CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Download it now wherever you get your podcast match the purple button, that`s all for tonight well be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Chuck, thank you very much. We have a lot on tonight`s show. Democrats say they`re making headway in their investigations in the Trump White House with hearings about obstruction this week and a star witness today.
Later tonight, Democrats taking on a charged civil rights battle. My exclusive guest is Senator Cory Booker later in the hour and a pioneering media executive and Trump critic is going to walk us through how to cut through Donald Trump`s reality TV campaign as he does his reboot.
We begin with Democrats scoring their biggest interview so far in this obstruction probe, Hope Hicks, the first Trump staffer to ever sit down with the Judiciary Committee since the Mueller report came out. Now she sat for seven hours but both inside and outside the closed door interview, she really wasn`t saying much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hope, did the President obstruct justice? Is the White House letting you answer any questions today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is the White House limiting your testimony so much?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No comment there from someone who of course was widely credited as a real messenger for the Trump campaign for a long time. Now the White House says Hicks has, "absolute immunity" from testifying and Democrats say she just didn`t answer most of the questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The witnesses are directed by the White House and the President not to answer questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost every question I`ve observed, she`s refusing you know, to answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even something as simple as where is your office located? Objection. It`s ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by NYU law professor, Melissa Murray who`s also a clerk to Judge Sotomayor and E.J. Dionne, columnist for The Washington Post. E. J. as a student of Washington, which is well known for some feeder. What was accomplished today?
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, not a whole lot. I mean on the one hand they did get a witness but what you really saw was the length to which the Trump administration is willing to go to block any testimony before Congress. I mean, they`ll make up any reason to say that somebody should testify.
They might as well say they`re exerting a privilege-privilege which is they have the privilege to say that somebody can`t say anything whenever they feel like it.
MELBER: E.J. - E.J. is this like stacks on stacks? It`s privilege on privilege.
DIONNE: I guess that`s right. This is - I mean and I think this is a really awful precedent. You cannot imagine when there`s a Democratic President again someday, Republicans ever, ever accepting something like this and obviously this is getting in the way of the strategy that Nancy Pelosi has in mind.
She and at the moment a majority of House members don`t want to move quickly to impeachment. They like public hearings, this was a closed hearing and they like people to come to testify and the harder the Trump administration makes it for people to testify, the more it will ratchet up pressure to move to an impeachment inquiry, which at the moment the House doesn`t want.
MELBER: Yes so let me ask you one more thing about that before I turn to the professor here. I wonder if what we`re seeing today is potentially politically positive for the Republican White House in the short run. I am really substantively negative for all of America because you could argue that what you just saw was in their political interest, that their side says great, Hope Hicks is defying, almost a little bit of like trolling and the Dems are waiting around and complaining.
And that`s, maybe a political benefit in the short run but in the long run as you just said E.J., what is going to happen if the basic system that for hundreds of years has worked partly yes with legal enforceable but partly by tradition where there is good faith oversight in testimony of executive branch.
If that is just going to be blown up over a thing that Donald Trump claims he`s not afraid of, which is oversight and impeachment.
DIONNE: Right, obviously, it is sort of beneficial to them although I do wonder for people in the middle watching all of this saying Gee, why don`t they let anyone testify? But you put your finger on it when you use the word tradition until Trump came along, we didn`t fully realize how much we count on norms, which are not written into law.
They are things we just assume that people in power will live by because we`re a Democratic Republic and what it`s going to do for one thing is force Congress someday to codify a whole bunch of things we took for granted but yes, this is very dangerous because you can`t have a government with divided powers between the executive and the legislature without having accountability.
And they`re trying to block all accountability.
MELBER: Professor Murray.
MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Yes, I think E.J. is exactly right and we have relied historically on a tradition of negotiation and accommodation between these 2 political branches and what Trump is ultimately doing and requiring everyone to take what is known as absolute immunity which actually doesn`t exist in this particular circumstance is to force this into the courts and to have third.
MELBER: Walk us through that as well. I mean, E.J. was doing the Washington, you`re doing the law. There is a thing called executive privilege. You`re saying this absolute immunity is what?
MURRAY: Executive privilege the way the Trump White House is using it as a species of executive privilege is absolute immunity but the whole idea here is that executive privilege is like a scalpel, it allows individuals who are close to the President, who are senior aides to refuse to testify about certain episodes or conversations all in the name of preserving the confidentiality of White House and the candor of White House communications.
Absolute immunity which is what Hope Hicks is asserting - is asserting through her lawyer is a blanket refusal to testify, not wholly different. So if executive privilege is a scalpel, absolute immunity is like a hammer saying, we`re going to shut all of this down and that`s something we haven`t seen before.
The only judge who have ruled on a question of absolute immunity and executive privilege was in 2008, Judge Bates from the DC district who was doing this in the context of Harriet Miers and White House testimony with regard to the firing of few of his attorneys so that you couldn`t have this and have a system of separated powers.
It`s absolutely antithetical to the idea of divided government to have the executive stonewall in this way.
MELBER: Both of you stay with me. I want to bring in someone who actually knows Hope Hicks personally and worked with her for a time. Former Trump campaign advisor, Sam Nunberg. Thanks for being here.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Thank you.
MELBER: What do you think of the position Hope is in, how is she feeling today?
NUNBERG: Well, I think she and the President are feeling that this is a win. The minute I saw that they allowed - that Jerry Nadler that she`s allowed to give closed door testimony, they had the best of both worlds. Remember there was a press coverage about whether or not Hope would "defy" the White House, defy the President.
Now that she`s out, she agrees to show up and at the end of the day, she doesn`t answer any of the questions that she - that even she`s quoted in the Mueller report and at the same time the President to his base is able to send out tweets trying to get out a narrative that will be covered on another network that she is being exploited, she`s being harassed and this isn`t fair to her.
MELBER: And so do you think that this is the thing where you know, some people are out of the orbit and they`re relatively independent and they move on. Other people, they`re out of the Trump orbit and they seem just in lockstep. Your view knowing the players here is that Hope is 100% Team Trump right now, right?
NUNBERG: Well, Hope is a 100% Team Trump, yes. But then look at somebody like Don McGahn, doesn`t personally like the President. Don still has a client in the Trump campaign. He`s being called a liar by the President. He`s being you know, constantly attacked. The President says he didn`t - he never personally like him yet he is also defying the subpoena and asserting executive privilege.
MELBER: Does that surprise you?
NUNBERG: Yes and no. What surprises me is that once again the House Judiciary Committee has not come up with a strategy of really showing the American people what they`re doing. Look, I don`t work for them, that`s not my job to do this but I mean, the idea that you can have last week a cable news show, let`s say, with you know, John Dean and then when you have an actual witness who gave testimony that really goes to the heart of the obstruction issue, you don`t even - you have that behind closed doors.
Why would you even agree to that?
MELBER: So you`re arguing and I`ll let the other panelists in, you`re arguing that in a way you think just in the pure theater of that which is as you know, what your old boss Donald Trump cares about, they got out worked because having Hope under oath in public being that evasive might have made them look bad.
You`re saying it was get kind of a Mulligan that she got to do in private.
NUNBERG: A 100% and look, Trump said publicly. He said, I`ve fought Jerry before, I`ll beat him again. To use his words, he`s laughing at Jerry and he`s making this very sad.
MURRAY: There`s certainly a theater of the absurd quality to all of this. It would have been better to have Hope Hicks come before the Committee and be questioned and stonewall. It would have been really evocative testimony for the American people to see, it would`ve _ this view that the administration is hiding something and is not cooperating.
But instead you have this closed door testimony, you have Nadler saying that she gave up some things, things that might be useful but we really don`t know and we won`t find out until 48 hours later when the transcript is released.
DIONNE: Well, and I think the whole idea, I just want to underscore the point that all of you made which I think is right. If you have the President`s people objecting even apparently to questions like where is your office, this would not look good and there`d be footage on the news tonight and people would say, this really does look like a cover up.
They are obstructing. We saw none of that. I think they have to go back and say if we do anymore of this, we got to have public witnesses who either answer the questions or are seen as not answering them and by the way on privilege you know, it`s one thing if you`re President and I`m giving you advice on a war and we kick that around, some of that is legitimately privilege.
You want honest advice but they are issuing - they are demanding a kind of privilege that was just never conceived off and yes, there are always negotiations between the executive and the legislature but it just never goes this far, it`s just a blanket wall.
MELBER: We`re sort of wrapping up where we started but it`s very important, is this all it takes to beat the whole system? I mean, the constitution lays this out you know, you go to Washington as you do E.J., and you cover these stories or Melissa and I spend time around law schools where they say well, this is the whole thing.
And I feel like it`s the end of Star Wars here where you have the death star and it turns out that there`s just one little spot you can drive through, shoot one little pellet, the whole thing explodes. I mean, they just figured out that you just tell everyone just stonewall, nobody to talk and eat up a year.
I mean, is this - is this the end of Star Wars, E. J. and then Melissa and then we`ll go.
DIONNE: There`s a shot clock here, the shot clock is the election year and so delay, delay, delay for the Trump White House is a great thing. They would love to push as much of this is they can in the election year and then say see, they don`t want the voters to make the choice themselves.
So delay is their best option and they`re pursuing it.
MURRAY: It`s also important to remember here that executive privilege qualified immunity, these are not specifically enumerated in the constitution and the Republicans like to go on and on about all the things that are not in the constitution. This is also not in the constitution so we really rely on norms, on customs to develop how we`re actually going to recognize these kinds of privileges in order for separation of powers to work.
And when you have something like this where someone is not observing norms, not observing customs, you`re going to kick this back to a court who is going to have to decide what the boundaries are and that`s where we`re headed.
MELBER: And who would have known that White House counsel all this time was maybe Skywalker. You`ve seen Star Wars.
NUNBERG: Yes, all of them.
MELBER: But you`re more of a WWE guy?
NUNBERG: Well, I like Star Wars too.
MELBER: Okay, I`m glad we--
MURRAY: I was thinking Jabba the Hutt.
MELBER: Who is Jabba? You don`t want to pick anyone. No, you don`t have to. I never want to set you up to say anything that could be misconstrued as rude. The Skywalker comparison being fundamentally positive although as I point out you don`t necessarily want to blow up a whole ship.
A lot of people get hurt, Sam Nunberg, Melissa Murray, E.J. Dionne, thanks to each of you. Coming up later in the show my exclusive interview with Senator Cory Booker, the presidential candidate.
He`s back on THE BEAT and boy, does he say, he`s got something he wants to say to the Republican Congress. Later a family speaking out after this disturbing video of police confrontation in Phoenix. It`s an important story we will bring you and Ta-Nehisi Coates giving Mitch McConnell, a history lesson on race in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TA-NEHISI COATES, AUTHOR: Black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror. A campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And later I`ll talk to one of the pioneers of reality television about how Trump is recycling is greatest hits here in the new campaign and also the first pictures from inside Paul Manafort`s Trump tower condo, you`ll see that later in the show as he prepares for his next trial. I`m Ari Melber, you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Now to a story that could be national news on many nights in America but is often crowded out by Washington controversies and of course, politics. Take a look at this controversial video of Phoenix police using aggressive tactics. This was on a family with small children who posed no apparent physical threat. The officers drawing their guns, telling the parents they were going to get shot.
The police interaction began after a daughter walked out of the store with a doll and the footage has sparked protest, a lawsuit by the family and an internal investigation with the Phoenix Police Chief conceding that what you`re about to see in this program is "disturbing."
I want to play this tape for about a minute so you can see the context of this escalating interaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re going to get shot. Get your [BLEEP] hands off me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t open the door, I`m holding my hands up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the [BLEEP]car right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t put my hands up. I have a [BLEEP] baby in my hands. I can`t, I`m pregnant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer, this is overdoing [BLEEP], this is overdoing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, when I tell you to do something, you [ BLEEP ] do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m complying with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not complying with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes I am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I tell you to do something, you [ BLEEP ] do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t put my hands up, I got a [BLEEP] baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey Sir, calm down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going on here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re talking to a lady man, really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the child down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She can`t walk, she`s a baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And here`s the family speaking out last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DRAVON AMES, FATHER: No kid should see that, no one should see terror like that. She has not been the same, just making me sick to my stomach. I have nightmares of barrels pointing at my face and I`m just thinking how can I save my daughter, that`s wrong. And all over what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: These are not isolated incidents. They just tend to get more political and media reaction when they happen to be videotaped. Consider other recent events, an off duty officer shot and killed an unarmed man with disabilities at a Costco last week in California.
The same week that Indiana police shot and killed a African American man, there was a dispute over whether or not he had a knife. Now officers in that Indiana town wear body cameras but they say that the camera wasn`t recording during that incident so we don`t have a video of it.
And the wider number show excessive force is not evenly distributed America. It`s more likely to be used by police against the poor, minorities and the mentally challenged. All of this is rooted in a much deeper debate about America`s criminal justice system. Is it working just fine the way it is the way you just saw? Or does it need reform?
Professor Michael Eric Dyson will give me his answer in this segment. Before I turn the floor over though I do want to know how all of this adds up because the videos and the activism and the pressure, there are signs it`s working. Many big cities have ousted DAs and Mayors over these very issues.
Donald Trump has actually concluded that enough Americans think the criminal justice system is so flawed, he`s trying to position himself as being for bipartisan reform. In fact, he just hosted reformers and Kim Kardashian for an event, a few days before launching his re-election campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM KARDASHIAN, CELEBRITY ACTIVIST: My whole journey with criminal justice reform started about a year ago when I came to see the President after speaking to Ivanka and Jared who really fought for me to get here. Everyone wants the community to be safe and the more opportunity we have and that they have and the support that we help give them, the safer everyone will be.
TRUMP: I signed into law ground-breaking historic reform to our criminal justice system, the First Step Act. We had tremendous conservative support and tremendous liberal support. It was very bipartisan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Very bipartisan. Now the law he`s referring to takes people at the end of the road of our system after arrest, detention, trial, conviction, incarceration and shorten some of their sentences for nonviolent offenses.
What about fixes is at the beginning of the road into the system? People who are forced into it through profiling or with excessive force or interactions with the police, may be the ones committing a crime.
What about starting at the root of a system that forces more people, poor people, black people, brown people into prison than any other democracy in the world. I`m joined now by Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of `What Truth Sounds Like.`
I pose that question to you Sir?
MICHEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Yes Sir, you`re absolutely right as usual. This is a problem of the root. This is a problem of the deeply entrenched and persistent bias in America and the extraordinary support for a system of criminal injustice to disproportionately poor Brown and African-American people.
To talk about this at the end of the process where people have rotted in jail or spent a long time there and therefore get out a bit earlier, doesn`t speak to the fact that what we saw on that tape is remarkably distressing. It is a distraught family being besieged by people who are ostensibly are there to protect and serve.
What protection was there? What service was there? This is a family whose 4-year old daughter happened to pinch a doll or some such and then at 4- years old she has no moral compass, no consciousness. She didn`t know that she was stealing a doll.
So to subject her to the vicious practices of law enforcement at that level was itself distressing enough but you and I love Shawn Carter and we know that Jay Z. said Bin Laden been happening in Manhattan, back then, back when the police was Al Qaeda to black man, right?
So we understand that people thought that`s hyperbolic, that is exaggerating, this is terror in America my friend for African-American, Latino and people--
MELBER: When you say that, you say that and that line applies and you say the terror there, we`ve quoted some of the parents talking about that same word Sir, terror.
MELBER: And we`ll put up on the screen again some of the video. What is important to you that people know? If people watching this at home say, well, the police in my community, I haven`t seen them act like that. I haven`t seen them treat a parent like that or screaming at people or draw a gun or say I mean, again quoting one of these officers, screaming at one of the parents, "Give me your child."
That`s certainly not in the traditional police handbook for a stop that doesn`t involve a weapon.
DYSON: No it`s not and see, two things here. First of all for those who contend that just a few bad apples in the bunch is great, this gives the lie to that. How many videos have to surface? How many examples of the lethal intensity of law enforcement when applied to African-American, Latino people.
The police seem to have an asterisk assigned to those people of color. The laws don`t apply. Generality - general deportment and kind and gracious behavior toward them seems to fly out the window. These people were being treated as if they had stolen a million dollars right on the spot, that they had beat somebody on the head, that they had somehow killed somebody and now they`re being treated.
Let me say this, number two, white criminals who have murdered six and seven and eight people, they were apprehended without incident. Dylann Roof who killed nine people in a church in South Carolina treated to Burger King on the way to being locked up. So my point is that there is a wide chasm of perception and practice in this country around the issue of race.
And when we started the police department, how many more reports do we have to have issued that says that there is a deep and infected culture of policing in this country and it`s about the demonization of black people and brown people and it`s about not seeing them as human.
You know what we do? We can`t simply say, let`s root out the problem at the police level because they are people who grew up in a culture, in an ecology of racial animus toward blackness that then manifests itself when they become police people. But we have to call it out.
Thank God for Kim Kardashian and Van Jones and criminal justice reform and bail reform, that`s on the latter end but at the beginning, we`ve got to teach, we`ve got to root out and again, you do what I tell you to do, what is the power trip here? What is the fascination?
The erotic intensity assigned with dehumanizing blackness seems to be a criminal pornography, this is criminal justice pornography, this is police pornography, the kind of fascination with and fetish of dehumanizing blackness before the world and again, this happens time and again across this country on video, off video, on tape, off tape and what we have to do is to challenge ourselves.
I ask every white American out there who says oh my God, this doesn`t happen to my kids, why doesn`t it? It doesn`t happen to your kids by and large not that it doesn`t but by and large because there is not a racial assignment of privilege or personhood or the assignment of a kind of stigma and de humanization that happens with African-American and Latino people.
And until we address that, until we have a day when we really come at it at the root level, this kind of thing will happen time and again and we`ll have many more shows and people will die and nothing will change.
MELBER: It`s well put, it`s an issue you`ve worked on and written about and thought about and we want to put in this context as we hear talk about criminal justice, what does that mean? And what`s being addressed? Professor Dyson, thank you as always.
DYSON: Thank you my friend.
MELBER: Later in the show tonight, Senator Cory Booker joins me exclusively but first inside Donald Trump`s campaign branding and the so called reality show when we`re back in 30.
MELBER: Donald Trump has only launched 2020 campaign and he`s leaning on the message that got him here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s a free pass they gave to Hillary and her aides after they set up an illegal server. I`ve seeing first hand, how the system is rigged. The system is rigged. Corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies. The fake news will say headlines, you didn`t fill up the arena.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: News viewers and Trump critics may find some of these lines basically stale but it`s worth noting that many Trump loyalists are pumped. It was this giant rally and the arena was full of fans, a long line, lots of MAGA hats, lots of branding. We also saw on camera, these far right groups, the proud boys marching outside.
We should know the Southern Poverty Law Center calls them a hate group which often associates with and supports white supremacists. That`s another vision that we`ve seen. But there`s more than just that. Take a look at what the Wall Street journal has unearth, revealing this campaign branding book for 2020 which shows laser focus on certain things.
The font size, the spacing, the only certain colors that can be used for certain Trump events, images of Trump that are designed to convey compassion or strength especially online. And that`s not all, if you looked at those lines that we just showed and thought, there he goes again or it`s stale, consider how some of this plays out in local media markets.
Here`s the Orlando Sentinel headline. "It`s right on brand. Keep America great." And those color schemes in the branding book, well, they`re reflected in that photo which would look to be exactly the photo that the Trump campaign wants.
Or look at the Miami Herald. "Trump energizes Orlando rally as he launches re-election bid." Folks reading that are getting the Trump vision. And take a look at this, this is something you may not always see on the news but we pulled it. This is from a pro-Trump group on Reddit where hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of people interact and it says, the basic bottom line MAGA message, I pledge to vote for this man again and I trust him more than any media company on the planet.
You can ignore some of this stuff if you want. You can tune it out if you want. It`s America. You can pay attention to whatever you want. Journalistically we`re showing it to you not because it is all true or even all OK when you look at the proud void but because this is part of the larger production of how Donald Trump is running for re-election and it is certainly a television and Internet production.
Meanwhile, consider who he put in charge of his campaign, very interesting. Not in Washington insider, not even a family member like he likes to do with certain things, no. He took the person in charge of digital from last time and made him in charge of the whole thing. And here`s what he`s saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD PARSCALE, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: You know, the President is going to win this. I`ve always said the President won the prize -- the first election really with his airplane and a cell phone, you know, a Twitter account. This time you know, we have to do some more mobilization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined by media innovator Michael Hirschorn. He actually created the concept of celebrity reality at VH1 with hits you might remember like Flavor of Love, I love the 80s, and Celebrity Rehab. He also writes for the Atlantic and is a Trump critic. Thanks for coming back.
MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, thanks for having me. I`m never going to live down the Flavor of Love thing clearly.
MELBER: Well, why would you want to?
HIRSCHORN: That`s not true.
MELBER: Your keys to decoding this production.
HIRSCHORN: Right. I think, what`s really interesting is that the show is now itself the pitch, right. We want to keep the show going. So if you think about this in terms of from a T.V. network perspective which I think is how the Trump people think about it, it`s what`s the spin-off, what`s the next season.
And what`s interesting is what`s disappeared, right. What`s disappeared are economic arguments, inclusive, holistic arguments for why on a policy basis he should be -- he should be reelected. He himself is now the argument. He wants to keep the show going.
And so the question is in terms of decoding this going forward is what is he going to do in order to keep us captivated and that`s where it starts to get a little concerning.
MELBER: When you look at say that meme that we showed, right. That`s something that people share on the internet proudly. They want it to upset you.
MELBER: It`s like coming to the family reunion and being like yes, fake news. I trust him more than your media. It`s designed to upset. Do you view that as something that`s ever penetrable in any way or those people sharing that stuff have made their mind up.
HIRSCHORN: Well, I think it`s -- I think what Trump is always done has been deny, deny, deny, then admit it, right. So the argument in 2016 was this is really about economic insecurity. Right now it`s about your opportunity mostly as a white guy but not exclusively as a white guy to -- there was a fantastic piece of video before the event of this white guy ripping his shirt off and shaking -- basically shaking his boobs in front of the protesters. That to me is the perfect metaphor for what Trump is -- Trump`s appeal is right now.
I`m going to keep -- put on the show. You can act however you want and you can just go on upsetting the other side as much as you want. Now, is that an effective strategy? I don`t know. That may be a way to really rev up the core. Whether that can build out, I don`t know, because I don`t see how anyone who`s not already a Trump supporter is now going to become a Trump supporter based on this.
MELBER: And do you think their digital traction is a kind of accident that they improvised or something more thought-out from a guy who`s given a lot of thought to free press because they`re out spending Democrats on Facebook right now.
HIRSCHORN: Massively. And the Democrats still don`t understand digital. The Republicans and Trump picked up from where Obama started in 2008 and put you know, a vastly larger percentage of their spend in 2016, and they`re already doing it.
They`ve already spent well into the seven figures on Facebook this year for next year alone which I think is about a 10-1 outspent of Democrats. Democrats continue not to understand the digital is where the election is going to be fought.
MELBER: It`s fascinating you say that. It`s a reminder when there`s so much sort of almost dismissive or smug views of what Trump is doing, how he sounds, and will be the first to point out. I mean, these aren`t very original lines. You steal them from Reagan then you reboot them.
MELBER: And yet as you point out, there`s a whole production echo to all of that. Michael, thanks for coming back on THE BEAT.
HIRSCHORN: Thanks. I appreciate it.
MELBER: Still ahead, our exclusive interview tonight with Senator Cory Booker who was a witness today at this historic hearing in Congress. He joins me shortly and we`ll tell you what it costs to have this view from Paul Manafort`s old condo inside Trump Tower.
MELBER: Today is Juneteenth. The day commemorating when black Americans in Texas learned they were freed. Now, many activists invoke this day for civil rights causes from integration, to education, anti-poverty programs, to larger ideas like reparations for slavery which has long been considered radical by both political parties in America.
For example, Barack Obama consistently argued against reparations for slavery in preference for broader reforms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to reparations, would you take it a step further in terms of apologizing for slavery or offering reparations to various groups?
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I have said in the past and I`ll repeat again that the best reparations we can provide our good schools in the inner-city and jobs for people who are unemployed.
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MELBER: But something is clearly shifting. Today, the United States Congress held its first hearing on reparations in 12 years. And to be clear, many black leaders have been pushing this like the longest-serving black congressman John Conyers who proposed a reparations bill every session for 30 years.
He was back in that room today, so was influential author Ta-Nehisi Coates who laid out the case for reparations in a 2014 essay. And here, five years later, he went from banging on the door to serving as a star witness and rebutting Mitch McConnell`s argument today that reparations aren`t necessary for something that he argues doesn`t relate to anyone who`s currently alive.
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TA-NEHISI COATES, WRITER: Black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell. I regret that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox, but he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the red lining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some four billion dollars. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they`d love a word with the majority leader.
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MELBER: Powerful. And in another development that departs from most House hearings, the first witness of the day was a sitting senator, a co-sponsor of this Reparations Commission`s bill who spoke forcefully about the stakes.
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SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a cancer on the soul of our country and hurts the whole body politic. I am broken hearted and angry right now. Decades of living in a community where you see how deeply unfair this nation is still to so many people. This idea that it`s just about writing a check from one American to another falls far short of the importance of this conversation and what I believe we will truly talk about.
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MELBER: Joining me now is that Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker. Thank you for being here. You sounded quite strong in what you had to say there in your testimony. Why are you doing this and why now?
BOOKER: Look, I`ve lived and worked most of my life in low-income communities, black and brown communities, and have been dealing with historical headwinds of a segregation, of redlining, of health disparities, of public policies being stemmed from Washington like the G.I. Bill and Social Security that were designed to exclude African Americans, from the terrorism that reigned in our country for generations all the way back to slavery.
This is a conversation that we have not fully had in the United States of America and how the roots of savage inequalities are still being made manifest today because of a lot of that structural inequities baked into our system and dealing with this issue and finding real practical solutions to address those inequities and disparities baked into from our history is something that we must do and now is the moment.
MELBER: You`re leading on this bill. Senator Bernie Sanders opposed reparations the last time he ran. He now supports this bill but also said he`s not sure that writing a check is the answer. My question to you is one, do you two have the same vision on this right now? And two, should the Democratic nominee, should the Democratic platform in 2020 be for slavery reparations?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I mean that`s what`s become. A lot of people don`t like the word because it evokes this imagination that people have and just being whipped up by opponents that think somehow this is going to be about one person writing a check to another person and that`s not what this is about.
It`s about how can we continue as a nation to have the kind of deep systemic inequalities that we have that stem from income, to health disparities, to our criminal justice system. This is about actually leveling the playing field. It`s not about paying somebody off. And to reduce this to this some idea that we`re going to write some check and then be done with this issue is so wrong.
MELBER: Your bill basically would put a small amount of money and to create a commission to study this. If you are running for president, if you have these ideas, is that enough or is it time to put the money directly into the program? Why still study it at this point?
BOOKER: Well, it`s a de minimis amount of resources to study it and have which will be historically the first conversation, literally the first commission we`ve ever created to see how do you address these issues. We have commissions in Washington and you know this, Ari, to study all kind of stuff which I think a lot of it is less urgent than what we`re talking about right now. And there are practical things.
Look, at the end of the day, you talk about putting resources into things, my baby bonds legislation actually about having every child born in America as a birthright, having an interest-bearing account there for them and then money placed in every single year depending upon that wealth of your family would give the lowest income American kids upwards of $50,000 by the time they`re 18 to do things that create wealth.
MELBER: Your baby bonds proposal is not based on a slavery reparations model though, right. That`s for potentially everyone. As you know, President Obama said that idea like you just sit mentioned is exactly what should be done but not something that it somehow specifically tied to race or slavery. Walk us through why essentially you break with Obama there?
BOOKER: Ari, two things. One thing is we`re bringing this commission together to study exactly what it would mean. I think for you or I to prejudge what some of the best minds in America would talk to at the end of this process is folly. Let`s see what couple of practical things people come up with. Maybe it will look like things like our baby -- my baby bond legislation. But right now I don`t have time to wait.
So I am putting forward legislation like this that actually is very conscious of race and the racial impact it will have. As Columbia University said, it would virtually eliminate the racial wealth gap. And yes, it`s designed so that every low-income child would have it. But you know, Ari, that African-Americans are disproportionately low income.
So again, people want to try to cast this in some divisive way, erode the understanding that we have common cause in this, and that there is an urgency in America because when an African-American kid born in a segregated community -- de facto segregated community, it doesn`t have wealth, is below the poverty line, that actually affects the well-being of all Americans because nine out of 100 poor kids in America will go on to college while the chance to nurture their genius were all bereft of the possibility and the potential of that child.
This is hurting all of America. The criminal justice system which you and I both know is deeply racially disparate and its impact. As Villanova University says, literally, if we had incarceration rates that were the same as our industrial peers, we have 20 percent less poverty in America.
And so when I do things like the crack cocaine, powder cocaine disparity, something I`ve pushed or in the legislation that I led and we pass on criminal justice reform, 96 percent of the people that are being liberated from prison because of that disparity are Black and Latino.
So I`m very conscious on a lot of these bills that we`re pushing about the impact it will have on communities of color and communities like the one in which I live. And we need to start having a much more nuanced conversation about this than just saying oh this is about one person writing a check to another person and wiping our hands of that collective responsibility that we have to make our nation more just and fair.
MELBER: Right. And the writing a check references is to how Senator Sanders had recently described it. It`s striking to hear you lay it out like that, Senator, as you mentioned particularly some of those disturbing statistics, and to watch a U.S. government hearing today discuss reparations with you and these other witnesses. I mean, that itself as you say is somewhat ground-breaking.
I want to get you while I have you as the candidate on some other big issues. As you know, the Senate is in this fight over 9/11 funding. I wanted to give you a chance to respond to what Senator Mitch McConnell just said in response to Jon Stewart.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We`ve never failed to address this issue and we will address it again. I don`t know why he`s all bent out of shape but we will take care of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.
Members have a lot of things going on at the same time and it sounds to me like he`s looking for some way to take offense. There`s no way we won`t address this problem appropriately. We have in the past and we will again.
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MELBER: Your view.
BOOKER: That if you were one of those families that is struggling right now where you had a family member who did something heroic as one of those guys that lives just miles away from 9/11 that knows folks that were in those buildings, that knows some of the heroes that stormed into those buildings and were there to protect America, to defend this country, to save lives, there must be a sense of urgency, to say to this nation that when you are a hero we have your back.
And so to act in a blase fashion that this should be just normal functionings of Washington and not see that this is making a statement to all of America is about what happens in times of national crisis when we are attacked and when those people stand up. We should make a clarion statement right now that we got your back.
Mitch McConnell should step up and show the same level of commitment to our heroes that they deserve and what`s happening now is just shameful, shameful the way that we`re slow walking this or not dealing with it when we know we put that on the floor of the Senate it would get probably 100 votes, if not something close to that. And those families would have the resources and the security they deserve, they earned in an act of national -- in a time of national disaster.
MELBER: Very well put on such a big issue, one we`ve all been watching, kind of one of those times where a lot of people are wondering what`s taking so long. We had a first responder on the show this week who said well, Mitch McConnell is making it taking a long time. That was his view.
I also want to ask you before I let you go about the Trump Justice Department intervening in Paul Manafort`s prison assignments of Rikers Island before awaiting trial in New York. Have you ever seen a Justice Department in either administration intervened at this way, at this high level, and does it concern you?
BOOKER: I mean, look this justice system -- you know, Bryan Stevenson says it right. We have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you`re rich and guilty than if you`re poor and innocent. And this is just to me yet another example of the unfairness in the system.
I have kids from communities like mine that have criminal convictions for doing things that two of the last three presidents admitted to doing who can`t find jobs, can`t get loan from the bank, can`t get business licenses.
And here`s somebody who has patently been involved in what I believe is treasonous behavior and is -- and is having a president go out of his way to try to give him an easier path as opposed to him being like others in the criminal justice system. I`m just -- I`m just -- it`s exhausting, it is frustrating, and obviously, it makes me angry.
MELBER: Yes. Well, I was curious what you would think about all that given your work on it. Senator Cory Booker, I mentioned with some admiration that you seem to be busy at both of your jobs legislating today in the U.S. Senate and obviously keeping busy in your other job as a presidential contender and we`ll be watching you on the debate stage. So thanks for making some time for us on THE BEAT, sir.
BOOKER: No, Ari, I always love being on with you and I appreciate the opportunity to talk to your viewers.
MELBER: Thank you, sir. And we have a little more on that Paul Manafort story I was just discussing. Well, his Trump Tower condo, these new pictures, we`ll explain next.
MELBER: Today we got the very first view ever inside Paul Manafort`s old condo in Trump Tower. It is owned by you, the taxpayers because the government have listed his condo on the market now for $3.6 million. It`s been criminally seized. The condo these views of Central Park and Fifth Avenue. It was forfeited formally last month.
Manafort did keep some other famous possessions from this whole escapade, including the ostrich jacket which comes in at $15,000 and a python jacket which goes for over $18,000. These are some of the few items that would be awaiting Paul Manafort when he is finally released from his prison sentence 7-1/2 years with the feds and we don`t know how long because we haven`t have the trial yet in New York. Now, we`ll be right back.
MELBER: That is it for us. We`ll be back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks as always for watching. But don`t go anywhere because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END