STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: This moment brought America and the world together, a moment that peaked our collective curiosity about what else might be out there and tonight Apollo 11`s rocket will be projected on to the Washington Monument pointing toward the heavens just as it did back in 1969, calling us all to seek answers in the great beyond.
And that is all for tonight. We`ll back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY and "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Steve. Thank you. We are live in Washington where there has been an absolutely scorched earth and raucous debate on the House floor today over formally rebuking President Donald Trump`s go back attack.
Tonight we have new reporting from inside the courtroom as well where a federal judge has banned Roger Stone from social media and later in the hour, news in the DOJ handling a potential charges against the officer who killed Eric Garner. But we begin with breaking news.
At any moment tonight the United States House of Representatives will begin formally voting on condemning the sitting President for "racist attacks on four women of color who serve in the House of Representatives."
This is not normal. This is not another day in 2019. This is a boiling point. Now one sign of that is the Democrats joining ranks to stand up to this particular Presidential attack when he launched so many. Another is the vote Republicans just forced moments ago. They didn`t offer a compromise resolution or an offramp.
They threw out a symbolic grenade of going after Speaker Pelosi because she called Donald Trump`s attack racist and they started a rule that members are not formally allowed to disparage the sitting President on the House floor. And they used that rule, that precedent if you will to try to literally remove her words from the congressional record.
Now that vote failed nearly entirely along party lines. House Republicans knew the vote would fail. So why am I telling you about this news because it is worth recognizing, this is the state of affairs right now in Washington and in America.
Rather than even deal with the President`s words, many not all but many House Republicans would rather wage a parliamentary war of attrition to try to silence Speaker Pelosi to take the words out of her mouth as far as the historical record is concerned.
Pelosi is of course pushing for this full House vote to condemn Trump`s invocation of a racist trope against these four duly elected members of Congress. Here`s how the Speaker characterized it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): These comments from the White House are disgraceful and disgusting. And the comments are racist. How shameful to hear and continue to defend those offensive words, words that we have all heard in repeat not only about our members but about countless others.
Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican to join us in condemning the President`s racist tweets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The speaker`s deploring her control of the House floor to force this choice on Republicans. Now most in the House have not done so. 30 some Republicans publicly criticizing Trump`s comments, the party`s leaders have not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Were the President`s tweets that said go back racist? Yes or no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
REPORTER: You`re married to an immigrant who`s a naturalized U.S. citizen, if someone were to say to her she should go back to her country because of a criticism of federal policies, wouldn`t you consider that a racist attack?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-AL): Well, the Secretary of Transportation came here legally, not speaking a word of English and has realized the American dream.
REPORTER: Was it racist for him to say go back to your country?
MCCONNELL: As I said, the legal immigration has been fulfilling of the American dream and my wife is a good example of that.
REPORTER: You stopped short of calling his comments racist.
MCCONNELL: Well the President is not a racist.
REPORTER: But the comments are.
MCCONNELL: The President is not a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Senator McConnell felt the pressure to finally today take some of those questions but apparently not enough pressure or motivation or whatever to actually draw any line against the President who himself said yesterday he is fine with white nationalists agreeing with what he said.
A contrast to civil rights icon U.S. Congressman John Lewis who made this powerful argument today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): What you said and what you continue to say is racist. It is racism, you cannot hide it, you cannot sweep it under the American rug.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined tonight for a special coverage as the House prepares this vote with Juanita Tolliver, Center for the American progress Action Fund; Jason Johnson from The Root and BBC Washington anchor, Katty Kay and we are moments from the vote that now has been slightly delayed but will occur to rebuke the sitting President.
What are Americans to make of this? One could say well, there are many days where you could take something the President has said or done and devote the time on the House floor but that doesn`t mean that there is no significance to putting this on the record for history.
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Absolute significance in getting this on the record. I think honestly the Republican`s reaction to all this is a clear mark of where they stand and what their values are in this nation.
And the fact that we have a President who was completely fine with white nationalist agreeing with him says a lot. I mean, this is a man who called verifying people on both sides after Charlottesville. This is a man who called African nations s-hole countries. This is a man who has repeatedly demonstrated racist behavior whether it is leading the charge with the birtherism effort against previous President Barack Obama.
So there`s nothing new here as a woman of color that I`m saying so I`m really surprised that more of the country is shocked by this but honestly the weak reaction from GOP members is startling. I think also there, the reaction to Speaker Pelosi even calling the President racist and his comments racist on the House floor is a signifying moment as we wait for this vote to happen.
I`m not sure we`re going to get any Republicans to sign on to this resolution.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Probably not. I`ve always said this. I don`t really care about that the President of the United States is a racist. He`s not the first racist President we`ve had and he`s not going to be the last racist President that we`ve had. What concerns me going forward for the Democrats is you can get all this energy together, we can condemn the President but what about the next week and the next two or three weeks?
If you have agreed that the President United States is motivated by racial animus that says that some people are lesser than white people, let`s be clear as to what racism is. He`s saying other people do not deserve this country, do not have a right to be active in politics and commerce and economics and everything else like that. That should frame every other policy that comes out of the White House forevermore.
Everything that comes out of this administration should be viewed as like, this is probably racist policy and therefore we shouldn`t agree with it unless they`re willing to make that change ideologically in how they interact with this administration, it`s a bunch of nonsense.
MELBER: Let me play for you Neal Katyal who served in the Obama administration, who we usually have on as a real legal expert, opening up a little more personally about this, about what we`re hearing from so many Americans which is they have a story which you can read or you have to live experience which you have to listen to learn of how these tropes are thrown around. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: You know, I don`t talk personally on your show much but I think anyone who has brown skin hears these comments all the time.
For me it started when I was three years old, when my mom was pulling out and of the car and pulling out of the driveway and someone knocked their door and said, go back to your country and--
My mom laughed when I was 3, I remember this very vividly, that was her response, just utter sheer laughter but I think this is different because this is of course not some Rando on the street, this is the President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATTY KAY, WASHINGTON ANCHOR, BBC: You heard it again as well this afternoon from another member of the administration when Kellyanne Conway asked a reporter, what`s your--
TOLLIVER: I mean, what was that? Wow.
KAY: I don`t know what is going on in the White House at the moment but it seems that ethnicity, race, religion, the group you come from, unless you come from one particular group, Anglo-Saxon Christian group, then members of this administration`s feel that it`s OK at the moment to question whether you came from and the subliminal message, not even subliminal message, I mean it`s the obvious, not even a dog whistle.
It`s very clear, the message is that somehow that is less than everybody else. This is not the only country where you hear that message. I`ve heard friends of mine who`ve come from other countries originally, families came from other countries originally, the same thing happens to them in the United Kingdom.
Go back to your own country. What are you doing here? It happens all over the world. If you are not part of the group that feels that it has the right and the privilege to be there then you should go back home and that`s what`s racist about this.
MELBER: You wanted to speak to the Kellyanne incident.
TOLLIVER: It`s just -- it`s a clearly blatant display of Kellyanne following the lead of Trump and it`s something that I think we`re going to see a lot more from other White House Staffers who do come out in front of the cameras, really just normalizing, continuously normalizing these things of racism throughout their interactions with the media in America.
KAY: Ad she didn`t say it once. She carried on saying it again.
MELBER: And then Juanita, put that in the context of what people are seeing at home right now. If you look at your headline on the screen. The Republicans trying to rebuke Speaker Pelosi for condemning racism, not Trump. That is the doubling down.
That is different than silence however morally objectionable many find silence, that is what`s happening right now.
TOLLIVER: That`s what`s happening right now and the fact that the Republican Party is now carrying Trump`s mantle, carrying the water for him in Congress says a lot about what`s at stake in the next round of elections.
JOHNSON: They`ve been doing this for years. What -- look, when the black guy got elected, it was open season. This is not new, this is not shocking.
MELBER: But I think, I would fact-check you on that a little bit.
JOHNSON: About what?
MELBER: Double fact-check. I`m glad we can still laugh a little bit on a night like this. The sentiment was clearly there, the chatter as they put it in intelligence circles was there but the lid in a lot of the traditional conservative establishment was still on it.
And people like John McCain who has a mixed record on all sorts of issues.
MELBER: And who may have opposed a Martin Luther King holiday and I`m not - I`m not white washing, I use the term deliberately, but when Obama was President and McCain was running against him, he did not on the record reach into that, if anything he pushed back.
So there is a difference, is there not.
JOHNSON: There`s a difference but here`s the thing. I think it is only a difference in degree but not experience. I can say that that the black person anybody who`s been living here, the kind of hostility we saw on the ground becoming normalized conversation because Obama got in office, it`s just - it`s just on ten with Trump.
Because what happened is if I hate black people, I can use policy as an excuse to criticize Barack Obama when it really boils down the fact that I don`t think he was born here and I hate him and I hate his wife and I hate his kids and that`s--
MELBER: And that`s what -- so that`s why there`s space between the conversation that we`re having that I think has great nuance which is what you`re saying, it`s not so much that if I understand you right, that it was all out there blaring the way it is today but that a historical understanding of the energy of say parts of the tea party or the deficit movement when you look at where the energy is now, looks worse.
JOHNSON: It looks worse but I also think what has happened is it was believed when Obama was in office as angry and I -- look, I go to C-pack, I go to NRA stuff, I`ve heard this all the time. The problem was people didn`t believe that you could win with it because it was just as nasty, the memes were just as nasty with Obama.
But they didn`t think you could win and now that Donald Trump has won being blatantly racist, people are like, we`re good, now I don`t have to pretend anymore. So that`s what makes it more dangerous for every single person. And I say this Ari because it`s so key.
White nationalism which is what`s being driven by this administration hurts white people too.
MELBER: Of course.
JOHNSON: And I don`t think white -- I don`t think enough white Americans understand that this is going to hurt them.
MELBER: I hate to quote Kanye in this conversation.
TOLLIVER: Oh goodness.
JOHNSON: He will probably disagree with you.
TOLLIVER: He`s on Trump`s side.
MELBER: Should I leave?
TOLLIVER: Go ahead.
MELBER: He could say things in his poetry historically that may be different than his politics today.
JOHNSON: This is true.
MELBER: Racism, still alive. They just be concealing it and that was to your point, a period where concealing you`re saying was actually in the political interests of the National Party, now it`s not.
MELBER: With that in mind I want to play for Katty Kay to bring you back in here Anthony Scaramucci who briefly ran White House communications, a defender of the President for whatever reason now this has hit his breaking point and he uses the word racist, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: FMR WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He`s blowing very hard on a dog whistle that every ethnic group that`s landed in the United States has had to hear. I don`t see the President as racist but here`s the thing. If you continue to say an act in that manner then we all have to look at him and say OK, well, maybe you weren`t a racist but now you`re turning into one. I mean, what are you doing exactly?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAY: Anthony yesterday a length on my program on the BBC and he said the same thing and you`re right, this does seem to have pushed him and he was at a time when there were even fewer Republicans than there are right now come out and saying anything critical of the President, he actually said, the President needed therapy and that this was you know, something that - this was something deep in this President.
MELBER: Well, we all need therapy.
KAY: No, you know what we need? We need a very long vacation.
MELBER: I mean, I almost think medicalizing it is letting him off the hook.
MELBER: It`s more than he needs therapy. When he says I`m just going to read it again, this is someone who actually took the job running the President`s communications. Maybe you weren`t racist, that`s the charitable part but now you`re turning into one. And these are Donald Trump`s own defenders.
KAY: Yes, I mean, you go by the birtherism and I don`t know if you have to say that you`re turning into one because as you were just pointing out it was always there. And I think the key to what Donald Trump did today, you read all those stream of tweets, there`s one phrase that really struck me which was, I`ll see you in 2020.
And that gets back to this idea that this is now an electoral asset. I remember speaking to Republican strategist right at the beginning of the Trump administration. The one thing they said the Trump supporters really liked about the President was when he railed against anything that was politically correct and in that bracket is race.
It`s also about gender and that is the thing that gets his supporters going and his other Republicans have also now felt as you say, that that`s OK, that being anti political correctness, being - talking in racist language, being sexist, all of those are things that are now political assets.
MELBER: Right and--
KAY: And not political detractors.
MELBER: That echoes the point.
KAY: And that is new.
MELBER: That echoes the point Jason made and goes to where the political energy is in the war he wants which is a challenge for everyone engaged in civil society. If you go home and you say I`m done with it, I`m turning it off as some people may but if you`re engaged in civil society as a citizen, as a voter, as a journalist or in politics, you have to decide when do you fight this fight and when do you also pivot and say, he`s had enough time dividing people that way which I think is a challenge.
We`re going to look at some live pictures of the House with the news breaking so I want to thank Juanita. Jason and Katty Kay. What we`re looking at on the floor here is the debate here. We are moving towards a scheduled vote tonight on what Democrats say is an important historic line they`re drawing in the sand.
That vote now scheduled to happen within our hour, we`ll bring it to you live. It has been ferocious on the floor. Republicans as I mentioned not giving an inch. We`re going to dig deeper later in the broadcast with a special report into the rhetoric meeting the policy.
Donald Trump not only using this language but trying to limit human rights protections on the border. Also later a judge rebuking long time Trump adviser Roger Stone in court today for breaking a gag order and then do you remember the tape of the officer caught using a choke hold on an armed man until he died, screaming I can`t breathe.
I have a very special report on that tonight and how it involves Bill Barr. I want you to see that if you stay tuned and then later in the hour, Senator Amy Klobuchar joins me live on Mitch McConnell and a whole lot more. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: There is no place anywhere for the President`s words which are not only divisive but dangerous and have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Speaker Pelosi rebuking Donald Trump`s go back attack today as the nation is scrutinizing more widely Donald Trump`s controversial appeals to ethnic purity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: This is about keeping you know - Make America - you know this hat `Make American white again.`
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what Trump meant of course by that was let`s make America 1956 again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make America white again.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): This business about making America great again, it is your President that is dividing this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make America great again was a euphemism for Make America white again.
LEWIS: We heard this during the 60s when little children were trying to desegregate schools. We`re not going back. We`re here to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Congressman Lewis citing the history he lived through and of course fought against. White protesters shouting at black children to go back where they came from. They came from here. This rhetoric was backed by the policy of segregation. Lewis says, "we`re not going back to that."
As the nation reflects on what Trump means and what is he doing, it`s important to understand, this isn`t confined to "just words." Trump is pushing policies that tell people to go back where they came from like this new rule this week curbing human rights protections for people fleeing torture and seeking asylum which has been a bipartisan policy for decades.
Just like Trump campaigned on making America Christian again, proposing banning Muslims, instituting a travel ban that grew out of that proposal or in 2016 when Trump was on the campaign trail, at a certain point when you looked at the birtherism and the Muslim ban and the rhetoric, there were people who said is this really happening?
Well, Trump has launched his re-election campaign on these words and policies and it`s time for people to come to grips with it out in the open. This is happening. I am joined by Michael Steele. Man with government experience who also ran the Republican Party in a different era, thanks for being with me tonight.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: Yes, it`s good to see you, Ari.
MELBER: What do you think is important on the policy side. Donald Trump talks this way and then what is he doing running the country?
STEELE: Well, they are very much two different things in some respects but there is the sort of the reinforcement of that hot rhetoric through some of the policies as you - as you noted from immigration to healthcare to other issues that really impact people day in and day out.
And as we heard during the big debate on the tax cut that a lot of the people who would not benefit from this tax cut interestingly enough for people who fervently support the President so in one twisted sense, a lot of this hot rhetoric that seems to be aimed at you know, minorities, men and women of color seems to have an equally if not sometimes disproportionate impact on the very consumers of Trumpism that that support him.
So that that for me is a very interesting sort of narrative to watch play out Ari, particularly at this time. There are a lot of white Americans of Donald Trump`s age who remember a time that when you said, go back to where you came from and certainly a lot of African-Americans know exactly what was meant.
So there was - there`s no mixing what this rhetoric mean at this time and how it impacts not just communities of color but also white folks.
MELBER: I think that`s all, well put. As we`re speaking here Michael, 6:23 PM in Washington here on Capitol Hill. They have dabbled in the beginning of this vote. It was as I mentioned in my broadcast delayed by an effort to strike words from Speaker Pelosi and in a party line vote that failed.
Now the house is holding this vote. We`re seeing the tabs - tabulations quite early as you will know how this works, you got 400 plus members, the yays here in the high thirties and ticking their way up as we have technically 15 minutes although sometimes they hold it open longer for these votes and so we`re going to see that be put on the record.
What in your view will that mean if it goes as expected a party line that the Democrats have said, yes, he`s said many things over these weeks and months but this one, we`re rebuking him on and we`re making Republicans in the House take that vote as well.
STEELE: Yes, that gets - it`s going to get a little bit ticklish for Republicans who are in purple districts or even blue districts, how they land on this vote. This is - this is the political chess board that`s being played out by Nancy Pelosi who`s saying, all right, you want to back this guy, put your name behind that. Put your vote on the table behind that, one way or the other.
And so how the consumers, how you and I, your audience and the people of this country read this moment is terribly important. See, I look at the drama Ari, and I see Trump doing the bright shining thing, throwing it down a rabbit holes, everybody`s chasing, the media`s like writing these stories.
But what are the American people taking away from this? Just how deep are they involved in the idea that this man, this person in the Oval office is saying things and doing things in their name that is representing them? And so those attitudes that people hold either will conform to what the President`s doing or they`re rejected and this is the first step I think the Democrats are going to be taking to call this right to the attention of the American people to see, is this really what you want?
And your representative either supports it or he doesn`t, that`s the first part of the ticking clock, I think.
MELBER: The other thing that was really something that I think has become the pointy edge of this, which is almost unanswerable if you want to be charitable or obvious, if you reached your judgment about this President is searching the mind and heart of this individual.
He`s been all over the place in his political and media life.
STEELE: Why would you do that?
MELBER: Right, exactly but we just played before the break you know, when you have his own people like Scaramucci going out of their way to say, well, I got to admit, he says now it looks like he`s racist. You have Mitch McConnell saying, well, I don`t want to talk about the comments but I`m going to say as a person he`s not a racist.
And you get into this metaphysical debate and then you have a lot of folks, we`ve heard from tonight on this broadcast saying, obviously you can see in the words and deeds what is - what is happened. Take a listen to some of the sound that has been dug out, my colleague Nicole Wallace was using this earlier today where you have earlier Donald Trump.
He may have changed his position allegedly on abortion, on gun rights, on all kinds of these other issues and yet back in the day, he would go in all sorts of forms from Central Park Five on and really drop the hammer on these divisive racial issues, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don`t look like Indians to me, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God, that`s not the test whether not people have rights in this country or not, whether or not they pass your look test.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, you know - you know in the history of this country, where we`ve heard this discussion before? They don`t look Jewish to me.
TRUMP: Oh really.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don`t look Indian to meet. They don`t look Italian to me. And that was a test whether people could go into business or not go into business, whether they could get a bank loan. You`re too black, you`re not black enough.
TRUMP: I want to find out -- well, then why are you - you`re approving for Indian, why don`t you prove it for everybody then?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What is your view of the utility as I mentioned that search of what Donald Trump was?
STEELE: You know, when you see that, you get a sense of orientation. You know, because look, this is a guy who came into people`s living rooms. He was a showman. He was a P. T. Barnum of his age. He made the reality T.V. the thing to watch, to be a part of. It connected with our communities.
So we never saw these other sides. We didn`t know his family history, we weren`t aware of the role his dad played in certain types of politics in this country that was not favorably disposed towards Jews and African- Americans. We didn`t know it really to put in context, his view of the Central Park 5 and his housing policy as you know, a landowner - a landlord.
And now as President, it`s coming out. And so these pass moments, these vignettes help us contextualize I think in a sense who the man is and what we discover is OK, this has been here for a while, this is not anything new, which is again why I think it connects so readily with a lot of people Ari, because these are feelings and emotions that are harbored by a lot of Americans.
We think we`re post racial, we think we`ve elected a black man President, we`ve done the hip thing, we`re cool, we`re good, we`re not, there`s still a lot of seeds that are fermenting in this race - race issue that Donald Trump waters in moments like this.
And I think that`s where it comes back to us whether or not we want to expel those seeds from our good soil, that American soil or do we want them to take root as they once did in our history and we go into that cycle all over again.
MELBER: And I`m curious given the life you have lived here, I mean you were the Chairman of the Republican Party at the dawn of the Obama era.
MELBER: There was an echo at that moment, it might be easy to forget as we look at the House floor here holding his vote to condemn what is written into the House Resolution as "racist remarks" by the President of the United States but that was a different Republican Party, at least I think it`s fair to say, you tell me. They chose you to be a standard-bearer at that time.
STEELE: Well, you know, I don`t hold any illusions about the selection process both of the admirable components of that is as well as the not so admirable components of that. Like yes, we -- you know, this is the counter-narrative to a Barack Obama.
The tests become and became for the party, OK, you ready to do what it takes to actually put meat on the bones of the words that you use when you talk about we want to broaden our tent, we want to expand our relationship with communities of color. We want to have a conversation.
So when I go off to Harlem, my first week on the job, and people are saying why are you going to Harlem, my response is because that`s where the voters are. That`s where our future is. We need to be there. And the resistance to that became more and more palpable.
So you can see there`s this tug within the body politic inside the GOP with those who want to be expansive, inclusive, and opening up doors, and those who think no, we need to build walls. Now, we need to make it harder for people to matriculate here.
MELBER: Let me read a couple of headlines as well because the other big shift with all of this is sort of what do you do. And it`s not just I want to be clear on race. I think Donald Trump right breaks many, many values, norms, and rules.
So traditionally there`s been debates about different presidents lying and not on the truth that`s a very old story. But the Washington Post and others have meticulously documented that this president habitually tells falsehoods and lies more than anyone and so you get that running counting.
So folks who used to say gosh, you know we`re not as quick in the press or even in politics to say that something is a lie, was a big deal when someone yelled at President Obama "you lie." In that case, it was wrong, but also it was the notion that the president gets traditionally more room unless they ruin it.
Look at some of these headlines then back on this issue of equality and race. We have the Charlotte Observer saying to Republicans, are you OK with a quote racist president? In Kentucky, GOP silent in the face of Trump`s racist go back tweet. In Arizona, if you can`t condemn Trump`s racist tweets, we can no longer be friends.
And the LA Times as I would note here, these are papers from around the country, some southern, some Western, the LA Times says Trump is truly America`s bigot in chief. What is the significance of the rules sort of shifting in what is said about this president and do you think that`s broadly constructive or does it had us towards 2020 with just everyone deep in their camps?
STEELE: I think people are deep in their camps. There`s no doubt about that and that`s exactly where I think Trump wants everybody to be. The playground plays better for him when everyone is entrenched in their particular corner of that playground because you know where they are and you know how to excite them to get them to move out into a space where you can engage with them.
The one thing I`ve been saying for quite some time, Ari, on this very point, why do we continue to play this game as if Donald Trump is a conventional President of the United States? He is not George Bush. He`s not Barack Obama. He`s not Ronald Reagan. He`s not any of the 44 predecessors to that office. He is not. And yet the press, the media, politicians, the parties still treat him as if he is.
And what he`s doing is playing an asymmetrical game in which you don`t know whether he`s going to come from the left, the right, the up, the down. In any moment he`s going to flip like he`s going to tell you the sky is blue. When you challenge him on that, he`s going to say no, I didn`t say that.
And so in that moment, everyone is twisting and turning. Stop playing the game in a conventional way. Play it asymmetrically with him because then in that moment you`re on equal footing, because then you become unpredictable to him. And that`s one of the features and in this -- it`s almost comical that Democrats haven`t figured out that Nancy Pelosi has kind of figured that out in the way she`s approach something.
She`s not doing the obvious. Oh, impeach him. It rubs him raw that she`s not playing that card right now because that`s one less thing Donald Trump can pick at. It`s one less thing he can go after. So the more you take off the table for him to go after, the stronger your position.
And we`ve got to stop chasing all those things down rabbit holes because some of these stories folks, it`s not worth following, it`s not worth tweeting about, it`s not worth even talking about because when you do, you`re playing his asymmetrical game.
MELBER: former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, an expert we`ve come to draw on for many stories including this rolling debate. I really appreciate your time tonight.
STEELE: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Thank you, sir. Let me reset a little bit of where we are at 6:34 p.m. in Washington. You`re watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber and this is our live special coverage, rolling coverage because we are as I mentioned at the top of this hour witnessing something unusual.
This is a controversial president and a divisive one and he says and does many things. But what you`re watching on the House floor is significant precisely because it is somewhat unusual. It is one arm of government holding an official vote to sanction effectively another arm of government, in this case, the president, the commander-in-chief.
I can tell you that the preliminary vote count we have doesn`t usually tell us much because who votes later in the order is not ordained in any particular way. But with that caveat in mind, this vote right now is winning not losing. It`s 126 to 107 to condemn the president`s "racist attacks."
There has been a lot of a program ever since Donald Trump attacked those four duly elected women of color, telling them to go back when most of them are from here. As part of that coverage, we have new sound from the civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis as part of this debate. Before I bring in our next guest, I want you to hear that. Take a listen.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there`s no room for racism. Some of us have been victims of the stain, the pain, and hurt of racism.
On this vote, we need our moral obligation to condemn hate, racism, and bigotry. The world is watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A very powerful and clearly a motive. Congressman John Lewis there in the House floor. That was some of the last bit of the debate we heard before this formal voting began. I can tell you as I mentioned at the top of the show, Senator Amy Klobuchar, obviously, a member of Congress and a presidential candidate is joining me shortly.
I want to turn back now to Juanita Tolliver who`s been watching this unfold with me here in our Washington studios as we look at this floor vote. As I mentioned, there`s not much you can make of the early count but it is a widely expected to be a party-line vote and the Democrats here with 100- plus, 142 moving towards this resolution. What does it mean to you?
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: I mean, definitely following along party lines. And based on some of the reactions we got from the GOP when these tweets first came out, it`s par for the course, right. We have one Republican voting to really hold the president accountable with this resolution and so I`m not surprised by that.
I definitely hope that there are more that emerge, that have the backbone to really stand up to this, hold their values for this nation true, and really meet that moral obligation to call out racism because Speaker Pelosi hit the nail on the head earlier today when she said voting against this resolution is abdicating that responsibility. And this is a responsibility that I think all Americans should take seriously especially elected officials.
MELBER: As you say that, viewers who are eagle-eyed will notice at the bottom of your screen we`re hitting triple zeros. In terms of parliamentary procedure that does not mean much of anything. There`s the 15 minutes automatically allotted but votes particularly big votes are often held open.
So what we have now is the preliminary count, 157-131. We`re waiting on clearly a lot more members of Congress. We expect and I`ll update you if we hear anything else about Capitol Hill team, but we expect them to hold this vote open, hold the time open to get more votes to come in. It won`t be official until there`s more votes and ultimately it`s gavelled in.
As I mentioned, Senator Klobuchar joining me shortly, but Juanita, how do you pivot and how do you apply what Michael Steele called the asymmetric approach to Trump? Because I noticed him in yesterday`s press conference, you had this this vision of these four duly elected members of Congress both rebutting and defending themselves and also saying this is a distraction.
TOLLIVER: I think they also got it right too because what does Trump do best? He is a weak president who`s been ineffective and he doesn`t have anything to show for his presidency so he creates chaos. He turns to Twitter to really get people riled up and distracted from the reality that he`s done nothing for the American public.
And so this is something that they got right when they said they called it out yesterday. Ayanna Pressley repeatedly said don`t take the bait. And this is something that I think Democrats needs to do a better job of.
The other thing I want to flag here is the note that Jason Johnson made earlier. This is an opportunity for Democrats to really draw the through- line that racist beliefs beget racist policies. And they should hold the president accountable with every policy that follows now since the American public is now captivated by this attention that the president is getting in through these racist tweets.
MELBER: Juanita Tolliver, thank you. Stay with me because obviously, this is an unfolding story on the House floor. But has promised, I turn now to U.S. Senator and 2020 candidate Amy Klobuchar. Thanks for joining me tonight.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: On this breaking story and your colleagues in the House holding this vote, what does it mean to you?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think the points that were just made were incredibly right on. This is something the president brought us to because he is deliberately putting out these racial tweets. There is absolutely no doubt about it. He basically is saying now in writing to people who are American citizens who are members of Congress, go back to where you came from.
And by the way, what does that mean? I`ll tell you what it means. There`s a little girl in Minnesota who went out to dinner with her parents a year ago or so during the height of the Trump rhetoric. And they were out there, they`re Somali. And a guy walked by, the parents told me this story, and said you four go home. You go home to where you came from.
And the little girl look up at her mom and she says mom, I don`t want to go home and eat. You said we could eat out tonight. You think of the words of that innocent child. She only knows one home. That`s my state. She only knows one home, that`s our country.
But when he sent that tweet out, that`s what he was saying and that`s what some of the people that listen to him are saying because he`s saying it. And so that`s why I think it`s important that this resolution happen, but at the same time I just want to emphasize these points. He wants us to talk about this. And we have to take a stand but then we have to take a stand on something else, and that there are broken promises all over the carpeting of that Oval Office that he has made to the people of this country.
I talked about him today about what I want to do in my first 100 days, pharmaceutical prices shooting up, nothing, nothing. Going on with infrastructure, when people can`t even drink the water in some cities in this country, that`s broken promises and that`s what people are talking about in their everyday lives.
As much as he wants to claim he`s going to do raids and send out tweets whenever he wants, we have to make sure we have an optimistic, economic agenda for this country. That`s how we win.
MELBER: Well, you mentioned that and there`s also the battle with you`re - - the guy in charge of your Senate Mitch McConnell which is something we were looking at. We were prepping for this interview and he, of course, today was appearing to really dance around or avoid wanting to take much of a position on the president`s remarks. You and other Democrats have obviously been battling with him. I want to play a little bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When someone were to say to her, she should go back to her country because of the criticism of federal policies, wouldn`t you consider that a racist attack?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, the Secretary of Transportation came here at age eight legally, not speaking a word of English, and has realized the American Dream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it racist to say go back to your country?
MCCONNELL: As I said, illegal immigration has been fulfilling of the American dream.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you ever use the words go back to where you came from?
MCCONNELL: Look, I`m obviously a big fan of legal immigration. I`m a big fan of legal immigration. The President is not a racist. The President is not a racist. And I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country.
From the President to the Speaker, to the freshman members of the House, all of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse across the ideological spectrum in the country, all across them. Everyone ought to tone down their rhetoric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s the way Senator McConnell has been talking about it which we`ve been discussing. I also think -- bear with me. I think we do have some of your history battling McConnell which what I mentioned. So I want to play that as well and then I`ll give you all the time to tie it all together.
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, wow, OK.
MELBER: We don`t have -- I`m told we don`t have it. I`m going to -- I`m not going to do an Amy Klobuchar impression because I don`t know how to do that, but for the sake of my viewers, it was some of what you`ve done in the past which is really trying to call Mitch McConnell to account, to criticize him, and to say at times that you don`t think apart from your ideological disagreements, that you don`t think he`s running the Senate in a forthright and fair manner. I give you your time back to speak to any or all of the above.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you. I mean, first of all, I think you have to call out racism when you see it, and he refused to do that and that is very wrong. You had a Republican congressman in the House from Texas who actually said it and he voted that way today.
Secondly, I think one of the biggest problems for the American people right now is that we`re not able to get things done. The House has passed things that would help people. They have passed things to keep dark money out of our politics. The House has passed gun safety legislation.
It is bills that are just sitting in a graveyard outside of Mitch McConnell`s door. And I think that is one of the major problems in addition to the president that we`re dealing with right now. And we already heard the people speak in 2018.
They want to see change and they want to have a president and a Congress that`s actually getting these things done that are going to help them in their everyday lives like pay for college and do something about the price of healthcare.
But every time we try to move in the Senate including on immigration reform and allowing the DREAMers to stay, it`s topped by Mitch McConnell and he`s backed up by the President of the United States. So to me this is just part of a bigger problem that`s going to be solved by this election.
MELBER: And then when you say more broadly, when you talk about your 100 days, and we`ve had this conversation that obviously the Democrats are sort of having in public, what do you do about all this and how do you outline your agenda.
For Americans who are watching who say OK, I got it, the House is having a war with Trump. Trump said terrible things. He`s being condemned for it. What else do the Democrats stand for and what would you do for people`s daily lives if you win, if you`re the president Klobuchar? Your answer.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, the first thing is we need to bring some decency back here. You`ve got parents that don`t even want to have the kids watch the president on T.V. because of the embarrassing things he says.
Secondly, in the first 100 days, it`s unbelievable what you can get done within the parameters of the law. You can do things like bring in less expensive drugs from other countries that are safe, to bring down the price of prescription drugs. That is something that I will do.
I will get us back into the international climate change agreement on day one and bring back the clean power rules. One of the points I made today is a lot of people have plans and I`ve got some good ones at AmyKlobuchar.com that people can check out. But I`ve also given myself a deadline.
And I`ve cited Franklin Delano Roosevelt who back in 1933 basically understood you need the long haul. You need to have long term plans things to get done, but you also have to completely gain the confidence of the people in the first 100 days.
And sadly people have lost confidence in our democracy because we have a present that undermines it every single day. And so that`s a lot of my focus, bringing that back, and getting things done for people, and telling them the truth instead of the over 10,000 lies that have been documented that we`ve heard out of the mouth of this president.
MELBER: Senator Amy Klobuchar on a big and busy night on Capitol Hill, thanks for making time for us.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Ari. It was great to be on.
MELBER: I really appreciate it. If you`re watching our special coverage here live in Washington, we`ve been keeping an eye on the House floor where they`re holding the votes open. You can see the count for yourself there, 228 in the affirmative, 185 in the nay. We are waiting to find out if and when they`ll gavel the result.
This is what has largely been a party-line vote. We`ve counted about four Republicans who are on record as yes in condemning the president. And of course under the rules of the House, if you want to -- you want to get into it, folks can always change their vote up in the last minute, and there`s reasons why sometimes on a motion to recommit, people change their votes.
But this has been largely party line and it looks like the House will take this historic step tonight soon maybe by the 7:00 hour to actually say the President`s "racist attack should be formally condemned" and that will stand on his record. Many of the Democrats saying that`s a blemish on his record.
So that`s our story tonight. We`re going to stay on the House floor. I want to bring back in several panelists, some you`ve seen if you`ve been watching our special coverage, and some you haven`t. Jason Johnson and Juanita Tolliver are here at the table in Washington. Good to see you both. And former Federal Prosecutor Paul Butler is also here.
And what I`m going to try to do is split the difference. I want to warn my viewers if at any moment we get breaking news from the House floor or we get a ruling, we get a vote, and a final resolution, we`ll bring that to you. We`ll cut in.
Having said that, this is not the only story about racial justice in Trump`s America tonight. You are here because I want to walk through and I think we can pull up some of the video about a very infamous case, and that is the Eric Garner case.
This was an unarmed man, a father, who was held in a chokehold by the NYPD. And for five years, this case has been under various investigations. Today, it`s Donald Trump`s Justice Department that ruled they will not -- this is the infamous video. He was held. He was selling loose cigarettes.
And he was held down on the ground, and he ultimately died saying I can`t breathe. The chokehold was ruled illegal.
Today, Donald Trump`s Justice Department said there will be no charges in that case despite some recommendations from civil -- to Civil Rights Division. I would say it`s not a far cry according to many from the other story we`ve been discussing all hour. Walk us through the significance.
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So the only person to go to jail for the death of Eric Garner is Ramsey Orta, the man who made the videotape. The man -- the hero who took out his cell phone and showed the whole world what the NYPD was doing.
So the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said that he couldn`t prove willfulness and that`s why he didn`t want to bring the case, but that was contradicted by the experience career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department who said that they could prosecute and win the case.
Now, why would they think that? In part because in 1998, the Justice Department won a case against an NYPD officer who killed a man by putting him in a chokehold. And in that case, Ari, they didn`t have cell phone video. And this video we see Mr. Gardner saying 12 times I can`t breathe.
MELBER: Right. And that`s what I want to play. And I`m going to tell my folks, we`ve got a live-action situation watching the House. I`m telling my control room to pull up. We have some of that video which I think we`re going to pull up in a moment. And that and that puts together what you just said.
I want folks understand because it`s directly relevant to what`s happening on the House floor and the question of civil rights and equality in America, and whether the Justice Department here is even trusted to deal with this. I`ve talked to a lot of sources who are very skeptical of how this process played out.
So what I`m going to show you at home right now is parts of that infamous video and the resolution that we`ve had. It`s been five years. The officer is still on the job. He hasn`t been removed from the workforce. And every there`s been an investigation, it has not resulted in charges. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC GARNER: I`m minding my business, officer. I`m minding my business. Please leave me alone. I told you the last time. Please leave me alone.
Please don`t touch me. Don`t touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hand behind your neck.
GARNER: I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: As mentioned, we`re cutting into our live coverage so let`s take a listen in to the vote on the House floor condemning Donald Trump`s racist remarks. The United States House of Representatives has approved the resolution. We are watching the gaveling of this vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Members will take their conversations off the floor. For what purpose does the gentleman from Texas rise?
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Madam Speaker, pursuant to clause 2A1 of rule nine, I rise to give notice of my intention to raise a question of the privileges of the House. The form of the resolution is as follows. Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States of high misdemeanors.
Resolved that Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is unfit to be president, unfit to represent the American values of decency, and morality, respectability, and civility, honesty, and propriety, reputability and integrity, is unfit to defend the ideals that have made America great, unfit to defend liberty and justice for all as extolled in the Pledge of Allegiance, is unfit to defend the American ideal of all persons created equal as exalted in the Declaration of Independence, is unfit to ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity as lauded in the preamble of the United States of the Constitution.
He`s unfit to protect the government of the people by the people for the people as elucidated in the Gettysburg address, and is impeached for high misdemeanors that the following article of impeachment be exhibited to the Senate.
Article of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States, in the name of itself, of the people of the United States against Donald --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We have been listening to the House floor live where two things just happened. One, the House formally voted to rebuke President Trump for "racist remarks." And then two, directly after that, Congressman Green came to the floor to push his resolution for impeaching the President of the United States. Not a normal day here in the House floor, not a normal day for America.
I want to give special thanks to all of the people who joined our coverage tonight, a discussion of civil rights, of equality, of what the president is doing, as well as our coverage of the Justice Department announcing today no charges in that civil rights case regarding the killing of Eric Garner by the NYPD.
As always, thank you for joining me. This has been THE BEAT with Ari Melber. We`re fitting in a short break. And when we come back, "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