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DOJ invest. El Paso shooting as domestic terrorism. TRANSCRIPT: 8/5/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Beto O`Rouke, Erika Andiola, Adam Serwer, Julian Castro, FrankFigliuzzi, Mehdi Hasan, Daryl Johnson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  He needs to take responsibility or face history`s damnation.  That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  That`s an invasion.  I was badly criticized for using the word invasion.  It`s an invasion.

HAYES:  Outrage and anger in the wake of another racist massacre.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is there anything in your mind that the President can do now to make this any better.


HAYES:  Tonight, Beto O`Rourke joins me live to explain why he`s laying blame at the President`s feet.

O`ROURKE:  He`s not tolerating racism, his promoting racism.

HAYES:  Plus Julian Castro on why he says Donald Trump is unfit to lead our nation.  Then, the renewed call to do something about guns in the wake of the mass killings in Texas and Ohio.

AMERICAN CROWD:  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!

HAYES:  And just what it means to use the terrorism label on white nationalist violence.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  America is under attack by lethal violent white nationalists terrorism.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  Even if there were no blood, it would still be vile.  If there were no body count no deaths to mourn, no grieving families, no young parents ripped apart by bullets while shielding their babies.  Even if none of that had happened, it would still be an existential threat to the America we can and should be.


TRUMP:  This is an invasion.  When you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people, that`s an invasion.  I was badly criticized for using the word invasion.  It`s an invasion.  And it`s also an invasion of drugs coming in from Mexico, OK.  It`s an invasion of drug.


HAYES:  Even if there were no MAGA bomber radicalized at Trump rallies and sentenced today to 20 years for sending bombs to the president`s foes, the rallies would still be ghastly and chilling enterprises, where crowds are incited and encouraged to give in to the worst impulses, where they ecstatically desecrate our national character yelling shoot them while cheered on by the head of state.


TRUMP:  And when you have 15,000 people marching up, and you have hundreds and hundreds of people, and you have two or three border security people that are brave and great, and don`t forget, we don`t let them and we can`t let them use weapons.  We can`t.  Other countries do, we can`t.  I would never do that.  But how do you stop these people?  You can`t.  That`s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.  Only in the Panhandle.


HAYES:  Even if not one drop of blood wherever shed in pursuit of it, it would still be anathema.  It would still be a force to be routed and conquered and banished.


TRUMP  Anti-Semitic screeds --

AMERICAN CROWD:  Send her back!  Send her back!  Send her back!


HAYES:  And what is the "it" I`m speaking of?  Well, to quote a phrase, you know it and I know it.  It`s the well of evil from which our president draws and has drawn from the first day when he said Mexico was sending rapists, the U.S. presumably with the explicit intent to defile America`s women, the dark sorcery of racial hatred that conjures invasions and infestations out of desperate fellow human being seeking refuge.

An exultant hatred, a hatred wrapped in a joking not joking smile and a cowardly irony, in a pause at the podium that let the crowd hurl its bile.  Hatred echoed in the refrain of death squads and war criminals and fascist mobster of history as they willed the club and the pistol and the machete, you`re invaders, you are animals, you are a disease, you are a threat to us and you will not replace us.


AMERICAN CROWD:  Jews will not replace us!.  Jews will not replace us!  Jews will not replace us!

TRUMP:  And you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


HAYES:  Which is why, of course, that there is a body count, that there is blood on the ground, but there is a list of names waiting now to be carved into headstones.  Political violence represents a distinctly destabilizing threat to the fabric of a peaceful democratic society, and it can and has come -- and we should be clear about this -- in many forms and from many ideologies, there have been leftist bouts of terror and religious fanatics and nihilistic maniacs.

And let`s not forget that a man tried to kill half a dozen Republican members of Congress motivated it appears by his hatred of them in their politics.  Congressman Scalise barely escaped with his life, was despicable act rightly and roundly condemned by all.

But the pattern laid out before us repeated over and over again requires willful obtuseness to ignore.  A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Texas found counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over coverable counties that did not host such a rally.  226 percent.

The man who wanted to shoot up a mosque where Somali immigrants worshipped who argued in court their actions were influenced by Trump`s anti-Muslim rhetoric, the bomber who tried to blow up the President`s enemies, the synagogue shooter who mused about the immigrant Caravan and the Jews he claimed were behind it.  The El Paso murder who left a manifesto whose main talking points would be more or less unremarkable out of the mouths of the President`s closest advisors or the President himself.

Donald Trump knows what he`s doing.  Everyone hears the president loud and clearly when he speaks.  He tells his followers they alone are the heroes of this country`s history, that they`re threatened by their fellow countrymen and women who live in cities by the desperate mothers and babies and flip-flops that he separates and pens, by those who call their God by a different name.

Time and again, time and again, this nation must answer the question who it is for, who America is for.  And the simple answer time and again must be it is for all of us.  We welcome the stranger, we pursue justice, we act as equals in the collective enterprise of democracy.  The president and his party stand on the wrong side of that question right now.  They have long since disqualified themselves from the support of decent people by doing so.

Joining me now 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O`Rourke who represented El Paso in Congress for six years and a native of that city.  First of all, Congressman, how are folks in El Paso doing and coping right now?

O`ROURKE:  People in this community are so incredibly strong.  I was just at University Medical Center visiting with people who have suffered the most grievous wounds you can imagine, people who also had family members who were shot, family members who unfortunately were killed.  And the strength the determination that they show, the care that they`re receiving from these extraordinary doctors and nurses and frontline staff, the love in this community lines around the block in order to be able to donate blood, to in some way be able to help out our fellow El Pasoans.

And in this community of immigrants, 85 percent Mexican-American, a bi- national community, what ends is an El Pasoans alike coming together in a display of confidence and courage and strength and love in the face of this hatred.  I`ve never been more proud of El Paso than I am right now.

HAYES:  How do you make sense of what happened this weekend there?

O`ROURKE:  You just did a wonderful job of making sense of this for us, Chris.  It is that hatred in which the president traffics, the racism that he promotes, the violence that he encourages.  No one should be surprised.  No one should be asking themselves how this could happen in our country.

It`s very clear in this President`s maiden speech as a candidate for the highest office in the land.  He chose to talk about communities like mine, to describe Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.  He did not only welcomed violence against him, he literally sent U.S. Service Members, thousands of them to the border.  For what reason?  To meet kids who had just fled 2,000 miles for their lives.  Who show up here penniless, defenseless, as vulnerable as a human being can be.

He wants you.  He wants people -- he wanted that killer to be afraid and then to act on that fear.  And you know what, he did.  22 people dead now in this community.  A community that has been forever change but will not be defined by this because though we have borne the brunt of this racism and this hatred and this attack, this community also holds the answer.

We are one of the safest cities in America because we are a city of immigrants and asylum seekers.  And people from the planet over who have found a home here in El Paso, and by their very presence have made us stronger, and more successful, and more secure than we could have ever been otherwise.  This is the example that the country needs right now.

HAYES:  I don`t think the politics here matter that much.   I mean, what -- who`s got the bigger path of the country.  But I guess I wonder like are you confident, do you have bedrock and unshakeable faith that your vision is the vision of the majority of this country, that the rejection of the way the president talks is what most Americans want to hear?

O`ROURKE:  We very consciously started out 243 years ago on the premise that we were all created equal.  We consciously chose not to define ourselves by our difference, or by race, or ethnicity, or common ancestry.  We`ve never quite lived up to it, but until now, until this administration, we never really stopped trying to live up to that.

I believe in the people of this country.  I certainly believe in the people of El Paso, Texas and they are showing us the way right now.  Yes, I`m optimistic and I`m hopeful whether or not you can believe it, in the face of this massacre, in this tragedy, we are so much bigger and stronger and more confident than this.

We see and our differences nothing to be afraid of.  In fact, we don`t tolerate, we don`t respect, we fully embrace these differences as foundational to our safety, to our security, to our pride as Americans.  We`re going to get back on track.  We`re going to reject this president and his racism everyone who traffics in it, everyone who has aided him, those members of Congress who have yet to speak out against his president and draw the connections between his language, his rhetoric, and the violence that we`re seeing.

You mentioned in the opening hate crimes on the rise every single year for the last three years.  The mosque in Victoria Texas burned to the ground on the same day that Donald Trump signed a ban purporting to ban all Muslims travel to the United States of America.

We know what`s happening right now.  The people of this country do.  It`s time for their elected leaders to say as much for members of the press to be very clear to stop equivocating.  Don`t ask if the president is racist.  You know the president is racist.  Don`t ask if he had a role in what happened in El Paso.  He absolutely did.  Now it`s time for us to act.

HAYES:  Do you think there`s a world in which there are people who are still supporting the president who are persuadable on this, who are amenable to the kind of vision that you`re sketching about what an inclusive sort of American looks like.

O`ROURKE:  I do.  And at this moment of such great division, when we are so polarized, when we were being driven further apart every day by this president through this anger and through this fear that he wants us to feel, I really believe in our ability to come together to say from the outset do not care who you voted for last time for president, what party you belong to, how many generations you can count yourself an American, or whether like seven of the victims from this shooting, you live in Ciudad Juarez, that you`re here, that you`re part of this community, that you`re a human being.

That`s what matters first and foremost, and we are going to treat you that way.  As I travel Texas, as I travel this country, that`s what I see, that`s what I hear, that`s what I feel.  That`s what we are going to live as a country going forward.  I`m confident of it.

HAYES:  All right, Beto O`Rourke, former Congressman from El Paso running for president, I want to just say that you`ve been hearing this from everyone but the entire nation standing with you the folks down there and in Ohio as well.  Thanks a lot.

O`ROURKE:  We`re grateful.

HAYES:  Much more on this weekend`s two mass shootings including the rallying cry to do something about guns, what it means the label white nationalist murders as terrorism and more on what this moment means for the future of our country after this.


HAYES:  Even before the mass murders is weekend, even before this white supremacist committed what is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, it has been clear from the first moment that Donald Trump came down that escalator four years ago, and particularly clear in the last few weeks as Donald Trump stood the idly by as a crowd at his rally chanted "send her back," that the president`s cultivation of racist ideology and his racist definition of what the U.S. is for pose an existential threat to what the country`s nature should be.

That`s it.  It is an existential threat that we face down many times before and it battles over and continues to battle over, but this is as much a hinge in history about what the country we`re going to be as we have ever had.

Here with me now Erika Andiola Chief Advocacy Officer of immigration legal services group Raices and Adam Serwer Staff Writer at the Atlantic who wrote about this very idea today.  Erica, what is the significance, the reverberation of this moment after what we`ve seen the president say and do against immigrant communities?

ERIKA ANDIOLA, CHIEF ADVOCACY OFFICER, RAICES:  Yes, I mean, it was absolutely devastating for our communities to see that.  Not only is a narrative of Donald Trump creating policies against our communities, it is also actually driving actions now from people who really listened to him, who really believe what he`s saying about immigrants.

And obviously this person going to the border and doing what he did was specifically targeted towards immigrants and he was very clear about it.  And so to me it is definitely right now very, very urgent that we`re changing policies but also that we`re start changing narrative and that the president needs to understand that what he`s saying is going to continue to you know, change lives and at the end also in life`s as what happened just recently El Paso.

HAYES:  You know, Adam, I didn`t -- I didn`t play any of the president speech today or even mentioned it because it just seemed to me completely immaterial.  We know what he is and what he actually believes, and you know, you`ve written about this before that the essence of what he has been selling cannot be detached from this particularly racialized vision of who really America is for, who belongs here, who`s being invaded, and who the invaders are.

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC:  Look, I`m sure the president doesn`t actively want people to die, but both he and his advisers spent the last month telling everyone who would listen how brilliant the president`s strategy of fomenting racial division was.  And they can`t control how seriously people take that.

And when you`re telling everyone -- when you`re telling your audiences, these huge audiences of people both who watch Fox News and who listen to the president that the country is in danger, in existential danger because of the threat posed by people who don`t look or worship like them, then you can`t control how people are going to react to it especially when you`re up there saying, wouldn`t it be great if we could just shoot them.

HAYES:  And I want to stress something, Erika, and I`d like to hear your response to this picking back on what Adam said and what I said earlier.  Even if there was no violence, it`s still vile.  Like calling people an invasion, calling them an infestation, like that language is dehumanizing and unacceptable on its own, detached from whatever deranged people do with it are violent people do with it.  Like that to me seems fundamental to the understanding of this moment in terms of when you talk about what has to change.

ANDIOLA:  Absolutely.  And it`s also psychologically damaging to our communities.  I can tell you that as an undocumented person, I`ve been afraid most of my life that I`ve been in the U.S.  You know, my family has been really afraid for a really long time, even before Donald Trump was in office.

But right now I literally have feared for my life.  I`ve known community members who have feared for their lives because of what has been said in those rallies, because of exactly the conversations that have happened in the 4chan, and 8chan.  I mean, I`ve gotten screenshots of people who are talking as you know, anonymous about what they`re going to do to me and what they`re going to do to activists and DREAMers.

And so to me right now, really we are scared for our lives more than we are even scared you know, for our families to be deported.  And it`s just beyond, beyond you know, devastating and absolutely just -- I can`t -- I don`t even have the words, honestly, to describe what I feel right now.

HAYES:  There`s also, of course, Adam, that the fact the President may be a singular figure in his rhetoric, but the party that supports him, we see them object sometimes when he does things they don`t like.  They just killed someone who -- killed the nomination of someone who`s going to be the head of the DNI, manage to sort of strike that down.

They don`t do that about this more or less, this core way that he interacts with and speaks to the base of his party.

SERWER:  Look, there was something really encouraging we saw the past couple of days which was we saw a lot of conservative figures and conservative media outlets condemning white nationalism and completely unqualified terms and that`s good.  But the problem is that the incentives haven`t changed.  As long as the Republican Party seize the path to power through scaring the crap out of white people and fomenting this kind of racial division, this problem cannot be solved.

HAYES:  It`s also the case, Erika, that the underlying ideology here that drove this person by his own accord to commit this atrocity was almost banal and how common it is in certain conservative Republican circles about demographic change and about how it`s going to be bad for the folks who are here because there will be new people here.

ANDIOLA:  Yes.  We need to change the narrative in both parties, to be honest with you.  I think it is it is very clear that what happened in El Paso is to me is just -- I can`t believe that the safest city -- one of the safest city, not the safest city -- in the country is at the border and was literally terrorized by a U.S. citizen with a U.S. bought weapon.

And so to me is at this point, we need to start rethinking when we`re talking about border security, rethinking and reframing how we`re talking about the emerging committee in both parties.  And of course, Republicans have had it worse, but I would invite also Democrats especially those who are running right now for office and for the presidential campaigns to start thinking about how they can best reframe and change the narrative about our communities.

HAYES:  All right, Erika Andiola and Adam Serwer, thank you both.

SERWER:  Thank you for having me.

ANDIOLA:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, presidential candidate and Texas native Julian Castro joins me to talk about the toxic white supremacy he says is brewing throughout the country.


HAYES:  We are not in the habit here of quoting the words of a mass murderer hoping to get attention for his vile cause through that murder, but it is almost impossible to look at his document, a so-called manifesto, a Nazi views that are essentially at the core of the current Trump`s moment.  A belief about where each party stands in the question immigration.

Here`s the shooting suspects read on things "So the Democrats are nearly unanimous with their support of immigration while the Republicans are divided over it.  At least with Republicans, the process of mass immigration and citizenship can be greatly reduced."

Joining me now is Julian Castro, 2020 presidential candidate, former mayor of San Antonio Texas.  What do you see as the stakes and the battle lines, the fundamental one here in this moment in the wake of what`s happened in the wake of the president`s rhetoric about immigration in this country?  What is the simple clear choice to your mind that Americans have to make?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  A fork in the road.  We`re going to go down the path of either improving as a country and being a country that welcomes immigrants and people that folks see as different from themselves that continuous improvement that this country has been a part of since its founding or we`re going to go backward to a country that is fractured, where somebody who`s not like you is seen as the other especially recent immigrants.

That`s the choice that we need to make in the United States.  And as long as Donald Trump is president, this is not going to stop.  So with regard to immigrants who are really -- you know, whether we`re talking about along immigration lines, faith lines, race-ethnicity, it is his political strategy to divide us as Americans.

But the good news that we get to choose whether or not we`re going to go down this path.  And I think and you I think you asked this question earlier, Chris, that I have confidence that the hatred in the heart of that shooter by no means reflects the vast, vast majority of the people out there.

About a year ago on Father`s Day, I went down to McAllen, Texas to join activists who are protesting the family separation policy at the Ursula Processing Center where they actually separate families.  And the families that are -- the activists that were there were of every background and different walks of life in different parts of the country.

We actually have values of compassion, understanding, respect for one another that I believe are much stronger no matter what the color of one`s skin is or their background than the division that this president is trying to fan the flames of.

HAYES:  I`d like to respond to a critique I`ve heard of you specifically in the Democratic Party recently in the wake of the debates because it relates to this idea of where is the majority of Americans, where can a kind of Democratic majority be marshaled for something that doesn`t look as ugly as this.

And people have criticized you and for Democrats arguing over decriminalizing unauthorized entry which is currently a misdemeanor, a federal misdemeanor and you propose to be a civil infraction, other questions about immigration policy, and they say that you`re bringing the party outside of the mainstream, away from that majority, and going to do damage to it.  And I`m curious what your response to it is?

CASTRO:  That I disagree completely, that the fact is what I`ve proposed, basically treating  these things as a civil matter, is the way that that was done from 1929 until about 2004.  This is the way that it was done under Reagan, under George H.W. Bush, under Bill Clinton, so this is not anything that we haven`t done before. 

We can still have consequences for people who cross over the border.  It would still be illegal to  cross over the border.  There just would not be this misdemeanor attached to it.  That misdemeanor is what this president, Trump, has weaponized to incarcerate migrant parents and separate them from their little children.  And I`ve said that I`m going to guarantee that that does not happen again in a future  administration.

HAYES:  The president today seemed to indicate, and I don`t think anyone should take this super seriously, it seemed quite tossed off, that there would be some deal maybe, we`ll do immigration reform and something on guns and we`ll roll it up together. 

And I guess there is a fundamental question, is it possible to do an immigration deal with this  president, with Stephen Miller working in the White House?  Is that even a possibility to be considered?

CASTRO:  Well, look, I think that anybody who wants to actually make progress on an issue, you always have to keep an open mind, even sometimes if that seems like, you know, if that seems impossible or ridiculous, or it will never happen.

Look, if we`re really working for the benefit of people out there, show me what you`re proposing.

Now, do I believe that that`s going to happen given the bigotry of this president and the people that that work for him like Stephen Miller?  No.  But, you know, have stranger things happened in history?  Sure.

What we need to do, though, in the meantime is as -- as people here in the United States, we  need to continue to push politicians to try and work together to fix our broken immigration system, whether they`re Democrat or Republican, and to do it with solutions that make sense for this country and for the people who are fleeing desperate circumstances, who are seeking a better life, like  generations did before them. 

I believe that ultimately in 2021 when we have a new administration and we have a Democratic congress and Democratic Senate that we can get immigration reform done.

HAYES:  All right.

Julian Castro, 2020 presidential candidate.  I really appreciate you taking a little time out tonight.

CASTRO:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Still ahead, the renewed calls to do something about guns following the deadly shootings in Texas and Ohio next.



CROWD:  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!  Do something!  Do something.


HAYES:  That`s a scene at a vigil in Dayton, Ohio yesterday in the aftermath of the mass murder in the streets of that city.  Republican Governor Mike DeWine, who was endorsed by the NRA last year, getting shouted down by crowds of people who want him to do something to address gun violence in the wake of the shooting in that city.

The ritualized mass slaughter by guns is so common now in  American society, from police to politicians to everyday just everyday citizens, they all have -- we all have expectations about what happens during them and what happens in the aftermath.

And the NRA has a game plan, too.  Lay low and try to wait out the nation`s anguish, blame mental health or video games or anything other than guns, and then pressure lawmakers behind the scenes and in front of them sometimes to oppose gun safety measures.

That strategy has largely worked. 

Something is different, though, this time and it`s this: the NRA, while still incredibly formidable, is at its weakest point organizationally in decades.  As a battle between warring factions combined with a corruption scandal have plunged the group into open turmoil.

Joining me now, Robyn Thomas, the executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  And I guess let me start on that question, do you think the bizarre situation at the NRA, this insane factional dispute, different entities accusing others of stealing and corruption, and this sort of institutional implosion happening, does that matter in the political strength of the movement to -- for sort of max -- gun maximalism at this moment?

ROBYN THOMAS,  GIFFORDS LAW CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE:  I actually think it is important because what you`re seeing is the integrity of the organization.  They`ve really rested on this concept that they have sturdiness, they represent the will of gun owners.  And those of us who are involved in this issue know that`s simply not true.  Not only do they not represent the will of gun owners, they definitely don`t represent the will of NRA members.  Who they represent are gun  manufacturers and the gun industry.  And they`re really lobbyists.

The leadership, Wayne LaPierre and his cronies, not only are fighting for something that is on behalf of selling more guns based on fear, but apparently, and we`ve suspected this for a long time,  they`re also enriching their own pockets along the way.  They`re under investigation by the New York State attorney general, there is an FEC complaint against them.  The Oliver North scandal was a big scandal so this doesn`t surprise me, these are not people who don`t have integrity, and so it doesn`t surprise me that this what they`re doing behind the scenes.

HAYES:  In the case of the shooter in Dayton, one of the things that`s so striking there -- and we don`t really know what the motives are, if we`ll ever learn them, in the case of Las Vegas we never did.  It`s just mass murder.

In this case, the unbelievable lethality in such a short period of time.  I mean, the latest reports indicating that police may have neutralized him, shot him, stopped him, within 30 seconds of the first shot -- between 30 seconds and a minute.  And you have nine deaths, I believe, more than a dozen injured.  I think there`s some instinct that this shouldn`t be possible.

THOMAS:  The types of lethal weapons available to civilians in the United States is truly  astounding.  And when you talk to folks in the military or law enforcement, they`re pretty clear that these are not the kinds of guns that certainly should be this easily available to civilians without proper training, without any background check.

That individual had a 100-round magazine drum, it`s the same kind of drum to what was used in the Aurora theater shooting.  It`s incredible that a civilian, not a time of war, these guns, these really lethal assault weapons and these kinds of magazines shouldn`t be in the civilian market.

And, really, you`re even hearing that from folks across the country, that we need to do  better to regulate assault weapons and to regulate magazines.

HAYES:  Is there a place -- I mean, gun -- gun safety groups such as yourself have been sort of fighting so hard for these small, incremental changes for so long.  It`s so hard to break the dam of NRA resistance.  Do you think there are folks inside your movement who are saying let`s think big? 

Like Cory Booker, for instance, proposing essentially a licensing system, right, like car license for all guns, which is utterly anathema to the NRA.  What do you think of that idea?  And where do you think about the sort of scope of the ambitions of your movement are part of right now?

THOMAS:  We should absolutely be thinking and talking big.  We should be talking about  comprehensive reform, because that`s what it`s going to actually take to address this issue, that`s what has been done in other countries and we`ve seen have a tremendous difference, even in states like California where we have thought thought big and we`ve passed comprehensive reform and we`ve driven down gun violence year over year over year to one of the lowest in the country.

So, we should definitely be thinking big, yet we have to start with something, and that something should be the universal background check law that was passed by congress earlier this year.  That would be a great starting point.  And then we need to keep going.

I love that these new Democratic candidates are talking about comprehensive reform because  that is what is actually needed. 

HAYES:  That was passed by the House, it`s sitting for the Senate to take up.  Mitch McConnell thus far won`t take it up.  Chuck Schumer and others have called for him to call a special session and come back and pass that.

Robyn Thomas, thank you very much.

THOMAS:  Thank you for having me.

HAYES:  Coming up, what it means for the DOJ to treat the El Paso shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.


HAYES:  The Justice Department is investigating the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas as a case of domestic terrorism, which is rare for these kinds of events.  For years people have been touting the fact in both their rhetoric and the actual institutional nature of the FBI and the nation`s national security architecture, that there is a category called terrorism that is inherently, it seems, linked to Muslim extremist jihadi views, that other forms of extremist political violence if done by white people in pursuit of, say, white supremacy, does not get that label and the institutional infrastructure behind it.

While this is happening, we are seeing all sorts of metrics suggesting there has been a spike in right-wing violence.  According to the Anti- Defamation League, which keeps track of this kind of thing, extremist- related murders spiked 35 percent between 2017 and 2018.  And last year, every one of those murders was carried out by a right-wing extremist.

Back in 2009, a domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security warned about this in an eternal report.  He faced enormous backlash from conservative media and Republican lawmakers after his report was leaked to the press.  DHS then caved to political pressure and rescinded the report and the unit looking at right-wing extremism was disbanded.

He left the Department of Homeland Security, went out to write a new book called "Hateland: A Long Hard Look at America`s Extremist Heart."  That former domestic terrorism analyst, Daryl Johnson, joins me now.

Given your history, Mr. Johnson, given the fact that you wrote that memo in 2009 and went through the backlash, what are you thinking now as you watch what we`re seeing unfold over the last year or so?


It`s very disheartening, year after year we have these attacks and yet our legislators and government officials seem to have their heads buried in the sand about this issue.

So, you know, when I see these things happening, it`s the new normal now.  You know, these attacks have been happening practically every month.

HAYES:  What are the trends that worry you?

JOHNSON:  What were the trends that I we identified in my report?

HAYES:  Yes, exactly.

JOHNSON:  Yeah, so we basically back in 2007 postulated what if Barack Obama, the first  African-American to run for president, got elected.  And we knew that this would be a recruitment and radicalization tool by hate groups to basically swell the ranks and begin conducting violent attacks.

So that report in 2009 was actually a predictive analysis that warned of a coming threat.

HAYES:  And yet what we`ve seen, we have seen under Bill Clinton, for instance, this sort of activated right-wing extremist violence, famously Timothy McVeigh and then several militia groups.  But we`ve seen in some ways a little bit of the inverse of what you predicted, right, that these groups would rise up in a sort of oppositional stance, but it seems that the sort of explosion, if the numbers are to be believed, in this kind of violence and organization, is actually happening under Donald Trump.

What`s your theory for that?

JOHNSON:  Yeah, so typically under Democratic administrations is where we see the rise of hate groups and anti-government groups, because they fear pending gun legislation or expansion of  minority rights.  So typically during Republican administrations we have a dial back of right-wing extremist activity because they don`t have to fear these things.

So what`s the difference is the fact that we had a very hostile 2016 election campaign and we`ve had extremist ideas that have been mainstreamed by the current administration.  There was a demonization of any opposition and dehumanization of people that are viewed as opponents to the administration. 

And so these types of things kind of kept this momentum going and has given these groups kind  of a green light to continue to operate and conduct acts of violence.

HAYES:  I want to ask about the controversy over that first report and try to make the sort of best good-faith argument for some of the backlash, which is the first amendment protects people`s political views.  It`s not a crime or illegal to hold views, even if they`re utterly odious, for instance Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, that`s all protected by the first amendment.  And that crimes are committed through actions.  There is something dangerous about government surveillance of people for their political views.

What`s your -- what`s your response to the sort of best-faith version of that argument?

JOHNSON:  You`ve got to remember, these violent ideologies, even though they`re protected by the first amendment, they bred long histories of violence, so just the fact that you embrace white supremacy, you`re already halfway to an act of violence, all you`re lacking is that trigger or catalyst in your life.

So, you know, we had an equation when I was an analyst that said capability plus intent equals threat.  And the capability part is the large arsenals and weaponry that these people have at their disposal.  The intent comes from the ideology, it gives them the scapegoats to target, it gives them the justification that violence is an acceptable form to avenge your grievance.

So ideology does play a very important role and we need to understand that.  But at the same time, you don`t investigate people just because of their ideology.

HAYES:  All right.  Daryl Johnson, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us tonight.

Much more on the question of domestic terrorism and white nationalism next.


HAYES:  For years, as white supremacists` political violence has increased, people have called for the U.S. to name these acts as terrorism the same way we use the term for, say, ISIS-inspired attacks.

But I think it`s worth asking is terrorism the conceptual, legal, and institutional framework that we want to expand and utilize?  Hasn`t the use of the term often led to abuses and is giving this government, this administration more, quote, tools of that kind going to result in the outcomes the country wants?

For more on this inherent tension, I`m joined by Mehdi Hasan, columnist of The Intercept, host of the Deconstructed podcast, and MSNBC National Security Analyst Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director of counterintelligence for the FBI.

And Frank, let me start with you, because I`ve seen a few interviews you`ve given on this.  What do you think is the significance and import in a sort of tangible, concrete way about the designation of terrorism to the act committed in El Paso and why is that a good idea?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  Well, I`m not necessarily advocating that it`s a good idea, but i am applauding the fact that we are finally at least labeling something because it`s an ideology that leads to  violence.

So terrorism is all about ideology as a motivation.  And finally, we have a recognition that this individual, and others like him, are motivated by ideology, not simply by wanting to kill somebody for the sake of killing somebody. 

And I think it`s a healthy discussion that we need to have as a nation, because we`re getting to the heart of free speech and privacy.  There`s a reason why we don`t treat domestic terrorism like  international terrorism.  And we need to get this figured out.

So if you told your local chief of police that there was a house on the corner that was allowing  drug sales to happen there, the chief of police would probably put it under surveillance, maybe send an informant in, maybe use an undercover technique.  We don`t do that. 

There are houses on the Internet, so to speak, sites, chat rooms, blogs, where people are having discussions that are poised to commit violence and even saying they are going to commit violence, yet law enforcement isn`t present there and we need to figure out how to make that happen while maintaining our free speech rights.

HAYES:  It`s a great point.  And it sort of cuts to the quick here, Mehdi.

I mean, 8Chan -- of course, now, there`s been, I think, three of these sort of murderous manifestos posted there. It is clearly an environment in which certain rooms on that place, people are radicalizing each other.  They`re urging each other towards really heinous acts and sometimes those acts are becoming a reality.

What do you think about the sort of category of terrorism here and the civil liberty concerns?

MEHDI HASAN, COLUMNIST, THE INTERCEPT:  Chris, this is why I love doing your show, because you ask such important questions.

No one`s really asked this question yet.  And it`s so important after every one of these attacks, because Muslims, minorities, people on the left,  we look at what`s been going on, and we say, when someone going to label these people terrorists?  Because the double standard is so frustrating. 

We look at the media coverage and say why are you not covering this stuff?  We look at politicians that are only aimed at immigrants, or Muslims, or Mexicans, or whatever.  And there`s a great frustration, say, do something about this. 

And Frank is right to say we need to recognize the ideology behind these guys.

Having said that, of course, as you point out, do we really want to import some of the worst practices to what`s happened to us?  I hear people saying on my side of the argument, oh, you know,  we should deal with domestic terrorists the way we deal with international terrorists.  And the problem with that argument, of course, is that the way we dealt with international terrorists was included invading and occupying Afghanistan, invading and occupying Iraq, opening Guantanamo Bay, bringing in the PATRIOT Act and mass surveillance, and carrying out mass discrimination against Muslim communities and violating human rights and free speech.

Now, we don`t want to replicate -- I`m assuming -- I`m betting Frank doesn`t want to replicate  some of the abuses from the war on terror in terms of a war on, you know, far-right terror.

What we want, though, is some consistency and we want someone to take the white nationalist  problem seriously.

HAYES:  Right.  I think -- I agree with both of those points. 

I mean, to your point about sort of the concerns about state overreach, and some of the things that we have done in the, quote, war on terror, Frank, like when the president talks today, he sort of mentions in an offhand about, you know, being able to involuntarily commit people who are struggling with mental health issues.

Now, again, there`s some -- obviously some conditions I think that probably makes sense, but that`s an extremely aggressive power for the state to have.  It used to be a lower threshold than we have now.  The threshold we have now, which is higher, I think, generally is more in line with our values and civil liberties, but that`s a tough question, Frank, right?  Like that`s not an easy line.

FIGLIUZZI:  Our nation is very good at knee-jerk reactions.

HAYES:  Yeah, right.

FIGLIUZZI:  We can mass resources and swing the pendulum wherever we need to.  And we did it in 9/11.  And most of it was positive.  But there were abuses.

But we`ve got to listen to law enforcement, too, when they say they don`t have the investigative tools in their tool kit to address this.  And that`s what they`re telling us right now.

So congress needs to actually get this done and figure out -- you know, the Supreme Court once said, you know obscenity when you see it.  Well, we all know violence when we see it.  If somebody says they`re going to shoot somebody this weekend, that`s a problem.

The problem is, how does law enforcement see it?  How do they position themselves to see it, if it`s happening within a private chat room.

HAYES:  Well, and there`s an interesting other way of dealing with this, Mehdi, that I thought, as we`re watching this unfold.  8Chan, you know, Cloudflare, which is this web service that was kind of providing cybersecurity for them, stopping them from DDOS attacks and things like that, they said, we`re not going to do this anymore.  The head of 8Chan came -- who had founded it said -- not the head of it, the founder had said, like, shut it down.

There are private actions and private pressures that can be brought to bear that are not the state, right?  Where you just say, look, this is not the government coming in, this is just social society being like, a decent person shouldn`t be associated with this.

HASAN:  Yeah, of course, the role of politicians, the role of media, the role of financial institutions and banks are involved in this stuff, corporations, all of this stuff needs to be looked at.

But, again, that requires us to first at least recognize a problem.  And that`s where Frank and I are 100 percent in agreement.  At least now we`re starting to see a lot of people saying, it`s a shame so many innocent people had to die for people in this country to start to open their eyes about to threat that is here at home.  And this is not a new threat, this has been around for a while.

You interviewed Daryl Johnson before the break who was talking about this threat in 2009, the first year of Obama`s presidency.

Yeah, exactly.  And even Oklahoma City, if you remember, right-wingers went out and said, it`s Muslims, before we found out it was Timothy McVeigh.

So both things have been around for a while -- ignoring the white nationalist threat and  exaggerating the Muslim threat.  Maybe now we can start to have some kind of rebalancing.

HAYES:  Mehdi Hasan and Frank Figliuzzi, that was great.  Thanks a lot.

That is ALL IN this evening.  Next, a special look at the domestic terrorism threat in this country, "A Nation in Crisis." 

Good evening, Rachel.