Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 15, 2017 Guest: Michael Caputo, John Dean, Dallas Kashuba, Yochai Benkler, Jelani Cobb
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": That`s just ahead on THE BEAT with Ari Melber, which starts right now. You won`t believe - if you haven`t seen at all, you won`t believe what you hear, Ari. But the time is yours.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you, Chuck. And I think that`s a fair statement. It is a significant event we`re going to show.
Late today, President Trump giving his new and detailed view of the Charlottesville attack. Now, he defended some attendees of this white supremacist rally. He blamed some liberals for the violence and he contradicted his own Justice Department in apportioning that blame. There are people trying to divide America right now with violence. Here is the president`s answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch.
But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left, you have just called them the left that came violently attacking the other group. So, you can say what you want, but that`s the way it is.
I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don`t have any doubt about it either.
You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest, because I don`t know if you know they had a permit. The other group didn`t have a permit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: They had a permit. Now, what message does that send to these white nationalist groups and to people around the world? Well, here is one answer. This is brand new tonight.
Former KKK leader David Duke welcoming the president, crediting his "honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists."
Now, President Trump said at first he didn`t even know David Duke was at that rally, but he knows now. And the President claimed tonight that not everyone was a white nationalist at that white nationalist rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve condemned neo-Nazis. I`ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis. Believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Some facts for you on this. The Justice Department under the Trump administration right now is investigating Charlottesville as both a potential hate crime and potential terrorist activity, but today in these new remarks President Trump was not so sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That`s what I would call it because there is a question, is it murder, is it terrorism and then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: These remarks appear to be unplanned and they were certainly significant, I think, in a series of events that we have called significant in the Trump era. Tonight`s certainly fits the bill.
And we are here on THE BEAT tonight going to play those full remarks in full context later this hour.
Now, for immediate context and response, though, I want to bring in California Congressman Ted Lieu; Heather McGhee, President of Demos.
And Heather, let me just start with you. You look at this situation, what more do we understand now about the president`s views of all this?
HEATHER MCGHEE, PRESIDENT, DEMOS: I think that many people in this country, including the majority of people who did not vote for Donald Trump, knew that, from the beginning, when he started his campaign, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, throughout the dog whistles, the inciting of violence, saying that, oh, in the good old days, a protester would`ve been pulled out, dragged out in a stretcher, to his refusing to distance himself from the KKK`s endorsement of him, to who he put in the White House as his staffers including three known white supremacists, we have felt that this is a president who is a president of a movement to make America white again.
And that is, obviously, what the core base of his supporters who are on the rise right now, who have felt very emboldened, who have felt that this is a moment when this rising sort of zero sum idea of progress in the country, that if you have progress for people of color, if you have more immigrants coming into the country that somehow that means that it`s going to be at the expense of white people.
That idea is at the core of Donald Trump`s story about this country and it`s at the core of what you saw on Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville.
I`ve been so moved by the outpouring of exactly the opposite impression of this country, that our diversity is what makes us great, that our people are what makes us strong.
But we all have to recognize that there are two sides of the story, there two sides of the national story, one that says that the fight for the Confederacy, of white supremacy, of holding people in bondage is still something that needs to be elevated and celebrated and one that says that we have to keep growing as a country and finally face up to our past, so that we can move together as one people into the future.
MELBER: Congressman, you hear Heather`s very eloquent statement about what we just heard from the president of the United States. As someone who has to work with him within government, your views on what we just heard and what it reflects now days out from this killing?
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Ari. That was an abomination of a press conference. There cannot be no ambiguity that the president of the United States is intentionally enabling white supremacists. And I call all Republican members of Congress to disavow President Trump and his remarks.
Heather is absolutely right. These are some of his strongest supporters, but he shouldn`t be playing to them. He is president of all of America and there`s not many sides to this.
There is a side of hatred and bigotry and there`s everybody else. And now, today, we know where the President stands and that is completely unacceptable.
MELBER: Thank you, Congressman. And I hear your call. We often talk politically about what the other side to do. In this case, Donald Trump talking about two sides on the racial division. You`re talking about the political side, you as a Democrat, what you want to hear from Republicans.
I want to add to our conversation here, a special coverage, DeRay McKesson, a former mayoral candidate in the City of Baltimore and an activist with Black Lives Matter.
I want to play for you Donald Trump bringing up David Duke in these new remarks today. As you know and many of our viewers will remember, there were great questions about whether Donald Trump knew who David Duke was because he had previously said he was just ignorant of David Duke, although other video evidence showed that he actually did know David Duke and had previously called him a bigot at another point in his political career.
Here was the president on that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.
I didn`t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DERAY MCKESSON, FORMER MAYORAL CANDIDATE, CITY OF BALTIMORE: So, we know that white supremacy is based on the ideology of hatred. When we think about things like the Cornerstone Speech, it is a speech by the vice president of the Confederacy, he makes it really clear that Confederacy is founded on making sure that black people are not equal to white people, that that is undeniable.
So, when we hear speeches like this today, we know that he is making sure that he`s promoting his lies in an effort to get people cover for white supremacy.
And that just can`t be OK. I am worried that this will enable more people across the country to be hateful and to be openly and boldly racist like we saw in Charlottesville.
MELBER: And the David Duke comment here, we don`t always make a habit of just showing what David Duke is saying, but it is newsworthy given the president`s invocation of him.
He responded to this tonight, breaking news here. Thank you, President Trump for your honesty and encourage to "tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM", I think a reference to a group you`re associated with, Black Lives Matter.
MCKESSON: This is so overt. So, David Duke is a known leader of the KKK. And when he is praising the president for his remarks about race, when he is clearly defending white supremacy, that is a problem.
So, I am hopefull that this does not encourage people across the country to be more hateful and more openly racist, but these things today are troubling at best.
MELBER: Congressman, I also want to play the other charges that the president leveled. Again, for viewers who are just turning in, part of the reason this was so significant is the country has spent a few days, not just the political part of the country, but CEOs, business leaders, civic leaders talking about what is the necessary and requisite minimum for a president in responding to what was according to, again, the Justice Department and local authorities, a one-sided violence, a real tragedy of an attack, not something that at least according to authorities was blurry, as you know, Congressman.
But now I am going to play this new sound, new remarks from the president trying to apportion the blame to what he calls the alt-left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What about the alt-left left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging - that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs. Do they have any problem? I think they do.
You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I`ll say it right now.
You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Congressman, your response?
LIEU: Keep in mind, it was a white supremacist that killed a young woman, not the other way around. It is not equivalent to be able to put the KKK and Nazis against any other group. These are hate groups. These are groups that have terrorized Americans throughout our history. The president needs to condemn them.
And he by trying to say all sides are same, he is enabling them, and that`s what`s so disturbing. He is emboldening white supremacists and this has got to stop.
MELBER: We`re just getting into our newsroom a lot of reaction to the president`s latest remarks. And from what I can tell, Heather, a lot of folks here in political and civic leadership think this might be the worst thing that President Trump has said to date about this tragic incident.
Reading here brand-new from Governor McAuliffe, Democratic Governor of Virginia, who has been working on this, saying "neo-Nazis, Klansman, and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred, looking for a fight. One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, Governor McAuliffe saying tonight. And two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. And here, addressing the President directly, he says, this was not both sides.
MCGHEE: I think that`s the kind of moral clarity we need to see right now. And I really do commend former Governor McAuliffe and many other people, including some Republicans actually, finally, who have been willing to stand up and say that this is evil, that this white supremacist movement has embraced.
As we`ve known actually, over the past decade, the leading cause of domestic terrorism on US soil is from white supremacist fringe groups.
And the inability of Donald Trump to distance himself, really, it`s shocking to our political system and our economic system and, frankly, to the moral fabric of our country, but it shouldn`t be surprising because this is who he has been from the beginning of his campaign, from the moment that he walked into public life by being the most visible and loud birther, incredible right-wing, far-right conspiracy theory to undermine the American citizenship of our first African-American President.
This is who Donald Trump is. And the question now is, who are we as Americans? Who are the people in Congress who have the only authority to stop this person who is in the White House from continuing to, I`m afraid, really bring the country to the brink of a level of violence that we haven`t seen from white supremacists who feel that they are losing their country?
And that is exactly what Donald Trump is saying to them, has been saying throughout his campaign. You`re losing your country, you have to take it back, and men with AR-15s and AK-47s were armed in Charlottesville for that very reason.
MELBER: Right. And to your point, we`re reeling from a situation where this killing took place. The authorities will ultimately determine whether they can uphold the second-degree murder charge.
A new tweet here, reaction from Paul Ryan. "We must be clear white supremacy is repulsive. The bigotry has countered all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity." That tweet breaking here in our hour.
As part of our discussion here, looking at these new remarks from the president, I want to also add in Howard Dean, the former governor and former Democratic Party chair.
Governor, you may have been listening to conversation here, Heather McGhee, DeRay McKesson, and Congressmen Lieu here talking about what we just saw and what we`re going to play in full later this hour, so Americans can assess it themselves.
I would like your views. And I`ll throw one more piece of reporting in because so much is coming into the newsroom. NBC confirming from a senior White House official that these remarks we just saw "were not supposed to be a part of any Q&A today".
That is relevant not because of the political gamesmanship that goes into setting up a press event, but relevant, I think, Governor Dean because it goes back to the big question of whether we`re hearing the real Donald Trump.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: I`m not entirely sure there is a real Donald Trump. I think this guy is deeply ill. I really do. He`s completely out of control. He has no consistency from one day to another.
We essentially are a country without a president. I think we will rise to the occasion, but it`s a very difficult situation. This is not a guy who understands anything about people. It`s not a guy who understands anything about the foreign policy. This is a problem.
This is the first time I think probably since Andrew Johnson that we really haven`t had any kind of a capable president whatsoever.
MELBER: Congressman, do you echo that or do you think part of the problem is that President Trump seems to know no boundaries. We can show - I believe we have, in our control room, some of the footage here and the photograph of General John Kelly who is, of course, expected to be some sort of source of discipline, but has not yet been that way.
And there is a photo of him sort of behind the stage during what was supposed to be - there it is, him, with his arms folded. If you want to read the body language, you can read it for yourself at home, whether he looks like this is something that he thinks is the right call.
Congressman, is this a managerial issue or do you feel that the president`s response this week and these ongoing efforts to sort of double down on what he sees as an equivalence between the people who perpetrated violence and those who were peaceful or victims, this is in your view something that hobbles the presidency?
LIEU: Every now and then, we see glimpses of the real Donald Trump when he`s not being constrained by his handlers, such as today`s press conference, such as when he tweets by himself, and frankly it`s horrifying.
We can tell today that Donald Trump`s views are much closer to Nazis and the KKK and white supremacist than to every day normal Americans.
And John Kelly can do all he wants, but when Donald Trump goes unhinged, the American people see who he really is. And we can keep shuffling staff around in the White House. It`s not going to change because the problem is at the very top, and that`s with the president.
I hope he changes. I don`t think that`s going to happen. And what`s going on is deeply disturbing.
MELBER: Congressmen Lieu, thank you for joining us and giving your perspective. I`m going to ask Governor Dean, Heather and DeRay to stay with us as part of our special coverage.
Ahead, President Trump`s comments on these Confederate statues and how he dug in and seemed to draw moral equivalence between Thomas Jefferson and leaders of the Confederacy. These were people, of course, protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
We have a historical perspective. And later this hour, as I mentioned, if you miss it - if you have missed it, we`re going to show, for context, the remarks of the president here, a turning point of sorts in his reaction to this, what many have called, domestic terror.
I`m Ari Melber and you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: President Trump spoke today with new and probably his most extensive comments on the controversial statues that were devoted to a Confederate leader, which ignited ostensibly those protests in Charlottesville by white supremacists.
Now, it was Charlottesville`s official city plan to remove this statue of Robert E. Lee that drew white supremacists, they said, to that city over the weekend. And it was at that statue where they first gathered on Friday, carrying those now infamous torches before marching through the University of Virginia campus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and that renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest, because I don`t know if you know they had a permit. The other group didn`t have a permit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: They may have had a permit to gather. They did not have a permit to kill, and so it was extraordinary here just moments ago watching President Trump saying that some of those marchers were there to innocently protest when we know what happened.
And then he took this argument further, delving deeper into the academic debate about this history or historical revisionism. He brought up the founding fathers and their role in American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Many of those people were to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week, it`s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson`s coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?
George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down - excuse me - are we going to take down - are we going to take down statues to George Washington?
How about Thomas Jefferson?" What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down the statue because he was a major slave owner? Now, are we going to take down his statue?
So, you know what, it`s fine. You`re changing history, you`re changing culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Changing culture. That was where Donald Trump`s presentation landed on today. Igniting controversies. All of this is significant because these fights over history are not about the past. They are also about the future and they don`t appear to be going away.
With me now is the New Yorker`s Jelani Cobb, who has written about Charlottesville, among many other issues, and DeRay McKesson, the former mayoral candidate of Baltimore and Black Lives Matter activist.
When you hear this president go down that road of saying that, to him, Robert E. Lee is maybe like George Washington. And then a few days out of these deaths, his focus is on the statues, and not the real people, the people who lost their lives in America this week, what do you think?
JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": So, first off, I don`t think that this is Donald Trump`s thinking. He has never been someone who displayed a great deal of interest in history. So, I think this perhaps a conversation, I don`t know who it is that is in his ear.
But to the more salient point, he doesn`t even express the ability to countenance the idea that maybe slavery should tarnish the reputations of these individuals.
My colleague Erica Armstrong Dunbar just put out a book recently - I would encourage people to look at - about George Washington`s pursuit of a runaway slave, a woman whom he pursued for all of his life with all the power of a president and ex-president to try to prevent this woman from gaining her freedom.
Should that taint his repetition? Yes, we should take that into account. We just had this conversation about Monticello and their awkward positioning vis-a-vis Sally Hemings whom they referred to as his mistress.
And this very real explanation that was required is that someone cannot be both a slave and a mistress. That mistress implies a level of consent and agency that has been denied, a person who was slaved. These are very real significant issues in American history.
But Trump is not really talking about history. He is talking specifically to those forces that feel they have been maligned, that they have been sidelined, that they have lost out in some kind of way. And they are not interested in the historical path. They`re interested in trying to use that as a basis for a brief for their empowerment right now.
MELBER: Well, and you mentioned this history as a tool for today`s politics. We took a look, along with other researchers, that when a lot of these statues went up. And it has been, of course, pointed out, these are not sort of original Civil War era statues in the sense of being historical.
You look at 91 going up in that period of the civil rights organizing in 1954, 1968 or earlier in Jim Crow. DeRay, this is about the past, but it`s being pushed by people in the south today who didn`t even live through that history.
MCKESSON: We know that symbols of hate encourage hate and we know that these symbols represent an idea of the supremacy of whiteness that we know we can`t tolerate.
What I`m mindful of with Trump is who is he talking to. He`s speaking to a base here that likes his lies and they take his lies for boldness, whereas we know that they are just not true. And this is not about changing history, this is about choosing what we celebrate.
MELBER: Jelani, when you look at some of these scenes that we saw, it is typical in American life when you see something like this to worry about what it reflects because it`s real, because every one of those people is doing that, and yet to take some solace in the unity that comes out of it.
When is the last time you can think of where we`ve had something this bad exposed and not even have political leadership, civic leadership in the country able to unite against it?
COBB: Well, it take us completely back to the pre-Civil Rights era. Like, I just was talking earlier today about how, in the 1930s, African-American leadership came to Franklin Roosevelt and said that we need you to take a stand against lynching. And he said, I can`t do this because it will alienate my southerners.
And so, we have to go that far back and say that - we had thought that we had reached a point where these sentiments were universally rejected. And now, within eight months of him being elected, of him taking office, we are now questioning this.
And I think that the only fitting response perhaps would be if the five living presidents were to make a statement, maybe jointly, that Nazism is contrary to American values. It seems like a basic idea, but it seems like this is the thing that we actually have to go back to asserting.
MELBER: Right. And that there has to be a reaction to this action and the president today going farther than he did all weekend in the moral, ethical and, honestly, criminal equivalency that he tried to draw between what authorities have said are victims and the perpetrators in this act. Not two sides.
Jelani Cobb and DeRay McKesson, thank you both for joining our coverage.
COBB: Thank you.
MELBER: A picture does say a thousand words. This is one we are going to continue to look at today. Brand new, the new chief of staff of Donald Trump`s presidency taking in that speech, those unplanned remarks. We have it for you after the break.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Senior White House official has just told NBC New tonight, the President Trump was not supposed to answer any questions today. One source saying the President effectively went rogue and that members of his team are now stunned by what she just did out there. The boss of those said team members, of course, is this man you see on the right, Chief of Staff John Kelly sworn in just 15 days ago with one overriding objective and the chaos. How can he do that if the chaos comes from the very top? There he was taking in this unusual set of remarks from the President. With me now is a man who does understand Donald Trump. Michael Caputo is a former Trump Campaign Adviser and Governor Howard Dean back with us. Michael, I want to extend to you the opportunity to comment on anything that the President said today and also weigh-in in this question of whether General Kelly is having any influence.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, it was an infrastructure press conference and I don`t think the White House got the headlines they wanted, obviously. And I think they were hoping to get the message out, a very important message out about infrastructure and they`re not going to get it out today. However, you know, like I said, you know, before, and I`ll say it again, I think the President has you know, spoken out against bigotry. He`s named every single racist group that was possibly on site in Charlottesville. I also believe that anybody who wasn`t satisfied with what the President said on Saturday or what the President said on Monday was not going to like anything the President had to say today. So I`m not surprised about the reaction. And frankly, knowing Donald Trump and how he wants to run his own - his own show, I`m not surprised he stood there to take questions.
MELBER: Do you think he was wrong to so inaccurately suggest that the peaceful protesters were responsible for the violence? That`s certainly not what local authorities, law enforcement of the Justice Department have said.
CAPUTO: No. In fact, they have said that there were violence - that there was violence happening on both sides. Reporters on the ground during the altercation from other networks and not just the President`s favorite network were saying that the violence was coming from both sides. The police in Charlottesville have said there was violent actors on both sides. I`m sorry, I understand that it`s hard to hear that when such a racist and incredibly terrible group were having a protest that ended up in a terrorist attack that killed a woman. I know it`s hard to hear that but there was violence coming from both sides and what the President said is accurate. If that inflames people, I understand but the President has never been shy about speaking the truth when it`s controversial.
MELBER: Governor Dean.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I think this is a guy with no moral compass whatsoever and he`s not the real President. I mean, I think - I didn`t think he tries to clean his mess up on Monday but this is just ridiculous. It`s just as silly - it`s really stupid and silly. Real presidents don`t do this. real - I mean, whether there was some violence on both sides, one side was Nazi, racist, hates Jew, hates black people, hates immigrants, I mean, this is a substantial portion of our country. This is not the President for those people and it`s not the President for me. He`s not a serious president, he has no inner ability to govern himself or think about what`s good for the country, he only thinks about himself.
MELBER: Mr. Caputo, the John Kelly piece of this, is he having any influence?
CAPUTO: I believe so. I mean, the people I know in the White House say that things are operating much smoother, that there`s a very evident chain of the command. I think you see some of the evidence of his hard work up until this point. I think the statement on Saturday while inadequate for the likes of Governor Dean and perhaps yourself was approved that they were looking to find more facts, they`re waiting to have information flowing out of very fluid situation where there were still more rotters from the - from the white nationalist still roaming the streets when he was speaking.
I think that reflected probably General Kelly`s signature caution. I also think that Donald Trump`s very clear statement about all aspects of white nationalism, white supremacy, KKK, very clear, condemnation of all those groups by name on Monday was a reflection of General Kelly`s leadership as well. What you saw today, might have been Donald Trump going off script. I think it clearly was. And like I said, if you`re expecting Donald Trump to be predictable like all other presidents and politicians are, you`re always going to be disappointed.
MELBER: Michael Caputo, we welcome all views, we report on all views and appreciate yours as well as Governor Dean`s today. I appreciate it.
Another important story tonight. Americans are debating, of course, the fallout from political violence in Charlottesville and the Trump administration is now putting pressure on demonstrators with a new sweeping demand for the personal information of about 1.3 million computer users according to a technology company. The tech company fighting this request says it`s suspicious and could kill American`s rights to speak out against Trump. It begins with this website, disruptj20.org which organize protest aimed to shutting down Trump`s inaugural ceremony and using blockades and marches to stop traffic in Washington. The DOJ got involved because of scenes like this. And authorities have wide powers to arrest and investigate the disorderly conduct.
About 230 people were arrested in D.C. for that and searches of those defendants are typically justified but that`s 230 people. What we can report for you tonight is that the company hosting that disrupt website now says the Trump administration is demanding records on 1,300,000 people. Their CEO is Dallas Kashuba is asking a judge to now to reject Trump`s request as unreasonable violation of the first amendment that would hand the Trump DOJ personal info on millions of political dissidents of the current administration include what they just read online. The company also invoking a civil rights precedent that protected NAACP members in their right not only to speak but speak anonymously because yes, white supremacist terrorism made it dangerous to back the NAACP. That`s from a 1958 Supreme Court case which rejected the State of Alabama attempt to gather list of members of the NAACP finding they had a right to anonymous in their politics.
Now, critics say in the wrong hands this Intel about visitors to this anti- Trump Web site could be weaponized melding a Nixon`s enemy list with today`s big data. We spoke to DOJ, they`re defending this request in court but did not answer further questions from us about how broad the search is and the next round was scheduled for Friday. This Friday in District Court but we just learned late today that that has been delayed as well this big important hearing. Now, the fight is being led by DreamHost founder Dallas Kashuba who joins me now for an exclusive interview on THE BEAT. I`m also joined by Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler, Author of the Wealth of Networks. Dallas, as a company it`s easier to just comply with this kind of requests from the Trump administration. Why are you launching this public fight?
DALLAS KASHUBA, DREAMHOST FOUNDER: Yes, it`s absolutely easier to comply but when our customers come to us, they`re trusting us with their data, and that trust is very important to us. So we can`t take that lightly. So we vet all these - any of these request that comes in. and this one was much more broader than anything we`ve ever seen before.
MELBER: You think they want to do with what your million plus visitors to this site?
KASHUBA: We`re - that`s not how we`re thinking about it. It doesn`t matter what they want to do. It`s just the fact that these people who come to the website, they expect a certain amount of privacy and we believe online privacy is a critical issue for the internet to function properly.
MELBER: Professor Benkler, how do you view this kind of search and is this an issue here on a week when we`re talking about the rights of protesters and the role of government?
YOCHAI BENKLER, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Well, Ari, it`s - first and foremost, even more, a search issue, it`s a first amendment issue. It`s a freedom of association issue, it`s a freedom of speech issue. Basically, you`re talking about a massive searchable enemies list with detailed information potentially about your e-mail, your credit card, what you read, how you read it. That`s the core problem. And that includes, as you mentioned when you started NAACP versus Alabama. You look at a segregationists state government trying to oppose the NAACP, trying to expose a list of who`s doing this and in order to chill the association. That`s the core principle.
The second thing is, imagine today it were a Clinton administration asking for all the readers of Breitbart in order to find out who might have read and how they would have been influenced. There would have been outrage. And so, what you get is chilling. On top of all of that, you get this massive search of over a million records that only a tiny portion of it is actually usable. And then you`re supposed to trust the government that it will only search those that are very narrowly appropriate.
MELBER: Right. And that they get - they get the big data list or the potential as you put it as some put it a potential enemies list, they get that. Dallas, I`m going to read from a Trump Adviser Omarosa who said it`s great our enemies are making themselves clear so that when we get into the White House, you predicted, we know where we stand. Mr. Trump has a long memory and we`re keeping a list. You said you don`t know what they`re going to do with it but if you lose, do you intend to comply with the order? Are you worried about what would happen to all these millions of visitors to this (INAUDIBLE) or resistance website?
KASHUBA: I mean, we`re not an activism group, we`re just a service provider. So, we do comply with laws as we need to do. We will continue to do everything we can, you know, within our legal rights.
MELBER: Dallas Kashuba and Yochai Benkler, an important story here that we wanted to dig in to. I appreciate you both joining us.
KASHUBA: Thank you.
MELBER: Now back to the President`s Q and A late today. This was where he made very extensive comments about the protests in Charlottesville that are already garnering tremendous reaction which we have featured some of which on our show tonight. This was probably a pretty remarkable moment in Donald Trump`s Presidency. And as we mentioned, we are now going to play it for you in full.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn`t wait long. I didn`t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement but you don`t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don`t know the facts. And it`s a very, very important process to me. And It`s a very important statement. So I don`t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to my statement, I brought it. I brought it, I brought it.
TRUMP: As I said on - remember this, Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America. And then I went on from there. now, here is the thing. As to - excuse me, excuse me. Take it nice and easy. Here is the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn`t happen yet as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts.
So I don`t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman, who I hear is a fantastic young woman, and it was on NBC, her mother wrote me and said through I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things. And I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really actually, an incredible young woman. Her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you --
TRUMP: But unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.
TRUMP: How about - how about a couple of - how about a couple of infrastructure questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was that terrorism that event? Was that terrorism?
TRUMP: Say it, what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CEO. of Walmart said you missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?
TRUMP: Not at all. I think the country - look, you take a look. I`ve created over a million jobs since I`m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we have ever had in the history of our country. We are doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm, so the head of Walmart, who I know, who`s a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean,
TRUMP: I would do it the same way. You know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. And there was no way - there was no way of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.
TRUMP: I didn`t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well-stated. In fact, everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn`t have made it sooner because I didn`t know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don`t know all of the facts. It was very important -
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly because if I would have made a fast statement - and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing. The second statement was made after - with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things - excuse me - there are still things that people don`t know. I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two questions. Was this terrorism? And can you tell us how you are feeling about your Chief Strategist Steve Bannon?
TRUMP: Well I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country. And that is - you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That`s what I call it. Because there is a question, is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us how you are feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would echo Maggie`s question. Steve Bannon.
TRUMP: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But can you tell us broadly what you`re feeling, do you still have confidence in Steve?
TRUMP: Well, we`ll see. Look, look, I like Mr. Bannon. He is a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 Senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that. And I like him. He is a good man. He is not a racist. I can tell you that. He is a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. But we`ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon. But he`s a good person and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain has called on you to defend your National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster against these attacks.
TRUMP: I`ve already done . I did it the last time
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he called on you again, linking it to the alt- Right -
TRUMP: Senator McCain, you mean the one that voted against ObamaCare?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he said -
TRUMP: Who is senator - you mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good health care?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks and he linked that same group to those that perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.
TRUMP: Well, I don`t know. I can`t tell you. I`m sure Senator McCain must know what he is talking about. But when you say the alt-right. Define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. No, define it for me. Come on. Let`s go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain defined them as the same group.
TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at - excuse me - what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. What about the fact that they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I`m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.
TRUMP: Wait a minute. I`m not finished. I`m not finished fake news. That was a horrible day.
TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you had - you had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I`ll say it right now. You had a group - you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: Those - all of those people - excuse me - I`ve condemned neo-Nazis. I`ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. So - excuse me - and you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not. But, many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest - excuse me - you take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up?
TRUMP: I would say that is up to a local town, community or the federal government, depending on where it is located.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you against the Confederacy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How concerned are you about race relations in America and do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?
TRUMP: I think they`ve gotten better or the same. Look they have been frayed for a long time. And you can ask President Obama about that because he would make speeches about it. But I believe that the fact that I brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our country. I think that`s going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming back into our country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn in Wisconsin, just announced. We have many companies, I say, pouring back into the country.
I think that`s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It is jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race relations will be. And I`ll tell you we are spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We`re going to fix - we are fixing the inner cities. We are doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities. It`s a priority for me. And it`s very important.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you putting what you are calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?
TRUMP: I am not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I`m saying is this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You have just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that`s the way it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides?
TRUMP: Well I do think there`s blame. Yes, I think there`s blame on both sides. You look at - you look at both sides. I think there`s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don`t have any doubt about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville - they showed up in Charlottesville to protest -
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn`t put themselves down as neo- Nazis. And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group - excuse me, excuse me - I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down - of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
TRUMP: George Washington as a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down - excuse me - are we going to take down - are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It`s fine. You`re changing history, you`re changing culture. And you had people, and I`m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo- Nazis and white nationalists, OK?
And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got - you had a lot of bad - you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who has the press treated unfairly? Sir, I`m sorry, I just didn`t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? I just didn`t understand what you were saying.
TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally. And I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest. Because, you know, I don`t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn`t have a permit. So I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car attack?
TRUMP: No. I will be reaching out, I`ll be reaching out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you be reaching out?
TRUMP: I was very - I thought that the statement put out, the mother`s statement, I thought was a beautiful statement. I tell you, it was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific. And really, under the kind of stress that she is under and the heartache that she is under, I thought putting out that statement to me was really something I won`t forget. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
MELBER: President Trump`s unplanned remarks there, we just heard. Joining me now, Larry Kudlow, CNBC Senior Contributor and back with me Jelani Cobb from the New Yorker. Jelani, you look at the entire sweep of those comments, reporting we`re getting in the news room was this was not the White House plan. This was President going rogue, according to the one White House official. What did we learn when he went rogue?
JELANI COBB, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Nothing that we wouldn`t have already known if we paid attention. I mean, this is who Donald Trump has been. People - especially people in New York who remember him going back to the central park five days, that he`s had this kind of belligerent and truculent attitude and some very troubling ideas about race for a really long time. I think maybe the mask slipped a little bit today and he felt that he was going to I guess, reverse himself. Maybe he felt compromised by having given the statement that he made, that people actually praised. I thought it was the right thing to do. And I don`t know what the possible upside of this is other than personal gratification and thinking that he has shown people that they can`t push him around or force him to actually make morally decent statements.
LARRY KUDLOW, CNBC SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I don`t think Trump got it done Saturday. I think he should have specifically focused on what happened. And that came from these crazy right wingers, whoever they are, David Duke types, KKK. I don`t know who they are. I think he should have focused on that Saturday. I think the statement yesterday was very good. And it covered a lot of great ground. And today, I think he`s perhaps gone too far. You know, Mr. Trump, President Trump, if you hit him, he hits back, OK? And I think, perhaps now this will end and he can get on with the business of growing the economy. I will tell you this and perhaps you will suspend belief. I`ve known him for a long time. I don`t always agree with him and that`s disclosed on the air but I don`t believe there`s a hate bone in his body. I do not believe it.
COBB: You have the luxury of not believing that. Well, look, other people who are subject, other people who are in conditions, and where they have to wonder or not, they`re having flashbacks, a black church or a church of black people being surrounded by white men who are carrying torches don`t have the luxury of thinking that Donald Trump is somehow or other this great guy who happened to make a statement -
KUDLOW: Trump was not part of any of that. Trump was not a part of any of that. And in his construction -
COBB: But he defended it. But he defended it.
KUDLOW: He did not defend it. I don`t think that`s fair or correct.
COBB: Praised by faint damnation.
KUDLOW: I think, look, a lot of people will not forgive him. I understand that perfectly well. And there`s nothing I can say to change that. I`m just giving you my personal opinion.
MELBER: Let me-let me ask you - and I think your opinion is very relevant because of your experience and knowledge of him. Let me ask you in another way. When we see disconnected incidents of violence, we often hear calls for an entire community so as found today, out of the blue as the lawyers would say, to say, well, because they go to this house of worship, they now all have to condemn this act of violence. This was much closer. And what he seemed the come out and do today was not only dilute the condemnation but say that at a white supremacist rally, not all the people were white supremacists. Is it good for the country for him to go down that road?
KUDLOW: What he should have done Saturday, Ari, is he should have had a broad based heart felt unifying statement, OK. That`s what he should have done. He didn`t get it done Saturday. He did get it done yesterday. He did not get it done today. I will acknowledge that. I haven`t watched the press conference in every aspect. I think, look, I agree, we are Americans. We should be united. We should make common cause with each other and I don`t think Trump disagrees with that, OK? But I think this thing now has gotten out of hand. A lot of people will not as I say, forgive Trump. I still maintain whatever errors he makes, remember, he`s still a rookie politician. There`s not a hate bone in his body.
MELBER: We have - we have 30 seconds to "HARDBALL." Jelani, final words.
COBB: You have a rookie politician who is the President of the United States. And there`s a moral accountability that comes with that office. If he wasn`t prepared to assume the moral responsibility that comes with that office, maybe he shouldn`t have run in the first place.
KUDLOW: I think he does assume the moral responsibility. I know he`s made some mistakes, I get that. He`s trying the correct them. I think he`ll straighten this out. Look, he was very clear during the primaries of his hatred for David Duke and that like. But OK, more work that has to be done.
MELBER: You know the business. I have to hand it to "HARDBALL." I appreciate you and all our guests today in dealing with a difficult subject. And as we like the say around here, we`re all in this together. So I hope to have you both back on. That is THE BEAT. Thank you for watching. I`ll see you back tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: David Duke says thank you, Mr. President! Let`s play HARDBALL.
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