Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: January 11, 2018 Guest: Richard Blumenthal, Maya Wiley, Erika Andiola, Jeffrey Rosen, Joe Arpaio, Christina Greer, Erika Andiola
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Chuck. Thank you very much.
We are beginning this broadcast with some breaking news. President Trump calling for apparent racial profiling according in immigration according to new leaks.
A single source familiar with this meeting telling NBC News that Donald Trump, during a very important meeting today, grew frustrated with a discussion of what is called the visa lottery program in this immigration negotiations and that`s when he said he doesn`t want people from s-hole countries. He named them.
Let me explain. Here is the "Washington Post`s" account. They say two people briefed on the meeting reported that Trump said quote "why are we having all these people from s-hole countries come here?" That`s according to these people, referring to African countries, in Haiti and then suggested that U.N. should instead explicitly bring more people from other countries. Countries like Norway whose prime minister he met with yesterday.
This is a breaking story and touches on a lot of different issues. I begin here with Maya Wiley who is a civil rights experts and a former council of the mayor of New York City. Raul Reyes, an attorney as well as an analyst here for NBCnews.com.
This is one of those stories that involves one thing about Trump that people don`t like but doesn`t always matter which is an incredible disrespect and garish, rude type of business. And then it involve something else that matters a lot, Raul. Explain to us also how this touches on immigration policy.
RAUL REYES, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this very much touches upon immigration policy because just this week, we have seen the diversity visa lottery being and one of the negotiating points towards the deal on DACA. The type of the people who tend to benefit the most from the diversity visa lottery are many African nations, people from the Caribbean. So this gives us a window if you want to speak into the thought process behind also the elimination of temporary protected status.
MELBER: Let`s slow down. Let`s slow down. Slow down because you covered this staff day in and day out. Not everyone knows all the words you are using.
Walk us through what the visa lottery program supposed to do and then what he is saying about it.
REYES: Right. The diversity visa lottery is actually very much what it sounds like. It is a lottery that anyone around the world can enter. The only stipulation is if you are randomly chosen, you have a limited window of time to move to the United States, the idea being that it is egalitarian to allow people from all over the world, if they are willing to pick up their move and come here and they can establish, if they can support themselves financially, that they can come here. That`s the diversity visa lottery.
MELBER: And so, your reaction hearing the President of the United States say that people are coming from s-hole countries for that program.
REYES: Honestly, Ari, you know, politics aside, as a citizen, I mean, I feel great sadness more than I feel anger because it is - I mean, it is shocking. We were discussing this earlier that he would talk about people from these nations in this way.
And by the way, this diversity visa lottery, these people, these are legal channels of immigration. So he has moved from disparaging, you know, illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, now he is taking aim at people who want and have the opportunity by law to enter legally. That`s where we are with this administration.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: What he said was offensive. And it should be offensive to every American in the United States. Because what he essentially did was take us back to a time in this country where we used to have an immigration law and we interpreted the immigration law as prohibiting the immigration of people who were not white to the United States.
MELBER: Right. That`s where it started.
WILEY: That`s where it started. And essentially he has taken us back there. There is nothing new there, by the way. His statements are offensive. They are not new. Because he made some more statements about Muslims, in banning all Muslims as if all Muslims were terrorists.
So it is really been part of a pattern of statements that he has made that assumes that if you are not white, you are somehow not worthy of being in the United States.
MELBER: What you just said, a year or two ago, would have sounded to people like hyperbole, perhaps or only the most negative reading of what some people say about immigration. But I think as a factual matter, me being a journalist reacting to your analysis, there is no other way to interpret these quotes. And if the White House which hasn`t deny them now, doesn`t want to try to reckon with or deny them, that becomes a hanging admission of saying, it`s not about the law.
There is a lot of claims about the law on border security. And by the way, most countries don`t allow everyone in. So there`s a reasonable way to talk about limiting the border. This is, as you both put your finger on something much deeper, which is maybe the (INAUDIBLE), it is not about the law at all. It is about going back to decades and decades ago.
And I would bring in one of the expert on this but I would add to your important list, race, Religion, in Islam as you mentioned, but also previously, Jews and Catholics were targeted through the system.
So for anyone who says, well, maybe I don`t care about other people. Does this touch my family, if you are in America and you know people, and your family, yes, probably as soon as you start going down that road of profiling.
Both of you stay with me. A breaking story. And we have a special guest. I want to bring Erika Andiola, a former press secretary for Bernie Sanders, as well as a self-identified DACA recipient who has done a lot of activism on this.
First, your reaction.
ERIKA ANDIOLA, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, OUR REVOLUTION: Yes. I mean, I`m not surprised at all to be honest with you. A lot of this has been rooted in white supremacy and racism since the very beginning. And I`m really disappointed. And I am really, for me, the most important thing right now is that we need to make sure that all these policies are not happening with DACA, with the fix of DACA, which would be the DREAM act.
We cannot let that happen. We need to make sure that right now there is a vote of 19 on the budget bill and we would rather have Democrats push as hard as possible to make sure that the bill is included there. That we don`t have to, you know, we don`t have to do this. We don`t have to mess with the visa lottery system. We don`t have to do any of it. These policies are rooted in racism, white supremacy. And we can see that and we just there right now.
MELBER: And I want to go back to Maya as someone who has worked with executive branch situations. There was a lot of talk this week about the President`s attempt to have a commanding performance in those negotiations. There was praise from people for whatever range of reasons, that maybe it was great and to see and didn`t see the real thing. We reported on this show that to the extent it was real, it is useful, whether you like what you see or not.
Could you as a political matter walk us through the difference between that made for TV event earlier this week and what is now leaking out which is a meeting, and again, I can list off the participants because this is a breaking story. Folks are just making sense of it. The President saying that these African and Latin countries are s-hole countries. This is a meeting that was supposed to be with Senator Graham and Richard Durbin, the Democratic senator who seen as potential compromise meeting. But they were, according to the "Washington Post," surprised to find what they called immigration hardliners in there.
I`m reading from the Post script. And Durbin thought they were meeting with Trump alone, were surprised to find hardliners like Rep. Goodlatte and Senator Tom Cotton. The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls Thursday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.
So this is breaking right now because it just happened. But Maya, what does it tell that you that President Trump is speaking about these countries with minorities? And then so differently than he did with the made for TV negotiation?
WILEY: Well, what it tells me, first of all, is that he does not have a strong grasp on the policy principle. That he is trying to drive as a leader of the free world. Which is any leader, elected leader starts with what are we trying to accomplish with our policies? What are the legitimate public interests on what we are trying to accomplish? And who do we talk to about what those are and then how do we broker an agreement around with those are?
And one, you don`t blindside the people that you need to try to get together on the same page. You do not blind side them. You do the shelter diplomacy to understand the various positions. You worked through your own principles. You make your principles clear to them. And then you actually go to where you can compromise and where you cannot and you try to drive the deal. He said that had he was a dealmaker. He has demonstrated that he`s not.
Maya Wiley, I want to thank you for being here. Raul and Erika, I`m going to come back to more with you. We have a lot of other special stories to get to.
We also have the senator on this which I think is going to be pretty interesting. Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal serves on the Judiciary Committee.
Senator, your reaction to the President according to "The Washington Post" to two sources and to NBC News, according to one Democratic source, saying those people are coming from s-hole countries.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: First, thank you for reporting it. And thank you for talking about it. Too much of America is in denial about these really base instincts.
This remark by the President of the United States smacks of blatant racism. The most odious and insidious racism mascaraing poorly as immigration policy. And I will be very blunt. The President doesn`t speak for me as an American. He demeans America. He demeans and betrays American values by these kinds of remarks. I know in Connecticut, people who come from these countries, they are hard working. They become our engineers and nurses and doctors and professionals. They give back. And I`m very proud to call them my friends.
And I will make one other point that I think is very pertinent to immigration policy. These kinds of remarks make reaching sensible solutions all the more difficult because they inflame and condone, indeed encourage the worst instincts in America that support the kind of restrictions that we are trying to overcome and reach rational sensible solutions to very difficult complex problems.
MELBER: Senator, I appreciate your candor and your reaction there. Since we came on air, I have some breaking news that you are not aware of because we both just sat down but I just got it handed to me.
One question here was whether this is going to be denied by the White House. The sourcing I have from NBC News here from a source familiar with the White House thinking does not offer denial. Senator, let me get your reaction. It says that this was essentially an attempt to discuss the need for immigration prioritizing higher education and higher skills levels of the people who come into the country. That`s according to a source familiar with this. The White House at this hour, 6:10 p.m. on the east coast, not issuing any kind of direct denial. Is that good enough?
BLUMENTHAL: No. In no way is that kind of dressing up or avoidance of the issue good enough. In fact, this remark ought to be retracted. The President really owes America an apology. He certainly has made this immigration search for solutions all the more difficult. And I think he really needs to disavow that kind of comment and apologize.
MELBER: And senator, one of our experts here speaking earlier made the argument that while these comments tonight are so newsworthy because they do reveal something they also come on a day when some of your colleagues have been trying to reach an important breakthrough to actually do policy that would affect whether people who are in this country right now are deported or not. So all of this vulgarity, as you pointed, these racial attacks, are in the context of what the Congress and the President`s team are going to do to people.
But one of our guests said more broadly, it is not a surprise because many people have observed that Donald Trump rose to power and prominence with race-based appeals. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You are not allowed to be a President if you are not born in this country. He may not have been born in this country.
All I want to do is see this guy`s birth certificate.
Perhaps it is going to say Hawaii. Perhaps it will say Kenya.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: In a sense, do you look at these reported comments tonight as him going back to the well and a form of birtherism except it is about a lot of other people around the world rather handle the former President?
BLUMENTHAL: It goes back to comments that he has made earlier, litany of them, that are so unworthy of the presidency and unworthy of America. There`s a temptation and a tendency to become desensitized to some of Donald Trump`s racist remarks, to regard them as the new normal. That is both sad and regrettable and it cannot be allowed the happen in America.
One more quick point, Ari.
MELBER: Yes, sir.
BLUMENTHAL: We just had a briefing in the United States Senate, among some of the threats around the world, military threats. And I think about the reaction in some of these countries where we have military forces deployed. Some of them, special forces. How we will be in greater danger in those countries because of the damage done to the reputation of the United States of America for fairness and freedom and openness and tolerance. Our great power as country. The great example of American exceptionalism is our freedom and our tolerance for people of diverse backgrounds and races and religions and we betray those values. And we undermine our national security with this kind of remark.
MELBER: Well, you raise another level that we had not gotten to yet, senator, which is there is the moral force of this issue, there is the policy question which certainly doesn`t help the negotiations going on tonight. And then as you say, there`s a larger security implication. All of this because of the reported comments from the President. Highly unusual.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MELBER: Up ahead, I have more breaking new on this. The White House on defense over the s-hole comment. New reaction coming in what it looks like an attempt to spin it.
And other breaking news, I have a big interview on "the Beat" about a very big Senate race shaping up in Arizona. It is a special interview we are doing tonight. I`m going to explain that later.
Stay with us. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching "the BEAT" on MSNBC.
MELBER: Welcome back.
We have breaking news. A Democratic source telling NBC that Donald Trump has just slammed immigrants from s-hole countries, explicitly citing Africa and Latin America. Haiti as well. It came up during a White House meeting that was about restoring protections for certain immigrants including the diversity lottery program that touches on countries like Haiti and El Salvador. All of this, of course, the part of high level negotiations at the White House have been going in all week including the potential compromise solutions for so-called DREAMERS.
I`m back with Jeffrey Rosen. He is president/CEO of the National Constitution Center and a constitutional scholar. Robert Costa, a reporter with "the Washington Post," very close to "the Beat" here, on the White house and Robert Reyes, an NBC immigration expert is with us.
Let me start with Robert Costa. Just straight up reporting, what are you hearing? Is this a problem for the White House?
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Interesting question because my colleague here, Josh Dossie (ph) broke the story. And the White House is not denying the President made the comment. The incendiary curse comment that he made also referencing Norway reportedly in that conversation, a country that is mostly white in contrast to the other countries he mentioned.
So this is a political problem for the White House. These immigration talks continue. But you wonder, will this Republican base, will Republican base voters react in an alarmed way or not?
MELBER: Well, I understand the point you are raising.
Let me go to Raul Reyes on brand new reaction because this is a breaking story from the former president of Mexico who has entangled with Donald Trump before. Vicente Fox posting this on twitter.
RealDonaldTrump, your mouth is the foulest s-hole in the world. With what authority do you proclaim who is welcome in America and who is not? America`s greatness is built on diversity or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?
REYES: I mean, actually coming from Vicente FOX is not really a surprise because he has been out there as a critic of Trump at every stage. You know, whether we talk about Mexico paying for the wall or this his idea of Mexicans as rapists, source of drug dealers and so on.
But the thing is, when it comes to immigration policy, this - I mean, people say things or there are reports about different things all the time that are debated. In this instance, the very troubling thing about it is that it fits a pattern. We are seeing with Trump, as you mentioned, literally from day one when he entered the race with disparaging remarks about Mexicans.
Just about a month ago, Trump allegedly was saying that people from Haiti, all had AIDS. And people from Africa would not want to go back to their quote, unquote "huts" once they have been to United States.
Now, with that type of mindset, it is very easy for some progressives, I would imagine, to look at his agenda and say that`s what drives them in wanting to restrict DACA, to restrict legal immigration, to end TPSD, Temporary Protected Status.
MELBER: Right. And what you are saying is, you know, that we had the "New York Times" story on that. I mean, to Robert`s point, yes, the White House isn`t denying this at all. Those earlier comments was that Haiti had sent 15,000 people, the Times reported.
Trump said quote "they all have AIDS," he grumbled. Forty thousand have come from Nigeria. Mr. Trump added. Once they had sustain U.S., they would quote "never go back to their huts in Africa."
Robert, one more question on where this is playing in Washington. And then I want to talk to Jeff Rosen about the substance in the law here.
I have a brand new statement here from the Democratic election campaign committee saying speaker Ryan and every House Republican owe their constituents an immediate denouncement of these racist attacks. Silence from Republicans is complicity, Bob. The politics there is an attempt to get those rebuttals. Speaker Ryan was loud during the campaign when he said that Donald Trump crossed racial lines. What will we see this time?
COSTA: This was already a charged moment because of the ongoing immigration talks, it becomes even more charged with this comment by President Trump made in private deliberation with Democrats and Republicans at the White House. Now Democrats feel like they can be on the offensive as they try to close on the deal to protect the Dreamers from deportation.
MELBER: And as well, I want to read, again, the reactions are pouring in as they do. Here is the Democratic congressman Ted Lieu saying he is uphold by Donald Trump`s quote "racist remarks. Potus dividing our nation. His statement was beyond the pale."
And then he writes, and I think this becomes the question in this quote "even for him." As a proud immigrant serving in Congress I will continue on fight against these hateful policies.
I want to dig in deeper and having Jeffrey Rosen here is head of the national constitution center is that an apt way to do it. Let`s broaden beyond these comments covering them and confronting them. That`s the ethics of what we heard out of the White House. The reaction in a substantive manner, Jeffrey, could any of this come up in these ongoing travel ban cases?
JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT/CEO, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: It might come up in the travel ban cases. Because the central constitutional question on those cases is, is the President motivated by animus against particular religious groups or groups defined by national origin?
The constitution allows the President to exclude people from certain countries if he is concerned about national securities and that is what he is claiming the current travel ban does. But judges and lower courts have looked to the President`s tweets to say, no, it is really unconstitutional animus against Muslims that in steak. This new evidence distinguishing, as you have been talking about, between people from some of countries, and Africa countries and those from Norway, might be invoked to suggest unconstitutional animus. And it is possible that judges and the lower court cases could side it and it could create some legal troubles.
MELBER: I mean, you are saying, Jeffrey, that essentially what the President leaked or spilled out or couldn`t keep within him could go to what is usually the hardest thing to prove in a discrimination appeal which is not the just whether a policy might be a good or a bad idea or might technically violates something that is part of the constitution. Some judges have already ruled that.
But really, the whole enchilada, that the whole thing allegedly is the plainest argue, is discriminatory.
ROSEN: That`s exactly right. Now there is a big dispute in a lower court about whether or not the President`s tweets or his comments or his extra presidential statements should be admitted. And some court have said, yes and others no.
But it is conceivable that some court might say there is a pattern of practice of this sort of racial animus. And therefore the stated reasons for both the travel ban, and also, this decision to repeal the visa lottery. Because remember, the diversity of visa lottery is justified in treating countries differently whether they have had lots of immigrants coming in before. And some countries are in and some countries are out. That`s permissible. But if the President tries to put countries on or off the list because he is motivated by racial animus, that is unconstitutional.
It is really interesting -- you were right, Ari, to say in the early 20th century, there were shameful quotes (ph) against people from Asian countries, for example. But ever since the 1970s, the court has been very clear in saying that the equal protection clause of the constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of racial or religious animus even when it comes to immigration and therefore on justice on both sides of the spectrum might be highly sensitive to evidence of racial animus when it comes to immigration.
MELBER: Yes, exactly. And Raul, that`s why if you are just tuning in tonight and saying what is this breaking story. Did the President say something terrible? I have heard that before. Maybe, but this is wider. It is wider because of the points Jeffrey just made on the fact that Donald Trump could have hurt himself in other pending challenges to the core policies he has already put out to the executive power. It is wider because the day was unfolding with a potential solution to this in the senate which apparently may be harder now or blown up. And it is wiser because we are back to the fundamental debate that Donald Trump may have wanted to have in the campaign. It is not clear that it helps him in governing.
And with that I go to your reaction, senator Cory Booker, a Democratic leader who says, let me be clear. Quote, this is just now, "RealDonaldTrump doesn`t speak for America. We are a nation of immigrants and I am so proud of that."
REYES: Right. And that`s a fine reaction from the senator. But we are also seeing every time Donald Trump makes these types of remarks, what he does is put all other Republican lawmakers, even down to the local level, on notice because they are invariably are asked questions. Do you denounce these remarks? Will you speak up against the President about them?
You touched on his remarks and the question of racial animus with regard to the travel ban cases that are going on. That also touches on one of the cases that is happening right now. You know, we have multiple lawsuits going on against DACA. One of them brought by the national immigration law center. And the core argument is that this administration has displayed racial animus, non-whites toward, specifically Mexican Americans. These comments can be used in this lawsuit to challenge DACA.
MELBER: Yes. And I would not go so far to call for any silver lining right now. But I would say that the analysis we have just heard in the segment speaks to why at least some plaintiffs believe their hand may have just been strengthened by these rather outrageous comments of the President of the United States.
Raul Reyes, Robert Costa, Jeffrey Rosen, thank you to each of you.
Ahead, I have more on this breaking including all the reaction pouring in to Trump`s comments. But that`s not all. How does this impact the Arizona Senate race? There is a very controversial person running there and we have a very interesting report and interview on that ahead.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Breaking news on Steve Bannon. Days after torching his relationship with the White House, there is now a new reporting tonight that he has hired a lawyer. He has an interview next week with House Russia investigators. That would be enough for Bannon this week. But the other breaking story tonight that you probably haven`t heard about because we`ve been covering a lot of other important stories, is that even though Donald Trump already ethered Steve Bannon`s influence by getting his donors to oust Bannon from Breitbart, tonight Donald Trump unloading on his former adviser. This is a new interview I`m about to show you from the Wall Street Journal. Donald Trump saying he feels betrayed by Bannon. And when asked if this split that has rocked the White House this week is permanent, he says, of course, we`ll see.
A lot of reporting about Bannon has downplayed the criticism he lodged against Donald Trump Jr. in Fire and Fury saying that meeting at Trump Tower was treasonous. But remember, there wasn`t a full denial about what Steve Bannon thought. In fact, there hasn`t been really a specific denial of what Bannon told Michael Wolff about the Russia probe including that he thought maybe it was possible that Donald Trump knew about that controversial meeting. And the line there was "zero chance Trump Jr. didn`t walk the participants out to meet his father. Of course that is an estimation not fact witness testimony. Bannon is also saying the probe is about money laundering and warning Trump he claims against firing Comey because it would turn a third-tier story into the biggest story in the world.
Now, why am I telling you these things right now? Well, those just went from key pieces of the story line in Fire and Fury which everyone is fascinated by, to things that yes, these House investigators could ask Bannon about and what he got a lawyer for. The Daily Beast reporting that Bannon will fully cooperate though, and that would include of course, answering any questions that come not only from the House but an eventual interview from Bob Mueller. Now, if Bannon tells Mueller everything he knows about the Trump Tower meeting, and the Comey firing and the 18 days when Michael Flynn was still at the White House, that could up the pressure on Trump to talk to Mueller himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And certainly I`ll see what happens but when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you`d even have an interview.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Unlikely, Donald Trump thinks, that he would have to do an interview. And now, one day after he said that, Donald Trump`s number two though, says something a little different. A source saying that NBC -- telling us here at NBC News that Vice President Pence would agree to an interview with Mueller if asked. That is some interesting developments about who is sitting down with who. Now ahead, it was very big news when Donald Trump used that pardon to help his longtime political ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio avoid any potential jail time. Joe Arpaio is running for Senate. A lot of people think he has a shot in the Republican Primary. A story that is getting a lot of attention and that we think it merits some fact checking to address and it holds this candidate accountable, as we often try to do on this show. We asked Sheriff Joe if he would come on here and face the hard questions. He said yes and he`s my next guest.
MELBER: Now to our interview tonight. Sheriff Joe Arpaio just announced he is running for Senate in Arizona, a seat that Jeff Flake is leaving after finding himself out of step with Trump`s supporters there. In a moment, I`ll speak to two civil rights experts about Arpaio`s record. But first, Arpaio is, of course, the former Sheriff who is legally heading to jail after a judge held him in contempt for defying immigration rulings. He was only spared when President Trump intervened with a dramatic lifeline that`s only offered to criminals, a pardon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reaction to President Trump`s decision to pardon the former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues to pour in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By issuing a pardon on Friday night to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, President Trump got Joe Arpaio to confess his guilt by accepting that pardon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is facing sharp criticism for granting a pardon to Joe Arpaio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With me now is Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Sheriff, thank you for being here tonight.
JOE ARPAIO, FORMER SHERIFF, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Thank you and thanks for inviting me.
MELBER: You are running for the Senate. And so the first question, given your history is why should you get a promotion to write laws when you yourself didn`t follow court orders?
ARPAIO: Well, you know, the court that you`re talking about is a misdemeanor, contempt of court. A previous judge said that I violated his decision. I`m not going to get into that. As far as the contempt, it was a misdemeanor. Same time you can get for barking dogs. And I won`t get into all the facts as to how that trial was conducted and when the Department of Justice went public during the trial telling all the voters that, I -- actually, we were in the election phase, telling reporters I could get six months in prison. So the President -- and I never asked for the pardon -- pardoned me because he knew that this decision was wrong and I appreciate that pardon. And we`ll see what happens in the near future. We have some appeals in process.
MELBER: What`s your -- you said you won`t get into the facts but I will get into the facts here tonight. Some of the facts that were at issue as you know were the Tent City that you would house detainees in which you so- called a concentration camp. Temperature is up to 136 degrees there basically requiring inmates at times to wear pink underwear apparently to humiliate them, chain gangs, I want to mention your legal case and give you a chance to respond. Ultimately it cost over $48 million to the taxpayers. And as you know, the cases involved detaining people without what a judge said were cause as well as accusations of racial profiling. Do you stand by all of that or do you think that being held in contempt by a judge shows that some of that for you was over the line?
ARPAIO: Well, first of all, we run one of the best jail systems in the country according to the U.S. Department of Justice and others when you went through that litany that was put out by an independent newspaper called the New York -- the Phoenix Times who doesn`t like me but that`s neither here nor there. So when we go to trial, if there are lawsuits, we won the majority of our lawsuits on how we operate the jails. I`m not going to -- let me tell you something. I don`t run a Hilton Hotel. If they don`t like the tents, which were there, I put them up 24 years ago, they don`t like the food, they don`t like our policies. That`s too bad. They violated the law and that`s what it is. So you`re going down a litany of what you read in a newspaper but that`s all right --
MELBER: Well, sir, it`s not just what I read in the newspaper. And you said they violated the law. The other issue is you`re seeking a promotion, I think we can all agree, and a judge found you violated the law. And so that raises the question of why do you want to go to the Senate and write laws if you wouldn`t follow a judge`s orders to uphold them?
ARPAIO: A judge found me guilty of a misdemeanor and I`m not going into the politics of that.
MELBER: Let me ask you another important question because you brought up this unusual but lawful pardon that you received from the President. As you know, when you take a pardon, you`re admitting guilt. Why did you take that pardon and admit guilt?
ARPAIO: I didn`t admit guilt. I said I was not guilty and I say it today.
MELBER: But you accepted the pardon and you know under the law, that is an admission of guilt.
ARPAIO: No, I don`t know about that. You`d have to talk to the legal scholars.
MELBER: Let me talk to you -- Sir, let me talk to you and I`ll give you a chance to respond. Supreme Court Burdick v. United States, this is the Supreme Court talking. It`s their view that is the law and not anyone`s opinion, mine or yours. And they say, "a pardon implies guilt and acceptance of a confession of it." Do you understand that that`s the legal implication of what you did by accepting that pardon?
ARPAIO: The President -- I`m not a lawyer, thank god but the President can make any decision he wants on a pardon. And I`m not going to argue about what your decision is. I`m sure his lawyers have reviewed it.
MELBER: Well, sir, but let`s not hide behind lawyers. This is pretty basic. I think the viewers can exactly understand what`s going on. If someone, I`m not even going to say you. If someone were offered a pardon a for a murder they didn`t commit, their first response might be, I didn`t do it. I don`t need a pardon for that murder. You do understand, under Supreme Court Law, and as Sheriff, you may not be a lawyer but you are obligated to uphold the law and you`re running for the Senate now to write the laws that that`s what that means and you accepted that pardon.
ARPAIO: This is -- I`m not going to get into the law. Again, this is a misdemeanor, the same as a barking dog as far as the time is concerned. A contempt of court which was very unusual, to begin with. So I`m not going to argue that. I`m telling you that I`m not guilty of that. I believe we were doing some type of appeal on that pardon. We`re not appealing the pardon but we`re doing an appeal on someone on the conviction -- the conviction. I was -- I was found guilty by a judge who refused to give me a jury trial -- a jury trial and announced my guilty verdict on a misdemeanor without even taking me into court. I had to hear about it in the media so there is a lot of other things --
MELBER: Do you understand how that sounds, sir? And I want to give you -- I want to give you a chance to respond. Do you understand that when you -- when you come here and you talk about the due process rights that you feel you may not have been afforded? You just said you didn`t like the way you found out about it from the judge but at the beginning of this discussion, you come on here and said tough if these detainees -- who by the way, some of them had not been convicted of anything, or held in contempt of anything, unlike yourself, you said tough. Do you see how that`s an issue if you want to be a Senator and people have to assess the record that it sounds a little bit like you want differential treatment, sir?
ARPAIO: Oh, come on. That`s not true. What do you mean, I used the word tough? So what? So I have been tough on crime for 58 years. I never had any problems.
MELBER: But you didn`t like when it the judge was tough on you, you`re saying?
ARPAIO: Well, what do you mean tough on me? Yes, I don`t like the way the trial occurred but I`m not going to -- you know what? I don`t want to talk about that because we`re still in the appeals process so --
MELBER: Understood. I have to spill one more fact on the record, sir, and then I will move to other topics. It`s not the only thing you`re on for, but we have to go through facts and the receipts. That`s something we do here. You mentioned the appeal but it was a senior federal judge, Susan Bolton in your case who said, "the pardon undoubtedly spared defendant -- that`s you -- any punishment that might otherwise have been in imposed but it did not revise the historical facts of this case. So you do understand, this is the finding -- this is the contempt. This is -- I guess the final question on this before we move on is why should voters put this to the side when they think about whether to promote you to the Senate?
ARPAIO: Well, let me say this. This is an appeal. You know you have the right to appeal a judge`s ruling? I guess you understand that.
MELBER: Yes, sir.
ARPAIO: Unfortunately, it`s up on the Ninth Circuit. But it`s under appeal, what you just said and we`re going to leave it at that. I`m not going to keep trying the case on television.
MELBER: And Sheriff, the other big news tonight is a Democratic source on Capitol Hill quoting the President and the White House not denying this at this hour, saying that President Trump in discussing immigration said that people from Latin America and African Countries, those are basically s-hole countries and he would prefer immigration more from places like Scandinavia. Do you agree with that or do you find that kind of language counterproductive to immigration reform?
ARPAIO: I`m not -- listen, first of all, I served as the head of the Federal Drug Enforcement In Latin America, Mexico, Turkey, I can go on and on so I understand a little about the countries he`s talking about. But whatever he says, that`s him. He says it. I`m not going to question what he says.
MELBER: You`re not going on question under any circumstances what the President says, is that how you approach President Obama? I mean, why would you -- if you want to go on Senate and represent Arizona, why would you say you`ll never question what a president says?
ARPAIO: Well, I`m not in the Senate now. So --
MELBER: But that`s the job you`re running for, Sir. That`s why -- that`s why you`re on tonight. You`re a Senate candidate. We`re trying to get a sense I think of what kind of leader you would be. And the President is saying people from those countries, those are s-hole countries. It`s that good or not? Can you give a straight answer?
ARPAIO: No, I don`t know. How do you know he said that? Is that what he said he said? Someone heard him say that or did you read that in some book? I presume you got that from a book, am I correct on that?
MELBER: You are -- you are incorrect in that instance but I understand the larger point you`re making which is a fair one to the press. You`re saying, how do we know. As I mentioned at the top, it`s a Democratic source that he said it in a meeting, the White House not denying it. I suppose if you want to say in your answer if he said it, but what`s your position? And then I`m going to take a break.
ARPAIO: I don`t have a position. Listen to everybody talking on the radio, making the bad remarks and so on, it seems like everybody does it anyway but I don`t know if he said it and I`m not going to read his mind. I support him regardless of what he says.
MELBER: Sheriff Arpaio, I appreciate you taking time during your Senate bid to come on to speak directly. Dialogue is important and I appreciate your time sir.
ARPAIO: Thank you. Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you, Sir. That`s not the end of our coverage. We`re going to have reaction to that interview and to Trump`s breaking news on this s- hole countries comment from two civil rights experts next.
MELBER: -- our breaking coverage, I`m joined again by Erika Andiola and Christina Greer. We`ve been covering this story of the President`s comments as well as my interview I just wrapped with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Your reaction, Erika?
ERIKA ANDIOLA, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, OUR REVOLUTION: I mean, it`s been you know, just remembering what he used to do in Arizona. I mean, to me it`s just -- I can`t believe that he has right now the guts to, you know, actually run for Senate. It`s just ridiculous to think that somebody who used to, you know, not just say like things like Trump said today, you know, about you know, just racist, terrible things to say, but would -- he actually got -- you know, he went into court and he did, he was found guilty. So to me, with you know, I just can`t believe he`s actually running for Senate and I really hope that Arizona can follow the steps of Alabama in making sure that this man does not get elected.
MELBER: Christina, the other point that was very apparent as the kind of senator that he would be, totally apart from what he fact checked and discussed on his record was by his own admission a kind of a total allegiance to Donald Trump, no matter what. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARPAIO: I don`t have a position. Listen to everybody talking on the radio, making the bad remarks and so on, it seems like everybody does it anyway but I don`t know if he said it and I`m not going to read his mind. I support him regardless of what he says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINA GREER, FELLOW, NYU MCSILVER INSTITUTE: He`s an embarrassment, as a candidate, and I can`t believe that Arizona has had to deal with him for a quarter of a century. I mean, what I think he represents is just really how fragile our democracy is. You know, we`ve been talking for a year now, and I`m constantly pressing about the importance of the separation of powers. The executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches have to be strong, separate from one another. We cannot have people in the Senate, or in Congress, and we`re seeing this in the GOP across the board, completely abdicating to this President. I mean, his racist notions are now becoming a part of the entire Republican Party in Washington, D.C.
They can pretend that they don`t see it, they can pretend that they`re not aligned with it, they are. The President is racist and these Republican legislators, who are casting their lot with him, are now saying that these types of comments, these types of candidates are OK. Arpaio is coming on the heels of Roy Moore. They`re coming on the heels of Jeff Sessions. The Republicans now have a long history of people who are exclusionists. People who think that Mexicans are bad and immigrants shouldn`t be here. And by the way, Arpaio is the child of two Italian immigrants. So the way he views immigrants is completely antithetical to his own history.
MELBER: Right. And he didn`t blanch at all when I asked him the breaking news about the President of the United States saying that these are s-hole countries in Africa and Latin American. Congresswoman Mia Love is a Republican and one of the only women of color in the entire GOP caucus and she has just broken with President Trump-- I just got this -- basically saying, "Donald Trump`s comments as reported are unacceptable and that he should apologize." That`s a call you don`t often hear from Republicans. Republican Orrin Hatch says, "I look forward to getting a more detailed explanation regarding the President`s comments and goes on to say, part of what America -- makes America so special is welcoming the best and brightest in the world, regardless, of course, of their country of origin."
And the other international reaction, former Mexican President, Vicente Fox saying, "Donald Trump, your mouth is the foulest s-hole in the world. America`s greatest is built on diversity, or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?" Erika, your view of Republicans, and I would note, as a factual matter, which Republicans we`re hearing from, breaking and calling the President to apologize immediately.
ANDIOLA: I mean, I don`t -- I`m not expecting just an apology. The reality is that we know that these two men have been believing this for many, many years. Donald Trump run, you know, with this idea of getting rid of DACA, or this idea of deporting people. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been found of racial profiling by the court. So we know that these men, you know, really believe in this. What we want right now is that Republicans, both Republicans, and Democrats actually to stand up and do something that needs to be done right now, for example, fixing the problem of DACA, making sure that we do get the DREAM Act. Democrats actually have the ability right now to stop, you know, to stop trying to deal with Trump and making sure that they use their leverage to pass it on the 19th of the spending bill.
And so there`s a lot that can be done right now, that it`s not just about an apology, it`s making sure that both parties are standing up for what is right, and making sure that we`re getting away from these people in this election, that American people go out and vote and make sure what happened in Alabama happens all across the country. In Arizona, we have a lot of work to do for sure, making sure that this man does not continue to spread, you know, hate and racism across our state.
MELBER: Yes, and you draw a connection to Alabama, where there was also the issue of criminal allegations against the candidate. Whether Arizona will look more like Alabama or like Arizona is the open question, up tote voters. I appreciate your analysis and your fact checking tonight on that Erika Andiola and Christina Grier. We will be right back.
MELBER: That does it for our show. THE BEAT will be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The voice of America. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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