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Supreme Court upholds travel bans. TRANSCRIPT: 6/26/2018, The Beat with Ari Melber.

Guests: Chaitanya Komanduri, Christina Greer, D.L. Hughley

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: June 26, 2018 Guest: Chaitanya Komanduri, Christina Greer, D.L. Hughley

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Our top story is the most consequential test on the power of presidency since Donald Trump assumed office. And this is a test he narrowly passed.

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the revised version of Trump's travel ban. Now whether you agree with that decision or not, it's a reminder that for this President's hyperbole and attacks on the rule of law, it's the law that had the final word tonight, no Donald Trump. Just it was the law that narrowed his original travel ban after those first days of total airport chaos. And in a tradition familiar to many presidents who wait to see if the Supreme Court will let them use their powers or if it will narrow their powers, Trump celebrated to today's ruling.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A tremendous success, a tremendous victory for the American people and for our constitution. This is a great victory for our constitution. We have to be tough and we have to be safe and we have to secure. The ruling shows that all of the attacks from the media and the democrat politicians are wrong and they turned tout be very wrong.


MELBER: The Supreme Court did not rule on whether this travel ban makes America more secure. Many experts say the opposite. But that was not the question before the court today. The question was quite narrow. Does the constitution give the President the power to bar immigrants from certain countries and did the final version of the travel ban do that or operate as a religious test? If you follow this issue you may have heard many other questions like is this fair, is it right, is it good for security?

Those are certainly important questions for the political branches, for the voters. But the Supreme Court is not supposed to resolve those questions for us. That is the way it has always been which means Trump was always more likely to have this ban upheld and whether you think that's good or bad, that's always been the legal frame work. Because we know the courts gives Presidents a lot of latitude on immigration.

Back on the first day after Trump ordered the original travel ban, amidst that airport chaos and those protests, I was out reporting on the whole mess but also on the legal frame work. I explained at the time that ban was likely to be upheld because the courts could interpret it as something less than the religious ban Trump campaigned on.


MELBER: Is it likely to be upheld? Probably. We can say there is great executive authority in the area of immigration. Is it written as a religious ban the way Donald Trump campaigned on? No, not at all.


MELBER: Today the chief justice Supreme Court wrote a majority opinion ruling this ban has legitimate purposes and says quote "nothing about religion." Also noting the issue before the court not whether to denounce things Trump said that critics believe strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance. By the standards of the Supreme Court here, that's an important line.

Think about it like this. Tonight, the court upholds the President's constitutional authority but also notes that critics say this President is an affront to the very tolerance America needs right now. In fact, if you put a lot of hyperbole and read this opinion, it cites President's Eisenhower defense of Muslim Americans right to pray and it shouts out George W. Bush for visiting the same Islamic center that Eisenhower visited to bring his message of tolerance for Muslims of 9/11. Quite a contrast to today's Donald Trump.

Now, the court obviously isn't citing that history at random today. It's a sobering moral contrast to this President. But when judges are restrained, they don't weave their moral calls into the rulings themselves.

And thus, Justice Roberts write a key phrase today that captures much of this era.

Quote "we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the President itself."

The statements of this particular President are different for the reasons we all know because they are divisive. They are often ugly. Sometimes they are even blatantly unlawful like that campaign pledge he made of a plan to violate the constitution.


TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.


MELBER: Against this backdrop, today the court also took an extraordinarily unusual step using this majority decision that agrees with Trump to also state its view on a totally unrelated historical case that think about this, until today remained a shameful precedent on the books in American court history. Is the Supreme Court infamously upheld the legality of Japanese internment? A precedent that's been discussed a lot lately given Trump's internment and separation of immigrant families.

Today, in response to critics from this centers about the travel ban decision, the conservative majority on this court, given the current climate writes this.

The old decision upholding internment was gravely wrong the day it was decided and has no place in law under the constitution.

So there is much important substance in this decision. Whether one agrees with the result or not. The political reaction to the case has been fierce. The first Muslim elected to Congress Keith Ellison hammering the electoral side that the Supreme Court seat stolen from Obama before the election paved the way for this ruling.


REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: This decision was set as soon as Neil Gorsuch was seated in the court. It's not a decision based on what the facts are. It's based on the composition and the political ideology of the Supreme Court at this moment.


MELBER: That is broadly true. The court reflects its appointees who then reflects at least to some degree the party that controls the White House. And we do know senate Republicans broke the president by flatly refusing Obama's nominee in the court in 2016.

But if you play what if, eventually it cancels everything out. If Trump didn't win then Gorsuch wouldn't be on the court but also there wouldn't be a travel ban to rule on today. The larger point goes a little deeper tonight. Courts are still, with everything going on right now, they are still a guardrail for the constitution. That's a good thing.

But they are not there to overrule any old bad idea that people may want out of the political arena. The constitution gives the President broad immigration power. And as the nation now assesses the competence and ethics of Donald Trump's use of that broad power, the question is not whether Donald Trump had it but whether as a nation, we want him to continue using it like this.

I'm joined by a special guest for this discussion, Anthony Romero is the executive director of the ACLU. He has led the charge on the ACLU's lawsuit against this travel ban and a legal eagle legend and PR correspondent Nina Totenberg.

Mr. Romero, what do you say to the fact that you lost because the Supreme Court determined that in its narrowed form this was not technically a ban on Muslims or a religious test?

ANTHONY ROMERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU: It's a tragic day. It's tragic day for the Supreme Court. It's tragic day for the country. And when I read the opinion twice today, especially the majority opinion and the dissent from Justice Sotomayor, I was struck about how we had two competing world views. The majority opinion tried so very hard to give him every benefit of the doubt and gave him great deference as you said in the opening segment.

It skirted over the questions of the on mouse that with believe was at the heart of this third proclamation. And ultimately, I believe and my colleagues in the ACLU and I believe that they applied the wrong standard in deciding this case. And so, they set the bar incredibly low for the government that they could easily hurl over. At the end of the day, I think this case will go down in history --

MELBER: You're saying, just to be clear, Anthony, you are saying that they basically put the fix in by using a rational base of standard which almost anything would pass rather than something stricter because of the anti- Muslim statements the President made?

ROMERO: And it's relegated to a small footnote on page 32 of Roberts' opinion. But when you read Justice Sotomayor's opinion, when she talked about how they discarded precedent in dealing with the establishment clause, the reasonable person standard, the reasonable observable standard is what should have governed. And that they rigged the outcome of this ruling by using the rational basis standard.

And then she talks about how they gave complete short shrift to the long history of the animus that led up prior to the first and second and third executive orders. The comments he made as President. I mean, there are sided in Justice Roberts's opinion because is smart enough to put some reference to it. But he gives it really short trip. And it was a line especially in Justice Sotomayor's opinion which I found so telling.

Deference is different from unquestioning deference or acceptance rather. And the idea that we can be differential to the executive branch, but it's not enough to question the executive branch. And she really does walk them through the whole process of how they missed an opportunity to delve into the facts of this case. It's a missed opportunity. And it will go down in history. They repealed or they overruled Kormatsu (ph) and they put another Kormatsu (ph) on the books.


NINA TOTENBERG, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Well, I think it's fair to say that this decision does give the President, this President and any President, more power than they had before. That they are -- for all practical purposes almost no bars that have to be crossed. That are too difficult to cross. If all you have to do is show that there's arguably a connection to national security, almost anybody can make that argument.

And in some ways the Trump administration is lucky that the first two of them, two versions of this got struck down by the lower courts because it's not entirely clear to me what the court would have done if it had gotten one of the earlier ones that had very little to back it up. They even were, for example, barring legal permanent residents in the United States from returning here if they were abroad. And they were coming back, they were barred. They forgot to put that in. That's how crazy the first one in.

So in some senses, by the time they got around to the third one, they jumped through all the hoops. They actually did an administrative review. They crossed the Ts and dotted the Is. And with the chief justice said is we actually don't dispute any of the comments that the President made about Muslims and whether they display a bias toward Muslims. The fact is that we are not even looking at. We are only looking at what is at this third version which has neutral words in its phase and therefore passes mustard.

But, you know, you can make the argument and some people I talk to today did. And some of them were from previous Republican administrations and national security positions. One of them said this is still a pig. They put the lipstick on it. They dressed it up so that five out of nine people accepted it but it's still a pig. And you know, you can make the argument --.

MELBER: And that raises the question, Nina -- it raises the question, is it a blind pig if it won't look at what the President said and did.

TOTENBERG: Well, I think that the court made pretty clear. And it always makes pretty clear that it really doesn't want to get involved in national security questions. This isn't like kids at the border. That's really a different question. This is a question that the President linked to national security. And over and over again over the years the court is very hesitant to get involved in these questions. And even in the Guantanamo cases, it took them six years to finally realize that if they didn't set down some standards, there weren't going to be any for how these people were treated and how the trials were to go forward and et cetera. And I think for a while this chapter is closed but there is a tiny little place. There are couple of nooks and crannies where after couple of years, it's conceivable that litigation could put pressure on the administration, for example, to grant many more waivers of the ban -- in the ban and to let people come here when they have medical problems, when they have jobs.

MELBER: Right. Which is partly --

TOTENBERG: Scholarly endeavors, et cetera.

MELBER: Right. Which is partly what justice Fryer was getting at is (INAUDIBLE) saying how much can you hide behind exceptions if they aren't meaningful. Why didn't we do fact-finding on that. So I think the cross talk, you know, between the majority and minority there was rich.

I want you both to stay with me.

For a perspective from a Trump supporter, I want to bring in republican congressman Bill Johnson who is happy with the decision.

Sir, why is this good for America in your view tonight?

BILL JOHNSON (R), OHIO: I think, first of all, let me say, Ari, that I respect our panel members today. Nina, I have followed your work for a long time. Anthony, I have watched your work from the sidelines as well. And I think all of you make some points. Some of them good. Obviously, it's not a secret. Some of them I disagree with.

What the court did was essentially, Ari, what you said in your initial comments. They ruled on the constitutionality of the Trump administration's actions. The rule of law. That's why I believe it is a victory for America because it stands on the constitution and it stands on the rule of law. And I think that's what is so vitally important.

What the Supreme Court said today is that the President of the United States who is solely charged with the defense, the protection and defense, of American people charged with executing policies to protect our national security, it's the chief executive who has the authority to make these kinds of decisions, not the courts, not outsiders.

MELBER: Right. And I think you are eluding to a point that Nina was making earlier in other case law which is even in very controversial situations we do know the court or at least the block of the court doesn't like to second guess potential national security decisions in real-time.


MELBER: Go ahead.

JOHNSON: Lower courts have made this decision before also. I mean if you look back at (INAUDIBLE), a federal judge said that a federal court should not even hear a case related to determining whether or not the chief executive can make or decide who comes into our country. And you know, we can argue the points about rhetoric and what was said but what we have to base this on is what this actually done because --.

MELBER: Right. So let me do one thing on this for you first and then the panel which is this other thing that happened tonight that's so unusual. The Supreme Court using today's decision to deal with Japanese internment. I think we would all agree that's an usual thing to occur in the middle of this decision.

Congressman, for you first. Take a listen at Donald Trump doing what his lawyers would surely advise against which is siting that disfavored precedent on this issue.


TRUMP: What I'm doing is no different than what FDR. FDR's solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you are for internment camps?

TRUMP: This is a President who is highly respected by all. He did the same thing. If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.


MELBER: He did the same thing, congressman. That was candidate Trump defense. For you and then the panel, your view of the news tonight, is it good that Supreme Court has emphatically and finally said that Japanese interment internment decision was wrong. And if so, was Donald Trump wrong to invoke it?

JOHNSON: Well, I can't speak for the President and I have not read the full report or the full ruling from the Supreme Court. I do agree with you it's very unusual that they would go back that far and bring something up like this. I think I will have to stand on my earlier comments that what makes this such a landmark decision is that the Supreme Court said it is the chief executive under our constitution, under our system of government, our President has the sole authority to make these kinds of decisions based on America's (INAUDIBLE) and national security. I think that's the important take away here.

TOTENBERG: Well, you know --

MELBER: Yes, sir. Let me go to Nina and then Anthony.

TOTENBERG: Well, if you look at this decision by the chief justice, obviously, the Japanese interment was added on the last page because the dissent Justice Sotomayor's dissent said this is analogous to the Japanese internment. And that clearly jerked his chord big time. Because, you know, you can't find a serious scholar in the United States of America who would defend the Japanese internment or slavery anymore or Dred Scott (ph). And he didn't like at all being lumped into that group. And so he made very clear that's why he reached back and said it was wrong the day it was decided. It's wrong now. We are taking this opportunity to wipe it off the books. It's no longer operative precedent.

ROMERO: Absolutely right, Nina.

And I think, with all due respect, sir, although reasonable people might differ about this opinion, no one can differ about the legacy was of Kormatsu (ph). And that case in 1941 brought by the ACLU and lost in 1944 of the Supreme Court. And the fact that justice Roberts bent over backwards after referenced it because he must have seen it in the draft of the dissent that was coming to him as he was writing his majority opinion and also the insertion of some nominal talk of the religious animus and the majority opinion also speaks about how he had to respond to the dissent. I think ultimately, the one opinion that I find the most curious is the tormented opinion by Justice Kennedy, one-and-a-half pages.

TOTENBERG: You can't tell what it said.

ROMERO: He talks about how we can't review this action by the President but then he goes onto scold the President, in my view, as I read it between the lines, about how we need civility, how elected officials need to uphold the constitution and it's man who is obviously tormented by the fact that he is voting with the majority because he has a very limited view of what judicial review as in this context, but he obviously is having very great difficulties on the statements and even the policy out comes of the President.

And with all due respect, I think this is one of those moments when I think Justice Kennedy might regret that opinion that he didn't go the extra yard to bring the ball across the goal line.

TOTENBERG: You can't tell what would happen in the future. He has changed -- he changed his mind about Guantanamo.

ROMERO: Exactly.

TOTENBERG: And that's what happened in those six years. And I thought that page and a half opinion was a little bit of warning shot as was in some ways the chief justices opinion talking about the responsibility of a President and refusing to, in any way, try to mitigate President Trump statements expressing an anti-Muslim bias. Just saying that's not our business. It is the President. If Congress wants to change it, it should change it, but not -- he is nowhere defending those comments.

MELBER: I have warning shot which is I have to fit in a break.

Congressman, briefly. Final word.

JOHNSON: Well, I was going to say you can't just take a few things that the President said. You have to look at the context of all that he did. He did not include all Muslim countries. There's only -- there is less than 10 percent and two of the current countries are not even Muslim countries.

ROMERO: Window dressing.

JOHNSON: So, and with the waivers for asylum --

ROMERO: Window desks.

JOHNSON: I think you have to look at the total context.

MELBER: This is the type of conversation that I think is important. So I appreciate the three of you being a big part of it on a bog news.

Anthony Romero, Nina Totenberg and Congressman Bill Johnson, thanks to each of you.

We have a lot more including Donald Trump's lawyer sitting down and listening to the audio tapes from Michael Cohen's office. Congressman Eric Swalwell joins me.

Also Trump facing a lawsuit here over the boarder policy. We will look at how that could catch up with him. All that plus the new rant against late night talk show host, (INAUDIBLE) is my special guest tonight on THE BEAT.

I'm Ari Melber and we will be right back.


MELBER: Turning to Donald Trump's other legal troubles, there has been a lot of talk about what those audio tapes what his lawyer, Michael Cohen, may have on them. Lawyers for the Trump organization admit they are looking at these audio files which adds to the intrigue about just what they may hold.

I'm joined by California congressman Eric Swalwell. He is on the intelligence and then the eye of the storm as well as Nick Ackerman, a former Watergate special prosecutor.

Usually the first question goes to the more senior official which is the Congressman but my first question is rank speculation so I'm taking it to Nick because our sitting member of the intelligence committee may be too careful to answer it.

Nick, what do you think is on the tapes and why is the Trump organization, the business, now so interested in finding out?

NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: We have no idea, obviously, what is on these tapes. But it does make you wonder whether or not we are going back in time to Watergate where the tapes were the key evidence at the end of the day.

There could be all kinds of things on these tapes. We don't know exactly what Michael Cohen put on these tapes. But there's one thing we do know is that the Trump organization wanted to stay and review these tapes as long as they possibly could. The judge today denied them that opportunity.

They were there just to protect, presumably Donald Trump's attorney-client privilege. But reality, I think they were there to try to learn what was on the tapes and what kind of exposure Donald Trump faces as a result of these tapes.

MELBER: You are making a subtle legal point which is that under the rules they can only hold back things that fit within the attorney-client relationship which may be limited given that Michael Cohen himself has said he doesn't do a lot of lawyering but they could use the process to get intel, to get a lot of other stuff.

Congressman take a listen to what Michael Cohen's foe in the civil case said about this.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' LAWYER: But I have every reason to believe, Ari, that these recordings that were seized by the FBI which Michael Cohen and his attorneys have a copy of include recordings between Michael Cohen and the President of the United States as well as others. Donald Trump is on one of the recordings, at least one of them. I know that for a fact. I stand behind it.


MELBER: Congressman, without asking you to speculate, what matters here in your view?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, to me, Ari, what matters is that this is the President's quote-unquote "lawyer" but self- described fixer who has millions of documents that were seized and only about 15,000 were even marked as attorney-client privilege which makes me believe that his larger role was to protect the President in very odd ways.

Most people don't keep audio tapes of anyone they work for. But as it relates to Russia, I think it shows that Mr. Cohen was a shadowy operator. During the primary campaign he was working with Felix Sater (ph), a Russian American who had done business with Trump before, to put a Trump tower in Moscow. So I think if Michael Cohen was willing to work in shadowy way around the Stormy Daniels issue, we should probably conclude that as it related to what he was doing with Russia, he wasn't straight with us and there's probably a lot more to learn.

MELBER: And congressman, let me read from the actual trial that is coming with Manafort where Bob Mueller is apparently concerned. He said potential jurors may have biased or pre-formed opinions as a result of the exposure and widespread media attention. Some of the media accounts question Mueller's probe telling to advance the opinion of investigation quote "tainted." And the results are suspect. What is he saying there in plain English?

SWALWELL: That the President every day seeks to undermine Bob Mueller's work. And at the end of the day what that could mean is that jurors may go in predisposed not to believe Bob Mueller. But you know, Ari, as someone who has prosecuted dozens of cases, I have a lot of faith in the American juror that they can take the responsibility seriously only focus on the evidence and reach the right verdict.

MELBER: Nick, briefly, your view of that. It's got to be harder to get a jury pool that's not tainted in such a big story case.

ACKERMAN: There's no question about it. I mean, what's so unusual here is that you have the President of the United States who is supposed to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, undermining, attacking and trying to basically take that juror pool that is out there and taint it as much as possible against Bob Mueller which is why Mueller filed this form in the court last week asking that the judge provide this is jury questionnaire to all the jurors so they can really dig down and find out whether Trump, Rudy Giuliani or the other surrogates have been successful with respect to any of the juror panels that could selected for the 12- person jury on the Manafort case.

ARI MELBER, Yes, Nick Akerman and Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you both.


MELBER: Ahead on THE BEAT Donald Trump focusing on the real enemy, comedians. We have one of the original Kings of Comedy. The great D.L. Hughley is here with me tonight. I'm excited about that, but first the widening attacks on the rule of law and why it's bigger than the Russia probe and includes Harley-Davidson motorcycles when we're back in 60 seconds


MELBER: Our other top story tonight. New heat on Donald Trump over border policies. Now, even though he partly backed out on family separation, now 18 attorneys general filing the first lawsuit against Trump to permanently stop the policy today. They say they're a constitutional due process rights and equal protection violations. Trump of course doubling down on a critique that shows the either doesn't know or doesn't care how judges in this system work.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it embolden you also to the idea of deporting people without due process, as well? Do you think --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to find a system where you don't need thousands of judges sitting at a border. Other countries look at us and they think we're crazy. They say what kind of a thing is that?


MELBER: Now, one of my next guests argues it's a mistake to view the immigration fight and the Mueller fight and also this trade war separately because Donald Trump uses all of them to abuse his authority and they're part of a creeping king-like attack on checks and balances. Consider that when you look at Trump doing something today that would literally be illegal if Congress passed a law to the same effect targeting a company Harley-Davidson to be taxed like never before because it's responded to his own trade war by moving production overseas. So let's get to these guests. I'm joined by Mike Murphy, an MSNBC Political Analyst with Republican experience, Chai Komanduri an Analyst with Democratic experience and Christina Greer a Fellow at NYU's McSilver Institute. Welcome to all. Chai, you argue that these all run together, the Harley-Davidson thing is not just Twitter talk.


MELBER: What do you mean?

KOMANDURI: Well, I think that the way the media has covered the Mueller investigation and the Trump policies, they put them in separate boxes but I think it's more accurate to look at it as one contiguous story. The Putinization of America. Now, when we look at the Russia investigation, it's been presented as a direct exchange of goods. Putin helps Trump with the election, Trump gives Putin a pro-Russia foreign policy. Well, a better way to look at it is it's a collaboration between Trump and Putin to make America more like Putin's Russia. And you can see this with this Harley-Davidson case. Going after Harley-Davidson and Amazon as well, you know, these sorts of companies that cross Trump's path is exactly what Vladimir Putin has done in Russia to build the crony capitalism that is a hallmark of the Russian state.

MELBER: Right, and the irony being that Donald Trump notoriously struggled to build his business is the traditional way. I mean, he's not Elon Musk, he's not Bill Gates.


MELBER: And then you add to the year evidence the fact that he openly admires the leaders of North Korea in Russia.

KOMANDURI: Oh yes, absolutely. I mean, that's something that's very hallmark of Putin's foreign policy is the support for dictators around the world. I mean, that is something that Vladimir Putin very much does and Donald Trump follows suit rhetorically and also in practice. He does run a pro-Russia foreign policy by any estimation. And Mike Murphy, one of the mistakes of perhaps the hyperventilating overreaction to Donald Trump is that there's no proportion and a lot of other people around the country may say, well, yes, some of this is bad but is it all the worst thing ever. When you remove the T-word and you just look at how people feel about democracy right now, look at this, Mike, 79 percent of Americans which includes obviously conservatives concerned about the condition of democracy in America. Your view of the other points that Chai raises.

MIKE MURPHY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well on the poll first, I think that is very telling. We're in a tribal politics now where the slogan on both sides is I'm right you're evil so I can do or say anything about you because I'm fighting evil and that's a very dangerous construct. It totally cheapens political dialogue because there's no argument, just an insult contest of absolute so I think that is a bad thing for democracy and in some ways, I'm happy to see people are hip to it because there will be a reformation I hope in the future. I'm not quite there on the unified field theory about Trump and Putin but I do agree that Trump definitely has autocratic tendencies. I don't think he ever studied the presidency, I don't think he understands the institution. He thinks his job is to bark orders and crush dissent. To him everything is personal. There's no ideology other than the cult around Trump. And so you see companies like Harley-Davidson that are victims here still getting his ire because they've offended his delicate sensibilities.

MELBER: And so, you take that into account and Christina, listen to Donald Trump at a rally last night touting the unbending loyalty that he perceives.


TRUMP: So this announcer says what can he do? And you've heard me say this because this happens a lot. What can he do where you won't be with him? What can he do when you're going to drop Donald Trump and one of these women stood out perhaps the leader, perhaps not, but she came forward and she said there's absolutely nothing he can do. Can you believe that? There is nothing he can do.


CHRISTINA GREER, FELLOW AT MCSILVER INSTITUTE, NYU: So this is -- you know, I think I disagree with the right versus evil. I mean in so many different ways what Democrats are saying is you know, they're on one side and supporters of Trump are saying we can take thousands of children away from their parents with no receipt. I think this Trump sort of consistently going to his rallies which he needs because he's a boy King and he thinks that the presidency is just him marching around demanding things. He's never had a board of directors as I brought up before. But I think what's really important to remember the words of LBJ where he was very clear when he told his colleagues that if you convince the poorest white man that they're better than the negro, you can pick his pocket all day long. And I think for many Trump supporters working class and also middle and upper class, he's convinced them that immigrants are the enemy, Mexicans explicitly are rapists and terrorists and vermin which he stated several times. And because of that he's convinced them that they are superior in a white supremacist fashion to other citizens and undocumented individuals who are in this country and that allows him to do whatever you "needs to do" by the law. Keep in mind lots of news were illegal for many times shadows slavery being one of them, Jim Crow being another where just because it's legal on the books does not mean it's correct or the thing that we should be doing as America.

MELBER: Well, to your to your -- to your point Christina, and with that that ties back the travel ban the fact that it was upheld today as constitutional doesn't resolve the questions of whether Americans think it's a good idea. On a lighter note, you're calling him a boy king, previously on this broadcast, you've referred to him as a "man baby" so it seems that he may be growing up before your eyes.

GREER: Well, for these purposes I think about him and his wife and her anti-bullying campaign clearly is not working #Be Better Melania because this is a man who goes to Twitter, right, to talk about not just yelp reviews of restaurants but to actually you know, they'll not even thinly veil, a sitting member of Congress. I mean, I think we've moved beyond the point where this President doesn't understand or respect the office of the Presidency. And we know the only way this Constitution is going to work is if we have an equilateral triangle of Congress, the courts, and the President working in overseeing the President take the --

MELBER: Right, let me get -- let me get responses from Mike and then Chai.

MURPHY: Well, I I'm a Trump critic, not a Trump defender but I think it's wider than that. Trump is a grievance candidate and he uses race and that's the shame of him. But there are other grievance candidates on both sides. Bernie Sanders is a grievance candidate but he doesn't to his credit use race. There's a lot of grievance in our politics now because the great American middle class was stagnant wages for a long time and real buying power is really, really mad at the political system and that creates an environment where these characters can run on the I'm right you're evil equation on both sides. Now Trump is put in on miracle-grow steroids so the biggest shame is on him. He's set a new level but this is systemic now in our politics and it's a big thing.

MELBER: Let me go to Chai, briefly.

KOMANDURI: Yes, I think it's much deeper than grievance. I think what Trump practices is cruelty. He -- part of his brand is cruelty and you get to go back to like the idea of Vladimir Putin, that is a big part of the brand of Vladimir Putin and other dictators. You simply have to show the opposition what you're capable of. That's exactly why we had the crisis that we have on the border. Donald Trump is trying -- on some level he's trying to show people what he's capable of doing. That type of cruelty is very important in terms of intimidating people. So I think it goes much deeper than just grievances.

MELBER: Right. And that's why -- that's why the references to authoritarianism are substitutive not just rhetorical, Chai Komanduri, Mike Murphy, and Christina Greer, thanks to each of you. We take a turn because we have a comedian next. D.L. Hughley is here to talk about the battle with late-night comedy next.


MELBER: Trump on the attack not against Putin's policies or Kim Jong-un's human rights abuses, no. He's hammering the comedians.


TRUMP: Jimmy Fallon calls me up and he's like a nice guy. He's lost. He looks like a lost soul. The guy on CBS's is -- what a lowlife. What a low-life. Jimmy Kimmel would meet me before the election, he would stand outside of the sidewalk waiting for me. Now, I wouldn't do a show, the guy is terrible.


MELBER: Trump went further than that boasting about how he's willing to laugh at himself.


TRUMP: I mean, honestly are these people funny? And I can laugh at myself. Frankly, if I couldn't I'd be in big trouble. But there's no talent. He's not -- there not like talented people.


MELBER: Now, we do have to fact-check around here. Trump claiming he can laugh at himself has been notoriously proven false in most situations. And are these people funny? Well, you decide.


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Hey, maybe we don't talk about Donald Trump much tonight and then he opened his mouth and all manner of stupid came out.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: The tension of the entire weekend can be summed up by this picture. I believe it's entitled still life with (BLEEP).

JIMMY FALLON: Now, watch Trump's commencement speech and it sounded kind of familiar. See if you can tell what I mean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We take our next steps into the world.

TRUMP: You must go forth into the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is with passion

TRUMP: Passion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Courage of conviction.

TRUMP: Courage in your convictions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And most importantly --

TRUMP: Most importantly --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have faith in yourself.

TRUMP: Be true to yourself.


TRUMP: I did it.


MELBER: Joining me now one of the original kings of political comedy D.L. Hughley. He broke the scene as a comic on HBO's iconic Def Comedy Jam. That show of course also paved the way for our friend Dave Chappelle and celebrated its 25th-anniversary last year. D.L., you tell a lot of jokes. What does it mean to you when someone can't take a joke?

D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: I think that that's little self-indulgence. I think that -- just like when I see all the things that are happening right now in terms of civility, I think that when you have a president that is lower than norms of civility, you can -- when you call people racist name and misogynist names and xenophobic names, you can't be shocked when people that represent you. You know, everybody's talking about how Sarah Huckabee and the (INAUDIBLE) thing but I read -- and how uncivil that was. But I remember when the Tea Party used to come to Barack Obama's rallies and outside armed, you know, where they started carrying guns so this all --- the tone for this kind of discourse is happening for a very long time so it's just disingenuous to pretend like you haven't contributed to.

MELBER: Yes, you're talking about that word. That's become kind of a flashpoint word civility discourse.

HUGHLEY: Rights.

MELBER: These are things that when we hear them sometimes it sounds like a thing that people in power demand in a one-way direction. Is that what you think civility is? Go ahead.

HUGHLEY: Absolutely. Well, totally I can't understand what it means but I can say this. This President is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and I think Islamophobic, and so I think it's -- he's definitely lowered the blue book on the presidency so I think they will never have presidents in a tradition before I think that you can have political, ideological disagreements. But humanity, like -- do you have you know, administrative officials -- administration officials quoting the same script -- scriptures that were used to keep black people, slaves, now they're using it to keep young immigrant children in cages. And it's disingenuous to pretend like you don't know that. And for anybody to say I could understand supporting somebody and you're not quite sure where they'll go like everybody's -- you know, he's going to change in the primaries and he'll change when he's -- he's exactly what you said he was so now he's not blind, now you support him. And I'm not saying that everybody who supports Donald Trump is a racist but his supporters definitely don't think racism is a disqualifier.

MELBER: Well, you're sort of going with Donald Trump to the Eminem test I am whatever you say I am and if I wasn't, why would I say I am? I mean, he's told us who he is.

HUGHLEY: Right. But people gave him the benefit of the doubt. You know, for such a plain-spoken man, why there's so many people trying to explain what he meant? My God, I don't understand. If he speaks his mind all the time, why are there all these interpreters? The bottom line, if I was in a guy -- in a car with somebody and I committed a crime, the reasonable argument would be the person with me was an accomplice and I think anybody who votes for him in spite of all the things that's done is it would have to be witty accomplices. It's just no way around it.

MELBER: Let me play for you the White House Correspondents Dinner jokes because I've been to that dinner, it's a mixed bag, it's goofy, but everyone I know famous people, people in media, if they get a joke from the president, and I mean in either party, that's usually like a wow, like your big time.


MELBER: Exactly. And that wasn't the reaction that Donald Trump had to these famous moments. Take a look.


SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald and that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter like did we fake the moon landing.


MELBER: What does it tell you that then as now he has what appears to be a true deep emotional problem with being roasted?

HUGHLEY: Well, I think that you can see the way that he governs and I think you can see the way he interacts with people. He's a bit of a bully. I think that -- you can come into this administration with a rather pristine reputation but you don't leave that way. And I think that people are literally selling themselves and somewhat of their reputation to regular. You can tell they don't believe what they say. Like one day Giuliani is saying that he said a thing the next day, I don't know what's hard if Giuliani is able to keep his teeth in his mouth or (INAUDIBLE). I don't know what's harder for him but everybody's definitely becoming more slimy and dirtier because they're hanging out and trying to make things, contort things that don't make sense. Look, either we're a nation that believes in laws or we don't. But to laud you know, Korean dictators and Russian dictators and then to denigrate American football players is you know, they're tough guys and these other guys are just sons of bitches I think it's ridiculous I think it says more about us as a country than it does about him.

MELBER: Right. Well, and you're going back to the core point which is what is the audience, what is the nation, what do we want to do about everything, we're in this together. A perfect guest on this topic, D.L. Hughley, thanks for coming in.

HUGHLEY: Thank you, man. Thank you.


MELBER: Mitt Romney criticized Donald Trump and then famously made up with him. Today he's now speaking out on Trump's border policy.


MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Oh I think it's a huge black eye that we received as a result of images that were shown around the world of children being pulled from parents.


MELBER: Romney taking a stand. Tonight Utah voters will make their stand and decide if Romney will be the next Republican nominee first Senate and then he'll have to decide if he's going to referee Trump policies, sort of like what he said there or if he'll be a reflexive vote for Donald Trump if he makes it to the Senate.


MELBER: Big day, long day. The day's not over but we are. I'll see you back on THE BEAT at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The usual suspects. Let's play HARDBALL.



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