. She flipped her Illinois district red to blue in 2018.

Congresswoman Underwood came out for impeachment this week. Here she is

telling Lawrence why.




REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D-IL): So I felt the need yesterday to make this

announcement at the town hall meeting in response to a question from a

constituent, right? People throughout the communities all across our

country are watching what`s happening. It`s painful. It`s deeply

disappointing, deeply disturbing. So we want the facts. And that`s what

these investigations are hoping to achieve.




VELSHI: And here is Congresswoman Underwood at a town hall yesterday again

in a district where Donald Trump got 49 percent to Hillary Clinton`s 45





REPORTER: You came out this week in favor of an impeachment inquiry after

the current occupant on the White House?


UNDERWOOD: Let me start by saying this, no one, no person is above the law.

That includes the President of the United States.






VELSHI: NBC News Correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell was at that town hall

yesterday and several others in the Midwest and in Pennsylvania. She joins

us now to talk about what she`s been seeing and hearing about impeachment

from voters and what those voters have been telling their members of

Congress? Hey, Leigh Ann.




VELSHI: What have you been hearing out there?


CALDWELL: Yes. So what we have been hearing. I just want to start when we

chose the town halls that we decided to go to this week, one North of

Pittsburg, two in the suburbs of Chicago. And we chose these town halls

because they were in suburban districts.


A lot of these voters broke with Republicans in the 2018 election. And

polls are showing that they`re doing the same right now. We chose these

town halls also because that three members had not come out in support of



Here we are in Illinois and as we`re here, two of those members, Brad

Snyder and Lauren Underwood came out for impeachment when we were here. We

of course attended their town halls. The Lauren Underwood town ball was

extremely interesting because it was a town hall for seniors.


That was in a senior community, there was no one under the age of 65 there.

We expected the audience questions to be about health care, prescription

drugs, pensions, things that seniors really care about. But question after

question was about impeachment.


And the audience was extremely engaged on this issue. The first time she

was asked about it there was huge applause as you showed in your opening

and there was a lot of applause at her reaction, too. In talking to these

voters after this town hall, they were extremely thrilled that Lauren

Underwood decided to come out in support of this impeachment inquiry.


VELSHI: However, one of the members of Congress you went to listen to Conor

Lamb didn`t do that. Let`s just play what happened in his town hall on

Tuesday in Pennsylvania when he was asked about impeachment.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I`m asking you is whether you will join with your

127 colleagues in the House of Representatives and support an impeachment

inquiry, one that is already going on. It`s happening.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you`re lagging behind it. And I`d like to know



REP. CONOR LAMB (D-PA): I do not believe so far that your statements about

calling an impeachment inquiry, allows you to go farther. I don`t share

your opinion about that.




VELSHI: What`s going on there?


CALDWELL: Yes. So it was super interesting because that woman was not the

only person who asked Conor Lamb about impeachment. He got multiple

questions. As you heard the audience applauded at the woman`s answer and

they did not applaud at Conor Lamb`s response when he said that he didn`t

support it at this point.


So Conor Lamb is also in a tough district. He is one of the most vulnerable

Democrats facing re-election in 2020. He is in the suburbs he barely won

his special election in 2018. He more handily won the November election in

2018 that was just a few months later.


But he is having to navigate these difficult waters of a district that

spreads from very conservative voters all the way to the most liberal. But

he`s also taking a different tact than Lauren Underwood who he just saw who

was in a very similar district. Who is also vulnerable in 2020, and she

decided to come out and support it.


So these members are having to make these personal decisions on how they

move forward to this issue taking into consideration their voters of



VELSHI: They are personal decisions because they will affect them in the

next election. If they come for impeachment then they have to count on all

those supporters who wanted them to do that to double down and make sure

they get re-elected or the other side is going to come out. Very

interesting. Thank you Leigh Ann. Good to see you as always.


CALDWELL: Yes, you too.


VELSHI: All right. Coming up only in the Trump Administration does the

Department of Justice have to do damage control for distributing white

nationalist propaganda that`s next?




VELSHI: A new report from ABC News has found that in the three weeks since

the deadly Dayton and El Paso shootings more than 14 arrests have been made

for credible threats to commit mass attacks.


Congress is already working on gun safety but House Democrats are also

planning to rise of white supremacy this is respective motive of the

alleged El Paso shooter. And now the federal government can combat it.


Congressman Jamie Raskin who sits on the Judiciary Committee told “The

Washington Post” the threat has grown tremendously. We want to find out

from the department of homeland security and the FBI what are their

strategies and tactics for indentifying and preempting white supremacists

inspired violence.


We want to know that there is a plan. This comes as the Justice Department

is doing damage control for introducing or for including a link to a white

nationalist website in an email to immigration court employees this week.


The department claims it was a mistake and it comes during a week when

President Trump was rightly criticized for Anti-Semitic comments about

Jewish voters and their loyalty. Reformed White Nationalist Christian

Picciolini wrote a book about the culture of white extremism. He`s been

working to reach people in the throes of that culture in an MSNBC series

“Breaking Hate”.


In the latest episode Picciolini helps the Former Leader of the largest

Neo-Nazi organization in the United States to leave behind the identity and

a livelihood that`s based on hate.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just been on my radar for 20 years so when I began to

hear from sources that he wanted out of the movement, I did something I

almost never do. I reached out to him. Until today, it`s been unclear

what`s motivating his desire to leave.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I see happening is a lot of violence coming.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the movement? You think it`s going to get worse?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you say to these young people who you think,

you know, are ramping up for more violence?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what I want to do now because I know I can use my



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you want to do what I`m doing, you want to help

people kind of disengage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t contain this. Things like the Synagogue

shootings, Mosque shootings, Church shootings. I understand the psychology

behind it, what is driving people to that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me for real why they shouldn`t do it.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should not kill innocent people.




VELSHI: Christian Picciolini joins us next to talk about why he thinks

white nationalism is on the rise in 2019.




VELSHI: Joining us now is Christian Picciolini, Host of the series

“Breaking Hate”. He`s a Former White Supremacist helping others “Escape the

Movement” Christian, good to see you again. Tell us how you encountered

Jeff Scoop and what you did to convince him to walk away from the hate




figure on the white American White Supremacist Movement for 30 years. He

was getting into the movement just as I was kind of at my peak 28 years



He`s somebody that stood out to me somebody that I followed for a very long

time as I`ve been researching this movement trying to help other people

disengage. And just over the last couple of years, I`ve seen some cracks in

his armor so to speak I`ve seen some hesitation in him.


So I did something that I typically don`t do, I actually went after him and

I persuade him and very quickly established a good rapport with him and

listened to him and how tired he was of the hate and also how sorry he was

for some of the things that he`s been seeing happening lately.


So I really just listened to him and I tried to be an ear for him because

in that movement, there is not a whole lot you can be honest about with the

other people in it. It`s always about putting up a show of force. So I

think for the first time in his life, he actually had somebody listen to

vulnerabilities. That doesn`t mean he doesn`t have a long road to go. He

has a lot of work in front of him.


VELSHI: Hate sound is so active. The concept of being tired of hate and

having vulnerabilities inside your hate seems so unusual. What does that

look like to you? How did you sense that was possible? What language do you

use to say to someone aren`t you tired of it and I can help you with this?


PICCIOLINI: You know, I think most people would be surprised to learn that

I do a lot of listening instead of talking. I don`t debate. I don`t tell

them that they`re wrong because I know that just pushes them further away.


So I did a lot of listening what I call potholes, the things that happened

in his life that 14 years old detoured him down that path just like I had

been detoured at 14 years old. And then I started to fill those potholes in

trying to build his resilience.


And I showed him compassion when he`s a man who wasn`t getting a lot of

compassion from anybody rightfully so, he didn`t deserve it for the hate

that he was putting out into the world but I used that as an opportunity

really let him pour out his soul to me and when he did that I started to

see that there really was a broken child inside that 45-year-old body.


VELSHI: What does change look like to somebody like that? If you`re 45

years old, how old were you when you changed your outlook? How does that

happen? We feel like we`re grown developed fully baked beings and then

you`re going to set someone not just on a course that`s sort of neutral, I

guess if you live in a world of hate, neutral doesn`t sort of isn`t a great

place to be after that?


PICCIOLINI: I was 14 years old when I was recruited in 1987. I was out

after eight years in 1996 when I was 23 years old and it was really the

compassion that people showed me, people that I least deserved it from

people who were African American, who were Jewish, who were gay, who saw in

me something else.


They weren`t interested in pushing me away for murder and wanted to explore

who I was underneath that armor that I was wearing. It was compassion that

I received from them at a time I least deserved really was the most

powerful thing.


For somebody like Jeff Scoop who has been in this movement since he was 14

years old and in his 40s now, he`s never held a job outside of the

movement. He`s never had any interactions with other people outside from

ideological comrades that he has had.


So for him, it really it`s going to be a difficult road and because when

you take somebody out of a sense of identity, community and purpose, you

have to replace it.


VELSHI: It`s a rebirth of sorts what an interesting thing. Christian thanks

for the work that you`re doing and thank you for joining us tonight.


PICCIOLINI: Thank you.


VELSHI: You can watch the premiere of the latest episode of “Breaking Hate”

this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.








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