BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 1,240 of the Trump administration, 144 days to go until the Presidential Election.
Donald Trump is now trying to keep the outrage over the killing of George Floyd and the calls for justice from engulfing his presidency and his campaign for re-election.
Many inside and outside the administration have conceded his response thus far has been out of sync with much of the nation. He has declared himself the president of law and order, sometimes just tweeting out that phrase. Now in an interview with fox News, he`s openly questioning the motives behind the protests streets for nearly three weeks.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you had protesters for different reasons, and then you had protesting also because, you know, they just didn`t know. I`ve watched it very closely. Why are you here? And they really weren`t able to say. What we saw was a terrible thing, and we`ve seen it over the years. We have it, you know, this was one horrible example, but you`ve seen other terrible examples. We can`t let something like this where you have a bad apple go out and, you know, destroy the image of the whole -- of millions of people that take really good care of us. And then you have a movement where they say, let`s not have a police department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Our NBC News colleagues who cover the White House for us report that aides to the President are divided on how he should respond to the demonstrations 18 days in, that he`s caught between those who want him to, "calm a country in the grips of a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and civil unrest, and those who want him to lean into aggressive tactics."
The report indicates Trump`s unwillingness to come down on one side or the other. That has frustrated his allies, led to a slow, sometimes contradictory response. "These aren`t my voters, the President has said repeatedly, dismissing protesters in discussions with aides about how to respond." One adviser said the President and his allies should be taking on the black lives matter movement by calling it a front organization for a lot of crazy leftist ideas that are unpopular.
But another political ally said he`s choosing not to set the agenda on policing and race in the U.S. when he should be leading on those issues by taking steps like banning tactics like choke holds. Trump has said he plans to issue some sort of executive order on standards for use of force. He appears to be zeroing in on choke holds and his own unique description of them.
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TRUMP: I don`t like choke holds. Now, I will say this. As somebody that, you know, you grow up, and you wrestle, and you fight, and you this -- or you see what happens. Sometimes if you`re alone and you`re fighting somebody who`s tough, and you get somebody in a choke hold, what are you going to do? Say, oh -- and it`s a real bad person, and you know that. And they do exist. If you`re thinking about it, then you realize maybe there is a bad fight, and the officer gets somebody in a position. The concept of choke hold sounds so innocent, so perfect, and then you realize if it`s a one-on-one -- now, if it`s two-on-one, it`s a little bit of a different story. That being said, it would be, I think a very good thing that generally speaking it should be ended.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Trump has yet to give any kind of speech on race or unity or race relations, preferring to bring these topics up at smaller, more carefully curated events. Politico is reporting that some people of color in senior roles at the White House say the administration had, "A huge opportunity and botched it."
Tomorrow Trump will have a chance to speak to a large group when he addresses graduates at West Point. He`ll be speaking to over 1,000 newly minted second lieutenants in the midst of an extraordinary falling out with the nation`s military after the Pentagon`s top general publicly apologized for showing up with Trump at that now famous photo op minutes after federal authorities forced protesters off public grounds. That was followed by scathing criticism from ex-defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as several former commanders and military officials. As Trump has sought to navigate difficult points in his presidency, he has often compared his performance to past presidents and, most recently, to Abraham Lincoln.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think I`ve done more for the black community than any other president, and let`s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln because he did good although it`s always questionable, you know? In other words, the end result.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we are free, Mr. President. He did pretty well.
TRUMP: We are free. Well, you understand what I mean? You know, I got to take a pass on Honest Abe, as we call it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Friday night, the Veteran Journalist, Best-Selling Author Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief. Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the Washington Post, Moderator of Washington Week on PBS. Melissa Murray is back with us as well. She`s an NYU Law Professor who clerked for Sonia Sotomayor when she the now supreme court justice was sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Good evening and welcome to you all. Hey, Susan, what does his thinking on Lincoln tell you about his thinking?
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Brian, you`re a student of history. Tell me what are the questions about Lincoln and emancipation? Because I am unfamiliar with them. I mean it`s just hard to imagine. Part of, I think, President Trump`s difficulty in talking about these issues in a fresh way. He`s talked about race a lot in his life. He talked about race in 2016, back to the Central Park Five, but it`s been race in a different way, race as a wedge. So this different call for him to use race as reaching out to new attitudes to addressing long-standing racial injustices, that is something he is really just not comfortable doing.
WILLIAMS: Melissa, here`s a quote from the New York Times on Donald Trump and race and public opinion shifting around him. "Whether it is suggesting shooting protesters or siccing dogs on them, preemptively defending the confederate names of military installations or arguing that his supporters love the black people, Mr. Trump increasingly sounds like a cultural relic, detached from not just the left-leaning protesters in the streets but also the country`s political middle and even some Republican allies and his own military leaders.
Melissa, is that the broader point? Is that the movement we feel in the earth, that sound you hear, as we`ve been saying all week, is the demographic and generational train leaving the station?
MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I don`t think anyone is expecting the President to be woke on issues of race, but I do think that most Americans were expecting more of a conciliatory tone, recognizing that people of color have disproportionally borne the impact of the pandemic and that on top of it, the police violence that we`ve seen the protests responding to over the last couple of weeks, I think most people just expected more of this President and perhaps we should not have.
WILLIAMS: Robert, we have a pandemic under way. We have people protesting in the streets for 18 straight days and nights. The American economy is a shambles. Roughly one in four out of work. Hardly a brew for a successful re-election campaign, say nothing of the other Republicans down-ballot from this President.
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, Republicans are trying to navigate this moment on their own, in a different way from President Trump but not trying to become politically isolated from him. To build on Professor Murray`s excellent points, you see Republicans like Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader in the House, now open to a discussion about a federal ban on choke holds because, as she said, there is an expectation in the country but specifically in battleground states, in battleground districts, that this is a racial reckoning in the United States, a national moment where there are many calls for change. And so whether it`s Leader McCarthy or even Leader McConnell in the Senate, who has delegated some of the debate and discussion to Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, you do see Republicans being a bit open, more than the President, to some discussion of policy reform.
WILLIAMS: Susan, you and I have so often discussed presidential moments. You`ve written about your share of them. When the history of this administration is written, where do you think Lafayette Park will land?
PAGE: I think it is a hugely iconic moment in this whole time. I think it`s something that we`ll remember. I think it was -- it helped define President Trump`s approach to this. It also, I think, prompted a lot of Americans to say they supported -- they support the idea of peaceful protests outside the White House. They don`t like the idea of the forcible removal of protesters so the President could go and stand in front of St. John`s church. I think it was a hugely damaging episode for the President. And we see the reverberations even now, even with General Milley apologizing for being with the President. What an extraordinary thing is that? The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appointed by this President to that job apologizing for going with him for that photo op. Really quite momentous, historic occasion that is.
WILLIAMS: Professor, let`s engage in a little entomology. I heard someone tonight wondering that perhaps Trump saw a segment on television, perhaps even Fox News where a member of law enforcement was saying that in a scuffle, if perfectly applied, a choke hold is effective toward gaining control of someone. What else would lead him to use the words innocent and perfect to discuss a choke hold?
MURRAY: I really could not get into the mind of the President to actually give you any sense of why innocent and perfect were the terms that he used to describe a choke hold. I think at a time where so many of us are thinking about ways that the police can de-escalate confrontations with civilians, to say that the choke hold is innocent and perfect in some circumstances is to really give lie to that particular debate. But again, this is the same President who has announced that he`s having a rally on June 10th, the anniversary of the emancipation of African-Americans in this country in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of the most significant race riots and massacres in this country`s history. So in terms of what the message is, I think we`re getting a very clear signal from the President that some of these things don`t matter in his view.
WILLIAMS: Melissa, the further insult as Rachel Maddow profiled tonight extensively is that June 10th celebrations in Tulsa were all canceled this year because, after all, we`re in the middle of a pandemic. This will now bring a mass of people into a city, Tulsa, with spiking coronavirus rates right now.
MURRAY: Again, as I said before, the African-American community and other communities of color have disproportionally borne the impact of the coronavirus to take June 10th, which is a day that is really important to a number of African-Americans, hasn`t been celebrated on a wide scale in the United States, but important nonetheless, and to have a political rally on that day, again, it underscores the degree to which this is not a concern, at least for this administration, but perhaps it should be.
WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, a couple of remaining issues. We have 144 days, and we have 50 secretaries of state whose job it is ideally to ensure the integrity of the coming election. On a micro level, you have the Trump campaign and the continued swirl of rumors, some of them in conservative media that the President`s going to pull the rip cord on the man running the campaign. Discuss any or all.
COSTA: Well, when you look at the Trump campaign right now, it`s being run by Brad Parscale, but you also have a political director, a deputy campaign manager, Bill Stepien who came from the White House. Mr. Parscale has often been someone who has been the subject of speculation in the President`s inner circle. Because of his high profile, he sometimes appears in advertisements. He appears at Trump campaign rallies. But remember he is close to not only President Trump but to the President`s children, and in the President`s inner circle, after reporting on him for a decade, it`s clear that being a friend of Jared Kushner, of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump gives you capital inside a world that has always been family-oriented. He was the digital director in 2016. For now, based on my reporting, he appears to be safe. But we did see in 2016 the President rifled between campaign managers quite a bit.
WILLIAMS: Susan, it`s true that books will be written about this campaign. I guess as you look back through American history, the closest we`ve had to the front campaigns of the late 1800s all of it because of a pandemic. And one of these days, we`re going to learn who the form Vice President Biden has chosen as his running mate. Do you have any intel on that process?
PAGE: Well, we know that they`ve gone to a second round of vetting. We know he`s announced publicly he`s going to choose a woman. I think it is very likely that he will choose a woman of color. That would be important to seize this moment. That would seem appropriate and also to energize some of the voters that he needs to energize. By the Biden people are looking pretty optimistic at the moment. I mean it`s five months away. A lot can happen. But when you see places like Ohio and Iowa being competitive, when you see Georgia and Arizona being competitive, this is all very sobering news for the President.
WILLIAMS: And, Professor, a final question to you to try to end on a hopeful note. 18 straight days and nights, we still have people in the streets tonight, yet can you supply us with a hopeful note that the arguments are being heard, that the door is being opened to reforming policing and social justice?
MURRAY: Well, I think the fact that we`ve seen so many young people taking to the streets, even at a time when we are under a lockdown and dealing with a deadly virus, should give us some hope that our democracy is in good hands, that these young people really do care about these issues. And I think even in the regular institutions of government, we`ve seen a lot of movement showing that these issues really matter to a lot of people. We`ve seen bills passed, bills floated in Congress dealing with things like qualified immunity. We`ve heard calls for redistributing police funds to other sorts of social justice issues, including education. So we`re taking a lot of this seriously, and there`s been a lot of movement.
The fact that we have seen the rise of no-knock warrant bans in certain communities, I`m including Louisville, Kentucky, where Breonna Taylor was killed, all of this suggests that people are taking this moment incredibly seriously. It`s a really important moment in our country`s history, and they are making the most of it.
WILLIAMS: Thank you for that. A good note to end on. With our thanks to three terrific guests on a Friday night after the end of another very long week. To Susan Page, to Robert Costa, to Melissa Murray, our great thanks.
Coming up for us, rallying at your own risk. Why does the President`s re- election campaign have more to say more forthrightly about coronavirus than the President? We`ll show you what Dr. Fauci had to say about the risk of just showing up at next week`s maga rally in Tulsa.
And later, as critics call for defunding the police, we`ll show you the local department willing to spend money on retraining, which in their case includes an overseas plane ticket, as the 11th hour is just getting under way on this Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you`re in a large crowd, if you have the congregation of people that are much, much close to each other, you definitely increase the risk that you acquire or spread infections. There`s some people that are going to do that anyway no matter what I say. But the issue is if they do, please wear a mask all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Dr. Anthony Fauci warning against the very activities the President is promoting. It`s been 46 days, 46 days since the last official White House coronavirus task force briefing.
Today the CDC did say, off-camera mind you, that state or local governments may want to re-impose strict social distancing measures if cases dramatically spike. And that will have to pass as our advice from our federal government today. 14 states reporting increases of 25% or more in new cases. Oregon, Utah putting reopening plans on pause. Other states are not.
With us again tonight, it`s a lot. Dr. Irwin Redlener pediatrics physician by training, a clinical professor with the School of Public Health up at Columbia University in New York, where he is also the director of Columbia`s national center for disaster preparedness.
Doctor, where are we -- the question I ask you every time you`re nice enough to come on our broadcast. Where are we in this virus?
DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Well, Brian, we`re actually facing a -- it`s not even a second wave yet because we haven`t finished with the first wave. But we`re experiencing very significant upticks in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities in a number of the states that opened. And I think all of the states, Brian, as we`ve discussed before, have opened way too soon, and now we`re seeing some really awful consequences that come from those decisions.
WILLIAMS: I hope you`re OK with the mantle of being among the faces of public health in our country. It struck me watching Fauci today that wasn`t part of any government briefing. To see Tony Fauci for the first time in days you would have had to been watching CNN at the 6:00 eastern hour tonight, one thing that could put more Americans into the streets is being ill served by their federal government. 46 days since they bothered to update us on the coronavirus. And to my earlier question, it`s not as if the danger has passed.
REDLENER: Not in the slightest, Brian. And this is the problem. You know, I think those briefings, those press conferences, whatever they were that the President had been doing daily, turned out to be big missteps for him. He kept saying things that weren`t true, that were contradicted by Fauci and the other public health officials, so they just decided to stop them. That leaves us in a vacuum of any kind of information, accurate or not accurate from the federal government. That means it becomes the Wild West out there in the states, and a lot of states are, as you said, putting their reopening plans on hold as they should. I`m afraid we`re going to see a lot of states reinstituting the sheltering in place and so on.
We`re looking at increased not only tests positive but hospitalizations and fatalities in states like Arizona and Arkansas and North Carolina and so on. So we really have a problem, and we shouldn`t have opened so early in the first place as we`ve been talking about for weeks, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Mike Pence today was walking around a restaurant in Pennsylvania. No mask, none of the customers wearing them. His secret service detail, however, members of that were wearing masks. It`s not going to happen that the President and Vice President are going to lead by example. The weather has indeed turned warm. In your line of work, how do you fight human nature other than just trying to scare people to death?
REDLENER: Well, we could have thought about this a long time ago, Brian, you know, by having consistent messages out of the White House that were coherent, that were true, that were in line with what the public health experts were saying. And we just have never had that from day one of this whole pandemic. And we`re paying a big price right now. For the vice President or the President to be walking around without a mask is such a terrible example for the American people. They really ought to be ashamed of themselves, and they`re causing chaos, and they`ll ultimately be causing lots of hospitalizations and unfortunately fatalities out there by their totally inappropriate example, Brian.
WILLIAMS: We can straight-up say it is political pressure that has made the briefings disappear. The White House would very much like to just move on and change the subject and turn the page. How much do you fear the books getting cooked at the state level? I noted today the young woman in Florida who had been the keeper of the health stats who got fired from her job, Rebekah Jones, has gone ahead on her own and set up a website, a dashboard for Floridians to look at the most recent numbers. Are we going to be relying on this kind of citizen-based data as people try to learn how safe or how dangerous their own state is?
REDLENER: Yeah. Brian, it`s pathetic, and it`s an international embarrassment for the United States to be in this position. This started when they really messed up the ability to even do basic testing.
Now with this messaging fiasco day after day after day and to have to depend on a private citizen rather than our own government is pathetic beyond words, and it`s hard to know how to characterize that except to say thank you to this young woman who is compiling the data. And I`m just really sorry for the people that live in states that have put a clamp on accurate information. Some states are not even reporting to the CDC their data like they`re supposed to be doing. So this is absolute chaos out there and a shame for our country, and a shame for the safety of American citizens everywhere, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you as always for spending some time with us and staying up with us tonight. And while the doctor was talking, we`ve heard from the President, who has just tweeted. We had previously scheduled our maga rally, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th, a big deal. Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the June 10th holiday. Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this holiday. And in observance of the important occasion that this represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their request.
And then of course he adds, we`ve already had ticket requests in excess of 200,000 people. He looks forward to seeing everyone in Oklahoma. We know that if you`re going to get a ticket, you need to sign off on a waiver saying you will not hold the President liable if you leave the rally with the makings of coronavirus. So there`s your news at this hour.
Coming up, our next guest, a west point grad himself, says there`s a 50-50 chance the President will disgrace himself tomorrow.
WILLIAMS: Tomorrow the president will deliver the commencement address at West Point where social distancing measures will be in place. It comes amid rising tensions between the president and his military leaders over how to handle protests across our country.
In a letter posted online, hundreds of West Point alumni -- to uphold their oath to the constitution and not political leaders -- has threatened to use the army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests.
Just yesterday the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Mark Milley, apologized for his role in that now infamous June 1st photo op, photos of which will now forever show him surveying the scene in camo fatigues. NBC News reports he discussed resigning amid the controversy that followed. During an interview on Fox News, the president was asked about military leaders speaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS HOST: Why do you think you`re hearing from General Milley, from Secretary of Defense Esper, and not why you think you are, but do you think it`s significant?
TRUMP: No, I don`t think so. No. I mean if that`s the way they feel, I think that`s fine. I have good relationships with the military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: With us again tonight, retired four-star U.S. Army general McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam and a former battlefield commander -- happens to be a West Point graduate and a longtime former adjunct professor up there.
General, first of all, tomorrow is not without risk. All thousand or so of these newly minted second lieutenants have been scattered to the winds. They`ve been taking part in learning over computer as all college kids have. This puts them back together again prior to scattering again on their assignments. So we have that aspect, number one. Number two, what can the president say and, conversely, what do you think he will say?
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, it`s a risky proposition. Never in my lifetime have I seen more tension between the senior leadership of the Department of Defense and a President, ever. I mean Secretary Esper and the chairman both got publicly rebuked, disowned by the president, not just over of military combat forces in social unrest situations, but also over the renaming of army installations after confederate generals. I`ve never seen anything like it.
So the president`s going up there. It`s his right. He`ll be courteously and respectfully received by faculty and cadets. It will be completely safe. They`ll be socially distanced. But what we can only hope is that he doesn`t further try and politicize the armed forces.
By the way, that letter, Brian, I thought was inappropriate. I told him not to sign up for it, and not to take part in it. The last thing we want is former grads casting doubt on their own chain of command. So we got a mess going on on our hands caused by Mr. Trump unfortunately.
WILLIAMS: Have you ever seen a situation you just mentioned, anything close to secretary of defense, chairman of the joint chiefs both having to go out on their own, even at times of wartime stress, social unrest? Going back decades, I can`t think of a parallel.
MCCAFFREY: No. It`s an unusual situation. I might add that that Lafayette Square suppression of a peaceful protest was in many ways a turning point because it did underscore -- Mark Milley, I think is one of the finest officers we`ve produced in the army. Combat reputation unbelievable. Smart as hell. Princeton grad. He`s just first-rate.
But he was properly ashamed at having been drafted into the wake of the president over this issue. But all his service chiefs now, all of them have put out internal communications not really defying Mr. Trump so much as reminding the armed forces that we swear an oath to the constitution and not to an individual and that our first amendment rights are part of that package that we`re here to defend. So it`s just a very, I think, tricky situation.
Mark Esper started to waver on us in my view, but I think he suddenly realized his place in history is going to be jeopardized if he -- the latest one was Mr. Trump talking about -- using U.S. combat forces to seize the Capitol Hill autonomous zone in Seattle. I mean what a goofy thing to do. Thousands of shadow police and sheriff departments and National Guard. We`ve got a governor, state`s rights, a mayor. Why would he dream of making this kind of a mindless threat? He`s never going to carry it out.
Anyway, a very dismaying situation with the president of the United States.
WILLIAMS: General, who was the graduation speaker for the West Point class of 1964, and what percentage of you were handed, like you were, a plane ticket to Vietnam?
MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, I thought of that earlier this afternoon, and I meant to look it up because it didn`t even vaguely make a spark of consciousness in any of us.
WILLIAMS: Obviously memorable.
MCCAFFREY: Yes, but none of them will forget Mr. Trump being there tomorrow, I can assure you. I hope by the way, I pray he gets through his commencement address in a respectful, moderate way. Vice President Pence did a great job out at the Air Force Academy. I think Mr. Trump got Pence envy, which is why he`s going to West Point.
But you make a good point. Our class graduated to an army that had been at peace for 15 years, and suddenly we all got pulled into the war, and that dominated the first ten years of our life. We were in and out of combat, in and out of hospitals recovering from wounds, tremendous casualties.
These classes now are entering into a different world in which fortunately we`ve backed out of Afghanistan and Iraq to a large extent. But still there`s great threats in the world. It`s not just West Point. The service academies are providing young officer leadership, women and men, that infuse the values into the armed forces. They`re looking at this situation and trying to sort out where do we go from here?
WILLIAMS: General Barry McCaffrey, West Point class of `64, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We appreciate it as always.
Coming up for us, a look at yet another extraordinary week with an activist and comedian who is here to talk us all through it.
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FAULKNER: Your rally in Oklahoma is set for June 19th. Was that on purpose?
TRUMP: No, but I know exactly what you`re going to say.
FAULKNER: Well, I`m just asking. It`s on the day of African American emancipation.
TRUMP: That`s right. The fact that I`m having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration because a rally to me is a celebration. It`s going to be really a celebration, and it`s an interesting date. It wasn`t done for that reason, but it`s an interesting date. But it`s a celebration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Somebody got to him. Somebody told him, and if you were watching, you know just moments ago the president announced the rally will now be held June 20th. It`s a lot to talk about tonight. We welcome to the broadcast Baratunde Thurston, writer, activist, comedian, former producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Quarantine life has him hosting his own show, live on lockdown on Instagram live. Also happens to be the author of "The New York Times" best-seller "How To Be Black." Thank you very much for coming on. We`ve been looking forward to talking to you. Were you comforted or troubled to hear our president say about Lincoln, he did good while always questionable because I got to say, I`ve always had my doubts about that guy?
BARATUNDE THURSTON, AUTHOR, ACTIVIST AND COMEDIAN: Yes. Comfort isn`t the word I would use, Brian. Thank you so much for having me. Most of what this president does is troubling, if not outright unconstitutional, including comments about an actually great president, Abraham Lincoln.
WILLIAMS: How about these comments quoted in the NBC News piece. The president watching people in the streets 18 days and nights, people who will bring about actual social change and are part of a generational demographic, huge social change in this country. He looks at them and says, they aren`t my voters. And imagine if Ike hadn`t sent federal troops in, if JFK hadn`t sent his brother, if LBJ hadn`t staked his presidency on it, if they had instead said, they aren`t my voters.
THURSTON: Every opportunity this president has faced to choose either himself or the interests of the public good, he has chosen himself. The challenge now is we`re in an increasingly common moment, at least of awareness, that racism is still real, that police are out of control when it comes to black people and the use of force. And it`s become so safe that the majority of the country, two-thirds now side with black lives matter. It`s so safe that Mitt Romney feels comfortable going to a black lives matter rally. It`s so safe that NASCAR has banned the confederate flag at its own events.
Yet this president still doesn`t feel safe. He`s so insecure because he`s not really the president of all of us. He is the president of a small and shrinking group of extremists who are out of touch with the increasing consensus that there is a truth to this country that we are ready to start to really reckon with.
WILLIAMS: I want to quote you something from a longtime friend of this broadcast, Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson of "The Washington Post," who writes, under the headline Trump might go down in history as the last president of the confederacy. We quote, Trump must be bewildered, unsubtle appeals to racial animus, remember his birther lies, have always worked for him in the past. But now he seems to be flailing. If it turns out that the lost cause is finally truly lost, then so is the president who made himself its champion.
Yet Baratunde, I have to say with so many of our guests, I`ve been saying that the demographic and generational train is leaving the station. Doesn`t this, in your view, leave the president more thoroughly isolated?
THURSTON: He is extraordinarily isolated, Brian. And unfortunately, that can be very dangerous to a lot of us. But here`s the good news. Where there is no leadership at the top of our national pyramid of leadership, there is great leadership on the ground.
You mentioned some of this in your show already. Breonna`s law is the law of the land in Louisville, Kentucky. No-knock raids and warrants are done. You look at the Colorado legislature. In just a week has severely reined in use of force. You look at Adidas re-tweeting Nike`s in favor of black lives. I never saw I`d see the day those companies challenge each other and support each other in such a public fashion.
So, there is a growing wave here. As is often the case with national leadership, the people are leading. And so what we look in the White House, we actually have on the streets. And credit to the black vision`s collective, to Black Lives Matter, to organizers all over this country who are re-imagining what democracy, what citizenship, what participation, what America could and should look like.
WILLIAMS: Is that what gives you hope going into a weekend after the week we`ve had?
THURSTON: I have a couple of pieces of hope that are coming out of these two weeks of intensity. I think this president`s isolation and his vulnerability, and his smallness are being exposed to a larger and larger group of people. And so we`re reckoning with the truth, and he`s behind the ball. He can`t acknowledge the truth because he`s been so invested in lies.
And as consensus grows that Black Lives Matter, as we see leaders on the ground, even leaders in corporations step into this moment, he`s left behind. So, we`re agreeing that Black Lives Matter, and I think increasing numbers of people are realizing that this president doesn`t.
WILLIAMS: Our guest has been Baratunde Thurston who also happens to have given one of the great Ted talks of all time. Can`t recommend it more highly. I`ve watched it multiple times.
THURSTON: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. Means a great deal to have you on with us.
THURSTON: It means a lot to be here with you, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
Coming up for us, American law enforcement learning how to be better at law enforcement, but first they have to have a passport for overseas travel. We`ll explain that little hitch when we come back.
WILLIAMS: As calls for police reform grow louder, we`ve been talking about it here tonight, some departments around our country have already started making changes for the better in recent years. And in Volusia County, Florida, the sheriff`s department there has seen very positive results with de-escalation training after some help on the topic from across the Atlantic. NBC News correspondent Willem Marx has our report tonight.
SGT. NICK SHEPHARD, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA SHERIFF`S OFFICE: Hey man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stay there.
SHEPHARD: I`ll stay here.
WILLEM MARX, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s one high-stress simulation.
SHEPHARD: Get on the ground and do it now.
MARX: And two very separate approaches to policing.
SHEPHARD: Can we talk about this? Can we work through this together?
MARX: The sergeant Nick Shephard, de-escalation training can mean the difference between life and death, and not just his own.
SHEPHARD: We can use other tactics. We can wait people out. Those are things that are vitally important because nothing more important than human life.
MARX: Each year around 50 new recruits join the 400 sworn officers in the sheriff`s department of Volusia County, Florida. They must pay attention in the classroom learning crisis intervention techniques as they do on the firing range. The man behind this shift in emphasis is the Sheriff Chitwood.
MIKE CHITWOOD, VOLUSIA COUNTY SHERIFF: It`s just as good police work to save a life as it is to get involved and stop a bad guy with a gun who is committing a massacre. It`s the same thing.
MARX: Since he took the job in 2017, he`s handed out medals for de- escalation and a few hugs. And though police callouts have remained consistent, annual arrests have dropped almost 30 percent to 9,400. Over the past two years, the frequency with which officers used force has halved to just 65 incidents in 2019. Local activists like the NAACP`s Cynthia Slater say they appreciate the attention paid to the county`s African American community.
CYNTHIA SLATER, NAACP CHAPTER PRESIDENT: We`ve created a really good partnership although there`s lots to work on. I mean but we -- anytime there is something going on within the community, we get together.
MARX: In late 2015 while still police chief of Daytona Beach, Chitwood joined a group of American law enforcement officers on a fact-finding trip to Scotland, captured in a sky news documentary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put it down!
MARX: There they watched how unarmed officers calmed suspects and avoided the use of force at almost any cost. The exercises astonished many, including Chitwood, who wanted to adopt the Scottish training to the gun rich streets of Volusia County.
CHITWOOD: So, what we have to take away from this as police leaders, we go home, in my opinion, we have to instill in our troops that I`m going to put policies in place. We`re going to train to de-escalate. We`re going to make sure that you`re safe. And by ensuring you that, my officers, report home safely at night, you`re going to ensure that the public reports home safely.
MARX: Deputy Constable Will Kerr oversees training here and says Scottish cops are guided by a unique mandate.
WILL KERR, DEPUTY CHIEF CONSTABLE POLICE SCOTLAND: The principal rule started of policing in Scotland is to improve the safety and well-being of people, places, and community as cross Scotland and that gave a fundamentally different starting point for the relationship between the police service and the public in Scotland.
MARX (voice-over): Here at this Tantallon (ph) Castle, police Scotland teach around 800 cadets every single year. But it`s the techniques they teach here they say could translate all over the world.
CHITWOOD: It was an epiphany to sit there and watch, you know, they arrest people. They have bad people. They just don`t have as many guns as we have. But to see their approach and to see how they recruited and to see how they trained with these incidents. They have to use their wits. They have to use their problem-solving abilities. You know, they have to call in the right group of people to defuse the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter!
MARX: A new approach can no doubt make a difference on America`s street. At a time when some seek to defund the police, one department`s learned to defuse their encounters with the public, and it seems to be working. Willem Marx, NBC News, Tantallon, Scotland.
WILLIAMS: And coming up on our last segment of the week, what Republican U.S. senators used to sound like before taking the Donald Trump loyalty oath and signing their Senate seats and their votes over to him.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, a lot of Democrats straight-up cringed when James Carville straight-up predicted a sweeping Joe Biden victory on this very broadcast last night. A lot of Democrats feel good about Biden`s chances thanks in part to the president`s recent downturn. But the group called Republican voters against Trump is out with a devastating new pro-Biden ad. It`s as tough on Trump as it is rhapsodic about Biden, only they didn`t have to hire an announcer to read the copy. That`s because it`s all Lindsey Graham`s own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, I want to talk to the Trump supporters for a minute. What is Donald Trump`s campaign about? He`s a race baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.
If you can`t admire Joe Biden as a person, then probably you got a problem. You need to do some self-evaluation because what`s not to like. He is as good a man as god ever created. He did some of the most incredibly heartfelt things that anybody could ever say to me. He`s the nicest person I think I`ve ever met in politics.
This is a defining moment in the future of the Republican Party. We have to reject this demagoguery, and if we don`t reject Donald Trump, we`ve lost the moral authority in my view, the government of this great nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Lindsey Graham to take us off the air at the end of another long week. That`s our broadcast for this Friday evening. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Have a safe and good weekend. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END