UP, Transcript 12/12/2015
Date: December 12, 2015
Guest: Gian-Carlo Peressutti, Suzy Khimm, Geoffrey Corn, Rick Kriseman,
Wesley Clark, Haroon Moghul, Saba Ahmed, Chris Geidner
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC HOST: Elbowing Donald Trump out of the Republican
A very good morning, I`m Richard Lui, thanks for getting UP with us.
Donald Trump is speaking out for the first time about reports that
Republican Party officials are discussing the possibility of a floor fight
to deny him the nomination to the Republican National Convention next
summer. Those details in just a moment.
Plus, our conversation with the Florida mayor who wants to ban Trump from
his city. A California mosque, a firebomb just before afternoon prayer
yesterday. More of that on our discussion on what it`s like to be Muslim
in America in the age of Donald Trump.
There are new takes this morning, a Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia`s
comments on affirmative action that some are condemning as racist.
And world leaders reaching a tentative agreement on the climate change in
Paris. We`ll tell you what`s in the deal, the question is at a
breakthrough. But we begin this morning in Iowa with Donald Trump firing
back at the establishment last night responding to reports of Republican
leaders that they`re discussing the possibility of a contested convention
or brokered convention which would mean a floor fight between party
factions this summer in Cleveland if delegates are unable to coalesce
around one nominee.
Robert Costa of the “Washington Post” reporting on a discussion this week
allegedly taking place at an informal meeting of more than 20 Republican
matter figures this week. At that meeting, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting the party should begin
preparing for that kind of scenario elbowing their way to a nominee who is
not Donald Trump perhaps. And here`s what Trump had to say about last
night in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we win like I think we`re
going to win, because we have such a big lead, honestly, it`s not going to
matter, they can`t do anything, I don`t care about the establishment, they
can`t do anything. If I`m two votes short I`ll have a problem. Because
I`ll have to go into that convention and I`m dealing with all these blood
sucker politicians and they`ll make their deals and I have all their money
guys around, they`ll be in the back room making deals. But if I get the
number of delegates, there`s not a thing they can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: NBC`s Luke Russert is in South Carolina for us this morning where
another Trump campaign rally is scheduled for this afternoon. And Luke, so
we had that reporting this week, what do we know more about how much of a
concern it is for Republican leadership?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it`s a deep concern for
Republican leadership Richard and my day job on Capitol Hill I can tell you
on Tuesday morning. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had a forceful
denunciation about Trump`s comments about Muslims. I started talking with
Hill operatives and other aides and I said these sounds like to me, that
people like Ryan, people like McConnell, they are really starting to try
and figure out how perhaps to lay traps for Donald Trump so he does not
move forward. I have hard time from the conversations that I`ve had
believing that if Trump actually were to get to Cleveland with enough
delegates that they would not try everything in their power to stop him.
Who is also interesting Richard is Senator Jeff Flake yesterday on “MEET
THE PRESS” daily –
RUSSERT: Chuck Todd asked him, would you support the nominee if it was
Donald Trump. And he goes, well, I`ll support whoever the nominee is,
however I will not say no to Trump because it will make him run as a third
party candidate. That`s the dance that the establishment GOP is doing
right now. They always knew that Donald Trump was going to be a thorn in
their side. The Muslim comments really got them worried and they realized
the ramifications of that and I think it`s fair to say that they really are
having conversations as Bob Costa reported, but there`s a general
atmosphere around, just like Capitol Hill around K-Street that okay, we
really need to have a plan B because this could get out of control really
LUI: So, Jeff Flake will also going to visit a mosque as we know. What
are some of the traps that they may be discussing, shall we say, here,
Luke, as the leadership are putting their brains together that might be
able to avert a Donald Trump nomination here?
RUSSERT: So, McConnell, Reince Priebus, Ryan, they`re very careful, never
to be directly quoted, never to have any of their top, top, top people
participating in the discussion. It`s always more flowing down at the
RUSSERT: But if you move forward, I sincerely think that you will see an
outside money really try and power against him at some point. They haven`t
been able to coalesce around a single donor, a single idea. But once it
becomes more of a clear race, perhaps there`s a Marco Rubio, a Cruz, and a
Trump, I think they`re going to do something to pump up Rubio, this is all
speculation and it`s all hearsay. But there is a worry that`s real,
Richard. And when the worry is this real at this point, I still think it
lends itself to saying that this is not fun and games anymore, they realize
they have a big problem.
LUI: It`s great to hear from you my friend. NBC`s Luke Russert in Aiken,
South Carolina. Thanks so much, Luke.
LUI: All right. Let`s join – bring in now our panel. Victoria
Defrancesco, MSNBC contributor and professor at the University of Texas,
Center for Mexican American Studies. Gian Carlo Peressutti, former aide to
Karl Rove and former spokesman for President George H.W. Bush. And Suzy
Khimm, senior editor at to the New Republic.
So, we heard some of the reporting coming from Luke Russert. What are you
hearing? So it`s been talked about, we have the reporting from Robert
Costa. We`re also hearing that, you know, this is pretty typical that in
terms of part of the discussion, as leadership gets together. There`s a
whole series of items that they go through, one of which is appropriate
SUZY KHIMM, NEW REPUBLIC: I mean, I think that this is just the Republican
establishment trying to work through in their minds a path to avoid not
just a Trump nomination, I think really what`s at stake here is the future
of the Republican Party. What is it? What does it stand for and is it
going to be a party of Trump, regardless of whether he`s the nominee. I
think convention is sort of one way to think through that. But there`s
really sort of a broader problem here, which is, you know, Trump has a good
portion of the Republican electorate who agrees with him. Who agrees with
him on banning Muslims from entering the country, who agrees with him on
building a wall to keep out immigrants at the Mexican border, so I think
this is really a part of a much broader question of sole searching for the
future of the GOP.
LUI: Well, talking about the soul searching that`s really saying, let`s
prepare to lose in 2016?
GIAN CARLO PERESSUTTI, FORMER AIDE TO KARL ROVE: I think that once again
Donald Trump has said something that is patently false. To suggest that
the quote establishment can`t do a thing about his earning the nomination,
is just false. Political conventions are the ultimate establishment
exercise and I think you can bet your bottom dollar that if he looks like
he`s going to be the nominee or he`s a few votes and a few delegates short
of reaching that, there will be a huge movement.
LUI: So, it`s been 40 years since we`ve had one. Right? Seventy six, we
have to go back to the word, Ronald Reagan very well loved by the party.
So, what does – if that were to happen, is it good for the party? Is it
that come to Jesus moment of them finding that center that we have been
talking about now for what, six years?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No way, Richard, they want to
stay away from any possibility of a brokered convention. And picking up on
what Luke was saying –
DEFRANCESCO: It`s this very fine dance, so your establishment wants to
hint that they`re not going to let Trump get too far, but at the same time
they just want to let it play out. And I think they`re letting Cruz do
this thing in Iowa, he`s doing very well there lately. You`ve seen the
polls, he got a really big boost in terms of an evangelical endorsement.
So, I think the establishment doesn`t want to push too hard. Because they
think that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio are going to surface to the top by
themselves. I think the establishment is saying, you know, Jeb Bush is
DOA, we`re not going to worry too much about him. If we get into April,
May and we still see Trump on top, that`s when we`re going to see the
rhetoric ramp up by the establishment.
KHIMM: I mean, but I think the problem though – I think the establishment
also realizes about Trump like all of his other opponents, is that, you
know, we saw this at the focus group that Frank Luntz, the well-known
Republican pollster conducted which is that he found that the more you
attack Trump, the more outrageous things they said, the more that people
push back, the stronger that he got. That after hours of showing the
people in the room these videos again and again, they actually liked him
even more. He`s someone who I think defies a lot of the political
conventions and wisdom that a lot of people, you know, put out over the
years so I think it`s really flamex (ph) to decide what he`s even do to
But the question is, are these people going to vote? So, I agree with you,
it`s fascinating to see the response that Republicans, even Republican
registered voters have, but are these the people that are going to vote?
We know that the public opinion within that conservative Republican sector
likes the Trump lack of political correctness, but these are not
necessarily likely voters. Will they vote? Maybe, but we don`t know. And
that`s the big question mark.
PERESSUTTI: It`s one of their point here that I think it`s much discussed
but often overlooked and that is the fear that somehow if Trump is pushed
too far, that he`s going to run as an Independent and that would be a
disaster. Well, it might be a disaster for the Republicans in terms of
winning the White House, but it would be less of a disaster than having him
be the Republican nominee because if Trump is the nominee, I believe for
the Republican Party, the Senate is gone and the House is put in jeopardy.
If he runs as an Independent, it certainly wouldn`t be good and chances for
the Republicans to reclaim the White House would not be good at all but I
think there`s a much better chance that the integrity of the party remains
as it is and that we keep our hold in the House.
LUI: What comes of a brokered convention, who is the candidate that might
bubble up that has been discussed?
DEFRANCESCO: Marco Rubio has surfaced as the establishment favorite right
Now. We`re still, 10, 11 months away, so anything can happen. But I do
think that we are seeing leaning toward Marco Rubio. Also perhaps even Ted
Cruz. Everything in life is relative. Ted Cruz was seen as very right of
center, none establishment. But I think when you compare him to Trump, he
seemed even a little bit more establishment candidate. So, I`m thinking
two Cuban Americans are going to surface to the –
LUI: Chris Christie though, he got the nod there in New Hampshire two
weeks ago, he`s looking good in the latest poll, at least bubbling up just
a little bit.
PERESSUTTI: Well, I think in the context or our last – of our last
conversation, I would put Jeb back in that and say, if there is a brokered
convention and if there is a chaos –
LUI: – Chris Christie at the moment. Again, because he`s not pulling –
pulling below Christie in some places.
PERESSUTTI: I think that every candidate in this race as has been true in
Republican primaries in the past, they have had their moments, they have
risen from the ashes and Christie seems to be doing that now, but I think
it is still far too early and too unsettled to write any word.
KHIMM: I mean, I think that the question of course isn`t that, you know,
by the time – if we reach the point where there`s a brokered convention,
you have to have a path that all these candidates will have to have shown
that they can go make both through the primary and into the general
election. I think the problem with thinking hypothetically speaking, yes,
on paper, someone like Rubio seems great, he sort of checks off all the
boxes, but it`s hard to see exactly what his base is. What the lectured it
is that come together. I mean, the thing that`s impressive about Ted Cruz
is that he`s managed to identify key strings of voters, evangelicals and
LUI: That`s where we`re going in the next hour, we`ll talk about Ted Cruz.
And I know that Victoria also wants to talk about him. Gian Carlo, no
Coming up, we`re following a developing story in Paris and the release of a
tentative agreement by world`s leaders on a global climate pact there.
France President Francois Hollande has called the deal unprecedented.
We`ll go live to Paris for more details on that agreement on just a few.
But first, can a podcast affect Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl`s fate, especially
when it`s not just any podcast?
LUI: For the next several weeks, you can expect Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to
be the talk of social media every Thursday. And that`s because Bergdahl is
the subject of Season Two of “Serial,” that popular podcast that folks is
on several aspects of a single story with new episodes released each
Thursday. So, Bergdahl of course was the U.S. soldier who left his outpost
in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban, spending five years in
captivity, before President Obama negotiated his release and exchange for
five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. And now, right now,
Bergdahl is an active duty soldier in Texas, but he is facing two charges
from the army, charges that could land him behind bars for life.
Season Two of “Serial” which premier this past Thursday uses audio from
interviews that Bergdahl gave to filmmaker Mark Boal, the man who wrote
movies like “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” In the first
episode. Bergdahl told Boal he left his outpost in order to sneak off to
another base, a walk of nearly 20 miles so that he could warn commanders
about leadership problems within his unit. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOWE BERGDAHL, U.S. ARMY HELD CAPTIVE BY THE TALIBAN: And what I was
seeing from my first unit all the way up into Afghanistan, all I was seeing
with was basically leadership failure to the point that the lives of the
guys standing next to me were literally, from what I could see, in danger
of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: We`re joined now by Geoffrey Corn, an assistant professor of the
South Texas College of Law who served in the army for more than 20 years,
including as a JAG officer. Geoffrey, thanks for joining us.
LT. COL. GEOFFREY CORN, RET., U.S. ARMY JAG OFFICER: Thanks for having me.
LUI: You may have heard more of this. What`s your thought on what this
means, this audio that we`re getting now from “Serial”?
CORN: Well, I mean I think what it`s doing is it`s previewing for you his
defense theory if his case is actually sent to court-martial, which I think
it probably will be. And that`s going to be what lawyers call the defense
of justification or necessity. He`s going to tray and argue that he was
trying to serve some greater good. But candidly, I think its more
implausible listening to him than it was when it was hinted in the media.
And for a number of reasons. There`s an obvious irony there. His decision
to leave is what in fact put his unit in jeopardy and that is the nature of
one of the charges he`s facing.
But the most obvious inconsistency with what he`s saying and what the facts
seem to reveal is that he left without his weapon or his helmet. And if
you`re going to make a kind of special operations 20-mile dash from one
combat outpost to another in hostile territory and your purpose is to make
it to the other end, you obviously would bring some capability to defend
yourself if that`s really what you wanted to do. So that`s my reaction to
LUI: I`m going to play a little bit more from that interview where
Bergdahl described what his captivity was like. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERGDAHL: How do I explain to a person that is just standing in an empty
dark room hurts? It`s like, well, you know, someone asks you, why does it
hurt? Does your body hurt? Yes, your body hurts, but it`s more than that,
it`s like this mental, like you`re almost confused. You know, there`s
times I would wake up and it`s just so dark, like I would wake up not even
remembering like what I was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: So, Geoffrey, as you listen to that and you looked at the
transcription there, not necessarily easy to follow in terms of his logic
or the point he`s trying to get across. Why do you think he is allowing
this interview now and giving it to Boal?
CORN: Well, listen, I don`t think there`s any way that this interview
would have been given if it hadn`t been discussed and essentially cleared
by his Attorney Gene Fidell and his Military Defense Attorney Frank
Rosenblatt. Those are very fine attorneys, I know them both. And so what
we`re seeing here is a preview of probably what the evidence will be if
he`s brought to court-martial. And the suffering that he endured was
unacceptable, to be very honest. It`s a reflection of how illegitimate and
pernicious the Taliban are to hold themselves out as any type of military
or combatant force because it violates the most basic notions of humane
treatment that are obligatory to anybody in a war.
But it doesn`t justify his conduct. It`s important information that the
court will consider if it reaches the point of deciding what punishment
Bowe Bergdahl deserves –
CORN: – but it doesn`t in anyway justify why he abandoned his post.
LUI: How will this be used if at all, this interview that we`ve been
talking about. It indicates –
CORN: In a court-martial, as any lawyer who`s practiced in a military
court knows, the sentencing hearing is very, very comprehensive. And the
defendant is given the opportunity to the present whatever evidence is
relevant to mitigation and extenuation. So, how is this relevant? One of
the issues that will be on the table for the court will probably be whether
or not he should be sentenced to confinement as part of the comprehensive
punishment that they craft.
And I think it is relevant for them to consider that because of the nature
of essentially the Taliban misconduct, and the way they treated this
soldier, that more confinement would have a more excessive effect on him
than it would have on some other soldier that was facing confinement. So
it`s a very important consideration. And it also, I think, informs the
public, so that they will better understand if the outcome of this process
does not result in a sentence of jail time, why that might be logical in
LUI: All right. Well, episode one as the episodes continue, we`ll get a
better picture at least of what he is saying and what he is thinking. Bowe
Bergdahl moving forward to the case. Jeffrey Corn of the South Texas
College of Law, thank you so much for your perspective.
CORN: Thank you.
LUI: Still ahead what, will the next phase in the war against ISIS
actually look like? We`ll talked with former NATO commander Wesley Clark
as President Obama heads to the Pentagon on Monday for an update on the
tactics that might be used.
And next, developing news out of Paris where world leaders have reached a
tentative agreement on climate change after days discussing it. Is this
breakthrough, the one that many have been hoping for? Live in Paris, next.
LUI: World leaders have just released a draft agreement on climate change
in Paris. The deal coming after two weeks of difficult negotiations, the
legally binding agreement will require all participating nations to take
steps to reduce emissions. Organizers are hoping to adopt the agreement
NBC`s Tony Dokoupil joins us now with the latest. And Tony, they got the
draft, they agreed on it this morning, they translated it into different
languages and they passed it off. When do they vote and what is expected
to happen here? And what is in this draft agreement?
TONY DOKOUPIL, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: So moments ago, the French foreign
minister emerged with what he calls the final draft of this two-week
negotiation process. And what happens now is it`s been translated into the
five official languages of the United Nations. And sometime this
afternoon, we`re told, although it could stretch into Sunday morning. All
the nations of the world – a plenary session will be called, the French
foreign minister will convene it, and he will say to the room, do we have
consensus? And then if the room remains silent, it`s a voice vote, it`s a
room remain silent, then he will bang the gavel and we will have a historic
deal to limit and slow global warming.
Now, here are the details, a 1.5 degree temperature goal. Right now global
warming has been about a one-degree rise since industrial times. The world
is committing to a target of 1.5 degrees with a little bit above that
aptitude. They`re trying to go below two with a goal of 1.5. And also,
there`s going to be a tremendous amount of money from developed countries
to poor nations to support the transition from dirtier forms of fuel to
cleaner forms of fuel. And you mentioned legally binding, it`s not clear
yet how much of this is going to be – legally binding, it`s being called
an agreement, not an accord or a protocol or a treaty. And that`s because
in the American context, there`s almost no way that this would get through
Congress. So Obama is going to ratify it as an agreement, portions will be
binding, portions will not be, Richard.
LUI: Tony, as we`ve been watching as the last couple of weeks as well.
Protests, and what have you seen?
DOKOUPIL: Yes. We have seen some pretty democratic protests and France is
still under in a State of Emergency following the ISIS terror attack last
month. And officially there`s been a ban on demonstrations, although this
morning there was a last minute special permit for a peaceful gathering not
far from the arch behind me. That went off without trouble. It`s a little
bit confusing. You`ve got diplomats 10 miles away from here at an airport
complex where the U.N. session is taking place. They`re optimistic.
They`re celebrating. They`re saying this is an historic moment.
Meanwhile protesters are filling the streets saying, this goes nowhere near
far enough. We need system change, not climate change and this is just
inching towards something and we`re still on a catastrophic path. Now, the
truth is probably somewhere in between, and we`ll have to see what the
final document has in it. And we should get that in a matter of hours and
we`ll check back in with you, Richard.
LUI: Okay. Thanks so much. MSNBC`s Tony Dokoupil live for us there in
Paris after the climate change draft just coming out and translates some of
the details there. Thank you so much for that. For more on the Paris
talks on the devastating effects of climate change in the United States and
across the world. You can go to MSNBC.com, you can check out our in-depth
multimedia feature, our old familiar globe is gone.
Still ahead, how long until we find out which American woman will soon be
the face of the new $10 bill.
And next, we`ll be joined by the mayor whose tweet said, I`m banning Donald
Trump from my city? It`s gone viral.
LUI: Trump`s proposal this week to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.
has been met with criticisms from around the world. For instance, a
petition seeking a black Trump from entering the UK, that`s reach over half
a million signatures when I was last looking it was like 300,000. So many
here that the parliament now has to consider the notion for debate on
Donald Trump. And a little closer to home, several mayors here in the
U.S., looking to ban Trump from their cities, Philadelphia Mayor Michael
Nutter one of those to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: He and his message of hate have no
place in Philadelphia. Should have no place in Pennsylvania and should be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: So one Wharton man to another what Wharton man. Trump firing back on
Twitter calling Nutter a, quote, “low life.” Saying, he is doing a quote,
“terrible job.” Kansas City Mayor Sly James also sharing his disapproval
saying, “Trump`s proposal is inflammatory. It is nonsense. It is
unconstitutional. It is illegal. And frankly, it is just plain, flat-out
Rick Kriseman, mayor of Saint Petersburg, Florida joined in the retaliation
twitting, “I am hereby banning Donald Trump from entering Saint Petersburg
until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps.”
Now, Kriseman`s tweet has since been shared nearly 20,000 times. And
joining us away from his twitter account from Washington, DC, mayor of St.
Petersburg, Florida Rick Kriseman. Mayor, thanks for being here with us.
How do you see such a ban possibly working?
MAYOR RICK KRISEMAN (D), ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: Well, you know, when I
tweeted that out, I never intended to actually be able to ban Donald Trump
from coming to St. Petersburg, it was really a statement that was being
made to show how ridiculous his statement was. I felt like I`m going to
address something that`s ridiculous, with something that`s equally
ridiculous. And so, if you look at the language I used, even talking about
banning all Trumps, that was the sarcasm was very intended.
LUI: Ivanka as well, is what you`re saying?
KRISEMAN: Yes. We did think about excluding her. But no, you know, his
comments were really outlandish, outrageous, and quite frankly un-American.
LUI: What made you do this? Because you`ve heard the comments over the
course of time, this is just the latest in a long arc that have been
controversial. Has this been a short buildup for you?
KRISEMAN: Well, and you`re absolutely right, if we look at the comments
that Mr. Trump has been making, I mean, whether it`s Mexicans or it`s the
disabled community and now it`s Muslims, who`s next? You know, this is
all that`s what`s wrong with this campaign. From a mainstream presidential
candidate, you know, when you look at the history and you see in an
individual religious group being targeted, the results have been dangerous.
And, you know, the community I come from were one of the largest cities in
the state of Florida.
KRISEMAN: We talk about being the city of opportunity.
KRISEMAN: It is. And we`re a city of opportunity for all. America is
founded on opportunity. The statements he is making are absolutely un-
American and certainly stand against everything we believe in in St.
DEFRANCESCO: So Mayor, what has been the reaction of residents of St.
Petersburg? So, we know that this tweet came from a visceral reaction that
you had. But in the last couple of weeks, what has been the conversations
that your residents have been having, what has been the climates
surrounding, the reactions to Donald Trump and his multiple remarks about
KRISEMAN: Well, I think this one kind of was in some ways the tipping
point. And the response that I have received has been overwhelmingly
positive. When I`m walking down the street of Saint Petersburg, I have
people that had stopped me and said, hey, thanks for saying what you said
and standing up for what`s right. The only negative comments that I have
received have been from Trump supporters and some of the comments have been
pretty ugly. And, you know, what it says is the amount of hate that he is
topping into. And I believe at seven years of hate toward our president
that`s manifested itself through this one candidate. Almost like creating
Frankenstein and now they can`t control him.
LUI: And we`re talking about Florida here, a very important state –
LUI: – 2016.
PERESSUTTI: Not only that. I find it interesting that the mayors that
spoke out come from the states of Pennsylvania, Missouri in Florida
PERESSUTTI: Three states that are quite consequential in terms of both the
primary but even more so the general election, so.
LUI: And one might wonder how more might join the fray here, of course the
UK, will not be voting during our 2016 election. But that`s also very
interesting, as we have seen the numbers grow within the last week.
KHIMM: Well, what`s also interesting is just seeing, you know, you have
heart a lot of contrast, comparisons between Trump and Le Pen in France.
Obviously there are a lot of parallels between the two – one of the things
that stood out to me was the fact that even Le Pen herself said that
Trump`s ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. went a step too far for her.
So, I mean, just to put this in a bit of context, in terms of what we`re
dealing with them, what we`re coming from. And as I`ve mentioned before,
this is a sentiment that actually doesn`t seem to be isolated to Trump, but
is shared by some good portion of the Republican electorate and the
American community as a whole.
LUI: In that interview, Le Pen said, did you ever hear me say something
like that? So, even though she`s seen as being from the far right, she`s
in a country that has certainly gone through a lot within the last month,
and if you look contextually, one might say that it would be a breeding
ground for such a view a little bit earlier on. But we`re getting it here
in the United States and from Donald Trump.
PERESSUTTI: You know, one tactical point here, I think we`re increasingly
seeing the Donald Trump ceiling and his floor are reaching parity, and
clearly he and his campaign have realized that no matter what he says, that
20-25 percent of the Republican electorate is not going anywhere in terms
of their support. And so all these comments can be put in the context of
him trying to solidify that number as we head into what is looking to be
increasingly a fracture process.
LUI: I want to go back to the mayor here. So, Mayor, you`re not going to
give Trump the mayor the key to the city, certainly. Instead what might
you say to Donald Trump if you had a face to face with him?
KRISEMAN: You know, if I had a face to face with him. I think I would
tell him, choose your words carefully, you are tapping into a hatred that`s
really scary. You are dividing our country. That is not good for us as a
country, as a people. This is not who we are as a county, it`s certainly
again isn`t who my community is and I think it`s time for others not only
in the Republican Party, but around this country, to step up and say, this
is not who we are as a country. We are not about hatred, we are about
uniting our citizens, bringing people together and being about opportunity
LUI: Thank you so much, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. Thanks for
joining us on this Saturday.
KRISEMAN: Thanks for having me on this morning.
LUI: Already. President Obama heads to Pentagon to get an update from the
military`s top brass on the fight against ISIS as Defense Secretary Ash
Carter calls for a stronger U.S. presence in Iraq and Syria.
LUI: President Obama will pay a visit to the Pentagon on Monday to speak
with military commanders about new efforts to combat ISIS. These meetings
come as a U.S.-led coalition confirmed that ISIS`s finance minister and two
other senior leaders were killed this week in U.S. air strikes. The last
ten days, more than 200 bombs were dropped on ISIS targets in Iraq and
Syria bringing the total to nearly 9,000. This comes on to the heels of
Defense Secretary Ash Carter saying more special ops forces will be sent
overseas sometime soon as part of a major revamped war effort. The
announcement was made during a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill over the
President`s ISIS strategy. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think that we are building momentum
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: How long do you think it will be before we
retake Mosul or Raqqa?
CARTER: Well, Raqqa there and, you noted this yourself Mr. Chairman, the
Syrian Kurds to the north have done an excellent job of clearing their
MCCAIN: You`re not going to go into Raqqa and you and I know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: When it comes to treasure, over $5 billion in terms of costs of
fighting ISIS since August 2014 has been spent. Many thousands of bombs
have already been dropped, so what is the next phase of the fight against
ISIS going to look like and the accomplishments and goals related to it?
With us right now, Four Star General Wesley Clark joining us from Little
Welcome, General. When you look at what has been done and I went through
some of that which has been done and then the success rate thereafter, what
are the future military options that would work on the ground?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, RET., FORMER NATO COMMANDER: Got to get more eyes on
the ground if you`re going to drop more ordinance. As everyone has said,
it`s not productive to put U.S. ground combat troops in at this stage. Got
to have the fighting on the ground done by people in the region. That`s
difficult. Because the Kurds don`t want the go past the Kurdish areas, and
the Saudis don`t want to come out of Saudi Arabia and the Iraqis don`t want
the Turks in their country. So it gets difficult to pull together the
coalition that can do the ground fighting. But for now, let`s focus on
Iraq, we do have the Iraqi army and Iraqi Shia militias. And some Sunni
participation trying to secure Ramadi.
Now, the key on that is, can you identify the targets? If you`ve got
people on the frontlines or near their frontlines with GPS and with laser
designators and ground to air communications, you can past those targets
coordinates in and the pilots can strike them. If you`re only going on
radio intercepts and satellite imagery, it`s much more difficult to find
the targets. So, I think the key on this is eyes on the ground, finding
targets for our aircraft to strike.
LUI: You know, I`m just looking through at some of the escalation
announcements which you`ve probably been following on August 14 and the 130
advisors to Iraq, that was an announcement moving into June, 2015. Four
hundred and fifty troops to Iraq, and that is what we were just talking
about, Ash Carter saying more special ops may be sent soon. Do we know the
CLARK: Well, we know what the solution is. You have, ISIS you see, is an
artifact of the controversies in the region over the future shape of Syria.
And whether Iran or Saudi Arabia is going to dominate the region. And ISIS
is the product of Sunni struggles against the Iranian Bashar al Assad
alliance. So until you can work out the agreements between Saudi Arabia
and Iran, ISIS is like a Frankenstein, it`s grown out of all proportions to
what its founders and what its original founders thought it might do. So
it`s out of control, but until they can agree on the politics, they can`t
come together to eliminate it. And it`s a political problem that shapes
the region, not the military problem.
LUI: General, are those numbers – do they sink what you`re thinking – if
you had to put together a strategy here to defeat ISIS?
CLARK: What I would with be doing is exactly I think what the President`s
doing, I would be working behind the scenes diplomacy to try to bring the
respective parties together. Like last week, the Saudis brought together a
bunch of the jihadi groups not ISIS, but the others, to try to get them to
work together against ISIS. And then you`ve got to get the Saudis and the
Iranians and the Turks to agree. You`ve got to cut off the funding to
ISIS. Bashar Assad`s buying oil. Where is he going to get the oil if he
doesn`t buy it from ISIS? Are we going to flatten the oil infrastructure?
We can do that. Should we do that?
These are all questions that have to be resolved at the political level
before you can work them at the military level. We don`t militarily know
how to work all this. But as we found out in Iraq, if you don`t address
the political instate, what is the goal you`re after through the use of
force, you won`t succeed. Simply getting rid of Saddam Hussein left a mess
in Iraq. Simply getting rid of Bashar Assad for ISIS is going to leave a
mess in Syria. So we have got to put together a vision for what the region
looks like before we go pell-mell in there to completely wipe things out.
What we`re doing right now is more or less a holding strategy, we`re
distracting, disrupting ISIS, we`re not going to eliminate it this way,
everybody understands that, but you`re not going to get it eliminated until
you can bring some greater convergence at the diplomatic level from the
principal funders of the respective parties in the Syrian conflict.
KHIMM: General, this is Suzy Khimm. Earlier this week we heard President
Obama call yet again for Congress to actually hold a vote to authorize this
war, which they have so far refused to do. Do you feel like that would
have any impact in terms of this attempt to build political consensus and
build a coalition and the partners we need on the ground in the region?
CLARK: I`m not sure it would do much diplomatically, but it would do a lot
politically in the United States. It`s very easy to sit on the sidelines
and harp at the President`s policy. And say, just got to put those ground
troops and just 10,000, just 20,000, just 30,000. And before you know it,
you`ve got to the Iraq invasion all over again coming further. So, there
should be some political debate, they should be authorized. This is a
long-term commitment of force, but it`s directed to something political and
so we have to get our arms around the politics.
The difficulty of it of course, the more the administration publicizes the
politics of it, the more difficult it is to get it done. Because just as
we found 20 years ago in the Balkans. If you run around and say you got a
peace plan and then the peace plan doesn`t come through, then you look like
a failure. So you want to do the diplomacy behind the scenes until you can
get everything pulled together so that a diplomacy will be successful.
LUI: General, we have to go because –
CLARK: It has been yet.
LUI: Our panel is so engaged in what you`re saying. A rapid fire here
quickly, question, question, and then General we want you to try to answer
it quickly, so.
PERESSUTTI: General Clark, Gian Carlo Peressutti, what would conditions on
the ground have to look like for you to determine that sending more
soldiers into combat would be warranted?
LUI: Go ahead, Victoria, your question.
DEFRANCESCO: Building on that, General. Victoria Defrancesco here. What
is your reaction to the rhetoric we`re hearing from some of the candidates,
Ted Cruz saying this week that he just wants to carpet bomb the region,
what is your reaction to that?
CLARK: Yes. Well, you can`t carpet bomb. I mean carpet bomb is what we
did in Vietnam when we designated a one kilometer by three kilometer box on
the ground and put down a couple of thousands of 500-pound bombs in that
box in the jungle. You`re not going to do that in Raqqa, you would kill
tens of thousands of people. And besides that, much of the ISIS
headquarters airport is probably already dug in underground. So that`s not
going to be effective. For U.S. ground troops to come in, first of all
you`ve got to have a political agreement as to who`s going to take over
afterwards? Do you really need ground troops? I mean, what is the point?
U.S. tanks to shoot at an ISIS tank. You can do that better from the air.
But if you can identify the ISIS tank. U.S. troops to surge a house, you
can do that better with Iraqi forces if the Iraqi forces or Syrian forces
or jihadi forces will cooperate and get there. So I think that the push
for U.S. ground forces is like a – it`s a lashing out for, give me a quick
fix, give me a quick fix, there`s not a quick fix on this. This can
conflict is not really about terrorism in the region. It`s really about
who`s going to control the region. Is it going to be the Sunnis operating
out of Saudi Arabia? Or the Turks where the greater auto man empire or is
it going to be the Shia, with Persia reaching across and through Iraq into
Lebanon and able to confront Israel directly.
That`s what`s at stake here. So we have to be careful not to push for the
U.S. ground troops` solution when that`s not going to make things easier
would make it harder. Because once you put troops in on the ground, and
then you start counting your own casualties, then the clock starts to tick,
and the budget numbers run up. This is the time for heavyweight diplomacy
behind the scenes, but we`re distracted, we have got climate change, we
have got Ukraine, we have got a refugee crises, we have got China. So
there`s lots of stuff going on behind the scenes that pull the
administration and it`s key leadership in many different directions, not
going to bring ISIS to heel until we can get Saudi Arabia and Iran and
Turkey to agree on the future makeup of Syria.
LUI: All right. Thank you so much, General Wesley Clark, former
presidential campaign, also Clinton supporter, I appreciate your time today
for joining us.
CLARK: Thank you.
LUI: And we had good conversation there. Thank you to our panel as well
We want to bring you the latest on our story as well that we`ve been
following in California. Authorities are calling the fire-bombing of a
mosque a hate crime there. Here`s what we know after Coachella police
saying, someone intentionally set the fire at the mosque in Coachella which
is in Riverside County. No one was hurt. Officials have detained what
they`re calling a person of interest. And the FBI is investigating
Riverside County adjacent to San Bernardino.
We`ll have more on that next hour and we`ll discuss what life has been like
for Muslims in the country in the wake of the attacks in Paris and San
Bernardino. Up next, a $10 tour as well. We`ll be right back.
LUI: Another full hour of news and politics straight ahead for you
including how Donald Trump`s proposed ban on Muslims may actually be
helping him remain at the front of the field.
LUI: All pulling ahead of Trump in Iowa.
Good morning to you. I`m Richard Lui. Thanks for staying with us on this
Donald Trump is firing back at Ted Cruz. The war of words between them
heating up as Ted Cruz starts to climb in the Iowa polls.
Plus, what is it like to – what is it like to be Muslim in America these
days in the age of Donald Trump.
We`ll find out with our special guest as authorities investigate last
night`s fire bombing of a mosque in California.
Also, new tapes of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia`s comments on
affirmative action that some are condemning as racist.
Divers heading back into a San Bernardino lake today in a search for clues.
And whose job is it to police possible terrorist activity online.
All that and more is ahead this hour.
But we begin this hour with Donald Trump, firing off in opening salvo last
night on what could be the battle to watch in 2016, the one taking shape
between him and Ted Cruz. The two Republican front-runners seemingly
circling around each other after crews overtook Trump in a Monday Iowa
Again last night in his first remarks to an Iowa crowd since the polls
debuted, Trump attacked the Texas Republicans. Quote, saying ties to big
oil as well as his faith. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, if he`s from Texas, to the best of my knowledge, there`s a
lot of oil in Texas, right? So, you know, he gets a lot of money from the
oil companies and he`s totally against ethanol and everything else you`re
If Ted Cruz is against ethanol, how does he win in Iowa? Because that`s
very anti-Iowa. I don`t know how he wins in Iowa.
I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all
fairness. It`s true. Not a lot come out. But I like him nevertheless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: NBC`s Luke Russert live in Aiken, South Carolina.
Boy, did we throw you a softball, my friend, lots to talk about there. The
rivalry, is it real? Is it now coming about? Will we see escalation? And
are folks on the ground surprised about what Trump has said.
RUSSERT: Well, I think you can call him frenemies if anything at this
point, Richard. And if you look at what`s happened over the course of the
week, those comments Ted Cruz reportedly made to donors saying that he did
not necessarily see Trump or Carson as qualified for president.
Of course, Trump here is that, kind of rope-a-dope strategy, Trump is
trying to bait him, saying, come over, get in the mud with me. Trump likes
to do that because every time he`s on offense, he`s a better candidate and
he loves throwing those zingers which he`s very well versed at.
Now, all that being said, though, Cruz is trying to walk it back. He had a
tweet saying this is the establishment making this all up.
This is how Donald Trump characterized his relationship this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a feud or is there not a feud?
TRUMP: Well, there`s really not. You know, he`s been so supportive of me.
Everything, I`ve said, he said I agree 100 percent. I agree 100 percent,
you know, that`s why you`ve covered it better than anybody in all fairness,
Tucker. But, you know, we have had a very good relationship, but I`m sure
it will end, because, you know, he`s got to come after me at some point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSERT: There you see Trump saying, oh, we get along OK, but it`s going
to have to end at some point. Trump I would argue would invite this.
However, Cruz is a very smart, calculating guy. I have covered him since
he has come to the Senate. Everything is planned out four steps ahead,
it`s a chess match.
Cruz probably doesn`t want to get in the all out battle with Trump right
now. But he is going to want to take his voters at some point. That is
why he`s been pretty, shall we say, reserved in what he`s had to say about
At the end of the day, though, they will have to go after that same slice
in Iowa. Evangelicals are backing up Cruz. The God, guns, and guts people
are more behind Trump. Eventually, those will inflate at some point.
LUI: Two masters of the message, right, Luke Russert?
RUSSERT: We try.
LUI: Yes. NBC`s Luke Russert in South Carolina, thank you so much, my
So, exactly who are the people who want to see Donald Trump as the next
president? We sent Katy Tur to last night`s rally in Iowa to find out.
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: First things first, Trump supporters
like one thing more than any other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like how he tells it how it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you`re full of crap, he says you`re full of crap.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he sounds like he has a fifth grade
vocabulary. Well, you understand what he`s saying.
TUR: They say are angry, fed up and Trump is their only answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m tired of both the Republicans and the Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m hoping he can turn our economy.
TUR: Polling done earlier in the race show that most supporters are older,
white, male, with a high school degree or less, about a third are
evangelicals. Few identify as very conservative and most say to the
American dream they knew is gone. That is them on paper. In real life,
they say they are just regular folks.
Do you think that you ear a part of the crazy fringe in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not, no, not at all.
TUR: Regular person?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Regular, really boring.
TUR: Not all Donald Trump supporters agree with everything he says, but
they do believe, and this is in South Carolina, it`s in New Hampshire, it`s
in Iowa, Arizona, Alabama, you name it. They say they don`t have to agree
with him because they trust him. And they believe in Donald Trump`s own
words that he`ll make this country great again.
LUI: NBC`s Katy Tur with that report for us.
Still with us on the panel here this morning on a Saturday for the second
hour, we`ve got Victoria DeFrancesco, MSNBC contributor and professor at
the University of Texas for Mexican American studies, we have Gian-Carlo
Peressuti, former aide to Karl Rove and former spokesman for President
George W. Bush, and Suzy Khimm, senior editor at “The New Republic”.
So we have the potential beginning of a feud being expressed between two
candidates, we have also got who are the voters which is an interesting
point to talk about.
Let`s start with that “feud”, quote/unquote. Is it really there? Are they
starting to can do a little rope-a-dope here?
DEFRANCISCO: He`s sowing the seeds. That`s what Ted Cruz is doing. So,
he`s looking down the pipe and he`s saying, OK, in February, February 1,
we`re going to engage, January, I`m going to start to take the gloves off.
Right now I`m just sewing the seeds. But he knows he can`t get too
explicit in the attacks because Trump is very dangerous, and if Trump
starts attacking him, then Ted Cruz will not be in a good place.
But I think this is for the long haul, this is two months of little mini-
attacks and then he walks it back and then at the end of January, we`re
going to see the gloves come off.
LUI: This is Cruz tweeting, “The establishment`s only hope, Trump and me
in a cage match.” They`re trying to get to the top, get to the primary and
then it will be down to them.
PERESSUTI: It was only a matter of time before Donald Trump took the
gloves off and as you said Victoria, preview sort of his line of attack
against Ted Cruz. I actually think Ted Cruz is in a bit of a precarious
situation here, because he`s got to absorb a lot of those attacks, if he
pushes back with a level of force that is not commensurate to the water
that he`s taking on. He is going to alienate the voters that he will need
if he has any hope of coalescing.
DEFRANCESCO: But he`s walking it up. I mean, just that tweet shows that
he knows that. So, he`s just going to tease him and walk back, tease him
and walk back. And we`re going to see that for the next four weeks.
LUI: What about the Cuba remark, though? That would certainly be an
opportunity for Cruz to hit hard.
DEFRANCESCO: I don`t think he has a reason to. He has evangelical
support. Just this week, Bob Vander Plaats, one of the biggest evangelical
leaders in Iowa, came out and supported him. He doesn`t need to fight back
on that because the evangelicals are solidly with him. So, what would be
KHIMM: I think one of Cruz`s strengths as a candidate, I was at the Values
Voter Summit a few months ago, which was just kind of a huge a part of his
base, and you could see the organization out there he had volunteers, he
just blanketed the event, all over the place, that I feel like part of it
is that he`s just trying to confine his own constituency. Yes, he does
have to negotiate this relationship with Trump, but I think that first step
is going to be important, just in terms of having a able to have enough
bias to build it out.
LUI: I want to look at this Iowa poll numbers that came out that I was
alluding to, I mean, with Ted Cruz at 24 percent, Donald Trump at 19, and
Donald Trump now has, if you will, punch down and this is probably the
first time that we`ve seen him do that with Ted Cruz. Are we going to see
more of that, just because the numbers may be saying to him, hey, hey, I`m
not sitting so comfortably as I was early.
PERESSUTI: Well, I also think, we were talking about this earlier. We
know evangelicals turn out in the Iowa caucus. That has been proven. If
that truly is Cruz`s base of support, then he`s got a leg up on Trump whose
base of support is questionable –
LUI: Is that what you`re seeing on that poll?
PERESSUTI: Yes, in terms of whether or not they come out and go to a
school gym on a snowy night in February. I mean, we just don`t know that.
DEFRANCESCO: What`s Trump`s ground game in Iowa, that`s the question mark,
because he can be great with crowds, and the crowds are eating him up, and
he`s great for sound bites, but on those snowy, cold nights in Iowa, is he
going to get those folks out? And I think this is where Ted Cruz has an
advantage that you were alluding to.
LUI: His campaign manager is saying he`s not worried about what`s
happening in Iowa. They feel very comfortable with what`s happening.
KHIMM: I think Trump has invested in – there`s a point in the cycle which
people were starting to ask those questions and I think he has made those
investments. But I do think that this is a valid question, I mean, you
look at the pollsters trying to puzzle over this. And their response is
that, listen, we`re not sure whether the polls are overestimating or
actually underestimating it, because previous has shown, at least in Europe
with some of these far right candidates, that some folks when they`re
polled, they`re afraid the to say publicly that they`ll support someone, or
tell pollsters that they support someone. But, in fact, there`s a larger,
you know, like a silent majority as –
LUI: And I want to add some data to that which all three of you are very
familiar with, “The New York Times”/CBS poll shows the comments that were
made by Donald Trump about Muslims and not letting them into the country,
and when you look at Republicans, Gian-Carlo, I`ll go to you first on this,
it was only 30 odd percent that said, we`re against that statement.
Where`s the other 70 percent?
PERESSUTI: Well, I`m not familiar with “The Times” poll, but “The Journal”
had a poll yesterday that essentially put Republican primary sentiment at
50, it was 38 percent to 39 percent, with regard to, do you agree or do you
disagree with Donald Trump`s comment on Muslims? And, you know, the party
has asked itself a question, are we going to be the party of intolerance?
Are we going to be the party of stated intolerance and are we going to
support a candidate who wants to alienate, you know, a valued part of the
I hope in my heart we come down with the decision that says, no, but it
remains to be seen.
LUI: There it is right now, oppose, 36 percent that we`re talking about –
PERESSUTI: Roughly in line of the – yes.
DEFRANCESCO: We`re starting with some of those seeds that Ted Cruz is
sowing, saying, is Donald Trump fits to be commander in chief? So, this
week, Ted Cruz came out with it with an ad dangerous, where he sits very
presidential, he sits very much as commander in chief and he`s trying to
set up that distance between himself and Donald Trump and say, OK, he may
be fun to watch, he may have some good things to say, but he`s a little
quirky. You don`t want him as commander in chief.
LUI: I want to finish up with the Cruz/Trump comparison again. You know,
if Cruz were to be that face of the Tea Party that we`ve seen since 2010
and the wave, then to the question might be, are they vying for that vote
at the moment or is that something that`s completely different when we see
Trump outflanking, if you will, the Tea Party?
DEFRANCESCO: Tea Party 2.0?
LUI: Yes, that`s correct. Are you reading my notes? I have it right
KHIMM: The interesting thing about the Tea Party as a movement as compared
to what we`re seeing happening behind Trump is that the Tea Party is
ideologically unified. In fact, they were so unified. I mean, this was
they with the establishment.
The Trump supporters as you heard some of the interviews with Katy Tur,
they don`t really have an ideology. It`s much more of a more primal
sentiment. It`s sort of the lizard brain that is reacting, and Trump
really knows how to get those reactions and those emotions that go even –
LUI: The Trump wave, the Tea Party wave –
KHIMM: Beneath the level of ideology.
PERESSUTI: There`s a short – excuse me, there`s a cautionary tale in the
short but interesting history of the Tea Party. In the extent that they
were birth, or they came to life in 2010. Just two years later, Americans
rejected the very sentiment that launched those men and women into office.
They were seen as purists, they were seen as non-politician, they were seen
as men and women who spoke their mind and didn`t have a background in
politics and that`s why they were elected to Congress.
DEFRANCESCO: Caveat, caveat.
PERESSUTI: Then two years later, they were swept out of office by a
sentiment that said these people are extreme, they`re uncompromising, they
don`t know how to govern, they don`t know what to do. I think if we look
at that as a party –
DEFRANCESCO: Gian-Carlo, you need to come down to Texas where the Tea
Party isn`t just alive and well, it`s increasing in strength. So we need
to understand the different regions. The general election is a different
electorate than your midterm election. So, as we go into to the 2016
election, we have to now contend with three factions, the Trumpians, the
establishment Republicans and any lingering Tea Partiers.
LUI: What would the Trumpians look like in a midterm election?
PERESSUTI: I don`t think they would look like anything because I don`t
think they would turn out.
KHIMM: I think – I mean, the midterm elections, you see in presidential
races and even now more so I would say than ever, being defined by
individuals, being defined by personalities, and Trump has taken advantage
of that and exploited that more than anyone else. The midterm election I
think really speak to the Republican Party as compared to the Democratic
electorate, which has yet to coalesce and sort of be a coalition to turn
out, which is why Republicans managed to get control of both houses of
Congress, control of statehouses and governor`s mansions. So, it`s really
a question of two parties organization versus any individual candidate can
coalesce around it.
PERESSUTI: I would just add that we enable that control by not nominating
the same suite of people that we nominated in 2012. That`s what I mean –
LUI: We`ll leave it there. All great comments, table rounds. So
appreciate that, talking about Trumpians can. We now have a new hashtag I
guess that we`ll talk about this morning on UP on MSNBC.
Lots more this hour, including how will Supreme Court justice Antonin
Scalia`s controversial comments this past week about affirmative action
help define this court`s legacy. Our panel certainly has something to say
about that next.
Some of the backlash Muslim Americans have faced in the wake of the recent
terrorist attacks and whose some of them say is to blame for that anger.
LUI: Two alarming incidents in the past 24 hours of vandalism at places of
Muslim worship. This morning, police are questioning a person of interest
in their arson investigation and a possible hate crime at an Islamic center
in Coachella, California.
And in Phoenix last night, vandals breaking lights and windows and defacing
an Islamic community center. Early reports from the police say there is no
indication this was a biased crime, but the FBI will be joining the
investigation shortly there. These incidents are the latest in a slew of
Muslim related incident this is week.
Muslim-American Congressman Andre Carson of Indianapolis receiving a death
threat. A Muslim woman being shot at after leaving her place of worship in
Tampa, Florida. Another being nearly driven off the road.
And then Thursday, two officers of the Muslim civil rights group, the
Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR, evacuated after receiving
packages with suspicious substances and threatening messages. That group
reporting that since the Paris attacks last month, violence, discrimination
and threats against American Muslims are at their highest point since the
aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
Some Muslim Americans believe the aggression is being stoked by rhetoric on
the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of
Muslims entering the United States.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We also need leadership in
Washington to stop the president from bringing in tens of thousands of
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We ought the to be bringing in
people like orphans, people that clearly that aren`t going to be the
terrorists or Christians. There are no Christian terrorists in the Middle
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Do you believe that Islam is consistent with the
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I do not. I would not
advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where is the widespread
evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: Joining me now, Saba Ahmed, the president of the Republican Muslim
Coalition who yesterday invited Donald Trump to visit a mosque with her,
and Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and
We`ll start in the studio.
Haroon, it is tough to tell those stories, I don`t think many Americans
will look at that and go, wow, that is where we are here today in 2015. Is
that your view?
HAROON MOGHUL, INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL POLICY AND UNDERSTANDING: It`s a
difficult time and it`s actually a difficult time in multiple ways. So,
one of the jokes we have is what minority group is Trump going to demonize
next. He`s focused on Muslims now. He`ll focus on someone else pretty
MOGHUL: But remember the African Muslim community. So, we have a lot of
African-Americans. Fastest growing demographic I believe is Latinos. And
a lot of us are recent immigrant origin or ourselves immigrants, so whether
our parents born or came here for work or school or what have you.
LUI: Asian Americans as well.
MOGHUL: Exactly, South Asians, huge communities. So, all these
communities are getting attacked as Muslims, but we`re also victims of the
rising anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-black racism sentiment and action.
So, it`s like you`re getting hit on a lot of different fronts at the same
time. So it is in memory as an American Muslim by far, the worst time that
I can remember.
LUI: The attack on many different fronts.
And, Saba, you and I have been talking about this over recent weeks, this
is an aggregate statement being made by several politicians running for
high office. How do we disaggregate to understand this better as Haroon is
SABA AHMED, PRESIDENT, REPUBLICAN MUSLIM COALITION: Well, Islamophobia is
on the rise. There is a hostile environment outside, but I think
yesterday, I invited Donald Trump to visit a mosque and learn about Muslims
and Islam from Muslim Americans. I`m hoping that the presidential
candidates from the GOP side are going to the start visiting mosques and
meet their Muslim American constituents, to understand what our needs are,
what threats we`re facing and how we can solve our national security
LUI: Saba, how do you put together the list of either threats or attacks
that have happened near or closely involving places of worship, Muslim
worship and the words that have also been iterated within the last week or
so? How do you discuss those problems?
AHMED: Well, obviously, hate crimes should be reported to the FBI, and the
Justice Department. But at the same time, I myself have received threats,
but that doesn`t mean that I`m going to stop doing what I`m doing.
I believe what I`m doing is worthwhile. I think it`s helping Americans
understand and see a different side of Islam. So, we can`t let that fear
overcome us. We have to put that behind us. And, you know, in Islam, we
believe the best way to deal with problems is through patience and with
prayer. We`re going to be patient and we`re praying for the best.
But at the same time, we have do engage at the political levels at the
highest levels to defend our community.
LUI: Haroon, how do you talk about this in your prayers?
MOGHUL: You tell yourself that the same country that`s saying all this
stuff is also the country that elected Barack Hussein Obama twice. So,
there are definitely causes for concerns, but I know of people of color,
minorities, this kind of stuff does put you on edge. But you look at the
outrage that this has produced.
So, Donald Trump has said some vile things and he has some series support
in the Republican Party. But a lot of people, including a lot of
Republican leaders have finally woken up to Islamophobia. I have been
saying for years, a lot of Muslims have been saying for years, this is a
problem, people have been ignoring it.
LUI: So, I want you to put on your Republican hat and I mentioned this
with our panel earlier, that is, when asked, do you agree with Donald
Trump`s statements about Muslims being accepted in the United States, the
numbers in terms of rejecting, from Republicans, was very – well, low. It
was below 50 percent, it was 35 percent or 36 percent from the CBS poll.
What were other Republicans thinking then?
MOGHUL: Well, the problem with the Republican Party for a long time is
that their policies are based on race and ethnicity, and this is
rhetorically true. So, you can disagree with Democratic policies. But
Bernie Sanders is not saying that we should tax certain ethnicities at a
higher rate. Barack Obama is not saying we should deny guns to certain
But Republican politicians say over and over again, that we should deny
certain groups of people certain rights based on their ethnicity, their
religion or identity. This is a problem for the Republican Party, and what
I would ask Republicans to do is to focus on what are the long-term
consequences of this for your cohesion as a party. Where does this go?
LUI: And, Saba, what would you say to those Republicans, that non-36
percent that we were just showing onscreen?
AHMED: I would say that we need to be more welcoming and open to
minorities and accept everyone. Donald Trump can come up with whatever
unconstitutional plans that he wants, but we have a U.S. government which
allows equal protection under the law, and due process rights for all
citizens. He can`t just blatantly ban Muslims. We have a system and I
don`t expect Congress to pass these laws any time soon, even if he comes up
with it out of his mind.
As Republicans, we`re hoping to reach out to Donald Trump and all
presidential candidates and hopefully change their minds in the upcoming
LUI: Very quickly, who`s your candidate then that does fit into to the
space that you`re at as a Muslim Republican?
AHMED: We`re working with all of them. I mean, I have been meeting with
LUI: Which one do you think stands out for you at this moment?
AHMED: I`m hoping Rubio has been really good on immigration reform, and
hopefully, we can reach out to the other ones.
MOGHUL: Do I support Republican candidate? No, I don`t.
MOGHUL: I`m a Democrat, the majority of Americans –
LUI: Who would you pick one of all that`s out there right now?
MOGHUL: You know, honestly, I`m disappointed by almost all the candidates.
I haven`t seen a stand from any of them, wasn`t encouraged on this issue or
on any of Trump`s claims or comments.
LUI: Haroon, Saba, thank you so much for your time on this Saturday.
AHMED: Thank you for having us.
LUI: All right. Still ahead, controversial comments from Supreme Court
Justice Antonin Scalia in the court`s latest affirmative action case. New
audio we`ll have for you from what he said.
But, first, divers continue to search for clues at a San Diego lake. The
FBI seen removing items from the water. We`ll go live to the scene.
LUI: Taking you the San Bernardino. Investigators are diving in a local
lake after receiving a tip that Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were seen
there in the hours before December 2nd terror attacks. FBI divers were
spotted yesterday recovering two small objects from that lake.
NBC`s Morgan Radford joins us live from San Bernardino.
Do we know what those objects are?
MORGAN RADFORD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We don`t yet, Richard, in fact FBI
investigators have been combing through this lake behind me for two days
now, and once the daylight comes out, officially, they`ll begin for a third
Now, we do know that they were able to recover some items from that lake,
but sources would not specify exactly what. However, Richard, we do know
that of the items they were able to recover in the past week, it appears
that this couple had an even larger attack planned.
And speaking of largely attack, focus now on Enrique Marquez. He`s not
been officially named a suspect, but investigators say they have been told
that Marquez planned a 2012 attack with Syed Farook, but for whatever
reason got cold feet.
Now, he is the young man who purchased two of the five guns that Syed
Farook used in that attack. And on the day of the attack, Richard, Enrique
Marquez posted on Facebook, I`m sorry, it`s been a pleasure. So, it was
cryptic and a bit creepy.
But even with all that going on, there`s more questions surrounding the
$28,500 that were deposited into Syed Farook`s account before this attack.
Now, this happened on an online peer to peer lending market place. It`s
sort of like a Craigslist, it`s where online borrowers and lenders can meet
together and talk about matching funds.
So, now, investigators are wondering if in fact a terrorist cell funneled
this money through that site, specifically for the purpose of this attack.
But even with these new details, these new questions, Richard, the
community here is focusing on those victims. Today, there`s a memorial
service being held for Tin Nguyen. She was eight years old when she came
over here from Vietnam, looking for a better life, better education, better
opportunities, but she was gunned down just a year before she was set to be
married – Richard.
LUI: NBC`s Morgan Radford, live in San Bernardino, thank you so much for
We`re also following developments in Paris where world leaders have reached
an agreement on a PAC they hope will stem climate change. A vote to adapt
the agreement is expected later today.
Now, that final draft would be legally binding and would require all
countries to take steps to reduce emissions. Several reporters and
producers in Paris monitoring the situation.
Stay with us right here with us on MSNBC and we`ll keep you up-to-date on
what might happen with that. We`ll be right back.
LUI: There were gasps heard inside the Supreme Court this week over
something said by Justice Antonin Scalia. He made a remark about African-
Americans and academic performance, concerning a case challenging
NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams explains.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The University of Texas at
Austin says to achieve the level of campus diversity that improves
learning, race must be a factor in admissions. But could it be, Justice
Antonin Scalia asked, that affirmative action harms some students?
JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are
those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them
into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to
having them go to a less advanced school, a slower tracked school where
they do well.
WILLIAMS: He said some studies show that most black scientists do not come
from elite universities.
SCALIA: They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they are
being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.
WILLIAMS: That produced a few gasps in the courtroom. Some called his
remarks racist. Others said he was just plain wrong.
SHERRILY IFILL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: I think it was the language of
the lesser, slower schools that stung. All of the evidence shows that
black students like most students fare best when they go to the best school
that they can get into because they are challenged in that environment.
WILLIAMS: But some opponents of using race in admissions say Scalia had a
point despite how he said it.
STUART TAYLOR, JR.: To bring people in the universities where they`re not
nearly as well prepared academically, grades, test scores, anything else,
as their classmates, they`re likely to struggle academically.
LUI: NBC`s Pete Williams reporting there.
Let`s bring in “BuzzFeed`s” Chris Geidner who was at the court Wednesday.
Chris, what was the reaction from the other justices?
CHRIS GEIDNER, BUZZFEED: Good morning.
Well, the time when Justice Scalia brought up those remarks came rating at
the end of the University of Texas lawyers` arguments. And so basically,
the lawyer`s response was the end of that section of the arguments. So
it`s sort of dropped at the end of a segment and didn`t come back up again.
LUI: So really, a mike drop, did you look at the other faces, though,
after that mike was dropped?
GEIDNER: I couldn`t really see what the other justices happened to be
looking. I mean, Justice Scalia is known for sort of making the headline
comments at arguments and honestly, I have been joking with people that he
saw Justice Alito getting a lot of the headlines in the argument and
decided to grab something in there at the end of that segment.
LUI: Chris, you know, why is the Supreme Court hearing this again now?
GEIDNER: Well, when the Supreme Court heard the case in 2013, what it said
was that the lower court hadn`t applied the right, hadn`t used the test
correctly. The strict scrutiny, sort of the highest test of whether or not
race can be used in a government program. And so, the fifth circuit heard
the case again, and said, yes, we still think that this program is right.
And Abigail Fisher, the woman who`s challenging the policy, asked the
justices to take it up again and they did. And this time, it came down to
– it was a lot more aggressive and the ultimate question of whether or not
these policies are allowed and it seemed like at some points, Justice
Kennedy was a little nervous about making a decision.
LUI: Our panel is here with us, Chris.
Your reaction to Justice Scalia`s comments, and his assertion?
Any one of you.
PERESSUTI: I`ll start.
I think that the good justice`s overall point is not without merit. In the
name of social engineering and education, it does not serve either the
student nor the institution well if students are in an environment where
they`re not up to the challenge. That is a debate that we can have.
Justice Scalia took it to another level where he`s singled out a specific
group of students, in this case, black students, and tried to make the case
that somehow they might not or were not up to the test. And I think that`s
where it all went downhill, and he`s got some explaining to do.
KHIMM: Well, I think underlying his comments was this implication that
black students or whatever other group you might want to the pick are
supremely underqualified and are just being selected because of their race.
And I don`t think that`s the way that these university officials think
about their policies, these universities think about their policies or the
students who get admitted think about themselves.
They basically want to use race as one factor among an entire range of
factors that included being academically qualified to attend that
university. And I think it feeds a pernicious notion that minority
students are just being selected because of their race and they don`t have
other qualifications to be there.
LUI: At its very base, does it work?
DEFRANCESCO: You know, as a professor at the University of Texas, let me
LUI: Do you have an opinion? An insight?
DEFRANCESCO: Let me give you some insight from the ground right. Suzy`s
point is exactly right on. When we`re looking at students, we`re looking
at whole individuals, we`re not just looking at race, we look at region, we
look at legacy, we look at different interests and majors.
So, I think the problem with these comments ask we keep zeroing in on race,
it is a factor, among many, many factors, and I think it`s going to be very
interesting to see what happens here, because it`s not just going to be
what affects the law school. This is going to affect all admissions across
LUI: And as we saw this in Michigan and California the very same debates.
And back to you, Chris, on this, this is going to come down potentially
here to Chief Justice Roberts and he will have to make a call on this.
What will this be like, based on his decision, potential decision and his
legacy here when it comes to the nation`s civil rights discussion?
GEIDNER: I think the chief justice – I`m not sure it`s going to come down
to the chief justice, because he has made it clear over time that he has
real problems with affirmative action, because of the fact that Justice
Kagan isn`t participating in this case because she was involved with it.
It`s been going on so long, when she was in the Obama administration.
So, it really is going to come down to what Justice Kennedy is going to do
and he`s had problems with affirmative action in the past. He`s voted to
restrict affirmative action programs.
But at the arguments, it was clear that he was a little nervous about being
the justice who casts the vote to side with sort of the comments that were
being made by Justices Alito and Scalia that would really strike this down
and end to the policy in whole. I think he was sort of looking for – he
kept asking about like whether or not we could remand the case back down to
the trial court so we could get more evidence into the record.
LUI: OK. Thank you so much, BuzzFeed legal editor, Chris Geidner. Thanks
for joining us on a very, very compelling topic. Appreciate your time
Still to come, should Silicon Valley be required to do more to identify
possible terror threats?
LUI: In the wake of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, a renewed
call for social media companies to do more to identify potential terrorist
threats. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Senator
Richard Burr with legislation this week requiring tech companies to alert
federal law enforcement about suspicious activity. Law enforcement
officials saying San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik posted her support
to ISIS on Facebook before the attack.
The terrorist group has used platforms as a well know, including Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube to recruit and plot attacks.
Joining us with the details, MSBNC senior editor of video content, Cal
So, is there a request here, to the idea monitor yourself?
CAL PERRY, MSNBC SR. EDITOR, VIDEO & DIGITAL CONTENT: Yes, so it`s modeled
after really the child porn legislation that already exists. Dianne
Feinstein has reintroduced legislation sort of the post-San Bernardino
attack legislation phase. It would require big tech companies Twitter,
Facebook to report anything they see immediately that`s terrorist activity.
The pros and the cons: number one, they should already be doing that, they
should already be letting the government know that this is going on. And
in large part they are. Number two, people say this is starting to
infringe a little bit on the First Amendment. That this is going to open a
bad precedent, that we should not do this.
So, the bill is still this committee so we`ll have to see how it shakes
LUI: Self monitoring, is that what it`s basically being called here? And
is it the right thing to do saying you must monitor yourself?
PERRY: So, the question is, do we want to set this precedent, right? Do
we want to open the floodgates of sort of government really intruding on
First Amendment freedom of speech. The other issue is there are apps that
exists overseas that we know ISIS is using to communicate. We`re talking
about apps that encrypt themselves, so impossible to break. This bill
would not address that.
LUI: So, the ACLU says that tech companies, they argued, quote, “It`s not
their job, it`s not what they do best, the government already monitors much
of this information”, they go on to say here.
PERRY: Right, and why not leave it up to the intelligence people who
should be looking at it anyway.
The other thing is, when it comes to reporting this for big tech, the
question is, will they stick their head in the stand, that`s what some
people have been saying, that they`ll just stick their head in the sand
because then legally if they see something and they don`t report it, that`s
LUI: Is it better to ask here, government agencies must work with, must
collaborate with these social/media companies?
PERRY: And learn from. These are the experts, why not let them tell us
the best way to sort of monitor this.
And, again, you know, Twitter and Facebook have been good at doing this.
When accounts are flagged, they`ll actually let the U.S. government know,
this is a flagged account. Sometimes the U.S. government will say, leave
it up, let us track it. They`re already doing it.
LUI: It`s interesting that Dianne Feinstein is the one who`s doing this.
Thank you so much.
LUI: Yes. Cal Perry, appreciate it.
If you are just joining us, we want to get you up to speed on the
investigation a fire bombing at a mosque in California. Here`s what we
know at the moment, the incident now being called a hate crime and the FBI
is part of the investigation. Authorities say someone fire bombed the
mosque in Riverside County yesterday. No one was hurt. One person of
interest has been detained in that. We will bring you new information as
we get it.
LUI: There`s a lot going on this morning. We`ll get caught up open some
of the other headlines making news with today`s panel. And so, several
interesting articles. We`ll try to get at least three of them.
“New York Times”, I was reading this headline. National Front gets a boost
in French regional elections happening this weekend. Marine Le Pen, she`s
leader of the national front, as many of you know here, a far right party.
And when she was asked about Donald Trump`s comments about Muslims coming
to America, she said, as you mentioned earlier, that`s not me. Have I ever
said something like that?
Yet she`s in a country that one might say based on recent events as well as
history might be the place. You might have more Donald Trumps or
individuals saying things like that.
DEFRANCESCO: Everything in life is relative. I think we look at the
French right as being uber conservative and then a Donald Trump comes
But I think what we see if France versus the United States is with Donald
Trump, it`s an ultimatum. Let`s kick all Muslims out. Let`s not let any
Whereas in France, it`s more incremental, we don`t want to see the hijab
being worn. We don`t want to see external shows of religion. We want to
keep religion out of our society.
It`s a matter of degrees more in France rather than here in the United
States as Trump saying we`re just cutting it out.
LUI: He`s out to the far right in France?
KHIMM: I think what you`re seeing as well, with all of the parallels that
you`re seeing in terms of fear of terrorism, fear of Islam, fear of
immigrants, concerns that the countries are in decline and that they need a
strong leader to turn them around. I think what you`re seeing, the
difference in France, is that they have a party organized around that.
We`re in a two-party system with one party, the Republican Party, that is
in total crisis and disarray and Trump, who solidified a certain segment to
suggest that something like a National Front party could be possible in the
LUI: There is a segment there.
PERESSUTI: I think France has also dealt with the issue of Muslim
immigration to a much greater degree than the United States has. For
Marine Le Pen to say what she says, for me, is a cautionary tale for
although who espouse Trumpian rhetoric.
LUI: Trumpian rhetoric. I want to move to this.
“Washington Post”, Saudi women are voting and running for office for the
first time. That happened today. So that`s an historic moment for women
in the world. There are more than 900 female candidates in the kingdom`s
first nationwide election in which women are able to run and vote today.
And this is, again, 2015.
KHIMM: So it`s incremental change, local elections, but it`s something in
a country where women are still not allowed to drive. I think that is, you
know, we should welcome progress where we see it.
LUI: They should get a male guardian`s permission to travel abroad as
DEFRANCESCO: Well, in our own history, we`re coming on the 100th
anniversary of women`s suffrage, in our history, it was also incremental.
It was two steps forward, one step back. We started seeing women being
able to vote at the local level. States were allowing women to vote.
We saw pushback at the national level and eventually, we did women`s
suffrage nationally come about. So perhaps we might see that incremental
two steps forward, one step back change.
PERESSUTI: And I`m hopeful that economically, the Saudis will be rewarded
for this liberalization because I think it will do wonders for their
economy at a time when oil isn`t exactly knocking it out of the park, let`s
bring out more female consumers and let`s do what we can to ignite the
LUI: Since you guys are on the subject, I`ll go to another headline here
and we`ll bring it stateside. Let`s talk about the ten dollar bill. What
has happened is they`ve delayed the decision on the successor, if you will,
to Alexander Hamilton being on the $10 bill. It will be postponed until
next year, that according to the Treasury spokesperson.
In this because a lot of folks talking about it, the three of you included.
Who should be on the $10 bill?
PERESSUTI: I don`t understand why we`re kicking the father of the Treasury
to the curb. It would seem to be that the old hickory on the $20 would be
a much better candidate to get tossed, especially when Alexander is selling
out seats on Broadway. I think we could keep him on that currency as long
LUI: Who would you put on the $10 or other dollar bill, $20 bill?
DEFRANCESCO: My vote, either $10 or $20 is with Susan B. Anthony, going
back to the women`s suffrage movement. She was the mother of the woman`s
suffrage movement. I think we should look to her.
Or we can take a page out of the western political playbook. Let do a
referendum. Let`s do a proposition. Let`s let the American people vote.
LUI: Fifteen seconds.
KHIMM: I saw that Harriet Tubman was a very popular choice in the polling.
I think there are a number of not only women but also women of color that
could be strong contenders. Yes, I think part of the popular – vigorous
popular discourse is maybe the reason that there`s a still deadlocked for
LUI: We finish with gender equality right here on MSNBC.
Thank you so much. I like to thank our panel, Victoria DeFrancesco, Gian-
Carlo Peressuti and Suzy Khimm for spending time with us and maybe having a
doughnut or two.
Thank you for getting up with us today. Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning,
Up next is “MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY”. Today on MHP, the changing electorate
and what brought us to the rhetoric and fear we`re seeing today. Stick
around. Melissa is up next.
Have a great Saturday.
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