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The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/21/17 Puerto Rico update

Guests: Diego Gomez Pickering, Steven Clemons, Naomi Klein

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: September 21, 2017 Guest: Diego Gomez Pickering, Steven Clemons, Naomi Klein

CHUCK TODD: Reporters of "The New York Times", Matt Apuzzo. So, check that out. THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. And Stephanie Ruhle is in for Ari tonight. Stephanie, welcome to the evenings.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you so much, Charles. Good to be here.

Good evening. We start tonight with developing news on the Russia investigation. "Politico" reporting just moments ago that Robert Mueller wants phone records from Air Force One. Those records related to the statement written on the plane about Donald Trump`s Jr.`s meeting with the Russians. You remember when they said it was about the orphans.

"The Washington Post" has reported that President Trump himself dictated that statement from Air Force One. The White House says he only weighed in.

That news, as we`re learning, Mueller could also want to look at Sean Spicer`s notebooks. Sounds like Jim Comey`s notebook. "Axios" reporting Spicer was known to fill notebook after notebook at the White House - the practice dating back to his time at the RNC - who knew that Sean was so studious? Where he reportedly filled black books emblazoned with the party`s seal.

One White House official saying people are going to wish they had been nicer to Spicer. He was in a lot of meetings.

With me James Melendres, a former federal prosecutor who led the prosecution against former CIA Director David Petraeus and Nick Confessore, political reporter with "The New York Times".

James, let`s start with you. I am shocked. Never did I think Sean Spicer be the kind of guy to keep copious notes, especially given how much he slobbered and said I don`t know at the podium. Why could these notes be so useful?

JAMES MELENDRES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. Thank you, Stephanie. The notes can be very useful to a prosecutor in a couple of ways.

First of all, these are very important tools legally in a courtroom. Contemporaneous notes can be used for a variety of purposes, including impeaching a witness, who testifies inconsistently with those notes, they can also be used to refresh a witness` recollection if that person is having difficulty remembering answers to particular questions.

And then, to the extent that that memory deficit continues, even after being refreshed with those notes, those notes can be introduced substantively at trial.

And so, legally, these notes have significant import for the investigation in any future court proceedings that are undertaken.

Practically speaking, any white-collar attorney counseling Mr. Spicer knows all that. And so, the practical consequences that not if, but when, Mr. Spicer is interviewed or provides testimony before a grand jury, he`s going to be well advised to hue pretty closely to what is included in those notes.

RUHLE: But humor me here, James, what`s to say he`s not - he`ll telling the truth in his notebook. I mean, people have been known to tell tall tales in their journals, tell the story that they want to be the truth.

MELENDRES: That`s something, I`m sure, the investigators and the prosecutors will factor into their decision about how much reliance to put on those notes.

But, remember, former director Mueller is relying not just on these notes, but other documents, other email communications, other records, other interviews that are all part of this investigation.

And so, while the notebooks are an important part of the investigation, any prosecutor working on this will certainly want to ensure that there is corroboration before relying on them exclusively.

RUHLE: Nick, you`ve covered this and Sean for quite some time. Do you believe this is going to be the tool in which he seeks revenge? He just doesn`t seem like a vengeful kind of guys?

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Look, Sean was kind of asked to do a hard job. And in exchange, he was berated, humiliated by his own boss.

RUHLE: Hold on a second. He wasn`t asked to do a hard job. This was Sean`s dream job, OK?

CONFESSORE: He volunteered.

RUHLE: He wasn`t drafted and sent to Vietnam. He worked in the White House.

CONFESSORE: To your point about revenge, Steph, he was treated badly by the president and kicked to the curb. So, if he wants revenge, this is one way.

I do think that kind of more important to Sean right now is avoiding needing a lawyer, is staying kind of out of the line of fire. If he can hand these over and said, this is what I know and cooperate with Mueller, it actually may save him some legal bills.

RUHLE: And we know those legal bills are mounting for a lot of people tied to the president, but the president himself has the luxury of getting donors and the RNC to pick up the bill for him.

James, Mueller reportedly wants documents on Spicer`s statements on Comey. I want to share what Sean Spicer said before and after he was fired. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president comfortable having an FBI director that gives out free passes served during his administration?

ROBERT MUELLER: The president has confidence in the director.

He made a determination that the FBI director had lost his confidence, made a recommendation to the attorney general. The attorney general concurred with that and forwarded that recommendation today on to the president, who agreed with their conclusions.


RUHLE: Could the notebooks contradict what Sean Spicer said at the time to the media at the podium because we know the president undercut his own team who that Monday, Tuesday of that week went out there defending one reason for firing James Comey and then President Trump sat down with Lester Holt and told a totally different story?

MELENDRES: It`s certainly possible that, to the extent, there were deliberations inside the White House before Sean Spicer`s statement that reflected other reasoning for the firing that those would be included in the notebooks. So, I think that is something that Mueller and his team will certainly be interested in revealing.

And just one point, picking up on Nick`s comments, I think it is inconceivable that Spicer would engage with the special counsel without advice of an attorney. And I expect that he has retained an attorney for that purpose or will be doing so very shortly.

RUHLE: All right. I need to share with you what Sean Spicer said in an exclusive interview today because this one blew my mind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever lied to the American people?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t think so?

SPICER: No. I`m sharing my taxes (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unequivocally, you can say no?

MUELLER: Look, again, you want to find something - I`ve not knowingly done anything to do that, no.


RUHLE: OK, I`m sorry. My children are both liars and sometimes they don`t know. An answer like that, I didn`t know I lied, from the press secretary of the White House. We`re going to accept that answer, I didn`t know that I lied, you word is your bond. You`re standing up representing the White House before the American people, that argument is going to fly, Nick?

CONFESSORE: Look, it depends on the example, Steph. There`s a long catalogue of things that he said from the podium that he had to have known were not true, starting with the first thing he said from the podium or among the first things about the crowd size and Obama and that inauguration.

But press secretaries are sometimes kept out of the loop of the White House for just this reason, so they can be sent out to say something different. And we will find out -

RUHLE: I`m sorry. When he was talking about voter fraud, he was referencing absolute nonsense poppycock that there were some reports out there. I mean, pure nonsense.

CONFESSORE: Like I said, there`s a long list of statements, which he`s made from the podium that are not true, but there are some things he may actually have thought were true that he was told were true internally that we`re going to find out later were not true.

RUHLE: OK. James, let`s get on the airplane, Air Force One. When President Trump and his team were flying home from Berlin, I believe it was, and that`s when they concocted the story about Don, Jr. having that meeting with the Russian lawyer about the orphans. It sounds like Bob Mueller could be interested in phone records. Why exactly does he want them?

MELENDRES: Well, he wants those records as a starting point in investigating who may have participated in crafting the statement that you just mentioned, Stephanie.

And those phone records would demonstrate who was called, how frequently they were called, what the duration of those calls were, and the basis for further interviews of anyone on either end of those conversations.

RUHLE: This is an extraordinary topic and it`s not going anywhere. Here`s something I know. The president saying over and over, Russia is an absolute ruse. I don`t know. I`m not a lawyer. Doesn`t seem like a ruse to me.

All right. James, thank you so much. Nick, always great to see you. We have to turn to another story, really a key part of this Russia probe and, of course, it`s social media. We know the massive role it played in this election.

Today, Facebook saying it will turn over 3,000 - did you hear that number - 3,000 Russia-linked ads to Congress. CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg announcing the decision after Facebook came under serious fire for not doing enough to help Congress in its investigation.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference. And we will do our part, not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good and democracy everywhere.


RUHLE: All right then. The top Democrat on the Senate Intel Committee calling the move an important and absolutely necessary first step. So, Mark Zuckerberg not out of the hot water just yet.

And the change of heart coming after a "Bloomberg" report that Washington has Facebook in its sites. Max Chafkin is the author of Bloomberg`s new cover story on Mark Zuckerberg - "Businessweek`s" new cover story saying that his fake news problem ain`t going away.

Max, let`s walk through this.


RUHLE: Because Facebook, before the campaign, if you went to cocktail parties, if you went to events, they would say yes, we`re moving towards being a media platform. Suddenly, when things got heated during the campaign, no, they weren`t a content company.


RUHLE: But what we also know is they`re not highly regulated, like let`s say the banking industry. So, how culpable is Facebook? I mean, getting paid in rubles, don`t know who the ad buyer is, that sounds all a bit hanky.

CHAFKIN: So, here`s the thing. They were totally sort of off-base when it - immediately after the election, they said, oh, fake news didn`t play any role and really tried to play down the role that it played.

The challenge here is that it`s not as if the Russians called up somebody at Facebook. They went online and bought these ads basically through this automated system. And so, Facebook is going to try to figure out a way and Mark Zuckerberg in that fireside address sort of talked about that they`re going to try to figure something out.

The problem is their whole company sort of goes against the idea of any kind of human intervention. So, it`s not clear that Facebook can really get its arms around this problem. I`m sure they`ll be able to (INAUDIBLE), but it`s difficult.

RUHLE: They can. In the investment banking industry, there are regulations. There are rules known as know your client. You can`t suddenly get paid from an anonymous source from another country. I mean, that`s a big no, no.

CHAFKIN: The regulations, I think, are coming without a doubt. This small amount of ads that they turned over, 3,000 sounds like a lot, but really it could just be scratching the surface. Sen. Warner, I think, said he thinks it`s just the tip of the iceberg.

The other thing is, we don`t really know what is going to come out of Bob Mueller`s investigation. We think that he had a warrant, so he could have more documents.

And really, there`s just a potential for a lot of ugliness. Plus, you have people both sort on the left and on the right who want to regulate Facebook for different reasons. So, I think it`s just a matter of time honestly before Congress tries to take action.

RUHLE: But in the defense of the tech industry, it wasn`t regulated yet. The social media platforms have grown so quickly, regulation hasn`t caught up with it. So, is there real wrongdoing?

We know that Twitter executives are scheduled to sit down with the Senate Intelligence Committee next week specifically on the Russia probe. So, social media, these big companies, the government wants to know who, what, when, where, how and why, but there weren`t laws against these practices.

CHAFKIN: No. And I think even - I think, maybe at worst, they were a little bit negligent. But I think it`s really - you could make an argument, really, they did nothing wrong. They just happened to be sort of the room where some bad stuff happened.

But, of course, now with 2 billion sort of monthly users, basically, Facebook is the biggest most influential media company maybe the world`s ever seen. It would be, I think, naive to think they`re not going to get regulated at this point.

RUHLE: Steve Bannon himself spoke to "Bloomberg" last fall - I want to pull the quote - where he said "I wouldn`t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn`t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine." So, the Trump machine knew the power of Facebook, the power of anonymity and, man, it worked for them.

CHAFKIN: It did. I mean, I think the Clinton campaign knew it too.

RUHLE: That is a great point. The Clinton campaign knew it and had a gazillion more dollars.

CHAFKIN: Yes. And Trump did it well. It`s true. But I think we look back on the election, leaving aside this Russian stuff, I think the role that social media played, whether the targeting was appropriate or inappropriate, was sort of one of the big stories of this election, something people haven`t really talked about.

RUHLE: OK. And also, don`t we have to make the point, the Clinton campaign may have known that Facebook was such a massive platform as well. But you can apply strategy and ethics or you can apply strategy and no ethics.

CHAFKIN: Yes. And in that story that Bannon gave that quote, there was another quote about voter suppression where the Trump campaign was trying to sort of target Clinton`s sort of weak supporters and send them ads that would convince them not to turn out, which I think is borderline unethical and possibly crosses some lines into racism.

RUHLE: If I were to give an opinion, I wouldn`t say borderline. I would say totally inappropriate.

Max, thank you so much. Pick up this week`s copy of "Businessweek". It is a good one. And stick with us, ahead, we`re going to go live to Mexico City. We`ve been focusing on this all day, really for the last two-and-a- half days for an update on that dramatic and confusing scene outside of primary school where there may be three people still trapped inside. We`re going to find out.

Also, Jimmy Kimmel doubling down on his fight against the GOP senator trying to repeal Obamacare.


Jimmy Kimmel, HOST, The Jimmy Kimmel Show: He made a total about-face, which means he either doesn`t understand his own bill or he lied to me. It`s as simple as that.


RUHLE: Something I don`t understand. The mixed messages from the Trump administration on North Korea. Does he want to sanction them, talk to them, bomb them or all of the above.

I`m Stephanie Ruhle in for my friend Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


RUHLE: Just if you want it (ph), 6 o`clock at night. Breaking news tonight, with time running out, Republicans reportedly making a play to buy a key hold-out vote on healthcare.

"The Independent Review" journal reporting GOP lawmakers are trying to get Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski on board by revising the bill to bring big benefits to her state specifically.

And just moments ago, a senior GOP telling NBC News, Sen. Graham is denying the report as "complete BUSINESS." Maneuvers like this could make or break the bill. Republicans can only afford to lose one more vote or the bill goes down.

At the same time, they are contending with a late-night TV host`s daily crusade to fight the plan. And you know late night TV hosts have a lot of trust from people in this country.

Jimmy Kimmel back with new attacks. Look at this.


KIMMEL: He made a total about-face, which means he either doesn`t understand his own bill or he lied to me. It`s simple as that.

I don`t want to turn this into a Kanye and Taylor Swift-type situation. But when Sen. Cassidy was on my show in May, he told me that he believed that every American family, regardless of income, should be able to get quality healthcare.

And I believed he was sincere. Sadly, the bill he unveiled last week with Sen. Lindsey Graham indicates that he was not sincere. It is, by many accounts, the worst healthcare bill yet.

There`s no way President Trump read this bill that he says is great. He just wants to get rid of it because Obama`s name is on it.

Can you imagine Donald Trump actually sitting down to read a healthcare bill? It`s like trying to imagine a dog doing your taxes. It just doesn`t compute, you know?


RUHLE: Jimmy Kimmel saying Sen. Cassidy lied. And Trump defending the senator tweeting this. "He is class act who really cares about people and their healthcare. He doesn`t lie."

Let`s bring in a man who I know doesn`t lie and I love talking to him on TV. Michael Steele, Former RNC Chairman, and Heather McGhee is the president at Demos.

I want to start with yesterday. Sen. Murkowski said to NBC cameras this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to support it?



MURKOWSKI: Because I am doing the due diligence that I committed to doing.


RUHLE: All right. Mr Steele, how much pressure can Republicans put on Lisa Murkowski? We know when Ryan Zinke tried to do that last time around, she gave him the Heisman.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: She did and she did it very well. But I suspect there`s a little bit of that Heisman profile beginning to take shape with her.

And this is her reality. Her governor has come out against this legislation. He has recognized the impact that it will have on the people of Alaska and it will be very hard for the senator from Alaska to stand in opposition to her governor, who is, in his own due diligence, looked at this and said that we get the short end of the stick here, which is why you`re now seeing all this effort to "buy her vote", which - what does that say to all the other states that will be equally, if not worse off, after this bill is put in place.

What deal are you going to cut with them? This is the ugly slippery slope that Washington gets into when it`s trying to force a subject that it just wants to get off the table here. What will it take to make this go away, to have your vote to do whatever, and that`s the kind of stuff that people don`t like. That`s not going to help a bad bill in the first place.

RUHLE: If they`re starting with the As in Alaska, hooking them up, imagine how much it`ll cost by the time they get to Tennessee.

I want to talk about Jimmy Kimmel, though. We love to dismiss the Hollywood elite, what do they know, they`re out of touch.

But in this case, is Jimmy Kimmel in touch? I mean, this healthcare bill, he doesn`t need it. He could certainly afford any sort of medical care on the planet.

But, for him, this is personal. He had a baby born with a heart condition and he suddenly realized, my god, what if I couldn`t afford it, what would happen if I was in this situation. Do you think he`s going to have real impact here because, for Hillary Clinton, that Hollywood connection seemed to hurt her?

HEATHER MCGHEE, PRESIDENT, DEMOS: What every American and every human being deserves the security and freedom to know that if the inevitable happens, which is you get sick, right, that`s something that`s going to happen to every single person throughout at some point in their life that they don`t have to lose their job, lose their home or go into bankruptcy.

And that is the tenet at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. And so, when Jimmy Kimmel speaks about his child, when he holds the most powerful people in the world accountable, I think that millions of Americans, certainly the 20 million of Americans who now have healthcare they didn`t have it before the Affordable Care Act, the rest of Americans who have better healthcare plans now because of the protections against preexisting conditions and all of that are rooting for him and they`re rooting for this government to recognize that we want our healthcare system to be better, more comprehensive, more universal, more coverage, and not the opposite.

RUHLE: Michael, what do you think? In this case, Jimmy Kimmel doesn`t seem like out-of-touch Hollywood elite. He seems to be in touch with issues that speak right to the heart of the American people?

STEELE: Well, absolutely. I mean, just because he`s a man of means and wealth doesn`t mean that he cannot in a real way understand what his life would be like if he didn`t have that means and that wealth, and he was confronting the situation.

That`s a very sobering moment for any individual. And to just sort of put it in that box, well, you can do it because you have the coverage or you have the wealth to do it, doesn`t mean that his humanity dies on that hill.

Now, his humanity, which he articulated very clearly, he made it clear that - I know I can do this, but I`m thinking about the folks who can`t do this. And that`s a message that resonates with a lot of people because the sense is the members, instead of trying to listen to those folks out there in that situation, are trying to rush through a bill because they want to score a political point, they want to get it off the speaker`s desk, they want to do all these other things that are related to politics, and not to the proper space of healthcare where you actually take the time, do the regular audit Sen. McCain, take those steps, so that we all can follow along and appreciate the kind of healthcare we`re going to get when you`re done.

RUHLE: Michael, it`s the fatal flaw, though, of short termism. Whether you`re talking about business or politics is making long-term sound decisions because they want to win today.

And I want to talk - because we have such limited information about what`s actually in the bill because the president is claiming that the Graham- Cassidy Bill includes coverage of preexisting conditions.

But does the actual bill protect the 130 million Americans with preexisting conditions. Heather, I turn to you because access to coverage doesn`t mean coverage. I have the ability to walk into a Porsche dealership and clean the place out, but I can`t actually because I don`t have the dough.

MCGHEE: No, it doesn`t. In fact, what it does is it goes right to the heart of the kind of consumer protections that were in the Affordable Care Act and says that there shouldn`t be a national standard, that it should be devolved to the states, to allow governors to be able to erode that protection for preexisting conditions.

So, it puts the 130 million Americans who have preexisting conditions today at risk of happening to live in a state where their insurance commissioner will say we don`t need this kind of protection here in the state.

So, it puts many people at risk. It still cuts, just like Trumpcare before, hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicaid. It really is what could lead, according to some reports, 32 million more people losing coverage over the next decade.

RUHLE: Michael?

STEELE: Can I just, on that state piece, real address because as a former state official, as a lieutenant governor of my state and having to work through the budgets with the governor on this healthcare piece, which was about 40 percent of the state`s budget, this idea that you`re going to now sort of send this bill to the states, in the short-term, yes, it works, here`s some money.

What happens in 2026? What happens down the road? And you think those states are not going to opt out of covering that expense if they don`t have to, if you give them the option to opt out that when they`re facing budget deficits or raising the taxes on the citizens with an election ahead of them, that`s going to happen.

RUHLE: Mr. Steele, if you think any of these stakeholders are thinking about 2026, then God bless you. They ain`t.

STEELE: I know they`re not.

RUHLE: All right. Michael, Heather, thank you.

STEELE: But governors are.

RUHLE: Governors are. Fair point. All right. We`re going to take a break.

Ahead, we`re going to go live to Mexico City. We have been covering this for the last two days. Devastating and unclear what this search is for specifically. The struggle for survivors, it has been a confusing and emotional day. We`re going to be speak to Mexico`s top diplomat right here in New York.

Plus, President Trump`s final day at the UN, creating new questions about his strategy for North Korea. It is all about sanctions, military intervention or maybe it`s about neither. We`re going to try to find out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is dialogue still possible with North Korea? Is dialogue still possible?




STEPHANIE RUHLE, CNN ANCHOR: We are back with breaking news from a scene in Mexico City that is devastating. We are two days out from that 7.1 magnitude earthquake. And the Mexican President says just moments ago that there may be people alive, trapped in the rubble in as many as ten different collapsed buildings across Mexico City. Earlier today we saw scenes like this in some of those buildings. A woman pulled out alive by volunteers. This is stunning. But also some confusing reports from that collapsed elementary school. We`re hearing conflicting reports on whether any children or adults are still trapped inside. Rescuers had been hoping to repeat dramatic scenes like the ones you just saw. Children pulled from that school after the quake in video that emerges today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish)


RUHLE: MSNBC`s Mariana Atencio is in Mexico City at that school doing some extraordinary reporting. She`s been there all day. Mariana, I feel like I have been on this wild emotional ride with you today. What is the situation this morning? We were talking all about a young girl, Frida Sofia somewhere between 9 and 13. It sounded like rescuers were in contact with her and now we don`t even know if she`s there?

MARIANA ATENCIO, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: You`re right Stephanie, you have been on this journey with me from the very beginning. The headlines of almost every newspaper when we woke up in Mexico this morning were about this young girl Frida Sofia. Then we started hearing local reports here saying that her name might not have actually been Frida Sophia because all the Fridas and all the Sofias in the school were accounted for. And then it turns out that a commander of the Mexican Navy gave a statement a couple of hours ago saying that such a child does not exist.

However, I`ve been on the ground here since very early this morning, I`ll be -- as you know, talking to first responders and I was able to speak to a colonel who`s leading the efforts, he`s leading the team responding to disasters and emergencies on the ground here. He`s of war material. His name is Colonel (INAUDIBLE). And I was able to go inside the perimeter and be very close to where these search and rescue efforts are happening. He told me there are still one to three bodies. They don`t know if they are alive or not but bodies that they can detect with their technology that leads them to believe there could possibly be signs of life. He said that they cannot determine what ages these bodies are. We`re -- you know, if it`s a child, if it`s several children, but again, one to three pretty much blobs that they`ve identified here using their technologies.

And that is why you still see so much activity here. I mean, just in the past hour, we saw those fists go back up in the air again. It just got increasingly crowded here. We do know, we`ve seen people moving in. These metal beams into that structure because they`re preparing for nightfall. They were also preparing for some rain. It looks like that situation might have changed but we know that the building is very fragile and they still want to try to get to this one to three bodies that that colonel told me they have detected here on the scene at the primary school. Stephanie.

RUHLE: I`m still confused though. I mean, there were parents there gathering this morning praying, hoping for good news. Are there parents still there with children that they`re looking for?

ATENCIO: In fact, we spoke to several parents. We spoke to one teacher, I spoke to two mothers and I spoke to two children who are survivors. And if you hear their stories, I mean, it`s one of the toughest things that I`ve ever had to do speaking to these people just harrowing tales of survival. They were here, they were hugging each other, they were crying, clinging to hope. I also -- on the phone spoke to that psychologist who was inside. He said with several family members who`s are clinging to hope.

But again, I don`t see these families here right now. They were here before. They told us that they felt they had to come here and be close to this -- the scene, to see if there are any people will get rescued, that has not happened today. They only pulled out the body of one woman who was a teacher very early this morning, but so far, no rescues here. But as you can see from the activity on the ground, they are preparing for a very long night here in front of this primary school. And it looks like they`re gathering in the back and discussing what the plan will be for the next couple of hours.

RUHLE: I mean, we`ve got to be 50 hours since the quake and these people, running on pure adrenaline are continuing the search and rescue effort with extraordinary bravery. Joining me now in the studio is Ambassador Diego Gomez Pickering, Consul General of Mexico here in New York City. This must be so difficult for you to watch. Did you know anything about this school? It`s such a confusing situation.

DIEGO GOMEZ PICKERING, CONSUL GENERAL OF MEXICO TO NEW YORK CITY: Well, Stephanie, thank you very much for the opportunity. I`ll be here, the more than 1 million Mexican-Americans across the area are looking with a lot of angst. Everyone is putting their hands together in trying on send over some help. It`s the situation in the school certainly but many of the buildings across Mexico City, a city as big as New York City, with over 20 million inhabitants. The epicenter was so close to the city that`s why we have so many damages. The buildings were as (INAUDIBLE) said today, people might still be trapped. 32 years ago, I remember it very well the terrible earthquake that hit us 1985.

RUHLE: 1985.

PICKERING: And that then, I remember a week passed and people still alive were being recovered from those rubble. So it is our hope, and the number one priority nowadays is to keep on working and getting any survivors that are still alive from those buildings. That collapse -- not only in Mexico City but in the area and the states around Mexico City.

RUHLE: Then, given the scale of this earthquake, do you believe that the human tragedy could be much bigger than we realize?

PICKERING: I hope not but certainly there are many people that are still missing. And those that are unaccounted for might be somewhere else or might be unfortunately dead. So the number one priority at (INAUDIBLE) is to keep on working day and night in trying to get them those people that are still alive out of there.

RUHLE: And rescuers aren`t just coming from the local community. People have come from the United States, from as far as Israel, even Asia. But right now, what does the Mexican government need most in terms of help?

PICKERING: Well, certainly specialized teams. Now we`re dealing with the immediate aftermath. Trying on get people out if they`re still alive in those collapsed buildings. But in the days and weeks the come, we need assess exactly all the building that`s were damaged during the earthquake whether or not they are still usable. For these we need a lot of help and countries across the world and certainly here across the U.S., from Mayor de Blasio to Governor Cuomo to President Trump, everyone at all levels of government, people in the street have been telling us we support you. And --

RUHLE: Those are words. Are you getting the actions though? I mean, President Trump and President Pena Nieto have not had a warm and fuzzy relationship over the last eight months. Beyond words of sympathy, do you believe there`s going to be real commitment or support that Mexico needs from the United States government at a time like this?

PICKERING: There`s already support. There`s American teams working around specialized in this aftermath -- earthquake aftermath. And as I was saying, what we need now is really to assess all those buildings and find out whether these are still usable or not. And keep them working with hundreds and thousands maybe in the days to come of people that will live without a roof under their heads -- above their heads.

RUHLE: I appreciate that at a time like this, there are no borders, it`s about humanity. Thank you so much for joining me tonight. I appreciate it. And we just got Kim Jong-un`s reaction to President Trump`s speech at the U.N. a few days ago. And surprise surprise, (INAUDIBLE) that`s next.


RUHLE: Welcome back, you`re watching THE BEAT, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. North Korea`s Kim Jong-un just unleashed a tirade against President Trump. We knew this was coming. He blasted Trump`s controversial U.N. speech calling Trump "mentally deranged and saying his comments were a war declaration." Earlier today, Trump hitting North Korea with new sanctions before suggesting he`s open to talks with that country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is dialogue still possible with North Korea? Is dialogue still possible?



RUHLE: I`m utterly confused. So sanctions, yes, dialogue, maybe, and this morning Trump`s Vice President also saying the military option is still on the table.


MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: What the President has made clear is we have military options.

There was some talks two or three weeks ago, but some commentators that the most powerful military on earth doesn`t have the ability to take action to defend our people. That`s wrong. We have military option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was -- I think it was Steve Bannon who was actually was quoted saying that.


PENCE: We have options.


RUHLE: With me is Steve Clemons, Washington Editor At Large for the Atlantic. Steve!


RUHLE: What?

CLEMONS: There`s a lot going on. And you know, I think that the big thing going on right now as you know, they`re posturing their positioning. Donald Trump is definitely trying to play the role of mad max and scare the rest of the world that he is so nutty that he might, in fact, unleash the kind of fury at North Korea that could potentially result in the millions of deaths and a complete chaos in Northeast Asia. The worlds worries about that and I think Donald Trump thinks that that is his strategy in what he wants to do. And I think Mike Pence is clinging off as well. But --

RUHLE: OK, but can we put that in perspective for a moment? We say something tongue in chief, mad max. The post-apocalyptic movie with a thunder dome, two men enter one man leaves. We`re talking about two countries with nuclear power. This isn`t a movie.

CLEMONS: That`s absolutely right. And that is why regardless of what people think of Steve Bannon, what he said to Robert Kuttner is absolutely true. You know, for years I`ve been covering this issue and I`m familiar with the Pentagon simulations that they`ve done over and over and over again. And they`re just no simulations once you begin to sort of look at how different powers respond, the chances of escalation and miscommunication, how you don`t end up with millions people dead in South Korea, Japan, many of them American citizens.

And then, in that, you know, perhaps, you`ll have even greater nuclear conflagration. So when you look at that, the question is, how do you -- what are you willing to do to stop that? What appeasement in the case of North Korea are you willing to engage in? Or what strategy are you willing to do so that they`re not winning at extortion but you`re able to surround them with such compelling circumstances that they have no choice but to -- but to eventually desist in their -- in their nuclear aspirations. And that`s what Donald Trump is not investing in and people are confused. So you either have this crazy apocalyptic vision or you have appeasement. And between there, we`re not trying anything out.

RUHLE: Well, investing has never been Trump`s forte even as a businessman. He`s is a brand guy. So he puts out a message but it`s going been a really confusing message and where they were talking about his administration or Trump supporters. They keep with this narrative, watch what he does, not watch what he says. What do you think North Korea is listening to?

CLEMONS: Well, I think they`re looking at John Kelly sitting up at the stand when President Trump was basically talking about annihilating North Korea. I think they`re seeing someone that they don`t believe is going to be credible. And I think you have this war of words. You know, Kim Jong- un has called him a barking dog and a doddered. Doddered is you know, basically an aging senile fool, if you look it up. And in that case, what they do is have a war of words and they`re on a train wreck with one another. But North Korea is making a calculation that at the end of the day, China won`t allow this to happen. Japan won`t allow it to happen and they see the rest of the world losing faith and trust in the solvency of American leadership in Donald Trump`s leadership.

RUHLE: Stunning and at the same time, President Trump`s approval rating is going up. Steve, thank you so much for joining me.

CLEMONS: Thanks, Stephanie.

RUHLE: I always appreciate talking to you.

Coming up next, millions of Americans citizens could be without power for many months. The latest on Hurricane Maria`s devastation in Puerto Rico, that`s next.


RUHLE: And now to the devastation from Hurricane Maria. Today the storm hitting the Dominican Republic as a Category3 Hurricane. Maria has left at least 18 people dead in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico, totally in the dark, much like the Virgin Islands from last week. Millions of people potentially facing months and months without power.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is very scary. The wind with the noises going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How horrible is it to look around and see this island like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very sad. It`s very, very sad, very heartbroken

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s going to happen when we get out of here? What will we end up seeing? It`s very hard.


RUHLE: The U.S. Coast Guard deploying search and rescue missions at first light today. They rescued a woman and two children from a capsized boat that went missing on Wednesday. This one is extraordinary. Think about this. In just a week ago, Puerto Rico was the safety zone where people from St. John and St. Thomas went for refuge. Now, look at what they`re going through. We`re going to take a break. When we return, Ari Melber is back in the chair here on THE BEAT with an exclusive interview with one of the intellectual leaders of the resistance. That`s coming up.



TRUMP: A group that really deserves tremendous credit is the United States Coast Guard. If you talk about branding, no brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That odd moment shows Donald Trump`s penchant to turn even the most serious tribute to public sacrifice, hurricane recovery efforts, into a discussion of branding, the promotional act of hyping something usually for profit is clearly more than a business skill for Trump, it`s his way of looking at the world.


TRUMP: I`ve mastered the art of the deal and have turned the name Trump into the highest quality brand.

It started with me very early on just by having success. You know, when you`re successful, that sort of creates a little bit of a brand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about your brand?

TRUMP: I think my brand is doing great, yeah. I think it`s --


MELBER: That`s not exactly true in the sense that a lot of great companies don`t go through multiple bankruptcies, though Trump argues that in both business and politics, his brand is resilient enough to rebound. The larger question now is whether branding is even the right frame for public services. You know, in fashion, sure, a brand might turn a $10 garment into a $1,000 dress and everyone walks away happy literally, walks down that catwalk. But in empirical fields like medicine or engineering, results matter more than the brand. In her new book, Activist and Author Naomi Klein notes that the personal branding is essential to Trump it puts spin above facts. Under the rules of branding, you don`t need to be good or decent, you only need to be consistent to the brand you`ve created, she writes.

Now, while that may found depressing for the fact-based community, Klein argues it`s actually an essential thing to understand for countering Trump, noting that he`s built a brand around chaos, hate and corporate shock doctrines, masquerading as populism. She joins me now. Klein is the author of the iconic globalization critique No Logo with over a million copies in circulation in 28 languages. She won the Sydney Peace Prize and her new book is already a finalist for a national book award. Thanks for being here.

NAOMI KLEIN, CANADIAN AUTHOR: Really glad to be here.

MELBER: Branding as a political strategy, it works for him. How do you counter it?

KLEIN: Well, as you said, the rules of branding are different than the rules of politics, right? The rules of branding are: be true to your brand, repeat, repeat, repeat. And the trouble with Trump is that the meaning of his brand, I think, is impunity through wealth. I mean, he would say his brand is you know, luxury and so on, but if you think about The Apprentice, if you think about what he has been selling all of these years, it`s being the boss that gets to do whatever he wants because of his wealth, right? It`s that dream of absolute freedom and power that comes with money. That`s what he`s been selling all of these years.

So the trouble is, how do you hold someone responsible when their brand is impunity. I mean you can lie as much as you want, you can cheat as much as you want, as long as you`re still on top. And I think we see that what hurts him are things that threaten that essence of his brand. That`s why, you know, that`s why I think he`s driven so mad by the -- you know, the Steve -- by Steve Bannon and the perception that he was a puppet, right? That eroded the boss brand.

MELBER: Your book is not so much anti-Trump as it is anti-Trumpism. I want to read, you say, Trump`s assertion he knows how to fix America because he`s rich is nothing more than uncouth vulgar echo of a dangerous idea that we`ve been hearing for years that Bill Gates can fix America, Richard Branson, and Michael Bloomberg can solve climate change. You`re saying, falling into the trap of conflating wealth with a public service mandate or the ability to help the country is broadly a problem across this political spectrum.

KLEIN: It`s absolutely bipartisan. And you know, we -- more and more we have been outsourcing problems that we used to tackle as democracies, as collective problems, to wealthy individuals through their foundations and imagining that because they manage to get unspeakably rich in one area, then they must kind of understand everything. I`ll give Bill Gates that he knows a lot about technology, but he`s done a lot of damage in the U.S. education system. And you know, they have apologized for a lot of that. But that idea that wealth equals sort of almost god-like power, I think that was one of the roads that led to Trump, because Trump stood before the American people and said vote for me. Sure, I don`t have any experience in governing, but why should we do it, because I`m rich. You know, or Kellyanne Conway saying, you know, he built this global brand, therefore, he can run the government.

MELBER: Naomi Klein, a well-known activist, an interesting thought leader and intellectual, thank you for coming on THE BEAT.

KLEIN: Thank you, Ari.

RUHLE: And that`s going to do it for me this evening. My friend, Ari Melber, will be back for the full show tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. And I will see you tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. "HARDBALL" with Chris Mathews starts right now.



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