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Trump visits North Korea without concessions. TRANSCRIPT: 7/1/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Evelyn Farkas, Richard Stengel, John Flannery, Paola Ramos, JarrettHill, Bill Weld, Tiffany Caban

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Steve. Thank you very much. It is good to see you. Summer is here. But there is still a lot going on in the news world including President Trump hitting North Korea for a visit that was short on planning, but big on theatrics.

Now whether you think it`s good or bad. Here`s a new moment in history, Donald Trump becoming the first American President to set foot inside North Korea. Now there was even confusion as these photographers that you see scrambled to try to get the right picture and get out of the way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get of the way--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, come on - come on--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s go, let`s go--



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Move, move - where are they going? Straight. They`re going straight.


MELBER: That kind of chaos is unusual in any a diplomatic appearance, because they`re usually planned in a different way and with a lot more time. Now, that alone is not so significant, but Trump did proudly plan this on the fly.

And also, and this is where it gets more important, was so intent on making this happen - on getting those pictures, that he basically gave up this in- person meeting without any clear concessions, at least any that have been reported as of this moment.

The stage manager challenges were serious when White House, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham was also bruised after a scuffle with North Korean security guards who were reportedly trying to block U.S. reporters from getting close to that meeting between Trump and North Korea`s leader. Another bit of drama there.

Now what`s the policy here beyond these visuals? Well, The New York Times is already reporting that Trump administration is considering a concession to North Korea that would allow a freeze in all nuclear production, but would keep the status quo. That means the stockpile of missiles stay. Enshrining the status quo and thus tacitly accepting the North as a nuclear power.

Now, that obviously is not the goal of U.S. policy, which is why Trump`s National Security Adviser John Bolton is denying those reports. I should mention as an aside, he was not brought along to North Korea by the President.

So what can we take off from all of this - from these highlights of an unusual trip? Well, the President is already taking heat for putting pageantry above policy. A President in both parties avoided exactly this kind of visit, precisely because it does risk giving North Korea`s something-for-nothing - time on their turf literally, the prestige of an American visit and all the rest.

Now, that doesn`t mean that everything that is on the table or that`s even being denied by the administration is completely unprecedented. Team Trump, again, they say there isn`t necessarily going to be a surrender for a potential freeze that makes North Korea nuclear-armed recognized power.  But other administrations have also explored at least, in theory, similar proposals in unsuccessful efforts to find a solution for the North Korea problem.


BILL CLINTON, 42ND U.S. PRESIDENT: This is a good deal for the United States, North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program.


MELBER: North Korea policy is not a place where precedent is even very encouraging. Past Presidents didn`t actually disarm North Korea, hence the debates today. But they certainly, in both, parties withheld the prestige of a Presidential visit until this rogue nation was deemed to have improved its conduct.

I`m joined now by Rick Stengel who`s Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration former Managing Editor of TIME as well; Jason Johnson from The Root and Evelyn Farkas, a top Pentagon expert on Russia under President Obama.

Good to have all of you. Evelyn, walk us through this even for people who don`t give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy. The administration is not alone in brainstorming and trying to be creative about some way to get out from under this. And you know at the same time, there were some things we saw here that don`t seem to be traditional U.S. foreign policy national security measures.

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: Right, Ari. I mean, I actually worked pretty heavily on North Korea policy when I worked for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And in 2008, I went to Yongbyon to the nuclear facility at a time when the Bush administration thought they had a deal with North Korea that involved getting - to eliminating their nuclear program.

It was a step-by-step approach where there was a lot of reciprocity. That`s the same kind of proposal that they had under the Clinton administration, although that was more of a freeze, and it worked for a while, until the North Koreans cheated and started a uranium program.

So the - it`s very hard to pin down the North Koreans. The problem with our current situation is that, our President has eased up on these - the pressure, the sanctions. He`s let the Russians and the Chinese and others provide - well, trade essentially under the table with the North Koreans.

And he`s also, obviously, extended this diplomatic hand, but he doesn`t have a really good strategy as far as we can tell--


FARKAS: --to actually get to an outcome.

MELBER: And point-blank, can you imagine President Obama or Bush going and doing a visit like we just saw - like we just showed on our screens here without getting something in return?

FARKAS: No, not at all and that`s really the problem, Ari.  Because, don`t forget, we have actually frozen our major nuclear - I`m sorry, our major military exercises that we conduct with the South Koreans annually.  We`ve frozen them. They`re still frozen in deference to North Korean concerns.

In exchange, they have stopped conducting any nuclear weapons test, that`s good and they haven`t conducted any intermediate - sorry intercontinental ballistic missile test, that`s also good. But, again, no progress since President Trump met over a year ago with Kim Jong-un for the first time.


RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF THE STATE: Yes, I mean Evelyn gave an excellent tour of the waterfront. And I mean, just to not put too fine a point on it, once upon a time going to the DMZ with Kim Jong-un would have been the reward for successful talks that happened over months and years.

Also, when you talk about the freezes that previous Presidents did, remember that Clinton freeze was 20 years ago before the North Koreans had, what they have now, 20 or 30 or 40 nuclear missiles.

I mean - and again, you know to just try to punctuate it. The North Koreans feel that they have tricked Donald Trump that in exchange for three - potentially freezing this or doing almost nothing. Remember, they haven`t destroyed a single missile, a single nuclear reactor or anything in exchange for this photo-op. They have basically gotten a kind of legitimacy in the world`s eyes.

MELBER: So walk us through this, because we`ll keep this up on the screen. They`re walking - the frenzied videographers and photographers. You`re speaking to something that they both shared. Both of these leaders care a lot about the pictures that are beamed around the world.

STENGEL: Yes. But Kim Jong-un understands and has figured out that Donald Trump cares about that more than any single other thing. And by the way, the frenzy of the North Korean reporters is such that if they don`t get the right picture, they`re going to prison, unlike American reporters.

MELBER: Well-put and serious. Jason, the domestic politics on this are obviously fascinating. It is hard to rush from criticizing Barack Obama for a careful treaty with Iran, all the way to co-signing all of this. But it can be done. Take a listen to Tucker Carlson.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: You`ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country. It means killing people. It`s not necessarily a choice between, you know, the evil people and the great people, it`s the choice most of the time between the bad people and the worst people. I mean, it`s just kind of nature of life and certainly nature of power.


MELBER: Jason?

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT.COM POLITICS EDITOR: Well, congratulations for Tucker for making it so clear. Apparently, my doctorate in political science is a waste of time, because being a great leaders is about killing people - who knew?

Look, part of the issue here is the sort of reductionist and disingenuous way in which Donald Trump`s behavior is interpreted. I don`t think he has much of a plan. It`s very clear that part of why he has these meetings with Putin and Kim Jong-un is not because he has some policy goals, because they`re the only friends he seems to have left on the planet.

And the concern that everybody should have is, look, initially the belligerence of this presidency actually led to conversations between North and South Korea, because they were concerned, that`s a good thing.

But now he is just providing the sort of branding that North Korea needs, and he`s not doing anything that either helps North and South Korea come together or makes a less volatile part of the world. And that`s the real problem with what`s going on.

MELBER: And do you think domestically - because the President has clearly made this something that he wants to tout, just like he`s made the China trade talk and the tariff bluffs part of his reelection campaign, which we all know is happening.

Do you think domestically this can be swallowed by the Conservatives in America who traditionally had a lot more concern about what it means to cozy up to these kind of leaders abroad?

JOHNSON: I mean, Ari, whether it`s Putin, whether it`s North Korea, evangelical Christians, white conservatives in America have pretty much decided for the last three years that anything Donald Trump does is OK, anything he plays on the piano is suddenly Beethoven, anything that he does policy-wise is certainly - he`s the next Churchill or something.

It doesn`t really matter what`s going to happen domestically. What does happen, though, we saw this from Joe Biden. Democrats will attack Donald Trump not just on having these meetings for symbolic purposes, but there`ll attack him on getting nothing done. That the deal maker continues to have these meetings and leaves the poker table naked. He has nothing to show for all these meetings with North Korea and that`s where it becomes a domestic issue that Democrats can really work from.

MELBER: Well, but if he leaves the poker table naked, but the entire court acts like the emperor is still wearing clothes, then is he really naked?

JOHNSON: We don`t know Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that she sees nothing but clothing.  That`s what her last words--

MELBER: Evelyn, widening out to the context. Of course, any time the President deals with Putin, it gets extra attention. He made a choice to - form a sort of rhetorical common cause with Putin about "Getting rid of journalists", which comes after what Rick was just reminding us about the lack of a free press in North Korea, the abuse that these governments deploy.

And that was a comment that, I think, it`s fair to say if any President, Obama or Bush said that, I think there would have been a huge and long story in this world that we covered it here on THE BEAT. But it didn`t necessarily get the outrage one would expect or want in the United States. Put it in that wider context with Putin, with the Saudis, with everything else on this trip.

FARKAS: Yes. No, I mean, Ari, it`s outrageous. First of all, one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist in the world today is in Russia - in the Russian Federation. Because you know they - there`s some free press there, but if you cross the line too many times, especially investigative journalists, you are likely to end up dead.

And that`s - and that goes for whether you`re in Russia or whether you go elsewhere, but you`ve been covering Russia unfavorably or the government unfavorably.

MELBER: Right. The international poisoning--

FARKAS: So it`s outrageous.


FARKAS: Right - that the President says this. And then of course, we know very well what the Saudis do. I mean, they assassinate people and the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, who was a resident of Virginia in the United States, who should have been deemed a lot more protection. Not to mention, of course, outrage coming from the White House then he got.

So, I mean, the President just seems to gloss over all this. And unfortunately the American people have gotten used to it. But it`s appalling. I mean, we are not - we should not be sitting quietly and accepting the President nodding, while he sits with these people who have blood on their hands.

MELBER: Yes, Rick, as a chief diplomat for Barack Obama, particularly looking at public persuasion and how we`re treated in the world, I can only imagine the preparations, the briefings the research that you all did which goes up in a line all the way up to the chief executive.

Contrast that if you will, and I admit this is somewhat low-hanging fruit. But contrast that to the way the President doesn`t seem to grasp all of the vocabulary that is put towards him when he`s in these international appearances. Just take a look.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His comments to the Financial Times right before arriving here was that western-style liberalism is obsolete--

TRUMP: If you look at what`s happening in Los Angeles, where it`s so sad to look and what`s happening in San Francisco and a couple of other cities which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people. I don`t know what they`re thinking--


STENGEL: You know, Ari--

MELBER: --appear to the understand the question, I guess is--

STENGEL: I don`t mind that he doesn`t know who John Locke is or John Stuart Mill, who are great beacons of liberalism. But, what`s sad is that he doesn`t understand that we are the product of Western liberalism. That the post-cold-war order of freedom and democracy and globalization was something that we created and we controlled--

MELBER: You`re coming in really highbrow. I was coming in a little more lowbrow. I admit.


MELBER: --which is the question was about the international concept of Western liberalism and he appeared to only understand it as West Coast political progressive.

STENGEL: So if you now - and I will go low now, which is that I actually--

MELBER: Michel (ph) is not here--

STENGEL: I actually think that his brain basically froze in the 70s and 80s. And he was grew up in the 60s where there was this idea of liberals versus Conservatives. And the Liberals were the longhairs who were protesting against Vietnam, and he was against it.

He`s a kid from military school. He`s a kid who had nothing but disdain for that and it`s - which his father did too. Neither he nor his father ever served. So he looks at everything through that scrim.

Yes, that that highfalutin idea of what happened with the enlightenment and liberalism and Western democracy is not something he would understand. But he understands it only in a very, very basic way. And because he has a kind of authoritarian personality, that`s the scrim through which he sees this yes.

MELBER: And Evelyn what do you think? I mean, him not getting it is more concerning if you think that he`s also faking it on bigger issues?

FARKAS: Well, I think the problem, Ari, so I`m going to try - I`m a political scientist - I`m going to try to find a medium spot here.


FARKAS: Liberal democracy is about a democracy that`s more than just voting - right? Because Russia`s technically a democracy they vote, but they don`t have the other things that make a democracy really real, right? And that`s what we mean when we say liberal democracy. It`s a real democracy, okay?

And then Donald Trump is talking about liberalism in the American context, which is like big government, and maybe a separate social agenda, right? He`s confusing these two things.

But they actually matter, because when you`re on the international stage, you`re fighting against Vladimir Putin and all the dictators around the world to protect liberal democracy, to protect the kind of democracies we and the Europeans and the Japanese and the Israelis and all of our allies and partners have. That matters.

And so he shouldn`t be bringing up the domestic American context. But maybe he doesn`t know better. He should.

STENGEL: Well, and he also - he doesn`t not only doesn`t know what liberal democracy is, he doesn`t know what illiberal democracy is, and that`s Evelyn`s point. That`s what we are protesting against. We are leading against around the world.

Illiberal democracy are countries like Russia which have elections, but have nothing that`s democratic about them besides that.

MELBER: Rick Stengel, Jason Johnson, Evelyn Farkas with all this international brewing, thank you so much for your expertise. It helps us think it through.

Coming up, we turn back to the mainland. New reporting on how everyone`s prepping for Mueller blockbuster testimony to Congress.

Also we`re getting the first fundraising and polling in from after the Miami debate and we`re seeing some shifts.

And then should it be a GOP primary debate too, we`re going to talk to the only prominent Republican challenging Donald Trump right now in that primary, Governor Bill Weld. He`s here with me live.

All that, plus the exclusive interview with this candidate who you may not have heard about yet, but is making major waves and getting a boost from Bernie, Warren and even AOC.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): If you don`t know, you are about to know Tiffany Caban is going to be our next District Attorney.


MELBER: Lot of controversy. She joins me on THE BEAT tonight. I`m Ari Melber, and we`ll be right back.


MELBER: We are now approaching what many expect to be the biggest congressional hearing of the entire Trump era, may have been obscured a little bit by those big Democratic debates. But we`ve just learned that Bob Mueller will testify under oath on July 17th. We`re getting some hints of what both sides want to do about it.

POLITICO reporting that Donald Trump`s defenders want to undercut Mueller`s credibility at the hearings and try to say this has all become a democratic process of using him as a kind of a pawn, and recycling certain attacks and accusing his team of bias and using inappropriate surveillance.

Democrats, meanwhile, want to use him to explicate the Mueller report on TV for the first time. I`m joined now by federal - former federal prosecutor, John Flannery, special counsel for three congressional investigations. How are you?

John Flannery: Hello, Ari, good to talk to you.

MELBER: Good to have you here. This is one of those things where we know more people watched the Democratic debates last week than any primary in history, which means a lot of Americans and voters tuned into that, and that was the focus. And I think for understandable reasons.

Of course, it happened that the House Democrats unveiled their Mueller plan right around that same time. So here we are starting a new week and that other news is still sinking in. What matters to you about Mueller going under oath?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, what matters is it is an opportunity. Of course, it`s a dangerous one for both sides. That is to say, if he`s not going to sit down and talk to anyone beforehand, they have to take some risks, how they questioned him at the hearing.

The Democrats didn`t show themselves very well organized at the last go- around and this is kind of like "Casey at the Bat" again. They have to really score on this one. And the Republicans make a big mistake, because if they`re going to try to attack him like a common criminal, they`re going to run up against a lot of difficulty with the presumptions of Americans about him.

MELBER: Well, let me ask you something about that. We should that for a reason there, which is they`re previewing a line of attack as if there`s something wrong with him.


MELBER: --which would seem to undercut the President`s entire claim that Mueller cleared him, that`s a good thing, if true, wouldn`t you want to support the credibility of the guy who supposedly cleared you.

FLANNERY: Yes. Well, they have an identity crisis. And then the problem with their identity crisis is the number of obstruction counts that sit in the second part of the report. And even the first part of the report, I think, the common sense now is that we have collusion and if there`s more investigation we might have an indictment.

The problem they have is, they`re going to make a charge and the question is are the Democrats going to break their form and actually answer the charge or give Mueller a chance to answer the charge when it`s their turn.

Like, what are the nature of the people you hired? Were they Democrats out there to get someone? Why did you choose them? Those kinds of questions would rebut the Ku question that the Republicans want to make.

But by the same token--

MELBER: But let me let me ask you, given - especially since to remind viewers, you`ve been counseled these congressional investigations before.


MELBER: What do you do with a witness, particularly one with the credibility of Bob Mueller, who when asked, well - I mean, here`s a question everyone`s got on their mind, right?


MELBER: All this bad stuff about obstruction of Volume 2. If Trump were any other person would you have indicted him? I mean, that`s a question everyone wants to know. And if Bob just says, as we wrote in the report, that was not an available option. Which does really get to the question, do they have to leave it, how much did they push him in your view having worked in these hearings?

FLANNERY: Well, I would treat him as a hostile witness. And in this sense, first of all, I would swear him in. He`s coming in response to a subpoena. But I would ask him leading questions and I would use the report.

And I would use them not only to ask the question to have him affirm what he wrote, but to do it in such a way that there`s a reader`s digest for America in the 1 or 2 hours - depending how they carve up the time, to make their point.

And they should do what you do Ari. They should have documents they flash up on the screen. They should have film clips. They should have statements that they have recorded of the President.

MELBER: You`re talking about what the entire BEAT team does, we`re very proud of our of our production elements.

FLANNERY: Yes, well, you are doing better than "The Hill" right now.

MELBER: So to flesh that out, what would you rip out of this report where he actually might be compelled to answer. Because if he`s going to - if he`s going to say my report is my testimony - and look, I don`t speak for Bob Mueller, but I`ve been car while.

He`s going to in his understated way, he`s going to act like, "Hey, I told you all this already. I wrote it down and then I gave my presser and America remembers". And by the way, I think, Bob Mueller has higher credibility than a lot of politicians. He`s going to say, I already told you, I`m not going beyond that. Then they are on their heels, what do they do then?

FLANNERY: Well, you see they`ve got it - that`s why they have to ask the leading question. Leading question goes like this. In your report you found this instant of collusion. And if he fights with you, you use his language from the report against him.

And then you say, in your book and the on the Page 76 you say that if you investigated more you might have found a crime. And why wasn`t it a thorough FBI investigation? Why - what stopped you from doing it?

Then it doesn`t matter what he says, because his report said one thing and if he has nothing to say about what he meant by thorough or that there could have been a crime, and why did you put it in the second part of the book referring to the first part of the book? Those kinds of questions are very helpful.

And I think if you`re saying - and I also think he should be questioned chronologically, so that you put the collusion next to the obstruction and you see the connection between the two. Now my experience--

MELBER: Final thing, I want to get you on before I let you go, though, because I`m running short on time.

FLANNERY: Yes, sir.

MELBER: Ken Starr testified and gave his view of why he said President Clinton "Lied" and why he chose to lie and why that mattered.


MELBER: Donald Trump lies a lot. And he directed lies in this case, although his written testimony has not been accused of being false. But in the directed lies and the other people who criminally lied for him. Do you think there`s a questionnaire to say that, "Mueller, OK all this said and done, why did he lie?"

Because there was that tantalizing passage in Volume 2 where he said he may not have lied to protect against a collusion criminal conspiracy. He may have lied to cover up other crimes. And I thought "Well, Bob, tell us more".

FLANNERY: Right. I think that what you could say is, you can`t criticize of springing Mueller here as Starr appeared and basically did no more than go over his report.

But Mr. Mueller you have identified all these different items and you`ve left open the question what to do with them. Do you believe that it`s Congress that has to decide to impeach based on the evidence you found that you thought was worthy enough for us to consider? Something like that.

MELBER: Or hold him to report and now we are just doing full lawyer fan fiction. We go through report you say is this an impeachment referral or not?

FLANNERY: Fair question.

MELBER: And if it`s not - by the way and I like to follow the evidence. If it`s not and you`re under oath, and Bob Mueller says, "No, I`m not taking a position. I did not write this to suggest the impeachment of President Trump". However much that may disappoint people that adds to the public record of understanding of what Mueller thinks. Congress ultimately, co- equal branch has to make up its own mind.

FLANNERY: Right. And I think the biggest question for the Democrats and Republicans is whether they take seriously or not his May 29th statement saying, "I`m not going beyond this. I`m not going to do hypotheticals about that". I think you have to expect he is going to be pretty solid on that.

But I think if you can`t get him to answer questions beforehand, then you have to treat them very carefully and study how you can ask them the questions the way I suggested, I think.

MELBER: Yes. Its - you`ve done so much of this work and it`s really fascinating to really gave it out in detail with you John. So--

FLANNERY: Thank you.

MELBER: --as always, thanks for coming on, sir.

FLANNERY: Glad to be with you.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

FLANNERY: Keep up the good work.

MELBER: And we appreciate the shout out to the team.

Up ahead, we`re learning how these debates have shaken up the 2020 race. I`ve got a very special panel, I guess, when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT. As mentioned, more of you, more Americans watch the Democratic primary presidential debates last week than any other Democratic primaries in history, which is pretty fascinating. It tells you something about the enthusiasm, at least to learn about these candidates, or perhaps about the resistance to Donald Trump.

Now there`s a lot of measures from fundraising to polling, to just what we`re seeing out in the field. And we want to bring in two special guests to really get into what we`re seeing as this new week starts with the race typically - really underway now having marked the first debates.

Jarrett Hill, host the syndicated radio show "Drop the Subject" and Paola Ramos is a host of VICE `s "Latin-X" and the former deputy director of Hispanic press for Hillary Clinton. Nice to see both of you.



MELBER: You know a little bit about how these campaigns work?


MELBER: When you see some of the reaction to this debate, whether it`s the public and online reaction to some of the big moments of the clash - Harris and Biden, clashes over immigration, which is you know a lot about. Or other measures we`re seeing that take in the whole quarter like, Pete Buttigieg raising over 20 mil. Where do you see this race going now?

RAMOS: Obviously, it`s - there`s a very long way to go. But I do think that we answered a very important question the first night - the first debate, which is "The question", who`s going to beat Donald Trump or is the question are we looking for something bigger, right?

And I think that moment in the debate, that exchange between Kamala and Biden, that was very crucial in the race, because all of a sudden I think there`s younger people, right? There is the audience is starting to understand that, we want both things. We want someone that can beat Donald Trump and we want someone that can bring transformational change. And that`s important.

MELBER: You want something politically that tastes great, but is also less filling.


MELBER: Why can`t you have both?

JARRETT HILL, POLITICS & POP CULTURE JOURNALIST: Absolutely. I think it`s a situation of like beating Donald Trump is important, but we also have issues that we have to fix in this country, right? Donald Trump has done a lot that has -- had a lot of impacts on this country that are I at least feel like we`re negative and you can get into office but what are you going to do at that time.  And Donald -- and Joe Biden, they asked him you know, what would be the first thing that you would do and he said beat Donald Trump.  And it`s like, no, no, no, that`s not what we`re talking about here.

MELBER:  And what did you -- did you see that as telling?  I mean, some people say oh, you know, it`s kind of like a gap, who cares.  So did you see it as revealing?

HILL:  I think it was a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B for me.  I felt like, what was that?  But it was -- because there were so many moments of him asking, what was that, him Bernie like not being able to hear.  But it was also like -- but maybe that wasn`t a mistake, you know.  Maybe he does not know what that first thing is. 

MELBER:  And you talked about where they are.  I want to play a little bit of Joe Biden at this Rainbow PUSH coalition speech, and again one of these moments where voters are ultimately going to decide how much does language, how much does the age of certain you know, phrases matter or do they think it connects to something more substantive.  Take a look.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We got to recognize that kid wearing the hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.  Ladies and gentlemen are too many black men and I might add women in prison.


HILL:  All right, I mean, what?  Like my friend of mine sent me that tweet with that quote and it was like wow, really?  Like, I can`t think of a hoody and not think about Trayvon Martin.  And so like the idea that like Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie and what does that must -- what that must say about him, that that was really irksome.

And I think about all the people of color who work on that campaign who continually cringe every time he does something like that.

PAOLA RAMOS, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR HISPANIC PRESS, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN:  Right.  And any candidate today needs to understand and needs to know the language of how do you navigate racial justice in this country, right.  You cannot win today without the youth vote.  You cannot win today without black and brown people.  You can`t.  It`s that simple.  He`s not there yet.  It doesn`t mean he will not get there but she`s not there yet.

HILL:  And then for that to happen only days after the stumble with Kamala Harris like I mean, come on.

MELBER:  You mentioned Kamala Harris.  The early polling is really not indicative of anything so we actually don`t use much of it.  It is interesting to see where the grassroots energy is, fundraising being a big thing.  We mentioned Mayor Pete, he`s clearly on fire.  The Harris campaign says that it has got $2 million in the first 24 hours after the debate.

HILL:  I think that polling is really interesting because if you look at the favorable, everybody`s favorables were either -- were flat or they went up by about one or two points, but unfavorables also all of the men, their unfavorables went up, but all of the women there favorables went up -- there favorables and unfavorables went down.

So it`s an interesting thing to kind of see how this debate you know, really tracked with everyone and Kamala Harris had the biggest jump in both of those spaces though.

RAMOS:  And the question is why, right?  To me it`s not so much about Biden or Kamala, it`s really about the issue that created the moment, right.  The issue was talking about race in this country.  That was the moment, right.  That was when all of a sudden millions of new people, right, like tuned in.  They saw themselves in her because again, she is bringing solutions to answer is that we didn`t -- we haven`t had in a long time.

MELBER:  I want to ask you at the shift at immigration which we`ve been covering.  You were a Hillary person.  It means you`re not only a Hillary person, but I think you would acknowledge most of the candidates now are to the left on immigration civil rights to where Hillary ran last cycle.  What does that tell you?

RAMOS:  I wouldn`t even say it`s to the left, it`s just what we see as Justin Morrill today, right.  And I think that is in great part due to Julian Castro, right, who all of a sudden has created the immigration platform, and anything less than that is it is unacceptable, the most important part being decriminalizing immigrants, right.

Everyone has to be on board with that and that is something that we saw on Thursday Wednesday night where he created the minimum standard of what it means to be a Democratic president this country which is seeing immigrants as human beings.

MELBER:  But as part of that a departure and rebuff of the Clinton and Obama history?

RAMOS:  I mean, of course, yes.  I think there`s a lot of people acknowledge and we know we have to talk openly about deportations that took place under President Obama.  But I think it`s more that -- I think what we`re saying is it`s no longer enough to say we want immigration reform.  You know that -- what does that mean?

MELBER:  Because that becomes sort of generic.

RAMOS:  That is the talking point.  That`s the talking point which we hear every day.  I think, what is -- what is the plan, right?  How are you treating immigrants and Latinos every single day on the streets, in detention centers, as they`re crossing the border.  Give us details.  And we`re starting to see that.

HILL:  I think the other part of that -- I don`t know that it`s necessarily a rebuff of the Obama administration.  I`m sure there`s some of that, but I think also there are so many more people that are paying attention right now than there were back in the Obama era.

MELBER:  Right.  Which is wild, right?

HILL:  And so many more people -- my parents can tell you who the Secretary of State is and all of these things.  They can name a bunch of people that they couldn`t name before and they can you know talk about policy in a way that they couldn`t talk about it before.  And so I think more people are looking at these things and have more opinions about them.  They`ve seen these images.

RAMOS:  They have to.

HILL:  Exactly.

RAMOS:  You can now look --

MELBER:  Do you think -- I was going to ask you before we go.  Do you think these -- some of these candidates are better at the internet than past cycles?  Because that also people and young people are hearing about it more.  Clearly, people are hearing about it and tuning in.

RAMOS:  Again, I think you have to, right.  40 percent of eligible voters are Millennials and Gen Z-ers.  You -- again, you cannot win without social media and that`s something that Pete did really well.  He got almost 25 and his game online is great.  That`s for -- there`s a correlation there.

MELBER:  Well, you know what they say about the 2020 primary.  It`s about ideas but it`s also about commas.

HILL:  I was like, where is this going.

RAMOS:  I know.

HILL:  Where is this going, Ari.

MELBER:  You got to raise that money, unfortunately.

HILL:  You do.

MELBER:  Maybe people wish it wasn`t and shouldn`t be as expensive.  Jarrett Hill, good to have you here.  Paula Ramos, your first time on THE BEAT.

RAMOS:  Thank you.

MELBER:  We always like new voices and I appreciate both of you coming on.

RAMOS:  Thank you so much.

HILL:  Thanks for having me.

MELBER:  Up ahead, AOC backed an unusual candidate for Queens D.A. who has now shocked the establishment and she`s here exclusively.  Also, Trump`s Republican primary challenger wants his own debate, former Governor Bill Weld on THE BEAT right here right now.  Thanks for being here.  How are you doing?


MELBER:  Did you know there is a card-carrying well-established an elected Republican running against Donald Trump right now?  Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is out on the hustings.  He`s been on this show once and now he`s saying I assure you next year in a two-man race, I`m going to be well over 15 percent.  So by the book, I should be in debates with Trump.


BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I should be in debates with Mr. Trump.  And I figure either I get a debate or I get an empty chair for me to talk to with 80 million people watching.  Either one of those is good.  This year I`m sure he`s going to you know, hang tight and not give any ground whatsoever so I think my gambit has to be to challenge Alec Baldwin to a debate.  He can come out with his red Trump wig and we`ll see.


MELBER:  Now, before you think it`s all self-interest, note that a whopping 43 percent of Republicans say they actually are open to a Trump primary challenge although most do still support Donald Trump.  Former Governor Bill Weld joins me now.  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

WELD:  Ari, it`s always a pleasure.  Thank you.

MELBER:  Why are you name checking Alec Baldwin?

WELD:  I just think a debate with Alec Baldwin would be sensational.  It probably would be better than -- better ratings than then Trump and Weld.

MELBER:  And you`d really do it?

WELD:  I`d absolutely would do it.  Yes, sure.  Two large orange men going at each other.

MELBER:  But the idea there is mixing the fun with the serious that you think -- and again we`re in a world where Donald Trump and others are experimenting with media.  You think you, the real governor against Alec Baldwin, the fictional Donald Trump would still show us something?  What would it reveal?

WELD:  Well, Alec Baldwin is a pretty smart guy.  I think he could probably come up with some good lines but so could I.  So could I.  I`ve had a lot of practice and debates.

MELBER:  I`ll tell you what, if you say you mean what you say --

WELD:  Yes.

MELBER:  We invite Alec Baldwin on THE BEAT and we would have you both on.  We would televise at least part of this imagined debate if he`ll take you up on it.

WELD:  It`s a deal.  Thank you.

MELBER:  Let`s take a look at your slogan the president wants to, he says Keep America great.  Let`s look at what you`re running on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Today we need Bill Weld more than ever because America deserves better.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He`s a war hero because he was captured.  I like people that weren`t captured, OK.

I don`t know what I said.  I don`t remember.

And Mexico will pay for the wall.

You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A better America starts here.


MELBER:  What does it say that your big introductory ad there has a lot of Trump and not as much of you.

WELD:  Well, there`s a lot of me in that ad too but I do think it`s fair to say that this president knows almost nothing.  You know, he said we should get out of the trans-pacific partnership with 12 Pacific-facing nations because it would be dominated by China.  He didn`t know that China wasn`t a party to that.

So the whole idea that we -- was that we would have a China free shot at the Pacific.  I doubt very much when he ripped up the Iran deal that he knew our European allies were also parties to that.  He said that NAFTA was the worst treaty ever and he said I`m going to rip it up and he negotiated it`s identical twin because it actually benefits all three countries.

I mean, it`s no accident that Donald Trump, the stable genius charged his lawyer Michael Cohen with threatening the University of Pennsylvania with a lawsuit if either Mr. Trump`s grades or his aptitude scores ever leaked out and became public.

MELBER:  Your issue with Trump is more about his ignorance or his values?

WELD:  No, I think he`s just going about everything the wrong way.  I think he`s hopelessly over his head.  The reason why he`s not far to seek, he had no preparation for this job and it shows -- it shows painfully both domestically on the international side.

When I see him sitting down with his much favorite autocrats to have serious discussions about the future of nuclear weapons, it`s a little nervous making, frankly.

MELBER:  Would Weld administration ever do that North Korea visit the way he did today or this weekend?

WELD:  Well, I think that`s a lot of show and a lot of this stuff is show.  You know, I Trump saved us all from a three-part invasion of Iran that was going to happen yesterday and kill 150 people.  Well, that was you know, that was between him and John Bolton that he saved us from.

Now, we`ve been saved from the 25 percent tariff that Mr. Trump was going to put on Mexico which would have increased the price of every car coming the United States by $9,000.  It was never going to happen but it was just setting up an untruthful statement that all Mexico already made concessions to us so we`ll withdraw that 25 percent.  It`s all -- it`s stage management.  It`s not -- it`s not real government.

MELBER:  As a long-standing Republican official, Republican governor, it`s very interesting hearing you stand out from some of the colleagues that you`ve held you know, and esteem for a long time and standing up to this president and seeing you on the race and we`ll keep an eye on it, all right.

WELD:  OK.  Great, Ari.

MELBER:  Thanks for coming by.

WELD:  Thanks.

MELBER:  Governor Bill Weld.  Coming up, a BEAT exclusive with an AOC backed candidate in New York who`s stunned the establishment with a reform agenda when we come back.


MELBER:  Some are calling it the AOC blueprint.  A year after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked New York`s Democratic establishment beating a senior ranking incumbent in the Democratic Party, the city is now witnessing another election stunner.

Tiffany Caban is a public defender running for District Attorney in Queens with a very progressive reform agenda.  Ending cash bail, halting the prosecution of all kinds of low-level crimes, and shutting down something we`ve covered on the show the Rikers Island jail.

Now, this is a very big deal.  Queens has often had a conservative approach to criminal justice.  A council member recently slammed it as "the misdemeanor incarceration capital."  Now here`s why many politicos are buzzing.  Caban has an 1,100 vote lead in this primary which means with votes still being counted, she is on pace to potentially be the new D.A.

Now before the primary, Caban got a very high-profile endorsement in this contested primary from AOC.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY):  If you don`t know, you`re about to know.  Tiffany Caban is going to be our next District Attorney.  We`re going to end cash bail.  We`re going to make sure we stop locking people up for marijuana.  And Tiffany is going to be the one to do it.


MELBER:  Joining us for a BEAT exclusive is Tiffany Caban.  Thanks for being here.


MELBER:  Were you surprised?

CABAN:  You know, we knew that we had a really, really good shot.  I mean, six months ago, if you had asked me that, I would have said absolutely you know, no way.  I`m a career public defender and so when I jumped into this race, it was literally you know me and three other women sitting at a table saying we are going to try to change the system.

We`re going to try to change the conversation.  Move people to center the experiences of you know my clients and the communities that have been you know, disparately impacted by our justice system.  But it changed very, very quickly.  We built probably one of the biggest most diverse, most beautiful strongest coalitions that any borough-wide race has ever seen.

And so we thought we had a really, really good shot going into Election Day especially because of our massive field operation.

MELBER:  We`ve seen some upsets in D.A. races around the country.  DA`s, police chiefs, and even mayors as there`s been even obviously before the Trump era, a real debate about criminal justice and policing in this country.  When people hear that you want to be a D.A. who prosecutes crime less, some people hear that and think, we`ll wait, isn`t that your new job?

CABAN:  So I mean the answer I give is one that comes from my experience not just -- I grew up in South Richmond Hill, Queens.  So you know, a working-class, lower-income neighborhood.  My parents grew up in public housing and the Woodside housing projects.

And so certainly growing up in over-policed, over criminalized resource- starved communities, and then serving communities like that as a public defender, you know, you see every single day that there are crimes that aren`t being prosecuted.

You know, I represented clients who were criminalized and prosecuted for their homelessness rather than prosecuting bad landlords who unlawfully evicted or predatory lenders who stole homes, people that were criminalized for their substance use disorder but we didn`t prosecute doctors who prescribed opioids.

And so for me, it`s about saying we have these limited resources and what we`re doing with those resources right now are criminalizing public health issues.  We are punting you know, mental health issues, substance use disorder, poverty to our justice system.  And we need to start looking at our system in a way that says hey, how do we get to the root causes of crime, because in so many ways stability equals public safety.

And so when we start you know reallocating resources and saying that we`re going to go after bad actors that are destabilizing entire communities which then drives other crimes whether it is low-level nonviolent or violent crime, that that is you get the best public safety and public health outcomes in that way.

And then also saying, well, now we can also divert more resources to tackling you know, really serious violent crime for example where we don`t have the best clearance records on it and it`s because we`re not putting enough resources towards those things.

MELBER:  Cash bail, you want to change it.

CABAN:  Absolutely.  I mean, this past session in Albany was I think transformative in terms of criminal justice reforms.  There were so many things that were incredible.  I mean, we talked about the discovery reforms you know, coming from a practice where we talked about trial by ambush.

We`d go to trial and you`d get the evidence in a case the day before the day up and it wasn`t uncommon.  But one place where we didn`t go far enough was ending cash bail entirely.  So right now, what`s going to go into effect in January is essentially partially ending cash bail.

So ending cash bail for low-level and nonviolent offenses but this is -- this is what I think about it right.  You can`t have two systems of justice.  You can`t have one that says that if you are charged with a nonviolent or a low-level offense and whether you are poor or you are wealthy, you get to be released and you fight your case from the outside.

But if you are charged with a violent crime, if you`re poor, you end up in Rikers Island, but if you`re wealthy you get to buy your constitutional right to the presumption of innocence and that`s not right,

MELBER:  And then I want to ask you nationally, the Democratic Party is going through these huge shifts and one of the things that`s changing is the idea that just because you`re a Democrat you should always stay on the ticket and be the incumbent.

AOC shifted that.  How helpful was she in you being in a position to win this -- potentially win this primary?

CABAN:  Yes, I think it was incredibly helpful.  We had a lot of help from again, a really large coalition so certainly AOC, the Working Families Party, DSA, groups that have been on the ground doing the work like make the road and vocal.

But for me, you know, when you`re running a grassroots campaign, right, you`re not backed by the county machine, you don`t have the million dollars in the bank, you don`t have the consultants.  This is all people powered.

MELBER:  How many other members of Congress endorsed you?

CABAN:  Just the one.

MELBER:  Just the one.

CABAN:  Just the one.

MELBER:  Right.  Because others say oh, I`m going to stay out of this and she seemed to jump in and say no, let`s try something else.

CABAN:  Oh yes.  And I think it was her recognizing that again this was -- it wasn`t about her saying well, here`s this progressive I need to back, but it was about recognizing what was happening on the ground.  It was a real groundswell of saying our communities were so activated and powerful around us that it was really I think her acknowledging the organizing around the campaign and how you know, how much excitement there was around it.

And it helped because we didn`t have the money.  So it allowed us to get our messaging out to folks that maybe we wouldn`t have reached because when we got our message to them, we won the conversation.

MELBER:  Right and we`re hearing that a lot with the way that she is the new school candidate who`s using -- it`s not just oh, I`ll give you my fundraising list, it`s using the reach that she has online and off.  Ms. Caban, thanks for being here.

CABAN:  Thank you very much.

MELBER:  Up ahead, worldwide Pride rallies and a special surprise when we come back.


MELBER:  Millions of people, including Democratic presidential candidates, have been marching in Pride events this weekend.  Take a look, Kamala Harris in San Francisco dawning a rainbow sequined jacket which went somewhat viral.  Bill de Blasio front and center at the celebration of Pride week here in New York.  Bernie Sanders also hitting a Pride parade.  This one was in New Hampshire.  You see him there waving.

And in pop culture news, a musician named Little Nas X was a 20-year-old rapper behind the hit song you may have heard of Old Time Road.  He announced he`s coming out using Twitter and he later pointed to the rainbow-colored building on his album cover.

We wanted to give you those updates.  That does it for THE BEAT.