Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 23, 2017
Guest: Philippe Reines, Ato Walker, Jeff Clayton, Rob Bonta, Jeffrey Pollock
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, "MTP DAILY": You can always join us with our conversation on social media with #MTPDaily.
That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily". THE BEAT with #AriMelber or #GreatShow or #SongLyrics getting dropped tonight?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Katy, I just want to say I thought that was #AnInterestingSegment.
TUR: Oh, thanks. Appreciate that.
MELBER: All right. I will #SeeYouLater, OK?
MELBER: #IPromiseWeAreDoneDoingThat. So, please don`t change the channel. Unite, divide, unite and repeat.
Three speeches in three days and a lot of problematic flip flopping from President Trump. Today, it was teleprompter Trump, speaking to veterans about what he called healing America, but last night off-script Trump on an angry and divisive tirade.
President Trump feeds our conflict. And no matter what they write in the teleprompter, that is the case. So, now, he says he wants to spend a few hours today focusing on unity, but many Americans are saying they don`t want a part-time uniter.
Trump has been all over the place and is drawing increasing criticism for his zigzagging from that barn burner last night to disputative unity talk today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time to heal the wounds that divide us and to seek a new unity.
You would think they`d want to make our country great again. And I honestly believe they don`t.
Our hearts beat for America.
Build that wall.
We have no division too deep for us to heal.
Extreme vetting. I came up with that term.
We`re people. We`re people who love. We`re people with heart.
Your other senator who`s weak on borders, weak on crime.
We never lose faith. We never forget who we are.
They`re trying to take away our culture. They`re trying to take away our history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No, we don`t forget who we are. And here in journalism land, we don`t forget the facts. Trump surpassing 1,000 false or misleading statements in office just this week. And that is a historical record according to "The Washington Post" fact check.
That was also on display last night. This is important. Donald Trump wrongly telling his supporters that he claimed to strongly condemn specific hate groups, but he removed his own references so controversial to blaming both sides at a neo-Nazi rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK.
You look at both sides. I think there`s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it.
I openly called for unity, healing and love.
You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That misleading line from Trump last night is key because it may be a tell. He is claiming he has no regrets about his both sides assertions after Charlottesville. And he is hiding his actual full remarks from his own supporters.
That suggests either he thinks some of his words are better left unsaid at this point or he just thinks even his own strongest supporters wouldn`t like the truth about what he said about that white supremacist rally, if he told them the truth about it.
Bill Kristol is the founder and editor of "The Weekly Standard"; Annie Linskey, chief national correspondent of "The Boston Globe"; and Leah Wright Rigueur is a Harvard Professor and Author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican, which has some residence now in the wake of Charlottesville, which the president brought back up.
We played the tape which is its own fact check, Leah. Do you think Donald Trump doesn`t realize people can see both things that we have the receipts or he just doesn`t care?
LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF THE LONELINESS OF THE BLACK REPUBLICAN: I don`t think he cares. Last night was a rally. And it was a rally for his supporters. It was essentially a four-page love letter to his base, his core group of supporters.
And so, if it really was about unity, if it really was about telling the truth, we would have seen that a long time ago. Instead, this is about doubling down on all of the things that his supporters love about him and that the rest of us are kind of looking at and saying I can`t believe he said that.
So, that`s the attacks on the media, the attacks on other Republicans, the attacks on liberals, on Democrats. on social justice. That`s` what we`re seeing from Donald Trump. I just don`t think he cares.
MELBER: Bill, this is what Frank Luntz, who has polled for many Republicans and worked with "Fox News" said about the speech last night. "Trump doesn`t just criticize media more than he criticizes neo-Nazis, he criticizes them more than radical Islamic terrorists." What did you see last night?
BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think last night we saw the real Trump. Today, we saw Trump reading from a teleprompter, which was, you might call, fake Trump.
And last night was a big deal, I think, in this respect. Charlottesville was appalling, I thought. And I think a lot of Republicans, even those who are much more willing to rationalize Trump than I am, were really worried after - shaken by Charlottesville.
Then Monday night, he gave the Afghanistan speech, which was a respectable, sober, somewhat - reasonably presidential. And you thought maybe John Kelly has got control. Maybe Trump realizes he really went over a line and it`s bad for him and he`s going to change.
And in that respect, Tuesday night was a big deal. It was sort of the confirmation that he can`t change for longer than one night, that even John Kelly can`t control him when he goes to a rally that was foolish for him to even go to. What was the point of that?
He`s not getting any new supporters from that. He`s just doing what he did, which is discrediting what was a decent moment of his presidency on Monday night.
So, I think actually last night was not a big deal, who cares, some rally in Arizona, but I think actually - I talked to a couple of Republican members of Congress today, and they were sort of once again rattled and, in a way, confirmed in the fact that they had been rattled by Charlottesville.
MELBER: Well, and what you`re speaking to is not only that it`s one night only, but if anything, there seems to be these counter-reactions, almost like a child who has exerted discipline to be good for one night and then he acts out the next night.
Annie, I see you shaking your head. I want to get your reaction to that as well as this clip here of James Clapper, a long-time, non-partisan, professional in intelligence raising the stakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don`t know when I listened and watched something like this from a president that I found more disturbing. I found this downright scary and disturbing. I really question his ability to - his fitness to be in this office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: His fitness, Annie. ANNIE LINSKEY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Yes. Ari, I`m glad you played that moment because I think to me at least that was one of the most chilling reactions to Trump`s speech, especially coming from somebody as sober and as experienced as Clapper, to say something like that and question whether or not the president of the United States is fit to serve.
It is a line of argument that you are seeing some Democrats making. You saw Zoe Lofgren in the House has introduced legislation that would strengthen the 25th Amendment. And I can`t even really believe I`m saying this.
But that is an amendment that would sort of pave the way for removal from office. And so, that`s where the Democrats are going with this conversation.
But I also just think, when you look at the unity issue, Donald Trump has clearly shown he is not going to be a unifier. And I think that means other leaders in this country need to step up and play that role, whether its Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer doing it together or Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan, but he`s not going to play that role.
MELBER: Right. And then, speaking to the point that Bill was raising, Leah, there`s an idea out there that Trump has his supporters and when he does these rallies, they love it.
But we`ve been reporting on this, as have other outlets, here`s "The Washington Post`s" account of what happened at this rally last night. Hundreds leaving early. Others plopped down on the ground during it, scrolling through their social media feeds or starting up a conversation with their neighbors.
Now, Leah, in fairness to Donald Trump, he tweets so much, his supporters may have just been checking whether he was tweeting during the speech. I just want to be fair about that.
But what do you think about the concept here that even his own folks come, show up, they hear this thing and some of them want to leave early?
RIGUEUR: Yes. It`s odd to have a campaign rally in the middle of your first year as president. He is doing it to kind of double down, to stroke his ego, to make him feel better because he`s in a defensive moment.
But at the same time, we do know that some of his support, right, that really kind of - support amongst that core group is dropping away. It`s not a lot, but it`s enough to be noticeable.
So, the next step, of course, right, is how do you consolidate that. In particular, I think a lot of accountability goes on Republicans. What are they going to do to hold the guy who`s at the head of their party accountable for his actions?
MELBER: And, Bill, that comes amidst those reports about Mitch McConnell and some pushback. Your view of that debate? Mitch McConnell, according to "New York Times" telling aides privately, he doesn`t know if this presidency can be "salvaged."
KRISTOL: Yes. I think that`s kind of a big deal, president at war with the majority leader of his own party. The psychodrama is fun to read about and to write about and talk about, but it`s a bigger deal.
We`re going to have primaries in many, many, I think - not just Arizona and Nevada incidentally, not just Alabama in a month, but many Republican Senate primaries between Trump candidates (INAUDIBLE 5:05) establishment candidates. It`s going to happen in the House too.
So, you`re going to have a party pretty deeply divided by the middle of next year and will get worse if Trump`s numbers don`t improve and if the Republican Congress can`t get much done, both of which strike me as likely.
One other point that really struck me about last night, and I just - as a personal matter, kind of struck by this. Trump went to Arizona, the state of John McCain. He didn`t mention John McCain by name, but he had attacked him for voting against the healthcare bill in the senate.
He didn`t even have one sentence that wished John McCain well in his battle with cancer, which is really astonishing, just as a human matter.
Can you imagine any president, President Obama or President Bush, goes to the state of someone who`s well - the senator from that state - that`s enough - but a very well-known senator in this case, two, three weeks after a diagnosis is announced, and not having a courtesy sentence in there, just wishing him and his family well.
It really is revealing, I think, that Trump didn`t think he should do that. And also, unfortunately, that no one in the White House either thought he should do it or was able to prevail upon him to say something gracious.
MELBER: I appreciate you raising the point, Bill. You`re talking about humanity as something that we owe each other that is worth doing and you`re also talking about the optics, whether people want to be seen as human and humane or not. Apparently, both tests being failed last night.
Bill Kristol, Leah Wright Rigueur and Annie Linskey, thank you so much.
RIGUEUR: Thank you.
LINSKEY: Thank you.
MELBER: Still ahead, this story that everyone is talking about. Hillary Clinton saying Trump acted like a creep who made her skin crawl. We have something different on this story. An all-star panel, a feminist perspective and the editor-in-chief of "Elle Magazine" here on THE BEAT live.
Plus, later an exclusive interview with the actual Clinton aide who played Trump in her debate prep. This is his first television interview since, yes, the 2016 election. He has been waiting and he`s making his debut here on THE BEAT.
We also have some never-before-seen photos.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Today, Hillary Clinton spoke out in depth about her loss to Donald Trump, not in a tweet or an interview, but in a more contemplative medium - "Politico`s" buzzing about her new book today - which confronts what she calls Trump`s creepy behavior at their debate, pressing a feminist critique of a moment watched by millions.
Now, we`ve convened a special panel to discuss her blunt biography here. Clinton campaign veteran Neera Tanden; Naomi Wolf author of the bestseller The Beauty Myth and a book on female power; and Robbie Myers, editor-in- chief of "Elle", a leading women`s magazine with over a million subscribers, almost half of its readers are millennials.
Now, we`re going to listen in here to Clinton reading from her book. This is brand new, recounting her dilemma as Trump advanced on her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now, we were on a small stage. And no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable.
Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren`t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly, back up, you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can`t intimidate me. So, back up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: In that passage, Clinton is imagining an alternative history, where she stands allied with so many other women who say Trump intimidated them and tells this "creep" to back up. That`s not what she did. And Clinton is not the first woman to relive a moment of male menace and imagine the road not taken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off.
I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have over-learned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That standoff came two days after the world saw this, the famous "Access Hollywood" tape and Trump`s comments there.
Now, Clinton found herself stoically attempting composure in the face of what she cast as a truly unhinged political bully.
I`m joined, as I mentioned, by Clinton advisor Neera Tanden, author Naomi Wolf, and Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers. Naomi, was Clinton damned either way?
NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR, THE BEAUTY MYTH: HOW IMAGES OF BEAUTY ARE USED AGAINST WOMEN: Well, I don`t think so at all. If this isn`t victim scenario, she wasn`t silenced. She continued with grace and aplomb and continued campaigning as the president of the United States of America.
So, I would say that she chose a path, she is a seasoned politician. She didn`t confront someone who, I think, as a woman, was intimidating and stalking her in a creepy, non-verbal way. I agree with her analysis. But she chose a very disciplined approach.
I do think that women in our culture have no right way to proceed when a man is intimidating or threatening them, let alone harassing and assaulting them, because if she had chose option B, many of us would have cheered her, but the whole thing would have turned into this dynamic of, I think you`re intimidating me, I`m not, why are you so sensitive.
And also, remember, assertive women have been raped. Assertive women have been raped. And a man, when he does something like that, doesn`t know, just like a professor when he encroaches on a student or an employer when he harasses an employee.
You don`t know if you`re harassing or intimidating someone who`s already suffering from PTSD, who`s already been raped, who`s already been sexually abused as a child. You do not know.
So, I think it was calculating on his part. I think he chose to stress a gender dynamic to solidify his base of misogynist men. And I think she chose a dignified approach that didn`t derail her campaign. It`s an unfortunate situation.
NEERA TANDEN, ?PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I honestly think that Hillary had had a lot of experiences, where when she did pushback on something like that or showed a flash of real emotion or even anger, I think she has been judged harshly for that.
She says in this passage that those experiences may have built up an armor that were a problem in this campaign. And so, I think there is a sort of double standard here.
Hillary lived through in a campaign with Donald Trump who said all kinds of crazy things on a regular basis, seemed really angry often.
And then whenever she kind of had a response to a reporter, it was really dissected of whether she was unapproachable. And I think there is a lens about how we treat women and women`s ambition about that.
But I do think it`s also really important in the book she described how much she feels the burden of this loss, not for her, but for the people who have been hurt by Donald Trump.
ROBBIE MYERS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "ELLE MAGAZINE": Well, I think that there wasn`t a woman who was watching that debate who didn`t understand what she was feeling. And we all saw.
And I think that she was worried that maybe she was appearing like she wasn`t strong enough or she should tell that creep to back up. We understood what she was going through.
And I think a number of the audience - I think that women really felt something that perhaps men didn`t, which is that we are always vulnerable when we just move through society. We`re vulnerable to men because we are - in one way, we`re weaker, and that`s physically weaker.
But I also think a lot has been talked about Hillary maybe not being authentic and that maybe she was a little too polished and a little too composed.
I don`t think you can ask your president to be too polished and too composed. We want our presidents to be that. But maybe a flash of emotion at that moment couldn`t have reached a certain constituency that she has.
MELBER: Each of you have raised or alluded to a double standard in the gender dynamics, which is part of what Hillary Clinton is citing here in this first except from the book.
We want to play for the benefit of the audience and for the benefit of comparison a shockingly similar moment with very different repercussions when Al Gore went a little bit into George Bush`s space. This was the moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s not only what`s your philosophy and what`s your position on issues, but can you get things done? And I believe I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A little nod from Bush is how he handled it. It was a reaction. And I`ll put up in one of the historical accounts about this and the media reaction to that moment you saw there.
Several days of media criticism of Al Gore`s exaggerations and criticism of his encroachment upon Bush`s stage space and the poll numbers turned to favor Bush. That from Test by Fire: The War Presidency of George Bush.
Neera, the observation there, and I want to be clear, we picked that historical account because it wasn`t offered as a comparison to this. That`s an independent history, saying that the media criticism of going into this space hurt Al Gore, Neera.
TANDEN: Yes. On one level, you could say there are so many crazy things Trump does that it`s hard to focus on one. But I do think - I worked for Hillary for many years. And there was always a concern that if she did push back on like the sexism of a question or did seem angry that she faced a lot of criticism for that.
She definitely faced that in 1990s and 2000s. So, it`s possible that - Robbie is right that if she had shown more anger or more just realness about how weird it is to have your opponent basically stalking you on the stage as you`re speaking, maybe people would have said that was a real moment for her.
But I think you have to remember that Trump was an odd figure and she didn`t face him on - there was a "Saturday Night Live" skit, but there wasn`t days and days and days of ridicule for him at all for this.
And that is, I think, an example perhaps the double standard by which - under which she lived.
MELBER: So, Naomi, square that with the fact that women who didn`t have college education went for Trump 51-46.
WOLF: Yes. I was afraid you`d ask me that question. Look, it`s hard to pivot from the intense empathy and identification I feel for her as a woman as she has been stalked around the stage by someone, let`s not forgot, who had recently been accused by many women, many credible women, echoing each other`s stories of a specific kind of methodology of sexual predation.
He had been accused not of groping and grabbing, which are words, I think, insult women`s experience of sexual assault and reality, he had been accused of sexual assault, any unwanted sexual touching, people forget, is a felony, is a crime, it is sexual assault, legally defined. So, that was the back drop.
But she also - pivoting - made a lot of really bad mistakes, no disrespect. I really respect - I should disclose again. My then husband was Ms. Clinton`s speechwriter. So, I know her when she was in the White House. I know her as the boss` wife. She is a lovely person. She is surrounded by talented people.
But they made a lot of mistakes around class and around how to talk about women, in my experience. And they always positioned her, no disrespect, as kind of the girl president of the class that everyone wanted to have, lead all the other women forward and break that last highest glass ceiling, and that is not language that emphasizes or relates to the struggles that middle class and working-class women have economically.
MELBER: Robbie, final thought.
MYERS: Well, I think that we`re - I`ll just talk for young women right now. I think that they`re excited to read the book and I think it was too bad that they didn`t turn out in the numbers that we hoped that they would have.
But I also just want to say that 4 million people are going to turn 18 this year. And by the mid-terms, about 8 million new 18-year-olds, and I think they`re really energized and I think that this book is going to further energize them.
MELBER: Are you saying there is a future?
MYERS: Oh, wow!
MYERS: You mean for girls? Yes.
MELBER: I mean for girls, women, men, boys, and future for the country. I think it`s a nice note to end on.
MYERS: (INAUDIBLE). I think you`re right, Ari. Thank you.
MELBER: I really appreciate you all giving us some time on this busy day, Neera Tanden, Naomi Wolf, and Robbie Myers.
TANDEN: Thank you.
MELBER: Up next, an exclusive on THE BEAT. The man who played Trump in Clinton`s debate, his first TV interview since the 2016 election. Next.
MELBER: Did Hillary Clinton get played? Her new book argues Trump managed to play her at times in the debate or at least play on double standards holding her back, but who played Trump?
This man. Longtime Clinton advisor Philippe Reines seen here impersonating Trump in those top-secret debate prep sessions, days before the standoff. In fact, he wore three-inch shoes to match Trump`s height. He practiced Trump`s mannerisms, studying the hand gestures, noticing small things like how Trump doesn`t make eye contact in debates.
Now, in a moment, Mr. Reines, will walk through that experience and an exclusive on THE BEAT, this is his first T.V. interview since the election. Debates can make or break campaigns. Reines practice some of the very Trump tactics that Clinton is blasting today, interruption, intimidation and his physical maneuvers, even a joking hug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen (INAUDIBLE) candidates for president, Hillary Clinton, and Donald J. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The Clinton team also prepared for potential lurking. Here is a photo from inside the debate prep that`s never been released before (AUDIO GAP) lurking near Clinton to rattle her. An exercise that matched the second debate when Trump was lurking over time around Clinton, the moment she now says made her skin crawl and put her on the brink of telling him back up you creep. And as promised, here with me is the man that played Donald Trump in Clinton`s debate prep, Philippe Reines. He`s advised Clinton in several roles of her 15 years and worked on the 2000 Gore Campaign. You were the guest everyone wanted today so thanks for coming on THE BEAT.
PHILIPPE REINES, PLAYED TRUMP IN MOCK DEBATES: Thank you for having me, Ari.
MELBER: Absolutely. This book, of course, discusses why Clinton lost while also winning more votes than Trump. As you probably know, there are several candidates who made it to the White House with margins of say, a few hundred thousand votes, Clinton ultimately winning 2.9 million more votes as the first woman nominee. So big picture, how do you explain such wide popular support on a way to a loss?
REINES: Well, you know, the loss wasn`t just the 2.9 million in terms of beating him on the popular vote. It was also the simple fact that she also garnered more votes than anyone other than President Obama in a general election. And to answer your question, I think we basically become the 50/50 nation and that`s not any great insight. But if you look back at some of the maps whether it`s Reagan in `84 or Nixon in `72 or frankly Bill Clinton in `92 or `96, it`s astounding to look at those maps. Bill Clinton won states that it would be mind boggling to think a Democrat would win today. Republicans lost states in that election that would be mind boggling to think they could lose. And when you get down to 50/50, really, any individual factor becomes out sized.
MELBER: Going into the debate, what specifically did you guys get right and can you think of anything you got wrong in prep?
REINES: I think the point of debate prep, people might be under the misconception that it`s for the candidate to memorize lines and recur to take those lines. The truth is, the point of debate prep is to help the candidate really think through what they`re going to say, what they want to say and how they`re going to say it. And the way to do that is first and foremost is to make sure or to do the best you can that they are not hearing or seeing anything for the first time. That goes for the moderator, that goes for your opponent and because of that, you do practice -- obviously, you don`t practice crazy stuff like you don`t say, can you name all nine planets or eight planets how many they are these days. You ask questions that reasonably could happen. You simulate circumstances that could reasonably happen.
In this case, his lurking was something that we felt pretty confident that he would do. Really wasn`t a close call and as we saw, I mean, even just watching myself pretending to be creepy is creepy.
MELBER: Well do you think she is she looking at this as something she would have done differently? I will read to you what one Clinton ally said before the debate. Pushing back on Trump politely is key. "So there`s a difference between his level and her level, that will be her biggest strength."
REINES: Well, look, I think she`s not -- in terms of the book, I had the benefit of reading the whole book which I very much recommend people read. It`s a great read, whether you like her or even if you don`t like her, I think you`re going to find yourself learning a lot about just race and state of things. But the part of the book where it comes up is not about strategy or tactics. She`s not saying that she`s second guessing herself. She`s trying to let you into her head about just how strange that is. Even under the best circumstances, two people debating for 90 minutes in front maybe a hundred million people has got to be nerve wracking. These people, they do big things all the time, but even for them, it`s nerve wracking.
MELBER: Let me do a lightning round with you with the time we have left, quick Q and A. Was trade and TPP a big factor in her loss? Yes or no.
REINES: Absolutely, yes.
MELBER: Do you think she could have won if Russia didn`t hack the election?
MELBER: You think she would have?
REINES: I think there are number of factors including Jim Comey, Putin not minding his business, third, the historical curse of third term. I think any of those things if you could change them. She lost by 70,000 votes in three states.
MELBER: And what was her 2016 message in a sentence or two?
REINES: I think her message was simply that there`s more work to do, that we`re on great path but there`s much left to be done and she knows how to get it done. Frankly, I think every day we`ve seen in the last seven months has confirmed that tenfold.
MELBER: Is that a competence -- is that a competence argument?
REINES: It`s everything. I mean, Presidential Election is between two people. There`s not a single damn thing -- excuse me -- that this man has done as President that he has done well, let alone better than Hillary Clinton would have done as President.
MELBER: Philippe Reines, I know you had a lot of places you could have gone tonight. I really appreciate you coming here and sharing with us your views and your history as Donald Trump.
REINES: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Thank you.
Senator Kamala Harris is leading the charge to stop people from being jailed just for being poor, she says. We have a special look at that fight in the Trump era, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D) CALIFORNIA: I think we can all agree whether someone is detained before trial should be determined by whether they are a risk to their community and society not whether they`re rich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A breakdown tonight. Senator Kamala Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party with new legislation to reform America`s bail system. She argues this is civil rights priority because the system punishes innocent people and while the rich can pay to get out, many poor people get stuck in jail regardless of their innocence. One out of three defendants stuck in jail not because they committed a crime but because they couldn`t find money to pay for bail. Cost (INAUDIBLE) poor people stuck in jail awaiting trial tend to lose their jobs, their housing, even custody of their children which means an innocent person who`s ultimately according to trial, could gain their freedom but literally lose their children along the way. Senator Harris, leading a group of politicians in both parties who say that`s wrong and that beyond those humanitarian concerns, the bail system weighs money.
The uniforms, the medical screenings, all of it, 14 billion a year spent on people who again, haven`t been found guilty of anything. The new legislation says instead of throwing that money at the old system, states should get grants for reform. Legislatures in Connecticut and New Jersey reforming their systems, this debate is spreading. California, a state that often leads the way has a bail reform bill up for a vote as soon as this month backed by the ACLU, Labor Unions and the Musicians John Legend and Common who just spoke about it at the Capitol this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON, AMERICAN MUSICIAN: Open my eyes (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Common has spent his career focusing on socially conscious music and standing up for people. (INAUDIBLE) that comes across in this concert.
COMMON: When you realize that this has been a systemic thing that has kept people from having their rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Defenders to the current system counter that using money for bail is key and (INAUDIBLE) and the risk of all this reform is that more dangerous people could get out into the street before trial. Joining me now Ato Walker who`s arrested in 2013 after a San Jose traffic cop committed a wrongful arrest. The city ultimately paid him $30,000 over that. The advocates for bail reform and who`s actually with Common lobbying at that Capitol event. Also with me Jeff Clayton, the Director the American Bail Coalition and Assemblyman Rob Bonta of California who Co- Authored the Bail Reform Bail in California. Thank you all for this important discussion. Ato, the court determines that you hadn`t do anything wrong and you`re saying this bail discriminates, how did it impact you?
ATO WALKER, BAIL REFORM ADVOCATE: Well, first off, Ari, I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be on the show and bail is created a two tiered system that tears families apart just like it tore my family apart. I was put into jail for five days and that means, that happens to people every single day. You have a system of -- you have a system that rewards people that have money and punishes people who don`t have money to get out and fight for their cases. In my case, my bail was set at $85,000. And that meant that my mother had to go into her retirement account to come up with the 10 percent so that I can get out and be free and help feed my family. If I wasn`t able to get out, I think I still would probably be in jail today.
MELBER: And so, Mr. when you look at that story, that`s part of what you`re trying to do and Ato says it was 80,000 plus the median in California is $50,000. Most people can`t get anywhere near that.
ROB BONTA, CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLYMAN: That`s absolutely right. We have one of the highest bail amounts in the nation. Five times the median from the rest of the nation and we are keeping people in jail who are not a risk to the public, not a flight risk, simply don`t have enough money in their pocket. And we are wrongly, unjustly making decisions based on the size of individual`s wallets instead of the size of the risks. That`s wrong, there`s a better way.
MELBER: And so, Jeff, how do you counter that. The system clearly not perfect, I don`t think you would say that.
JEFF CLAYTON, AMERICAN BAIL COALITION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: No, I think bail scheduled are too high in California obviously but money is a proxy for risk. The factors the judges consider results to this decision. And certainly, all of the consequences that flow from a wrongful arrest bail pails with comparison. We got to pay your attorney and of course people are going to lose their jobs and all this sort of thing. And that`s one things that we`re looking at and talking to in some (INAUDIBLE) about.
MELBER: So, listening to your argument, why do we need a proxy for risk. Why not use what some of these systems are reforming which is risk based completely instead of money. I don`t think you want to go on T.V. and claim that people who are rich enough will never pose a threat. That can`t be the premise, can`t it?
CLAYTON: It can`t. I agree with that. And I think, you know, certainly these risks, computers have come under scrutiny recently. They are counting prior felons and possession of fire arms (INAUDIBLE). And so, I think there`s a lot work that needs to be done on this risk assessment computers if we think it`s going to replace human judgment.
MELBER: Will someone would speak to that because anyone at home listening says wait a minute, innocent people having to sit in jail because the (INAUDIBLE) sounds wrong. Then they hear Mr. Clayton say, well, people with weapons can get miscounted and get on the street, that also would seem to be a risk. How do you respond?
BONTA: Ari, you nailed it when you said that if you want to know about risk, ask about risk. Why are we asking about wealth? Well, that has no correlation to risk. If you want to know about risk get the facts, the data, the evidence that tells you what the risk of an individual is. Their flight risk, their risk to the public and that`s exactly what we proposed with our reform. That`s exactly what Senator Harris is proposing. We should have a system that`s based on risk. We are safer that way, it`s more fair and just to individuals, it uses our limited public resources more prudently than our system based on wealth. A system based on wealth is fundamentally broken and we need to fix it.
MELBER: And so, let`s fill that in a bit because I think we`re getting to the heart of it. So I`m happy to weigh the conversations going. Mr. Clayton, we`ll look at the Jersey -- New Jersey example here. Before they use the number based system, you had about 8,000 people held for trial, after it dropped by about 31 percent. So you have that decrease while still people are obviously being held. Indeed, the majority being held when they`ve been found to be a risk. What`s wrong with that or is that a path to reform?
CLAYTON: Well, the part of the New Jersey system that`s good is they decide to release on low-level non-violent misdemeanors cases and that`s what`s driving those numbers. The problem in California is only two percent of the Los Angeles County Jail population is low-level non-violent misdemeanors. So, because of progressive policies in California, you know, I just don`t think there`s the people to release like there is in New Jersey.
MELBER: Mr. Assemblyman?
BONTA: You know, the current money bail system fails in two ways. It keeps locked up and takes liberty away from individuals who are no risk to the public, no flight risk simply because they don`t have money. That`s wrong. It also allows individuals with enough means and enough wealth and enough money in their pocket who are dangerous and are flight risks to get out. That`s the system that`s fundamentally broken that paints a picture of a system that`s failing. The jail door should not swing open and closed based on your ability to pay exorbitance amount of money. That`s what it does now and we need to change it.
MELBER: And Ato, you get the final word. What do you want people to know at home who may have never interacted with someone who`s been caught up in the justice system the way you were?
WALKER: I mean, we realistically have to look at the human cost of this. Like, we have people that are in jail for no reason who just like myself, I got arrested for pretty much a -- what does it called -- a misunderstanding. And we have folks that are going through that all the time. And the human cost is too great where we have to think about feeding our families versus paying for bail. I think it`s just -- I think Assemblyman Bonta is correct that we need to focus on families first and people first instead of thinking about money.
MELBER: Ato, Jeff, and Assemblyman Bonta, thanks for this civic dialogue in the debate on this important issue. We hope to have more on it on THE BEAT. Ahead, breaking political news about what President Trump has done with the GOP Senator trying to secretly stop a bill that would strengthen Bob Mueller`s authority. This is a big one, we have it for you next.
MELBER: Breaking news here in the 6:00 p.m. hour. Politico with the new report that President Trump venting his frustration with two key Republican Senators over what? The Mueller investigation. One was Thom Tillis pushing a bill to protect Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump, something Donald Trump`s Aides say he doesn`t plan to do raising a question in this new report why did he care so much about the bill. Pollster Jeffrey Pollock has advised the Democratic Reelection Committee for the Senate and House. He works for the Democratic Super PAC that backed Barack Obama and is an interesting political voice to have on this story.
JEFFREY POLLOCK, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: You and I were just digesting this breaking new. And you pointed out another quote in this article from a Senior Republican Aide, this is not a Trump critic, this is not someone opposing Republican, this is a Republican Senior Aide, brand-new, quote, "it seems he`s always just focused on Russia.
POLLOCK: Yes. I mean, there`s no question that this guy seems obsessed with Russia, and that`s what -- that`s sort of what some of this comes out of. And I get asked this question all the time, when is the Russia thing going to matters to the voters because as of right now it really has not by and large.
MELBER: The polling you see says it doesn`t matter to any voters?
POLLOCK: Well, it may matter -- certainly matters to the Democrats, but by and large it hasn`t sort of picked up steam or something that would sort of crush him with Republicans. His numbers have broken a little bit with Republicans frankly over the last couple of weeks based on sort of the various chaos that we`ve seen but Russia itself, when you ask about it hasn`t been a main focal point. When Russia becomes an issue is when people see it as scandal and that scandal is obviously Mueller and that scandal is something where people see the President getting involved in Congressional business and trying to sort of fix to stop a bill.
MELBER: And there`s a legal fact check here which is the President of the United States does not have the personal authority to unilaterally fire the Special Counsel.
MELBER: He has to either request it of DOJ officials who under the rules have to find cause, which is a legally defined requirement that Mueller is not met in any way according to what we know publicly or -- and this is something I know you`re interested in -- you can go to the Administrative Procedures Act and try to promulgate a notice and comment period to get new rules to change the way you remove the Special Counsel, a process that can take over a year. So, does Donald Trump know that or is he just venting in your view?
POLLOCK: He`s just venting. There`s -- when has he ever followed sort of any processes? He just wants to vent wherever. And this is a guy who last night was lashing out at two Republican Senators, at McConnell -- excuse me -- at McCain and Flake in Arizona. He`s a lasher. That`s what he does.
MELBER: He`s a lasher.
POLLOCK: He`s a lasher.
MELBER: Would you say this is classic lasher behavior?
POLLOCK: It is. I don`t -- we`ll use that word. I don`t know that it`s a real word because we`re going to use it because that`s what this guy is. He just goes from thing to thing. And today a remarkable -- today in Reno, he tried to be kumbaya because he realizes, look, he spent 72 minutes last night in Phoenix and he actually started to lose his audience for the first time. Like people literally started to walk out.
MELBER: Yes, we reported that account from the Post. And again, for viewers here, I want to be clear Politico reporting Trump so unhappy with the bill to protect Mueller that "He didn`t want it to pass." A person familiar with the call said that`s in contradiction with the White House has claimed that he has no plans to remove Mueller. Indeed --
POLLOCK: He wants to. We know that.
MELBER: You think so?
POLLOCK: We know it. We know the guy wants it. He keeps talking about it. If he didn`t -- if he thought that there was nothing wrong, why would he care about any of this stuff?
MELBER: Right. This may be another tell on Russia, very interesting. Jeff Pollock, your first time on THE BEAT, thanks for joining us.
POLLOCK: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: And now a special tech version of who said it. Here is your quote, Beatniks. How do you feel about using hashtag pound for groups? We`ll explain. The answer is actually going to shock you potentially right after this.
MELBER: We are back with your favorite segment on THE BEAT or one of the segments you watch on THE BEAT, Who Said It? The quote today, how do you feel about using hashtag pound for groups? Now, that was a tweet ten years ago today by a former computer engineer. His name is Chris Messina. That was the first use of the hashtag in social media. Today hash tags have their own hashtag. Hashtag ten and it has become a tool for organization and engagement. Consider #BlackLivesMatter or #BringBackOurGirls and who could forget the #IceBucketChallenge.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ice now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.
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MELBER: Yes, we put ice on my mug. Shall I do it right now? Maybe next time. Now, this little symbol is used a 125 million times every day, which kind of incredible and some of -- some of us I should say are also using it in our regular conversations, as Jimmy Fallon pointed out.
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JIMMY FALLON, AMERICAN ACTOR: Hey, Justin what`s up.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER: Not much, Jimmy. Hashtag John, what`s up with you?
FALLON: Busy working hashtag rising grind. Hashtag is it Friday yet?
TIMBERLAKE: Hashtag is it worth it or let me work it?
FALLON: Hastag put them in reverse. 4
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys?
TIMBERLAKE: What`s up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hashtag shut up.
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MELBER: That to our show, is of course now time for #HARDBALL.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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