Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 14, 2017 Guest: Barbara McQuade, Bob Ferguson, Farah Pandith, Brian Levin, Jamal Simmons, Brian Darling
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": Right here on MSNBC, THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. Hey, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Hi. Thank you, Katy. One woman killed, two police officers dead in a crash, over 30 injured and two days had to pass before the President would call out this hate by name.
White nationalists rallying around a demonstration that exploded into this deadly violence. And while some of the demonstrators invoked Donald Trump, it took bipartisan pressure to get the president to specifically condemn hate groups today.
This may not ultimately be a turning point in the Trump presidency, but it certainly marks another way that this president is different as he struggled to do what most people consider the bare minimum in standing up to this weekend's hate.
And now, across the political spectrum today, Americans speaking out against President Trump, one ray of unity emerging in the wake of the president's initial response to this horror.
And as for his second try, Trump is striking a new tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Today, the suspect in the attack is facing arraignment on a murder charge. James Alex Fields is 20 years old. He traveled from Ohio to that protest in Virginia. Authorities charging him with second-degree murder and malicious wounding and they are holding him without bail. He was allegedly infatuated with Nazi Germany according to a former teacher.
I want to get right to today's news with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, and a very outspoken leader of Congress with regard to the presidency of Donald Trump.
With that in mind, Congresswoman, I just want to know your thoughts about what he has done in response to this tragedy since it occurred this weekend?
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I would like to just remind many of the listeners that I have always said that this President defined himself during the campaign, the way that he mocked a journalist who was disabled, the way that he talked about grabbing women by their private parts, the way that he treated his own Republican colleagues in the primary, calling them names.
I never thought that this was a man who should be president of the United States of America and I have always known that he was dog-whistling to certain elements in our society. So, I was not surprised at all that he did not condemn the white supremacists or any of those, the KKK.
When he made his first statement, the way that he walked away from the press conference when he made the original statement, when he refused to name them really told you where he stood and what he was thinking.
So, now that he's been pressured after, what, almost three days by both Republicans and Democrats, he is reading a statement that has been prepared for him and his advisors have told him, wait, this is very serious, you have been condemned, you have been criticized by both sides of the aisle, you've got to say something.
So, they convinced him to come out, but it's not in his heart. It is not in his heart and you could see that. And so, again, I am not surprised. I feel bad for the innocent people who voted for him who thought he was going to be about change.
I feel sorry for them, but they are finding out who he is. And for those people who are aligned with him no matter what he does, they are going to find out that the American people and the real patriots, the real defenders of this democracy, the real folks who want to see people come together are not going to stand with them and him forever.
MELBER: What do you think he revealed in his response here? Is this simply a desire to avoid, in your view, alienating people who may be his supporter, do you think he revealed something about his heart or state of mind?
WATERS: Well, no, in this latest press conference or statement that he gave, he simply was doing a political thing in my estimation, in my judgment. It took him so long and he was being advised that both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, were criticizing him and this was a danger for him and his presidency.
And so, they convinced him to come out and read this statement which he read, but, you know, if he had really been concerned, if he really cared, when he learned about the incident in the beginning, he would have come out without notes, without a prepared statement and simply said we will not support or allow these white supremacists, the KKK, the alt-right to continue to act this way, to harm people, to put people at risk, to come into our communities and create this kind of chaos and danger. It would've been easy for him to do, but he didn't do it because it is not in his heart.
MELBER: And Congresswoman, take a listen to David Duke speaking at that rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DUKE, EX-KKK LEADER: This represents (INAUDIBLE) we are determined to take our country back. We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's why we believe him. That's why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he's going to take our country back. And that what we've got to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: My final question to you is your response to that and how do you think - during this time of stress and tragedy for the country, how should Americans respond to that?
WATERS: Well, I think that Americans haven't seen what took place in Virginia. And listening to Duke speak, they know that something dangerous is going on and that there has been a rise in this kind of thought and these actions since this president has been elected.
There are those who thought, at one time, that this president would become presidential at some point, that he would be transformed, that he would transition into the presidency. It is never going to happen.
This is a dishonorable human being who does not deserve to be president of the United States of America. And everyone should join with me in wanting to impeach him. He does not deserve to represent us.
Not only is he putting this whole country at danger, undermining our democracy, but our allies are thinking less of us now across the world. And so, I have no hope for him.
I don't believe that he will ever be the kind of honorable human being with good values that will be working on behalf of all of the people. I think he will continue to go after that small constituency of people who are haters, people who are racist, people who do not believe that others have a role and should participate in this democracy in the way that they should, and so I have no hopes for him. And I would not like to see him continue in this presidency.
MELBER: Congresswoman Waters making it clear where you stand and giving us some context today. I really appreciate it.
WATERS: You're certainly welcome.
MELBER: Leaders in both parties have been fairly unequivocal in rebuking Donald Trump's initial approach here over the past few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He missed an opportunity to be very explicit here. These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House.
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: This isn't a time for innuendo. This is a time to lay blame, to lay blame on bigotry, to lay blame on white supremacists.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He wants us to have affection for one another and love one another. Mr. President, that's not enough.
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": You had David Duke name-checking the president of the United States. And this was a moment, Chuck, obviously, where the president could have elevated himself. Instead, he came up small.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I told the president yesterday twice, this language, this rhetoric, this hatred has got to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to bring in Jonathan Capehart, a writer for "The Washington Post" as well as an MSNBC contributor and NBC senior political editor Mark Murray, two people who can give us some context here.
Jonathan, obviously, we are not just talking politics on a day like today, although politics is part of the problem according to those who believe, as Congresswoman Waters was just alleging, that there is a political distortion in Donald Trump's response to this based on who he may perceive as partly his supporters.
You have written eloquently for a long time about this interplay. Why don't you tell us what's on your mind watching all of this here heading into Monday evening with some days behind us now?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST", AND MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The problem the president has had from the very beginning - when the images were coming out of Charlottesville is that he has got a moral problem.
He didn't have the moral clarity to step forward and say that what was happening in Charlottesville was wrong. He didn't have the moral clarity to step forward and say that David Duke invoking his name to justify white supremacist conversion in Charlottesville was not something that he supported.
And I think that the president didn't have the moral authority - given the way he ran his campaign and given the way he has run his administration - he doesn't have the moral authority to have what he said on Saturday and what he said earlier today to have those words stick.
And part of the problem is that he has people associated with white supremacy mere steps away from him in the Oval Office. Steve Bannon is the chief White House strategist. This is a person who told "Mother Jones" during the Republican Convention that he made Breitbart News, where he was the chairman, a platform for the alt-right, which is just a gussied up version of saying white nationalism and white supremacy.
So, the president can say whatever words he wants to say that he thinks the nation needs to hear and who his administration, the grown-ups around him, think he needs to say in order to calm things down, but he has surrounded himself with people who have a white nationalist agenda.
And so, again, as the president is saying these words, meanwhile look at what is happening in the Justice Department, Homeland Security, this so- called voter fraud commission that is out there that lots of people say is all about the business of purging the voter rolls of people from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
So, I'm very concerned like a lot of people that the president couldn't rise to the occasion, such an easy occasion to show leadership, to show the American people that you deserve the trust that they've placed in you in order to be their leader, and he just failed.
MELBER: And, Mark, thinking about what John was saying and then the David Duke factor and whether there is patterns, I want on a play two clips here of Donald Trump's very different reflections on who David Duke is and whether you want anything to do with him. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so, you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you see as the biggest problem with the Reform Party right now?
TRUMP: Well, you've got - David Duke just joined, a bigot, a racist, a problem. I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mark, how problematic is it if Donald Trump's defense with these issues is, well, he doesn't know, he doesn't want to be involved, it's just a hands off, and then you run the tape and you see well, in some cases, he knows quite a bit.
MARK MURRAY, "NBC" SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, and, Ari, to take a step further, we've seen over the past two years, either candidate Trump or President Trump criticize almost anyone and members of his own party, members of the media.
You have even see him criticizing the chief executive at Merck after Merck decided to pull out of the president's commission on manufacturing in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville.
The president sometimes has a very quick trigger finger when it comes to his tweets or just unabashed criticism, but that clip that you played just about a year-and-a-half ago or a year ago when it came to David Duke and then certainly would have seen from Saturday was a president who was unwilling to go that extra step to criticize. And I think that that disparity is very important to consider.
And when you just look overall on Saturday, the president, as Jonathan mentioned, really did fail the presidential leadership test.
On Monday and today's do-over, we did see Republicans, who were more complementary of how we handle things. You will have seen Sen. Tim Scott, the Republican African-American senator from South Carolina, who did praise what President Trump ended up saying today, but he also went a step further, Sen. Scott did, by saying it would've been much more impactful had he done it on Saturday.
And that two-day delay, 48 hours, I think is incredibly important on the president's ability to rise to the occasion to demonstrate leadership during either a time of tragedy, a time of horror or shock, to be able to unite the country, not necessarily your voters who voted for you in 2016, but some people who might not have.
MELBER: Right, absolutely. I appreciate both of your points here at a time when the country is, obviously, really reflecting on, as you put it, what is the type of leadership they want. Jonathan and Mark, appreciate it.
Now, is there a double standard about who the president deems a terrorist and those whom are just criminals and thugs. Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP will bring her expertise to us after the break.
Also, Bob Mueller closing in on interviews for the West Wing. We'll explain who he wants to talk to and whether that means there's a different approach than what Paul Manafort received.
And also, later today, we have a special report for you only on THE BEAT, what you don't know about the Trump travel ban. We just hit the halfway mark and we've got some new reporting on how it is going. Stay tuned.
MELBER: Was the Charlottesville attack terrorism? It's still early for authorities to gather all the facts needed to answer this question, but President Trump has certainly avoided the term, a level of restraint he has not applied when news broke of other attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has tweeted, "really bad shooting in Orlando, police investigating possible terrorism."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump tweeting just a short time ago, "Another terrorist attack in Paris."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump took that last bit out of context plainly and repeatedly attacked the mayor on Twitter, "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump also dubbed the June incident in the Philippines a terror attack, which local police contradicted, and while Trump had previously complained President Obama didn't call terror attacks by Trump's preferred term, radical Islamic terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He doesn't want to acknowledge it. He will never acknowledge it. Why can't he say radical Islamic terrorism?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: While these may sound like word games, we know some kinds of terror attacks do not get nearly as much attention as others. Take this recent study from Georgia State University, which says, "the terror attacks by Muslim perpetrators in the US got 449 percent more coverage than similar attacks when the only difference was the other attacks were committed by people who were not Muslim."
Trump is also out of step with his own attorney general on this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, "ABC NEWS" HOST, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Was this domestic terror?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute. We are pursuing it within the Department of Justice in every way that we can make it, make our case.
MELBER: Sherrilyn Ifill is president and director-counsel of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Matt Miller, a former aide at the Justice Department to Attorney General Holder. Thank you both.
Sherrilyn, do we know enough to say whether this was terror and is there a double standard?
SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR-COUNSEL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. Well, I am never a fan of describing things very early on before we know exactly what has happened. But if there ever was a no-brainer, it was this one.
This was a rally in which people were carrying Confederate flags, flags with a Swastika on it, in which they were yelling and shouting white supremacist remarks and Nazi slogans.
And we now know who the individual was, we have the photo of him walking with the white supremacists, carrying the shield. He barreled this car deliberately into a crowd and backed it up out of that crowd killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others.
If ever there was a time that you could fairly early on describe something as an act of terrorism, I think this would be one of them, and so it's quite telling that the president has been unwilling to use that language.
Of course, he also has not spoken out about the killing of Ricky Best on the train in Portland in May, an army veteran who was killed by a white supremacist. He has not talked about Richard Collins, an ROTC member killed by white supremacist at University of Maryland. He hasn't talked about the mosque bombing in Minnesota a week ago.
So, this is not the only time that the president has found the ability to restrain himself from calling something an act of terrorism that is an act of terrorism.
MELBER: Right. And thank you for giving us some of that very specific examples, which provide further contrast, I think.
Matt Miller, Jeffrey Goldberg, who is the centrist, center-right sometimes reporter for "The Atlantic" had pretty unsparing terms on this today.
"Trump's refusal to call out radical white terrorism for what it is at precisely the moment America needs its leadership to take a unified stand against hatred marks what might be the lowest moment of his presidency to date." Matt, your view?
MATT MILLER, FORMER AIDE AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: I think Jeffrey Goldberg is absolutely right about this. I think if - had this been someone connected to ISIS, even if it had been someone connected to MS-13, I think you would have seen the president tweeting within an hour.
I think you would have seen the attorney general releasing a statement within an hour, not waiting till much later in the day, really 10 or 11 o'clock at night before he did. You would have seen the federal government mobilize its resources in an entirely different way.
I think it is good, though, that the Justice Department has now opened a civil rights investigation. The attorney general has declared this domestic terrorism. It is important they're taking that step, but it doesn't seem like the president is willing to come along.
Obviously, he got dragged kicking and screaming into making that statement today, but there is a real double standard when it comes to - as to if he is willing politicize some, as you pointed out, the one in Manila actually wasn't even a terrorist incident and those that he tries to downplay and dismiss.
MELBER: And, Sherrilyn, I want to play for you some of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. On the one hand we always know when politicians are fighting about this kind of thing, it doesn't yield the most light.
On the other hand, when you look at this situation over the last several days, and this highly unusual response from a president and many people have explained it, you included, why it's so troubling.
You look back at some of the warnings that were offered during the campaign about precisely this issue of hate. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.
We know who Trump is. A few words on a teleprompter won't change that. He says he wants to make America great again, but more and more it seems as though his real message seems to be make America hate again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How do you view that warning now?
IFILL: The same way I viewed it then. There was nothing about that statement that sounded particularly political to me because all the evidence was there that this is, in fact, what was happening. And it has been happening and continuing since the campaign. And frankly, passed the inauguration by the president's own policies.
Look, today, the president came out and made a prepared speech. He looked at pains to do so. It looked a little bit like he was a hostage, but he made the speech that he felt he had to make. There was no passion in it.
When the president speaks from his heart, we know what it looks like, we know what it sounds like. This is the same day that this morning - his first act was to offer a tweet against the CEO of Merck, an African- American, who out of his own personal conscience decided to step down from the president's manufacturing council and made an eloquent statement about the importance of diversity in this country and why his personal conscience was so moved.
And the president's reaction was to ridicule it and to make a terrible snarky juvenile remark against him.
Later, we were hearing also that the president has apparently told someone at "Fox News" that he's considering pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This is the sheriff that was engaged in racial profiling rampantly in Arizona and was convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to obey a judge's order to stop engaging in racial profiling and who is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5.
And he described Joe Arpaio apparently to "Fox News" as a great American and that he is sorry to see what has happened to him.
So, these two things happen on the same day that the president steps out and reads from a teleprompter a statement that he feels compelled to make. So, it's disingenuous at the very least, cynical as well.
And this is why I have said that until the president acts, until he disbands his so so-called election integrity commission and stops demonizing African-American and Latino voters, until he drops the Muslim ban, until he drops his claim that LGBT individuals are not covered by our civil rights laws in the employment area, until he reverses his tweet on the military transgender ban, until he starts doing things that actually show that he stands for equality and justice, I would be hard-pressed to believe the kind of statement that he was compelled and felt compelled to make today.
MELBER: Sherrilyn Ifill and Matt Miller, two individuals with extraordinary law enforcement and civil rights experience, appreciate your time today.
IFILL: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Coming up, a different story that is not getting lost yet. The Russia enquiry, Bob Mueller has a new focus on a man who did work inside the White House for Trump and does not anymore.
And a BEAT special report. We are now halfway through Trump's 90-day travel ban and we're going to talk to someone suing over that ban. The attorney general of Washington State.
MELBER: "Washington Post" reporting new details about efforts to set up Trump campaign meetings with Russian officials. And another report out in "The New York Times" saying Bob Mueller wants now to interview key White House aides in his probe.
Let's get right to it with former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade. Paul Manafort famously got this predawn raid. No one is going to raid the White House that way. And we're hearing that there is, in this report, the idea of Bob Mueller having a more cooperative approach with other White House officials.
Explain to us these different approaches.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: Well, it makes sense that this would be the natural next step in an investigation. Once Mueller and his team have looked at all documentary evidence, maybe have looked at surveillance evidence, the next step would be to interview people, and you know, to go into the White House, you're certainly not going to interrogate people in a forceful way. Your first approach will be to interview a universe of people and then narrow down those who possess relevant evidence and then call them to testify before a Grand Jury.
MELBER: Do all of those White House aides then need their own personal lawyer or can they rely on the government?
MCQUADE: Well, no, they - if they have personal exposure, they may need to hire a personal lawyer to advise them about what exposure they may have, what information they have if they need to cut a deal. Now, many of them will simply be fact witnesses who haven't committed any crimes whatsoever. But for those who might have some criminal exposure, they might want to hire their own lawyers.
MELBER: And what about people who've advised on the search for an FBI Director, the decision to remove Jim Comey. I mean, there are people there in the White House who may have been brought in for optics reasons, strategic reasons, press reasons. Do they have to worry about whether they're being pulled into what some have described as a potential obstruction inquiry?
MCQUADE: I think so. And I think that you know, there certainly are the big names that we've heard of. But my guess is that Robert Mueller will also want to talk to people whose names we may not know. Some of the lower level aides who were involved who can be fact witnesses in this, they may have criminal exposure as well but he's going to want to talk to all of them to find out who knew what, who said what, to help him in his quest for the truth.
MELBER: Fascinating. And obviously no signs of Bob Mueller letting up anytime soon if he's getting these interviews scheduled or working on it. Barbara McQuade, thanks for your time.
MCQUADE: Thanks very much.
MELBER: Now, it is the halfway mark on Trump's 90-day travel ban. We have a special investigation you'll see only here on THE BEAT, including some news on the worldwide vetting review that Trump famously called for.
MELBER: President Trump's travel ban officially took effect in late June and we're now passing the halfway mark of this 90-day policy. It bars migrants from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya. And after all the controversy, our question tonight is how is the travel ban actually working? For our special report, we surveyed over a dozen security and immigration experts and former government officials. And we learned about how this ban is playing out. First, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department confirmed Trump's call for a worldwide review of vetting, has now been completed. Officials gave a report on that review to President Trump, we can tell you, on July 10th.
Now, this is new and it indicates the White House already has some Intel to inform the decision on whether to continue this ban when it automatically expires in another 45 days. Officials declined to describe what the review says, but a DHS official does tell us, changes have already been made from the review on the way they do vetting. Number two, we found many experts who say this ban is not making the U.S. much safer. Experts telling us the ban's focus on those six countries doesn't automatically strengthen our national security, and that some customs officers are even facing new challenges over how to implement the ban.
Marco Lopez, the former Chief of Staff for Customs and Border Protection, told us that officers are spread too thin because they're focusing on confirming immigrants having bona fide relationships. And he told us that's one less person you have to focus on real threats based on intelligence. DHS has not provided information on whether the ban has singled out terror suspects over the past 45 days, or stated which countries are providing what the Trump administration views as inadequate info about their own nationals. And then finally, third, the administration is using a new form we've learned to enhance vetting. We're going to show you that in a moment. But that is all how the ban is working at the halfway mark. As for whether it is even legal, well, the Supreme Court as you may recall will hear this case in October. It will be very likely the largest test of executive power in the Trump era.
Now, for more context on this special report, we have Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, he led the charge against the initial travel ban, was the first state that took the administration of Donald Trump to court and they had several incremental victories, procedural victories as you may recall. Thanks for joining us, Attorney General.
BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thanks for having me, Ari. I really appreciate it.
MELBER: Absolutely. This is something that got a lot of attention before it went into effect. Do you have any idea here, halfway mark this week, how it's actually working, and if it's as bad as you've alleged in your opening legal attacks on the bill?
FERGUSON: Yes, well, first, thanks to you and your team for that reporting. I find that interesting that there's been a report the President's had since about early July, that's of interest to me. So, hey, from our standpoint, that first travel ban, that Washington State sued on, that was a big victory. As you know, the President rescinded that initial travel ban and then adopted this revised one that is more narrow, working its way now to the Supreme Court. The key question is going to be whether or not the Supreme Court even issues a ruling or decides that to runs its course, it's no longer in effect and the Supreme Court no longer needs even reads the decision on the merits of this revised travel ban.
MELBER: So you haven't heard about that report, but you're saying, A, you'd love to see that, I don't know if that is something you can legally request and B, if the whole thing is over, you're saying that it - that it may go away?
FERGUSON: Yes. I think a key question will be whether President Trump reauthorizes the executive order. As you pointed out in your introduction, the executive order is for a limit duration, 90 days in one context, 120 days in another context. It will essentially run its course by the time the Supreme Court takes up the oral argument in October. It would not surprise me. As you know, Supreme Court is disinclined to rule in cases that are not active, that there's not actual controversy. So unless Donald Trump re-ups that travel ban, it would not surprise me if the Supreme Court decided they did not need to actually reach some (INAUDIBLE) issues associated with this revised travel ban.
MELBER: Right. Well, you're raising a great question for the White House. They wouldn't tell us their plans on that. And nor would we expect them to. But they did give us a statement here at THE BEAT. I want to read from our original reporting. They said this travel order refugees ceiling and heightened vetting requirements are vital to keeping America safe. Foreign terrorists constantly trying to infiltrate the U.S. through migratory flows and we can't allow a sanctuary for terrorists and extremists on our shores and in our communities. The administration will continue to take necessary and lawful action to keep violent radicals from entering our country. When you see a statement like that, it sounds pretty reasonable. I presume you would also want to keep those radicals if they're prone to violence out of the country, or in your case out of Washington State. What's wrong with what the - what the White House told us here?
FERGUSON: Well, there is two things that a President needs to do. A President needs to keep us safe, that's number one. But number two, the President must do so in a way that follows the constitution and our laws. That's where Donald Trump ran into trouble with that first travel ban where he suffered defeat after defeat and finally gave up. And now we're, as you know, going before the Supreme Court on the revised travel ban. But I think he still facing significant constitutional hurdles before the Supreme Court. I just think it's a distinct possibility the Supreme Court won't have to rule because again, it gives up a limited duration.
One more point just really quickly, Ari, is that keep in mind we filed the first lawsuit in that first travel ban many, many months ago. The President's had seven months or so to do this extreme vetting he's been talking about. He didn't have to wait around. So the President's had many, many months to put this into place. I'm anxious to see what they've actually come up with.
MELBER: All right. Well, we're going to keep an eye on the reporting. As I mentioned, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, thank you so much.
The next part of our special report here, right now, NBC, we have obtained the new vetting forms, the Trump administration is asking the Consular Generals to use the vetting around the world. The State Department confirming to us on the authenticity of these documents. You can see this form here supplemental questions for visa applicants and they're asking, have you traveled to any country in the last 15 years, what locations have you visited, how did you pay for it and there's also a section strictly devoted to the applicant's social media history which has been a big deal.
Now, we know these forms are in circulation. What we don't know is how they're impacting all of those who are trying to get into the United States. For more, I want to bring in Farah Pandith. She served on Bush 43's National Security Council, was also appointed by Hillary Clinton as the first ever State Department Special Representative to Muslim Communities. Thank you for joining. You looked specifically at this form, it has some of the things that prior administrations were criticized for not looking at, like social media. Your view?
FARAH PANDITH, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO MUSLIM COMMUNITIES: You know, Ari, first of all, thank you very much for having me this evening. It's really important to remember, almost a month before another anniversary of 9/11, that we've spent a lot of time since our country was attacked looking at groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS and others who use an ideology of us versus them to radicalize young people around the world. And while it's important, certainly, to look at different components of how to keep us safe, the issue is that you cannot build an idea wall. And as I look at the Muslim ban, and I think about what we're doing around the questions specifically social media, it doesn't tell you the full picture of what's happening to these young kids who are finding the appeal of groups like ISIS interesting to them. And that's what we should be puncturing.
MELBER: Do you think the administration should release a public accounting? We're at the halfway mark, which is why we're digging into this but perhaps at the end of the 90 days, explaining whether this thing works or from your experience in government, is that too hard to do because of the security implications?
PANDITH: If your assessment is that you're going to conclude that because there has not been an ISIS inspired attack since President Trump has become President, it means that the ban is the thing that we can look to as the reason why we have a faulty premise and the policy implications for that are very dangerous. From my perspective, looking at radicalization over the course of the last decade, I can tell you that there is far more that we as the United States should be doing to decrease the ability of extremist groups like ISIS to lure in young kids in our country, and around the world. And a Muslim ban is not the thing that's going to keep us safer. A comprehensive program to make sure that radicalization doesn't happen will mean that ISIS will not have armies. That is what we should be looking at.
MELBER: Farah Pandith thank you for bringing all your experience to this conversation. And we're going to keep watching where the - where the ban heads.
PANDITH: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up, how do we actually, as a society, want to respond to these hate groups. I'm going to speak with someone who has been tracking white nationalist groups for over three decades. And at this hour, we can tell you protesters are right now marching through New York City. Where are they headed? Directly to Trump Tower. We'll give you any updates on how this live protest unfolds tonight.
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MARTY WALSH, BOSTON MAYOR: We know (INAUDIBLE) so my message is clear to this group. We don't want you in Boston. We don't want you in Boston -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mayor of Boston there, speaking out to the potential types of hate groups or protesters that could go there. I'm also going to show you something we mentioned just before the commercial break here. In Trump Tower, and that area surrounding it on Fifth Avenue, protests are gathering. We're getting this live into our newsroom right now, this new footage. These are people who are saying, you can hear them, chanting, and they want to be standing up against hate, standing up for messages of what we're seeing there.
You can see peace and love, swastikas marked out, and they are surrounding essentially walking around Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. It is as you can see with your own eyes, a very peaceful protest thus far, as we hope it will remain. We're going to keep a close eye on that. And that's really the context for the discussion I want to have with our next guest. Brian Levin is a Director at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. He analyzes hate crimes and has also been monitoring and attending these hate rallies and white supremacist groups for over 30 years. First of all, thank you for joining.
BRIAN LEVIN, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM DIRECTOR: Thank you so much, Ari.
MELBER: Brian, the reason we wanted to set aside time to speak with you one-on-one is precisely the same reason why I think people are peacefully out there protesting today, and trying to do something positive. And the question to you I pose is big but the question is, how do we in this society civically in our own lives try to stand up to this hate when we - when we see it confronting us?
LEVIN: I think we're doing exactly that. Peaceful protests, the right of the people to peaceably assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances. As you know as a Cornell Law grad, go big red. What we - what we need is leadership from the top. And one of the things our research has shown is that statements by political leaders appear to have a direct correlation of the incidents of hate crimes. For the five days after President Trump proposed his Muslim ban as a candidate, we had an 87.5 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. Contrast that with President Bush's statement six days after 9/11 saying Islam is peace at the D.C. mosque, a decline in anti-Muslim hate crimes of 66 percent.
So we need leadership. But we also need something that presidents have done for some time, whether it was President Kennedy talking about the University of Mississippi or President Eisenhower with respect to Little Rock or even President Bush the elder, Bush 41 when he signed the hate crimes statistics act. We need to set equality as a moral foundation of this nation and President Trump, unfortunately, has not really done so. His response today -
MELBER: Let me jump in, Sir. Brian, let me jump in and play, this is it what he did say initially.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Does your research suggest that's the right - best response to prevent further actions?
LEVIN: No. And look, we don't have to look at my research, just go to these white nationalist web pages where they say, hey, President Trump's inability to condemn us right away explicitly is a wink and a nod. He's re-tweeted materials from Nazi groups, including false information about the levels of black crime where he talks about crimes by immigrants which are actually lower than native born Americans. So, what we need is some moral leadership, and I think what we have to have is - I don't know if we're going to get him to do it. But we can do it, we have a voice, and this can start in our local communities and thank you for the coverage that you've provided to give people a voice where they might not have had it. We need to send a message to these groups that yes, you have a first amendment right, but so do we, and we condemn your bigotry root and branch.
MELBER: Right. And that's something that goes to citizenship, not to politics and goes to the kind of country we want to live in. Brian Levin, thanks for your work, and joining us. And I want to tell you, in the wake of this attack, there are growing calls for guess who, Steve Bannon to get a pink slip, why? We'll explain next.
MELBER: When Donald Trump is under fire for his prepared statements, the scrutiny often turns toward Steve Bannon. Trump keeps a very lean staff and few aides are successful at putting words in his mouth. But insiders say Bannon does have that ability.
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ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You also got this sort of Bannon-bart influence in there which I think is a snag on the President. He has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean Bannon and Breitbart? Steve Bannon?
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. The whole thing is nonsensical. the president has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda that are serving their own interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They include Steve Bannon?
SCARAMUCCI: Oh, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Anthony Scaramucci there saying, it would be bad to be out of the mainstream, but that's exactly where Steve Bannon likes to be. He ran Breitbart News as a counter weight. The mainstream conservative media like Fox News boasting it was the platform of the alt-right, and while the site has a broad range of topics, even some of his own former associates say it has become a hub for racists at times. So the question is whether that kind of support was a feature or a bug of Bannon's site. Just as the question during Trump's campaign was whether these white supremacists were simply political freeloaders or whether Donald Trump actually welcomed them.
MELBER: Jamal Simmons is a Democratic Strategist, Brian Darling a former Aide to Rand Paul. Jamal, your answer?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, Ari, I just got to tell you, my family, my grandmother grew up about 30 miles east of Charlottesville in a little town called Kents Store, Louisa County. And I talked to some of my relatives who were there today, we were slaves in that county. I can take you to the place where my family worked the soil. And to have the idea of people walking around with torches in the middle of the night and my family is talking about how people in the area are standing up, feeling more bold. That boldness comes from places like Breitbart, comes from people like Bannon. And I think it is a feature we've seen Donald Trump over the course of the last couple years. And we've seen him really come out whether it was the immigrant ban or bringing people up on stage where victims of immigrant crime. It had to take them 48 hours to mention the victim of a terrorist attack. This is not a bug, this is a feature and Steve Bannon is part of the problem.
MELBER: You know, we'll put up some of Breitbart's headlines Brian and give you a chance to speak to this. I mean, is this really what President Trump should have in the Oval Office?
BRIAN DARLING, FORMER RAND PAUL'S AIDE: Well, I write - I have written three op-eds this year from Breitbart, I look at Breitbart as a conservative site with so many stories. I mean, they have 35 million page views every single month. This is a website that has a variety of opinions. And to call it an alt-right you know, white supremacist platform, I think is wrong. I mean, you don't see Richard Spencer writing there, you don't see these extremists having platforms there, I think what is happening, people are disparaging Steve Bannon.
SIMMONS: What about Milo?
DARLING: He's not writing there anymore.
SIMMONS: Well, he was when Steve Bannon was there.
DARLING: Well, I mean, he's not there anymore. I actually - he wrote a piece about the alt-right that I think many people point to, to try and tie the alt-right to Breitbart but ultimately, I think, it's a bit outrageous for people to disparage Steve Bannon and to disparage Breitbart and conflate them with people who are bad. The people who Donald Trump -
MELBER: What about - Brian, what about on Bannon himself? I mean, you've got Rupert Murdoch and others now on the New York Times calling for his ouster. Do you think Bannon should say?
DARLING: I think he should stay. I think guys like McMaster pushing for nation building foreign policies, policies that I didn't vote for. I support a more restrained policy. And I - there's a big fight in the conservative -
MELBER: Jamal, final word.
SIMMONS: Ari, I think this is a moment where it's not just about the partisanship, this really isn't partisan. This is about what kind of society do we want to have, what kind of civilization do we want to have. Do we want to have a country where everybody gets to participate or one where white people are the only ones who get all the best benefits? And I think people like Bannon and Breitbart are advocates for this alt-right movement that says they want hate to be the norm in this country instead of people trying to figure out where to get along. And I want ever Republican -
MELBER: Jamal Simmons -
SIMMONS: I think to stop and say the same thing.
MELBER: Jamal Simmons and Brian Darling. Thank you so much. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is next, and Chris is back so stay tuned.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Silence is consent, let's play HARDBALL.
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