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Trump Military threat TRANSCRIPT: 6/2/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Lawrence Wilkerson, Lori Lightfoot, Bryan Stevenson, Omar Wasow,Chuck Schumer

CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next. He`ll be joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. The American crisis continues. Protests and unrest amidst the pandemic while our wannabe dictator president turns our country`s military against its citizens. Tonight, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson is here.

Plus, Senator Chuck Schumer on the authoritarian Trump and the Republican silence. Chicago`s Mayor Lori Lightfoot on the state of the protests and policing and Bryan Stevenson on how the American justice system continues to fail Americans. When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Take a moment right now. Just look at the scene in our nation`s capital, America`s capital. This is what`s happening right now. Military tanks rolling in. The kind of equipment you see in war zones to fight wars, to fight battles against enemies.

Armed men around the city who will not say who they are with. They have been allowed, according to that one reporter to say they`re with the federal government. These are men, not saying who they`re with, who they`re accountable to. You have American soldiers in full combat gear lined up shoulder to shoulder on the Lincoln Memorial.

How would we cover it if it happened in another country? It`s been a thought experiment all throughout the Trump years. How would it look if there were happening somewhere else, the corruption of the bureaucracy and civil servants? The fanning of demagogic flames. The claims of insane authority. The jokes about a third and fourth and fifth term.

Right now, we don`t have to imagine what this incredibly perilous moment in American history look like to another country because other countries are watching. Here`s what live coverage of last night`s protests outside the White House looked like in Australia.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve just had to run about a block as police moved in. We`ve been fired at with rubber bullets. My cameraman has made a hit. We`ve also seen tear gas being used. This is exactly what it looks like. It`s exactly what it looks like. We have to stand safely --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amelia, can you hear us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amelia, are you OK or your cameraman? Hello, Amelia? And the police just charged Amelia and our seven-years cameraman there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They chased us down the street as you see. They were firing these rubber bullets at everyone. There is tear gas now. We are really surrounded by police. And you really saw the way that they dealt with my cameraman team. They`re quite violent and they did not care who they`re targeting at the moment.


HAYES: That footage is at one`s foreign and recognizable. That could have been one of our correspondents in some foreign capital amidst a police crackdown there. It`s the kind of thing that we as Americans tell ourselves is a scene that happens somewhere else, not here.

And that scene was bad enough. In the past 24 hours, we`ve got more reporting and more context about what happened that led to that scene. And it is far, far worse than it even could have appeared at the moment. The President of the United States or someone under his authority ordered that peaceful protesters be cleared, which meant they were fired upon. They were punched and assaulted, and hit with pepper balls, spray.

Also, that Donald Trump could have a pathetically awkward photo op holding a bible at St. John`s Episcopal Church. They even went so far as to tear gas the priest of that actual church and the actual clergy that preside over that house of worship and they were irate. Here`s what one priests caught in the middle of it. "I am shaken not so much by the taste of tear gas and the bit of cough I still have, but the fact the show of force was for a photo opportunity."

The show force facilitated by the president`s security forces against peaceful citizens peaceably assembled so the President could have a brief image of propaganda. Here`s what the person running against President Trump said about his stunt at the church.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When peaceful protesters dispersed in order for a president, a president from the doorstep of the people`s house, the White House, using tear gas and flash grenades in order to stage a photo op, a photo op in one of the most historic churches in the country or at least in Washington, D.C.

We can be forgiven for believing the president is more interested in power than in principle. We`re interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.


HAYES: The sheer authoritarian violation that took place in that moment was clear even to these uncomfortable allies who pretended not to see any of it yesterday. They of course, were not watching the news. And here`s the thing that was not even the worst of it. The United States is supposed to have a hard and fast line between domestic law enforcement and the armed forces, right, the Founders word into the standing army.

And it`s a sacrosanct line from the founding of the country where we think of ourselves that cannot be trespassed except with specific authority and invocation thereof. And yet yesterday we saw the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley in full fatigues, walking behind the president surveying the scene as if he`s a commanding general in a foreign theater.

Today, army combat veteran, Purple Heart-recipient Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois describe the President`s field trip.


SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): And as he was walking there, he was followed behind him By the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in military fatigues, and the Secretary of Defense, walking along like lapdogs behind a draft-dodging wannabe tinpot dictator.


HAYES: And later last night, this happened. This is the United States military Lakota helicopter hovering 40 feet among peaceful protesters. In a "show of force." It was flying so low, the tree branches were snapping off and people were running for cover. This is a maneuver conducted in combat zones to scare away insurgents.

And yesterday, it was conducted against Americans exercising their first amendment right by a president who is threatening to send the army to use its weapons against us, the American people the people he is tasked with protecting in the midst of a pandemic that has already killed over 100,000 people in no small part due to his lack of leadership. American citizens are being intimidated by their own military helicopters. This is not how a Democratic leader acts. It`s how a bumbling autocrat acts.

Joining me now is MSNBC Senior National Correspondent Chris Jansing. She`s live in New York City where the second night of curfew went into effect just moments ago. What do you see there, Chris?

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that`s right. I don`t know if you can see all of these police who are on bicycles, but they`ve been yelling curfew in effect, curfew in effect. Some people were trying to signal them to actually go down another street. Well, maybe they know exactly where they`re going.

So there was a crowd that had broken off from a large protest that I was with for about four hours today. Absolutely peaceful, people marching, but at one point it got very intense because a group of the protesters surrounded some police and were shouting take a knee, take a knee, take a knee, and they just stood there.

Well, ultimately one of the officers took the hand of one of the leaders and took a knee. Everybody cheered, but there was a lot of back and forth. And it probably went on for about a half an hour to 40 minutes to the point where we were wondering if the police were going to call for backup. They didn`t. And then ultimately, this group started to march.

Now, I would say about 20 minutes or so ago, Chris. So people`s phones went off. I live in New York City. My phone did not go off. But it was noticed I was told from some other folks in the crowd saying the curfew was going into effect in 15 minutes. So, we did see people breaking off. But I also talked to other people who said, we ignored curfew last night. I don`t know if you can see the group that`s gone down that far.

We broke off from them because of security concerns. They were getting on top of these cars. They were jumping up and down. There was some intensity about it. And so the decision was made that we would stay back from this group, which again had broken off from the main crowd. But it`s going to be now the question of how the police respond after last night. 700 arrests, 8,000 police on the ground. You know that back and forth between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. The governor said you shouldn`t have the entire police force, 38,000 people out.

But tonight, we have seen at least down here, an area where there was a lot of looting on Sunday. We have seen no police presence until that line of police that you saw just telling people to please mind the curfew. Chris?

HAYES: All right, Chris Jansing, thank you. Joining me now, MSNBC Correspondent Garrett Haake live in Washington D.C. where curfew has been in effect for just over an hour there. When you were there last night, Garrett, you`re outside the White House. What is the scene there like?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this has been an all-day peaceful protest. The numbers have been growing by the hour. I got here about 1:00 this afternoon, and then talking to protesters all day. I discovered a bit of a trend here. By doing what he did yesterday to clear protesters so forcefully from this park and making a scene of it, the President has galvanized parts of D.C. that didn`t think this was their fight or their protest necessarily.

I`ve talked to quite a number of protesters who came out today for the very first time to show support for the rest of their city. They wanted to be out here. They wanted to be out here at curfew to show that they weren`t going to get pushed around and they weren`t going to get taken off their streets. And you see all of that behind me.

Now, this crowd at Lafayette Park was much larger about 30 minutes ago before a group broke off and said they`re going to march to the Capitol. It`s loosely organized. It is peaceful. And the citizens of D.C. say they want to stay out. They want to prove a point. You know, protest is part of the culture here. And that`s what we`re seeing all around us here tonight, Chris.

HAYES: We`re looking at a little footage there to your right. I didn`t know actually where that was from but I did want to ask. That was footage from Monday. This is -- this is footage from Monday when those -- when those park police pushed everybody back so that the president could have that photo op at St. John`s there.

There are -- there are all kinds of military vehicles that have driven through the streets. There`s Armed Forces posted at the Lincoln Memorial. What do you see in terms of the sort of authority that is showing in Lafayette Park right now? Like who are the people there? From what divisions of our government are they?

HAAKE: The whole alphabet soup of the federal law enforcement is represented in some capacity in the park, it`s been mostly U.S. park police, uniformed Secret Service, National Guard. Around the edges of it, we`ve seen everything from DHS to Customs and Border Patrol, to U.S. Marshals have been deployed in D.C.

Driving home last night, the presence of the National Guard was particularly apparent with National Guard vehicles posted up at a lot of the intersections here. The full federal law enforcement mechanism, I guess, is available to Washington D.C. and spread out in Washington D.C. And that`s part of the struggle that we have that`s unique to Washington D.C. where we also have our own perfectly capable City Police Department, who appear to be taking the lead tonight in how they`re choosing to handle these protests.

HAYES: Very interesting. Garry Haake, we`re going to keep monitoring that and check back in with you if need be. Thank you very much. I`m joined now by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. And I wondered from your eyes and in your many years serving and in government, what you made of what the President did last night.

LAWRENCE WILKERSON, RETIRED U.S. ARMY COLONEL: Chris, I want to thank you for letting me see your opening scenes and hear your opening commentary. I have to say that if I were watching Beijing in Tiananmen Square or if are watching Rome in Mussolini`s time or Nuremberg in Hitler`s time, I wouldn`t have probably seen two different scenes, except that there was no killing yet.

And I have to say that one of the things that Colin Powell and I used to talk about periodically with some passion was the civil-military relationship in our country. And we both admitted that the 200-plus years of republican democracy that we`ve enjoyed has been assured largely because of that relationship.

And now I see these scenes like you showed and like I`ve been seeing for the last 96 hours or so, and I see that relationship fraying and eroding in front of my eyes. And it really concerns me, because we were right. It is the essence of our democracy. It`s the reason we`re still here. And now I see it disappearing before my eyes.

HAYES: I want to ask about that Lakota helicopter and the show of force, which to me, I mean, the park police were the agents that cleared Lafayette Park. But, you know, some set of orders were communicated down some kind of chain of command to have a U.S. military helicopter fly low over a civilian population assembled to protest as a show of force.

Are you troubled by the fact that that chain of command, that set of orders wherever they came from, ultimately succeeded in being carried out?

WILKERSON: I am and I`m concerned because I know general Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, he says that name is not in the chain of command. He is an advisor to the Secretary of Defense and to the president and to the National Security Council. He is not a member of the chain of command.

Powell used to say I don`t even command my secretary here. And he was right. He didn`t command a single soldier. So what is that guy doing? What is he doing stage crafting his appearance there in battle fatigues with the president of the United States? And who, your question, who did order that? Was it the D.C. guard commander? Was it the Military District of Washington commander? Who ordered that? And who told him to do that?

If it was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he`s out of order completely. If it was the Military District of Washington commander who decided to do that, under whose orders did he decide to do it, under President Trump`s, under Secretary Esper`s? These are questions that are going to roll around for a long time to come. It`s not like we haven`t done similar things before.

Indeed, we had a segment of the country you may recall in 1861 that tried to destroy the United States of America and formed its own confederacy to do so. So we have had, "American soldiers shooting at American people all over the country." This is not something we want to happen again. I thought we had pushed that dog away, and we were, in a sense, in a civil-military relationship that was sacrosanct and that would continue to protect this republic.

As I said before, the social contract is eroding, the civil-military relationship is eroding. And you have to point a finger, although I will admit it started majorly after 9/11 with my own administration, George W. Bush`s administration, but it has been given an incredible catalytic effect by this president.

This president is something that I never thought I would see in the White House despite H.L. Mencken`s prophecy that someday we`d get the guy we deserve.

HAYES: You were, I believe, serving in the armed forces in 1992 during the actual invocation of the Insurrection Act, which is the piece of legislation the President has threatened to invoke, but has not invoked hence the strange legal limbo of that helicopter over D.C. last night. During the Rodney King protests and riots, what is your experience with that? Or what is your feeling about the last time that happened and what its effects were and what the debate was at the time about taking that step?

WILKERSON: Well, that was a tortured discussion in the Pentagon, as you might imagine, when Powell was the chairman and H.W. Bush is the president, and Cheney is the secretary of defense and all the lawyers trying to figure out what to do. We all knew that it was a vague act, and although it had been enacted many times, and indeed been amended last time in 1871. And ironically enough, in 1871, it was to help with battles against the Klu Klux Klan. How ironic is that?


WILKERSON: But we had the -- we had the request from the governor of California. Unfortunately, nothing untoward happens that would have caused the real problem afterwards if someone wanted to sue, if someone wanted to bring a case, if someone wanted to spend time debating that law. It`s not a very good law. It`s not a very good law at all.

Even though it has been used, it was used mostly during the beginning, Jackson used it several times, but it`s not a very good law. And if you`ve got a democracy and that democracy is working towards a more perfect union, which is our intent in our constitutional preface, and indeed in the document itself, then you want to get better. You don`t want to get worse. You don`t want your armed forces shooting Americans.

HAYES: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, it`s always great to hear your perspective on all of this. And thank you for making a little bit of time with us tonight.

WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Chicago, is a city that has seen tremendous amount of protest. It has a police department that`s had a troubled history. It has a huge number of protests in recent days particularly calling for an end to police brutality and justice for George Floyd. Joining me now is the Democratic mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot.

Mayor, first let me ask you how your city is doing this evening.

LORI LIGHTFOOT, MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Well, I think we remain heartbroken. Heartbroken over what we saw in the loss of our brother, George Floyd, and the ruthless way in which his life and future was taken from him and his family. I think we remain heartbroken over our history of police violence in our city and -- but really, the core of it is racial injustice.

But I think we also are heartbroken over what we`ve seen over the last couple days with looters and criminal elements destroying our neighborhoods and stealing people`s lives and dreams. But we`re a resilient city. And even as I toured neighborhoods that have been ravaged by looters and criminal enterprises, what I heard from shopkeepers and business people universally is Mayor, we need to open our city and we need to get back to work.

Our employees need to get back to work. Our customers need to see us and we need to feel like we`re taking our destiny into our own hands again. So we`re resilient here in Chicago.

HAYES: When you talk about getting back to work, obviously, we`re at the confluence of two seismic events, the global pandemic that has hit the country extremely hard is particularly hit Black and Latino communities, indigenous communities particularly hard. You`re going to be losing restrictions on Wednesday as planned. And I wonder what is the state -- I mean, one cannot help but think about this virus lurking in the background as you look at all the protests, as you look at the groups of people, as you look at police officers sometimes firing tear gas that is affects the respiratory system and people close to each other. What this all means and what the status of the pandemic is in your city. Do you have your arms around it?

LIGHTFOOT: Listen, I think we do. But a lot of is going to be dependent upon what individual Chicagoans do. We`ve gotten to this point where we feel like we can cautiously reopen, and that`s what we`re calling it only because people have made the sacrifice over 10 weeks of socially distancing, not coming out when they`re sick.

But COVID is not gone. It didn`t disappear. It is very much part of our present. And we`ve been talking about that every single day, even with the protesters to say, look, you`ve been out, you`ve been close to folks. Even if you`re wearing a face covering, you cannot fool yourself into thinking that you are immune from catching this deadly, ruthless virus.

And so we`re telling people, if you`ve been out in the streets for whatever reason, self-quarantine. Check in with yourself about how you`re feeling because we are worried about a surge that comes ironically from people expressing their first amendment rights. We`re very much concerned about that.

HAYES: Obviously, we spoke about the president earlier in the program at the top. And I want to be clear, I want to talk about some specific things with Chicago to you and be clear that what`s happening in America is not all about Donald Trump. And that said, he is in escapable, of course, and you had some strong words for the President. You said the words F and you. What has it meant to your city to your residents that you represent to see the president conduct himself the way he is to see military vehicles on the streets of our nation`s capital tonight?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, unfortunately, we`re kind of used to the bluster and the racism and xenophobia. It doesn`t make it any easier. But you know, he`s huffed and puffed many times before and his latest salvo about the Insurrection Act, you know, he said that before. Before I even became mayor, he said he was going to bring in the feds, whatever that meant.

But we have to take it seriously, even though I`m not certain that he will ever follow through. But what I do know is, I don`t believe he`s got the right to do it. And what we will do is he tries to do it in a city like Chicago, and usurp the authority of our governor and mine as the mayor, we will see him in court. We will stop this from happening.

This man and why I made such strong words last week, he`s fomenting not just a vision, but he`s fomenting violence. For the president united states to just blindly say, if there`s looting, there`ll be shooting, it`s hard for me to be astounded by anything that Donald Trump says after four-plus years of hearing him, but that really, that really made me angry. And it made me resolve to stand up and lift up my voice.

I`m not going to take the bait every day, as unfortunately some do. But there are times when we can`t be silent when the president says something that is going to foment violence in our city, particularly at this time when many of us feel like we`re on top of a tinderbox. So I`ll fight him.

HAYES: Final question for you, Mayor. You and I first met as I was reporting on the aftermath of Laquan McDonald, a young man who shot and killed by CPD and that murder was covered up quite frankly by the administration, by the CPD. You were a chair of an oversight board for the Chicago Police Department. You`ve been very critical.

You`re at a town hall we organized in Chicago back in 2017 on precisely this topic. You are someone that the police union frankly was willing to do anything in its power to stop from becoming the mayor of the city. And yet, you know, I have seen complaints I`ve heard complaints from people in Chicago about police treatment in the last few nights, that nothing has changed. The police have been aggressive towards protesters. They`ve been provocative.

And so I guess the question to you is if someone like Lori Lightfoot could be elected mayor Chicago against the opposition of the CPD and yet people on the ground feel that the CPD`s behavior hasn`t changed, what hope is there for genuine change and reform?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, let me push back on the assumption. I was witnessing firsthand, real time, what our officers were facing. And I`m not going to say that we were perfect, and there were people who did cross the line, and they will absolutely be held accountable because that`s what I stand for.

But I will say in the face of supposedly peaceful protesters, and now let me -- let me just back up and say, the vast majority of people who`ve been out on our streets in the last few days are exactly that, peaceful protesters. But there is an element that is embedded themselves amongst the protesters who came for a fight.

You don`t bring a claw hammer, a shovel, a bat, a metal pipe, incendiary devices, arsonists tools, to a peaceful protest. You don`t bring bottles of urine and then hurl those and other projectiles at the police. And so yes, we have a long way to go on the journey to police reform and accountability. And I`m more committed now than ever, but our police have shown incredible restraint.

They have not only been sworn at and had projectiles thrown at them, they`ve been shot at and they`ve been run over by cars. And they have shown restraint even in the face of that kind of provocation. So it`s not perfect. Nothing ever will be. But I know that our police department has done its best under very difficult circumstances, and I support them.

HAYES: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, thank you so much, Mayor, for taking some time for us tonight.

LIGHTFOOT: It`s my pleasure. And I know you care about our city, so thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Tremendous amount. Still ahead, yet another night of massive mobilization in cities across the country. We`ll continue our coverage of those and the President`s failing and flailing response. That`s next.


HAYES: The president seems to think he can win the re-election by rerunning the Richard Nixon playbook from1968 when Nixon famously campaigned on law and order against the backdrop of social unrest.

Yesterday, against backdrop of social unrest, Trump ordered the tear gassing of peaceful protesters at the White House to clear the way for a photo-op, proclaimed himself a law and order president, vowing crackdowns. Today, he even laid claim to the silent majority of Americans, of course, another famous Nixon phrase.

But it`s worth remembering back in 1968, Richard Nixon was the challenger. He was not the one overseeing the disorder. He was not the incumbent the way Donald Trump is. And more importantly, a lot has changed sense 1968.

Right now, based on the data we have, the public is not with this president. His approval rating continues to be terrible, 54 percent disapproval, the highest ever for a president at this point in his term, according to FiveThirtyEight`s Nate Silver.

Voters think he`s doing a terrible job handling this particular crisis, these protests and the unrest, only 32 percent give him positive marks while 56 percent characterize his performance negatively.

There`s widespread disapproval of his handling of the protest amongst suburban women, non-college educated white voters, voters over 65 to pick just a few groups. Even evangelicals, who are supposed to be a cornerstone of the president`s base are basically split.

For more, I`m joined now by Omar Wasow. He`s assistant professor of politics at Princeton University whose research focuses on race, politics, and protest movements.

Omar, you know, when this started, when the protests against the killing of George Floyd started, and there were nights in which there were fires being sent and there was unrest, I had a lot of conversations with very nervous liberals invoking `68. There was a lot of fear that white backlash against these images, desire for law and order is an incredibly powerful force in American politics, particularly amongst certain parts of the electorate, and this would be kind of rocket fuel for the president.

What do you think about that worry, about the comparisons to 1968 in this moment?

OMAR WASOW, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think there are some legitimate reasons to be concerned. We do see evidence in `68 that there are white moderates who both supported a candidate who backed civil rights in the `64 Civil Rights Act, but also defected to the Republican Party when they became concerned about order and were attracted to the law and order position.

And I think there still are voters like that out there. But we also have evidence of strong liberalizing trend, broadly on issues of racial equality, particularly among white liberals. And we also see evidence that the media is being more thoughtful about how it represents these protests. And so I think that there`s both reason to think there may be elements that will replay, particularly in how these images get presented, are protesters presented as people standing up for rights in a kind of rights narrative, a rights frame, or is it presented -- you know, this is not civil disobedience, this is a riot, this is crime in more of a crime frame.

And so those underlying narratives really do, in the research I`ve done, drive public opinion and ultimately things like voting behavior.

HAYES: It`s fascinating you say that, because the complex truth is there`s a lot of things happening, right? I mean, there are people with hammers smashing store windows and taking things. They`re doing that in Midtown. They did it in my home borrow of the Bronx yesterday. And I saw videos of store owners there who are local community members and are bereft at what happened last night, like that`s a real true thing happening. There are also tens of thousands of nonviolent protesters standing up for someone who was killed by the state with no or little accountability.

The complexity of that is part of what makes the moment so uncertain, I think. What do you think?

WASOW: I think that`s right. And I think one other really powerful difference between then and now is the role of cell phone video, right. I mean, I was thinking about the media`s role. But in some ways, the first media in this entire sort of kind of chain of events is George Floyd, you know, fighting for his life, right, his voice is in some ways the very first media we encounter. And then there`s a second media, which is a kind of active resistance to the status quo with somebody shooting the video of him being killed.

And those two media have had I think a very profound effect such that, you know, in a way we`ve never seen before police, other police organizations criticizing what they observed. People, prominent figures on the right criticizing this act. And so those two acts of media, speaking up for himself, fighting for his life, and that cell phone footage really I think have shaped the debate in a way that`s very different from `68.

HAYES: Yeah. One little data point here, in July 2016, when asked are police more likely to use excessive force against black Americans, only 46 percent of people said yes, that`s 57 percent now. That`s a very big change over the last few years.

Omar Wasow, who studies all of this and has an incredible scholar of it all, thank you very much for making time tonight, Omar.

WASOW: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Next, as the president continues his march towards authoritarianism, where exactly are the Republicans? Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on the cowardice of his colleagues across the aisle next.


HAYES: Every day the question beacons, right, what would it take for Republicans to draw a line with President Donald Trump? And each day brings some new thing they`re willing to tolerate.

Last night it was the president ordering the violent dispersal of peaceful American protesters, and an American military helicopter menacing protesters assembling peacefully.

Today, Senators like Ted Cruz defended the president while others had to rush to get to lunch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it an abuse of power what we saw last night outside the White House?

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: By the protesters, yes. By the violence, yes.

SEN. STEVE DAINES, (R) MONTANA: I was grateful to see President Trump`s leadership.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, (R) WYOMING: I think it was important for the president to go to the church of presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any concerns about what unfolded at the White House last night?

Was it an abuse of power? Was that the right thing to do?

SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: I didn`t really see it.

Sorry, I`m late for lunch.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY, (R) LOUISIANA: I didn`t follow, I`m sorry.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH: I didn`t watch that closely enough to know what happened there.

SEN. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: I wasn`t there, so I didn`t see exactly what happened.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: Look, I`m not going to critique other people`s performances.


HAYES: No, Mitch McConnell doesn`t like to critique other people`s performances, he`s famous for that.

And so today, Republican senators in their own cowardly and craven way we`ve come accustomed to have announced through words or through silence what they truly believe in.

Here with me now, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic leader in the Senate, who has been highly critical of the use of force against peaceful protesters. What do you make of what happened last night and the reporting we had in the last 24 hours indicating that it was William Barr perhaps who ordered it? New reporting tonight from The Daily Beast indicating the president himself, not the Department of Defense, is responsible for those military vehicles that are driving through the streets of our nation`s capital right now.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: You know, it seems like it would be the president. You know, he`s a fundamentally very weak man, who tries to show he`s strong in ways that prove just how weak he is.

There`s a report that he didn`t like being taken down to the basement of the White House, so he had to show how strong he was.

Well, to show you`re strong by ordering rubber bullets and tear gas on families, including children, who are peacefully assembling their right to protest, who want to change America and make it for the better. Thank god they do. And then to do what they did and then have helicopters overhead, to have the head of the joint chiefs strutting around in military fatigues, that seems just like a dictatorship.

And you pointed it out, Chris, what is even just as appalling is how our Republican friends enable him. We had a simple resolution on the floor of the Senate tonight that we thought everyone would go along with. It only had three points. One, we applaud the right for a peaceful protest as a means to changing America. Two, we abhor violence. And three, we condemn the president for what he did.

It is, in my opinion, it is certainly unconstitutional, violating rights of free speech. It`s probably illegal. And none -- and Mitch McConnell came to the floor and blocked it.

Why, why, why? Even in this most extreme instance, with just about anyone, regardless of their idealogical blinders, can see what an awful act this is, how this is how unlike our democracy, how that the president, in a time when America is crying for unity and bringing together, seems to take delight in ripping us apart further, and our Republican friends can`t make a peep about it? They have to reject -- we address this motion very simply. We didn`t put any rhetoric in. We just stated the facts, just the facts. And they opposed it.

And this is not -- this is not the -- you know, when Richard Nixon broke the law, Republicans spoke out. Donald Trump certainly did something unconstitutional, it may well have been illegal, as well. And we don`t hear a peep out of them. They are just not doing their job in a democracy. And they are enabling Trump to make things worse and worse and worse.

We all know he has dictatorial, authoritarian instincts. The best check upon him would frankly be the whole Republican Senate caucusing don`t do it. You did the wrong thing. They`re afraid. They`re afraid of Donald Trump. And that leads to Donald Trump getting worse and worse and worse.

It`s appalling.

HAYES: James M. Miller, who was on the Defense Science board, one of various advisory boards that advise the Pentagon. There are many of these. He was appointed to that position. He used to serve as undersecretary. He resigned tonight.

I want to read you just a little bit of his resignation, which was addressed to the chief of the Pentagon, Mark Esper, who had somewhat infamously described the desire to "dominate the battlespace in the American cities." "President Trump`s actions Monday night violated his oath to take care of the laws be faithfully executed, as well as the First Amendment of the people peaceably to assemble. You may not have been able to stop President Trump from directing this appalling use of force, but you could have chosen to oppose it. Instead, you visibly supported it. Anyone who takes the oath of office must decide whether he or she will draw the line. What are the things they will refuse to do? Secretary Esper, you have served honorably for many years in active and reserve military duty. You must have thought long and hard about where that line should be drawn. I must now ask if last night`s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?"

SCHUMER: And you know...

HAYES: That question seems to hang over the whole government -- yeah.

SCHUMER: Yeah, our military -- I mean, when you talk to them privately, many of them, they know that this man has autocratic instincts. They know what he`s doing. They should tell him no, we`re not doing it.

And let me tell you something, to have the head of the joint chiefs, to have what happened, hurts the military itself in the eyes of America, because they`ve always tried in the past to stay assiduously nonpolitical, non-Democrat, non-Republican, not to be used by a president for a photo opportunity, clear the ground so he can do a photo-op, hold the bible upside down, not go into the church, doesn`t even say if it`s his bible.

It`s appalling. It`s -- on the one hand, it`s childish. But on the other hand, it`s destructive of our democracy here and the way the rest of the world looks at us.

Donald Trump just does more damage to this country every single day, every single day. And the question you asked at the beginning of the show, when, oh when, are the people around him going to say no, enough!

HAYES: I don`t think that`s forthcoming, senator, do you?

SCHUMER: Well, no, that`s why we have to fight. And we have to -- we have to do a lot of things here. We need strong action to deal with police reform and racial justice. I`ve put Kamala Harris and Cory Booker in charge of coming up with a strong plan. And today, another thing we did, we asked Mitch McConnell, promise that in June, you`ll put this strong piece of legislation on the floor so we get action, so we get real action.

I think the House will do something. We`re working in concert as is Cory and Kamala with the black caucus. And we`re going to keep pushing and pushing.

And I hope your listeners will. I hope your listeners will call every Republican Senator and say, especially if they live in states that have Republican Senators, how can you tolerate this? You`re not doing your job. You deserve to be kicked out.

HAYES: Senator Chuck Schumer of the state of New York, and a resident of my current home borough Brooklyn, thank you very much, senator. I appreciate it.

SCHUMER: Thanks.

HAYES: Don`t go anywhere, civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson joins me next.


HAYES: Civil rights lawyer/author Bryan Stevenson has long understood this country has centuries, history, for presuming young black men dangerous and guilty. Over the last few decades, He`s done extraordinary work to counter that long, historical impulse. He`s the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization that challenges convictions and racial injustice, fights to get people out of jail and the creator of the national memorial for peace and justice, which is dedicated to the victims of lynching and other forms of racial terror during the Jim Crow era.

And joining me now is civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.

Brian, it`s wonderful to have you. I`ve been wanting to talk to you throughout this.

I want to start tonight with an image that I would just like you to respond to and reflect upon given how much you`ve spoken about this country`s history. This is at the Lincoln Memorial in the nation`s capital, the Lincoln Memorial, Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the bloody fight to end slavery in this nation, was assassinated before Reconstruction. And these are American soldiers there to protect that memorial from people who might come chant Black Lives Matter.

I wonder what you think when you see that?

BRYAN STEVENSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, it`s deeply disturbing, but it`s also evidence that we haven`t really reckoned with the history of our country. I`m a product of Brown versus Board of Education. I grew up in a community where we couldn`t go to public schools. When I was born, I started my education in a colored school. There were no high schools for black kids when is my dad was a teenager. He couldn`t go to high school in our county.

And when racial integration came, many of us believed that this nation would change. None of us thought that 50 years later, black people would still be menaced and targeted and marginalized. And what I realized is that we have to reckon with this long history.

And that image speaks to our failure to deal with the mythology that we created, the great evil that we are facing in America is this legacy created during slavery, this myth that black people are not as good as white people. To the enslavers who is justified slavery had to create a narrative to make that institution, which was so barbaric acceptable. And they said that black people are less deserving, black people are less human, black people are less evolved, less worthy.

And that ideology of white supremacy continued past 1865. It`s why I`ve argued that slavery doesn`t end in 1865, it just evolves. And law enforcement, and these institutions of militarized power became the tools that sustain that. It was law enforcement that allowed black people to be ravaged and massacred and killed during Reconstruction. And white southerners overthrew governments because there was no protection. And that ideology of white supremacy was even greater than our commitment to the Constitution, because the 14th Amendment should have protected black and brown people, should have allowed black people to vote.

And then throughout the 20th Century, the first half of the 20th Century, law enforcement stood back and allowed black people to be pulled out of jails and lynched on the courthouse lawn and terrorized and menaced until millions fled to the north and west where they were once again targeted and menaced by the police in Cleveland and Chicago and Detroit and Los Angeles and Oakland where they went to those communities as refugees.

And in my lifetime, that narrative of racial hierarchy, that ideology of white supremacy, has persisted. And so even though I`ve been practicing law, have a degree from Harvard Law School and argued cases with the Supreme Court, I go places where I have to navigate this presumption of dangerousness and guilt, and I have to prove my worthfulness.

I`ve been in courtrooms where I`ve been told to leave because the presumption was I was the defendant. I`ve been pulled out of my car and had police officers point a gun at my head threatening to blow my brain out.

And I think so much of what you`re seeing now is the accumulation of the exhaustion and anger and fatigue. When you have to constantly navigate these presumptions, you have to constantly deal with this idea that you`re not worthy of protection, you get tired.

And people are tired. And that`s what`s being expressed. And that image just suggests how resistant our nation is to changing, to a commitment to truth and justice. And that`s why I have taken time from my legal career to start working on these cultural sites, building the memorial, building the museum, it`s in part because I don`t believe we would win Brown versus Board of Education today. I think we have actually retreated from the commitment of equality, where we are now seeing new manifestations of sustaining racial hierarchy and white supremacy and that picture captures it.

And what the police, and police officers, and our military has to confront is that those images are really damaging. I mean, it was the police who met black folks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, who were literally on their knees praying and they bloodied and beat and battered them. It was the police that were the forces of opposition to racial integration in the 1950s and `60s. It`s the police that have been a presence in black communities that has been so oppressive.

And that`s why to really change the problem we have, police officers and the military and others are going to have to recognize that we need a culture change. And that`s what a lot of our work is about now.

HAYES: Well, let me ask you this in the two minutes we have left. You worked on this for so long and you`ve reckoned with the history. Let`s say the protests were successful, or let`s say that Bryan Stevenson, through some remarkable act of magic, was allowed to change it, was allowed to make things better, like what does anti-racist policing, equitable policing, equitable law and justice in this country look like? Is that possible in your mind?

STEVENSON: It is possible. We would change the culture of policing. There would be data. We can`t tell you how often police kill or hurt someone, because there`s no federal requirement for data to be collected, that would change things, so we would understand the nature of the problem.

We would change the training. We train our police officers in this country like they`re soldiers. We teach them how to shoot and how to fight and how to arm themselves to combat peaceful protesters, that`s the wrong orientation. We don`t need police officers who are soldiers, we need police officers who are guardians. We need police officers who see their obligation to protect and to serve, even the people who are suspected of crimes.

We would create a different legal infrastructure. If I went out on the street and threw somebody down and put my knee on their neck and killed them, there`s no question that I would be arrested and charged with a crime, that kind of behavior has to be illegal. We would get rid of these immunities that block accountability.

But beyond that, we would also engage in this process of truth and justice. What happened in South Africa, what happened in Rwanda, what happened in Germany was critical to those countries taking a step away from the abuse of these human rights violations. We haven`t done that in this country, and that has to happen at the same time that we change the culture of policing.

HAYES: Bryan Stevenson is author of the best-selling memoir "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption." It is always a great honor to get to talk to you. Thank you so much for making some time for us.

STEVENSON: Happy to be with you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.