Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 16, 2017 Guest: Tara Dowdell, Walter Shaub, Daniel Fried, Lawrence Wilkerson
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JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Not all of those people were Neo-Nazis believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacist.
REID: No regrets from the President.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Pathetic, isn`t it? Just pathetic.
REID: As Confederate monuments come down, the White House defense goes up.
MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: I stand with the President.
REID: And CEOs run away en masse.
RICHARD L. TRUMKA, AFL-CIO PRESIDENT: His spirited defense of racism and bigotry, that`s an un-American value.
REID: Tonight, inside the halls of power and inside his own party, who is standing by Trump and why?
HUNTER WALKER, YAHOO! NEWS REPORTER: Does it bother either of you to see Nazi`s supporting this administration?
ELAINE CHAO, UNITED STATES TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We`re talking about infrastructure today.
WALKER: I`m talking about Nazis.
REID: And about those very fine people.
TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
REID: What we`re learning about the white nationalist who descended on Charlottesville.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not really white collar man, I just came here for fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I`m sorry. You can`t just take your costume off. ALL IN start now.
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REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. A day after the President of the United States defended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, pressure is building on cabinet members and other administration officials to take a stand as the nation`s business leaders flee association with this President. What started as a trickle earlier this week, turned into a flood following the President`s comments yesterday with more and more CEOs abandoning his manufacturing advisory council this morning. I mean, this morning, yet another council of top executives decided to disband altogether, a major blow to a president who ran on his supposed business credentials.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Blackstone Group CEO Steven Schwartzman who led the strategic and policy forum phoned the President today to inform him the group was being disbanded. By Trump being Trump, he rushed to Twitter to claim he dumped them first tweeting, "Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council and Strategy Policy Forum, I`m ending both. Thank you all!" Just yesterday amid growing defections, Trump had been downright braggadocios claiming "For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place."
Officially the White House and his allies just still defending what the President said yesterday putting out talking points last night instructing surrogates to say that Trump was "entirely correct." The White House also held a conference call for surrogates hosted by Presidential Aide Steven Miller according to Politico. The Vice President traveling in South America said today that he stands by the President.
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PENCE: What happened in Charlottesville was a tragedy and the President has been clear on this tragedy and so have I. I spoke at length about this heartbreaking situation on Sunday night in Colombia and I stand with the President and I stand by those words.
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REID: And while a handful of Republican officials have publicly condemned Trump`s performance yesterday, the party leaders in Congress Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan declined to call him out by name, instead releasing vague statements denouncing racism and hate groups. McConnell waited until four days after the violence in Charlottesville. So now that the President has publicly has stood by the those who march with the Neo-Nazis and Klansmen, we`ve reached a moment of truth for senior administration officials, especially those who are Jewish or people of color, some of whom were at the President`s side when he said this.
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TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both side.
You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.
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REID: Yes. Later, Yahoo! News reporter Hunter Walker tried to ask the Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao who also happens to be Senator McConnell`s wife and Economic Adviser Gary Cohn for a response.
WALKER: Secretary Chao, as a woman of color, and Gary, you as Jewish man, what do you think about the Nazi support for President Trump and his reaction to it?
CHAO: Well, as the President has already said in his statement, it is intolerable. We are a country of tolerance, and it is hateful behavior and it is not who we are as Americans.
WALKER: But does it bother either of you to see Nazis supporting this administration?
CHAO: We`re talking about infrastructure.
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REID: Well, according to the New York Times, Cohn was described by people close to him as disgusted and deeply upset by the President`s remarks but has yet to comment publicly. Perhaps coincidentally last month, the President said he was considering Cohn to be that next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Joining me now is someone who`s extremely well sourced inside the Trump White House, MSNBC`s own Stephanie Ruhle, and Tara Dowdell, Democratic Strategist and a genuine Trump expert from her days working with him on The Apprentice. Welcome to you both. Some Trump whispers here.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Apparently that the good guys speaking out against Nazis are bankers, and the bad guys are elected officials.
REID: Yes. It`s interesting because Stephanie, you saw these companies, we can put up a list of them that you know, started to walk away the Blackstone Group, Blackrock, JP Morgan Chase, even Jamie Dimon you know, walked away, Ernst and Young, et cetera walked away from this council. Donald Trump still couldn`t even admit that they want to dump him. Weren`t they all going to go?
RUHLE: They were all going. Collectively they had a call at 11:30 this morning that Steve Schwarzman led, they had their statement ready to go. Steve Schwarzman then called the White House. He actually spoke to Jared Kushner and Jared was expecting the call. They spoke last night. They said you know what, it`s enough for us. And it`s that this one specific event. Realize what these CEOs have had to endure. The Paris Accord, the travel ban, the transgender issue. And it`s not their day job and they`ve got to deal with their clients, their employees, their spouses, their boards, their shareholders. And on Monday, they accepted the President`s kind of improved statement. But finally last night were the wheels came off, they said enough is enough. I`m not going to make an excuse for you anymore. And you mentioned Jamie Dimon, think about what`s at stake for him. Deregulation and tax benefits, this could be a multi-billion dollar benefit for their bank and still it`s not worth it.
REID: And I mean, the imperatives are obviously different Tara, for business leaders than from politicians. They don`t have to run for office but they do have shareholders and they can get public pressure, boycotts, et cetera.
TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That`s the words, the two words, public pressure. So that was something that was big because the pressure began before this. The pressure began when some of them first joined the council. If you look at the Under Armour CEO, he was looking for an exit strategy. He was looking for a way out. And so Ken Frazier when he opened that door, the CEO of Merck, it made it easier for everyone else to then follow behind. But the pressure started early on and for some of them, they resigned. Let`s not forget, Elon Musk stepped down when Trump dropped the Paris Accord. Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney dropped out when that happened as well. And they`ve been under a lot of pressure from these public groups in terms of their consumers, right?
At the end of the day, you have products to sell to people and Trump`s brand, he is known as such a great brand, but his brand just literally become radioactive for all of these CEOs. And remember, I was in the governor`s office. I was appointments director so I know how these boards work. They want access. People who joins me as boards wants access so that they can push an agenda. They were willing to give that up to leave this council.
RUHLE: Hold on. If the Walmart CEO, the largest private employer in the country, cannot get meetings with senior official in the government, then there`s a problem with our government. You shouldn`t have to sit on a council like this.
REID: You know, interesting (INAUDIBLE) at the same time. So you have Steve Bannon, Axios reporting that Steve Bannon was actually giddy like he loved what happened.
RUHLE: Of course he is.
REID: Bannon reveled in the disbanding of the council et cetera.
RUHLE: This was Jared`s baby. Jared, Chris Liddell and Reed Cordish, this was their big event. You know, they love the photo opportunities. But I spoke to CEOs on the council who said we weren`t getting anything done, we`re barely even meeting. So for Steve Bannon to say, Jared and all has rich New Yorkers, this doesn`t work, he loves it.
REID: I mean, but you have at the same time this weird thing where Bannon, you know, Bannon hate the bankers, they hate -- well, Jared and Ivanka, they hate the Ryanites, right? There`s a certain theme to the people that they don`t like. So you know, dissing them, Ivanka tried to come out and say, you know, we`re on vacation.
RUHLE: Stop it, stop it.
REID: They`re on vacation.
DOWDELL: They always manage to be on vacation when there`s a controversy.
RUHLE: I`m pretty her dad has a phone that he tweets on.
REID: So, at this point, does Donald Trump care more about his business brand or about the Bannon brand?
DOWDELL: Here`s the thing, at the end of the day, all Donald Trump has left is that part of base that likes those things that he`s saying. All he has left is the part of the base that thought the statement that he made when everything went -- as you said, the wheels went off the train, he -- that`s all that`s left for him. So he`s going to continue to pander to them because he`s wrapping himself in them. No one else is supporting Donald Trump at this point. So the more isolated he is, the stronger he`s going to cling to those people who are giving him what he wants, the accolades and the attention. And for him right now, the problem for him, the Republican Party is those people are people who are at a minimum, supportive of racism, and a maximum, overtly racism. And there were a lot of them. There are a lot of them
RUHLE: There are a lot of them but at the end of the day, it is not about who Donald Trump hates, it`s about who loves Donald Trump. Donald wants to advance himself and he is willing to ally himself with groups of people that others simply --
REID: Well, here`s the question. I`ll throw this to you first, Stephanie. Why would the business interests who wanted Donald Trump to win because they thought --
RUHLE: They didn`t want him to win.
REID: They didn`t want him to win?
RUHLE: They did not want -- some. Well, a small percentage. Those who didn`t run big public companies, they didn`t have a horse in the race. They play games of probabilities and statistics. They didn`t think he was going to win. But when he did, they thought wow, tax breaks, wow, he`s dangerous, he`ll go after me on Twitter. I`m going to get in line here, but guess what, his tweets, they matter a whole heck of a lot less now.
REID: Do you think Donald Trump understands that he`s isolated? Does he gets that he`s toxic?
DOWDELL: I don`t think he fully grasp it but I think he knows that the only people that are really out there standing behind him are those people that he was speaking to when he made that statement saying they`re very fine people. He knew those are the people who he has to maintain because right now, he does understand that he is not as popular as he`d like to be. I don`t buy that Donald Trump is stupid. I think he is -- he knows that. I think he just doesn`t have a sense of just how radioactive he`s become.
RUHLE: But Joy, many of those people who voted for him were forgotten Americans who didn`t see their wages increase, who want health care reform, and if he doesn`t figure out a way to work with the GOP, Mitch McConnell doesn`t even have to bring his agenda --
REID: But he`s hate tweeting the GOP.
REID: That`s not going to work. (INAUDIBLE) power panel, love it and love the pink. Thank you, guys. And I am joined now by two former veterans of the Trump administration. Former Governor, Ethics Director Walter Shaub who resigned both in protest last month and Daniel Fried, former Senior Diplomat who rebuked Trump upon his retirement from the State Department in February. Thank you gentleman for being here. And I`ll start with you Walter on this question that has become extended. It`s all over Twitter, it`s all over social media. Should people in the Trump administration who still had something of a reputation left, stay or quit?
WALTER SHAUB, FORMER OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS DIRECTOR: Well, this is a very difficult moment in history. We saw we saw the President`s remarks yesterday and they were like nothing anyone had ever seen before. It was just simply unbelievable. And this is part of departure from civic norms where things as simple as, you should oppose Nazis, I mean, that`s as basic as it comes, have gone by the wayside and now it`s anything goes. And it`s hard to predict what`s going to happen next. It was the same when we saw the departure from the ethical norms in the government. I`m beginning to realize it`s a subcategory of this larger issue of civic norms being departed from.
But the issue of do you leave the government or not, look, I left but I`m not going to judge people who don`t leave. If they`re in positions particularly career officials and others where they think they`re making a difference. I reached the point where they were shutting down -- shutting us down right and left and there wasn`t more I could achieve. But for crying out loud, you ought to at least speak out if you have the opportunity. And when I see Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation standing next to the president as he is saying these shocking things yesterday smiling and nodding, I just simply thought, you are now 100 percent complicit in this statement.
REID: And Daniel Fried, you know, the New York Times report that the staff was disheartened because Donald Trump was saying in public the things they heard in private which to me is the damming of those staffers. They knew that he felt this way but they were contempt to stay inside the government as long as he didn`t say it out loud. And then when you have people, and I`m not saying that Daniel, Shulkin is one of those who knew what Trump was about, but this was the VA Secretary, somebody who was in a position of great responsibility and honor talking about Donald Trump`s comments today in public and Shulkin, by the way, is Jewish. Take a listen.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you stand by and agree with the comments that he made yesterday at Trump Tower?
DAVID SHULKIN, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Well, while I do serve the President as the Secretary of V.A., I think I don`t speak for the President. I think the President has done a good job speaking for himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see that there was bad on both sides?
SCHULKIN: I am not going to, in any way condone the behavior or the beliefs of the Nazis or the white supremacist
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see them as equally responsible for the violence?
SCHULKIN: You know, I`m not -- I didn`t look at the tapes in order to make you know, equal comments.
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REID: Is there a crisis Daniel Fried in the moral conscience of people who are willing to stand by this President?
DANIEL FRIED, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR CAREER DIPLOMAT: I think government officials are in a pretty tough position right now. I was in the foreign service for40 years and one of my rules was, you have to speak the truth. It doesn`t have to be everything you`re thinking, it doesn`t have to be the whole truth, but what you say has to be true. You have to stand by it, you have to mean it. And in a situation like this, senior officials need on find the language which preserves their integrity. We all take an oath to defend the Constitution and that principle that lies behind the constitution that all men are created equal, that principle makes us Americans. It makes us who we are. We have to find a way in situations like the to stand up for that principle. And that`s -- people have to up their game in a situation like this.
REID: Well, you know, Walter, there are two sides, right? On the one hand, people will say, if all of the decent people leave, you know, God knows what Trump would replace them with if he could find someone to replace him at all. But at the same time, if you have the New York Times saying that people on the staff -- we don`t know if this includes people of color, women and Jewish members of the staff -- if they knew Donald Trump harbored these views, these views that are favorable toward white nationalists, favorable towards the so called alt-right which is just white nationalist, how could anyone of good conscience stay in the government? How could you do anything but resign?
SHAUB: Well, I think what Daniel just said just now that you have to speak the truth is incredibly important. And I certainly tried to do that when I was in office. Watching Secretary Shulkin there, my heart just sank through the floor. I worked at the V.A. I know exactly how much the tens of millions of veterans are counting on him to protect their welfare and their interests and have him as the representative of a 330,000 employee agency serving tens of millions of veterans equivocating over whether Nazis are bad, this is just horrific. So I draw a big distinction between David Shulkin`s equivocation today and other hard-working feds who are staying in their jobs because they feel like they are making a difference. And again, I left only after I tried everything I knew how to deal and decided that it wasn`t going to be able to do more.
REID: Daniel, if a friend of yours called you up and said I`ve been offered a position in the State Department or in the Trump administration and some other administrative post, would you advise them to take the job?
FRIED: Well, people did ask me exactly that question. And what I said was take the job and do your best. Serve the country and serve the Constitution. It`s harder now, honestly. And I think much depends on the job. It`s the closer you get to the President, the harder it`s going to be because it seems that this President dirties people close to him. And that`s a terrible thing for me to think and say about a President of the United States but that`s what we`ve come to. I still think my colleagues should stay and keep their oath and remember that that oath is important. Robert E. Lee, right, the statue, whose statue started all of this. Robert E. Lee broke his oath to his country --
REID: He did.
FRIED: -- so he could -- so he could defend slavery. Those in government need to keep their oath so they can defend their principle that all men are created equal. That`s a noble -- that`s a noble calling. That`s a good thing. It`s just harder now and I hate to say that.
REID: Indeed, Walter Shaub and Daniel Fried, thank you both. I really thank you for your time.
SHAUB: Thanks for having me.
FRIED: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. Still to come, heads of the military issue forceful statements denouncing racism and bigotry in the wake of Charlottesville. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson on where the chief stood out in comparison to their Commander in Chief after this two-minute break.
REID: In stark contrast to statements from the President, five of the nation`s top military commanders have all forcefully and unambiguously denounced the racism and hatred on display this weekend in Charlottesville. The Chief of Naval Operations writing on Saturday, "The Navy will forever stand against intolerance and hatred for those on our team. We want our navy to be the safest possible place. A team as strong and tough as we can be, saving violence only for our enemies." Then the Marine Corps Commandant Robert Miller responding to a story that a Marine Veteran may have been one of the leaders of a white nationalist group at the Charlottesville rally wrote that there was "No place for racial hatred or extremism in the United States Marine Corps. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way marines live and act."
This morning after Trump`s comments yesterday, three other Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Heads of the Army, the Air Force, and the National Guard express their solidarity and denounced racism and extremism. Five extraordinary statements from five Joint Chiefs of Staff all carrying a distinctly different tone from their Commander in Chief. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson was the former Chief of Staff from the States Department under General Collin Powell. He`s also a lifelong Republican and has been a vehement critic of this President. Colonel, welcome, thank you for being here.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT: Good to be here.
REID: So let`s talk about some of these responses that we had. You had -- you had -- let`s start with Admiral John Richardson and he`s the 31st Chief of Naval Operations and he said the statement about the navy for standing against intolerance and hatred. You had the Marine Corps Commandant Mr. Neller come out. What do you think of the fact that you had these gentlemen making such markedly different statements from their Commander in Chief?
WILKERSON: Well, they had to within the protocols and standards of being - - serving military officers. It`s just too dangerous I think to contemplate, letting this get out of hand. You know, Joy, I had to go back through my own experience because I was searching for something with regard to this. And I found my experience to be the one at the State Department when I was preparing the Secretary of State, Colin Powell to present the now nefarious presentation at the U.N. Security Council in 2003 and I thought, I wrote it out my resignation letter and I put it in my center drawer. I wrote it to the President and put it in my drawer, took it out several times to look at it.
The only reason I didn`t leave, was because I was serving one of the men who I thought had the highest character, the strongest character, the most noble character, to use that anachronistic word in the U.S. government. That`s the reason I didn`t leave. I really feel for people who were serving this Commander in Chief because he is precisely the opposite.
REID: And you know, speaking of that Colonel Wilkerson, a lot of people felt that Colin Powell was you know, badly misused to be blunt on by the Bush administration because of his sort of values of loyalty that he was willing, you know, Dick Cheney said, you`ve got high approval ratings. You can spend some of on it this war we want to have. When you look back on it, do you think maybe he should have resigned? And should the man who were in that position now, the three generals who people call the Axis of Adults, Kelly, McMaster, and Mattis, should they resign?
WILKERSON: That`s a very difficult question to answer. It really is. I first would say that Bush and Cheney would have gone to war whether Colin Powell stayed or not. And whoever replaced him, likely, Dr. Rice who would have been an advocate of that war, too. So it wouldn`t materially change anything. Had I left, I certainly would sleep better. And I think, probably at the end of the day, Colin might say the same thing. The situation now though, as I just tried to imply it is quite different. You have Mattis at defense, you have Kelly, Chief of Staff, McMaster National - - these are three of the key positions in the U.S. National Security Establishment. They`re leaving in expectation that someone who more agreed with Donald Trump would replace them, has got to present them with a dilemma of the very deepest nature. I would not want to be in their positions.
REID: And you know, there are -- a lot of people were grappling with this kind of duality where they`re saying wait a minute, you know, we`re counting on basically military generals to protect us from you know, a lot of people feel is the threat of a president who is erratic. Is that uncomfortable feeling I think for a lot of people who I think, wait, but we`re a civilian led government. He`s the Commander in Chief.
WILKERSON: Quite ironic.
REID: Yes. I mean, do you have that same sort of duality in your head?
WILKERSON: Well, you go back and look at the end of the Roman Empire for that matter, at the end of any empire that was based on military power and you see that this is kind of what starts to happen toward the end. They begin to rely increasingly on the military, it becomes the only instrument they can depend on. It becomes their personal instrument in many cases certainly in Rome`s case and you get a situation where that`s the fact of your governance. It`s not a very good development for a state that pretends, at least to be a democratic federal republic like our own, not a very good development at all.
REID: And I want to go back to some of these statements because they are quite remarkable. The Army, General Mark A. Milley, 39th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, "The Army doesn`t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It`s against our values and everything we`ve stood for since 1775." Air Force General Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff saying, "I stand with my fellow Service Chiefs in saying we`re always stronger together. It`s who we are as Airmen. And the National Guard General Joseph Lengyel of the National Guard saying, "I stand with my fellow Joint Chiefs in condemning racism, extremism, and hatred. Our diversity is our strength. Those are all today. Did you take -- do you take those statements as rebukes of the Commander in Chief?
WILKERSON: Not directly but certainly indirectly they are. And I understand why they`re doing this because you have a bond in the fox hole, as it were that is sacrosanct. And if you start something like this in the ranks, you are going to destroy the Armed Forces of the United States. So I don`t fault them at all. I applaud them for speaking out. And yes, it is an indirect rebuke of their own Commander in Chief.
REID: And is there a risk of doing that?
WILKERSON: There`s a risk to it but I don`t think this individual in the presidency right now has nearly the guts that some people attribute to him. I think he`s going to be very reluctant, extremely reluctant to take on the military. And in that, is both a danger and a help because I don`t think that instrument of national power is going to be challenged by Donald Trump in the way others are apparently are going to be.
REID: Yes. And lastly, just -- I want to get your take on that press conference that Donald Trump had as a lifelong Republican. What were your -- what was your reaction to his press conference?
WILKERSON: Joy, you know, I`ve said in the past that my party, my Republican Party has racists all over it. Ever since Nixon`s southern strategy, when we invited all those hard case Democrats which one was my grandmother in South Carolina into the ranks of the Republican Party, we`ve had that element to deal with. And now we`re seeing -- with dealing with that element over the last 30, 40 years has done to the Republican Party. Now it is responsible in many ways for Donald Trump. And yet, it doesn`t know how to possess him or to disown him. It`s stuck with him and it`s going to deal with that and I`m afraid at the end of that time, we may see this party having committed suicide.
REID: Wow! Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson who (INAUDIBLE) no words. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time.
WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Joy.
REID: Thank you. And up next, we`re learning more about those very fine people of President Donald Trump described at Saturday`s protest. And it`s not pretty right after the break.
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TRUMP: And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
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REID: Among the many bizarre and outrageous statements Donald Trump made yesterday, was the assertion that amidst the white nationalists, the neo- Nazis, the KKK, and others in Charlottesville on Saturday protesting the removal of Confederate statue, there were some very fine people. Some of those white nationalists were eager to make their own case. Take white nationalist Christopher Cantwell, for instance. He sat down with the VICE Media Reporter Elle Reeve on Friday afternoon. And after saying the death of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice were cases of a black person, quote, behaving like a savage, he expounded on the issue of violence.
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CHRISTOPHER CANTWELL, WHITE SUPREMACIST: Well, of course we`re capable. I`m carrying a pistol. I go to the gym all time. I`m trying to make myself more capable of violence. I`m here to spread ideas, talk, in the hope that`s somebody more capable will come along and do that.
And that`s true, by the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re the true nonviolent protester.
CANTWELL: I`m not even saying we`re nonviolent. I`m saying that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) we didn`t aggress. We did not initiate force against anybody. We`re not nonviolent. We`ll (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kill these people if we have to.
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REID: Yeah, well language like that is obviously offensive and outrageous and also highly alarming. But there was one thing that brought that white nationalist tough guy to tears. And that`s next.
REID: A white nationalist participant in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, who gave a tough talking interview with VICE media reporter Elle Reeve (ph) was on somewhat different mindset when he posted a video Saturday after he says he learn that had there was a warrant out for his arrest.
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CANTWELL: There is a state of emergency. The National Guard is here. So, I don`t think it is a good idea for me to go there, frankly. And I don`t know had a to do. I`ve emailed (inaudible) the police police department. Sorry.
What options do we have left? If somebody would like to inform me of that, then I will be grateful to you. I really will.
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REID: He`s so sad. It raises the question, who exactly are these people? A roving correspondent for The National Review Kevin Williamson writes, "they like to think of themselves as alpha males, as though they were living in a chimpanzee troop. But it never occurs to them to consider their own status as rejects and failed men in that context."
Kurt Bardella is a former spokesman for Breitbart News, which Steve Bannon called a platform for the so-called alt-right, the people who organized the Charlottesville rally. He joins me now.
So, Kurt, you know, this Kevin Williamson article was pretty hilarious. He said, you know, what do these young this was pretty hilarious. He said, you know, what do these young, angry white guys want? Dates. They want girlfriends. They can`t get them and that`s why they`re doing this.
Is that what is the animating sort of thing bringing all these alt-right guys together? Because it doesn`t seem to be actual toughness.
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESMAN, BREITBART NEWS: No. I think it`s a cast of, frankly, social losers who have been ostracized by their own social circles, who like you said they`re very frustrated, and instead of looking inward at some of the issues that they probably have, it is much easier and convenient for them to band together, blame the rest of the world for why they`re not as successful or popular as they think that they should be and they come together, they feed off one another, and find a sense of purpose and community.
In a lot of ways, it is why I think a lot of folks join gangs, because of circumstances in their own environment. They find a sense of purpose and meaning where they didn`t have that before, and that`s what you`re seeing with some of these alt-right groups and these communities that form of hate, because they`re the ones that feel they were ostracized, it`s unfair. They`re looking for somebody to blame. And along the way comes platforms like Breitbart, people like Steve Bannon and President Trump to tell them that you`re right. These people are to blame. They are the problem. It is not your fault. There are huge injustices going on and it is right that you feel this way.
REID: And, you know, of course, cowards can still be dangerous, as we know, and we`ve seen from Columbine, to Dylann Roof and on and on and on that their cowardice doesn`t necessarily mean they aren`t dangerous. They did manage -- one of them managed to kill someone.
But it is interesting that when confronted directly one-on-one, they`re not nearly as tough as they are behind the wheel of a car when they can plow into a bunch of people.
Here is one of these young alt-righters who came in for the march, but wasn`t down for the confrontation. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not really a white power man. I just came here for the fun. No, I`m sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I mean, the quick -- the swiftness with which he took off his costume as the cameraman so aptly said, and said no, no, no, I`m not really about this. Are they also attracting people who just want to be in it for the laughs and who think it`s a great idea, but who may not even really believe the underlying ideology?
BARDELLA: There`s no question that a lot of these, frankly younger kids have no idea what they`re getting themselves into. They have no idea what these people actually stand for. They`re not ideologues. They`re not that politically sophisticated. They are not that engaged.
They hear that something is going on and they want to be part of the attention, the confrontation. They think it will be all over the news or Twitter or SnapChat or Instagram. It is a moment that they want to try to be a part of.
It sounds all great and glamorous until you`re there. Then it gets very real in their face, and they`re the very first to flee.
REID: And if we put up the poster, they should know what they`re dealing with when you saw the poster that invited them to come down, it was all Nazi images, Nazi propaganda. And we know that now that people know what they`re about, the University of Florida has now canceled the Richard Spencer event because they have been bragging about violence.
Have they now shot themselves in the foot by being so braggadocios about being violent?
BARDELLA: Well, I think we`ll find out. In Boston, they`re talking about having another gathering we`ll politely call it over the weekend.
Whether or not what we saw last weekend in Charlottesville will have an affect of either inspiring even more people to feel like it`s okay to come out and showcase this kind of hatred and vitriol, or whether people will shake their heads and go, wow, I didn`t realize it was this bad. Time will tell about that.
I fear the president`s remarks and his reaction to this sends a signal to people that it is okay. That it`s time to come out, that you don`t need to wear hoods, or cover yourself up. That you should be out there loud and proud.
REID: And also, but you will be unmasked on Twitter. That`s another thing that they`ve learned throughout this process.
Kurt Bardella, thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
Still ahead, which Republicans are publicly rebuking the president for his Charlottesville comments and which are hiding amongst the bushes? Coming up.
And some words from the man being recognized more and more in Thing One, Thing Two, next. appreciate your time.
REID: Thing One tonight, remember that time where Donald Trump marked Black History Month with those peculiar remarks about Fredrick Douglas?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I`m very proud now that we have a museum and national mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things, Frederick Douglas is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Suffice it to say, those comments raised a few eyebrows and had reporters struggling to get clarification about Trump`s present tense comments about a man who has been dead since 1995.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Today he made the comment about Frederick Douglas being recognized more and more. Do you have any idea what he was referring to?
SEAN SPICER, FMR WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there`s contributions -- I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made. And I think through a lot of the actions and the statements he`s going to make, the contributions of Fredrick Douglas will become more and more.
REID: Oh, Spicy. Remarkably enough, the Trump comments yesterday defending white supremacist have prompted a new contribution from Frederick Douglas. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
REID: So Frederick Douglass, who according to Donald Trump is being recognized more and more, wrote an essay in The Atlantic a year after the Civil War ended. An essay The Atlantic decided to republish this morning how to deal with a treacherous president who stood in the way.
At the time it was first published, the president was Andrew Johnson who was sympathetic to the former confederate states and their aim to maintain the second class citizenship of newly freed black people.
Douglass`s advice to Congress then was quote, "Whatever may be tolerated in monarchical and despotic government, no republic is safe that tolerates of privileged class, or denies to any of its citizens equal rights and equal means to maintain them. The Constitution of the United States knows no distinction on citizens on account of color. If the constitution knows non, it is clearly no part of the duty of a Republican Congress now to institute one."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: Claiming a person can`t do their job because of their race is sort of like the text book definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It`s absolutely unacceptable.
I do absolutely disavow those comments. I think they`re wrong. I don`t think they`re right headed, and the thinking behind it is something I don`t even personally relate to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was probably the high point of House Speaker Paul Ryan`s toughness when it comes to Donald Trump. It came last June after then candidate Trump attacked federal judge overseeing the Trump University case, Gonzalo Curiel, because of his Mexican heritage. You will recall Trump lost that case.
As trump continued his political ascent, a funny thing happened to Paul Ryan`s outrage. He seemed to lose interest in criticizing Trump, or even mentioning him by name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He essentially accused the president of treason.
RYAN: I didn`t actually hear it. I heard about it. I`m a little busy so I don`t read everything he says every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is now standing by the tweet that you deleted of the Star of David image.
RYAN: I`m not going to comment on this. Do you think I`m going to comment on every tweet?
I`ve been busy today. I heard about this Second Amendment quote. It sounds like just a joke gone bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump tweeted in the last week or so that he had actually won the popular vote if you deduct the millions who voted illegally.
Do you believe that?
RYAN: I don`t know. I`m not really focused on these things.
The president is new at this. He is new to government. So he probably wasn`t steeped in the long running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He is just new to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: He`s just new.
After Trump`s press conference yesterday Ryan did release a statement decrying racism, only he didn`t actually mention the president.
The house speaker is not the only Republican shrinking from this historic test. The GOP`s continuing Trump complicity right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIANNO CALDWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I`ve come today with a very heavy heart.
Last night I couldn`t sleep at all, because President Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country. The very moral fabric in which we`ve made progress when it comes to race relations in America, he`s failed us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was Republican strategist Gianno Caldwell this morning speaking directly to the president`s comments yesterday which he said betrayed the conscience of this country.
A far stronger response in the top two Republicans in Congress, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, both of whom released statements condemning bigotry without condemning Donald Trump by name.
And joining me now, the man you saw on that clip, Republican strategist Gianno Caldwell as well as Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi.
And Gianno, I`m going to start with you, because you were brought to tears reacting to Donald Trump`s press conference. But I think the question on a lot of viewers` minds is, where were you all of last year? Donald Trump was making statements that offended people. He was trucking with the alt-right. He hired Steve Bannon. He`s been doing this for quite a while. Did you just miss it?
CALDWELL: No, I didn`t miss anything, quite frankly. I`m not sure where the viewers have been. When Donald Trump said things that I agreed with, I rightfully so criticized him. This wasn`t something new.
This situation which seeing in this press conference yesterday, I saw most of it live, and then I watched the entire thing over, I felt disgusted, saddened, disheartened by what the president had to say. It reminded me of conversations that I had with my grandfather James Williams who lived back in the South in Helena, Arkansas, who escaped Helena, Arkansas, because of the racism going on, the Klan activity. It brought me to tears.
That`s what I was thinking about when I had that segment earlier today.
REID: Steve Bannon, to stay with you for a second, Steve Bannon responding to Donald Trump`s press conference which he thought was great, he said the Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got them. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.
We know he made Breitbart the home of the alt-right. Knowing that he and Bannon were on the same team, did you vote for Donald Trump?
CALDWELL: Pardon me?
REID: Did you vote for Donald Trump?
CALDWELL: My vote is always private. But moving on, though, I think that comment by Steve Bannon was pretty troubling. I don`t see -- there`s instances where Democrats do bring up race, which for no purpose at all. It`s just everything is about race. Certainly that does occur.
But in this scenario, this is right by put. This is about race. This is about a president who doesn`t understand race relations in this country. This is a about a president who said there was some good people among Nazis and white supremacists.
So when I hear that, I wonder, President Trump, who are these good people you`re referring to? Because certainly good people don`t pal around with white supremacists and Nazis. If there are some folks that just want to hang around, then obviously they`re racist people.
So this situation I think is very different than some others that I`ve seen over the years.
REID: I`ll throw it over to you, Fernand, because you`ve been pretty tough on Republicans who are not naming Donald Trump by name, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell. You`ve been tough on Marco Rubio who still stands with the president.
Do you think that Republican condemnation of bigotry is enough?
FERNAND AMANDI, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Not nearly enough, Joy. If we can be honest with what happened yesterday, outside of the international shame and condemnation that Donald Trump brought to our nation, the shaming of our people and our country, what Donald Trump did yesterday was kill the Republican party.
Whatever was left of any moral authority of the Republican party, that they had, the denouncing of this type of hate, Donald Trump killed it. And what exists today, 24 hours later, is not the Republican party, it`s the Republic Klan. The Republic Klan party.
CALDWELL: Man, I didn`t realize --
REID: Hold on.
AMANDI: Excuse me, sir. Anybody who continues to be a part of this party, I have not seen one Republican member of Congress or the Senate leave the party. I have not seen them switch parties. What we`ve seen is mealymouthed denunciations of racism, which every single American is on paper, but it`s been a lot of cheap talk, and very little, Joy, by way of real action.
I have to say, I was really disappointed by former President Bushes today, who have shown tremendous willingness to criticize many of the policies of President Trump. But even in their statement today, where they appropriately denounced the racism, and they denounced the hate that Donald Trump`s comments assuredly brought about to this country, they didn`t call him out by name. And if they as former ex-presidents, proud Republicans, are unwilling to do it, who is willing to do it next, Joy?
REID: That is the question, Gianno. Can you remain in the party of Donald Trump as a person of color?
CALDWELL: First and foremost, I reject the comments of the other guest, I believe they were intellectually dishonest. There have been Republicans all over who have condemned the comments of President Trump.
REID: By name?
CALDWELL: In numerous instances -- yeah, John McCain. You want to talk about them? We can talk about a number of individuals that have done so.
The truth of the matter is, the Republican party is not a party full of racists. Certainly there are folks within the Republican party just as there are in the Democratic party that are racists, and those who support racism. But that is not the whole party.
And I reject any idea that me as a black man from the south side of Chicago would be a part of a party that is completely and totally racist.
You just saw my commentary earlier today --
REID: We`re almost out of time. Should Donald Trump be primaried in 2020 Gianno?
CALDWELL: That`s an internal conversation that the party must have. I think it`s a conscience issue. I think there will probably will be some folks who jump up and try to primary the president. I don`t know if they`ll win or not. I don`t know if they`ll be successful, but that`s something we`ll have to see in the years to come.
REID: Fernand, you`re a pollster, would a primary against Donald Trump work?
AMANDI: I don`t think today, unfortunately the latest numbers suggest even John Kasich, who was one of the more prominent never Trump Republicans would get crushed in a primary. Unfortunately, this is the Republican party, or the Republic Klan party that exists today. And until we see patriots of conscience...
AMANDI: To the extent that those are left.
AMANDI: And denounce this president, not his words, denounce him by name. The president is the purveyor of hate. Is the president is now the nation`s number one national security threat, because his words have opened a Pandora`s Box that will hurt and kill Americans.
REID: I wish we had more time, but we do not have more time. So, I`m going to end it here and we`ll have to try to do this again. Gianno Caldwell, Fernand Amandi, thank you both for being here tonight. Appreciate it.
That is all we have for All In this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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