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Crowd chants "send her back" at Trump rally. TRANSCRIPT: 7/18/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Blair Imani, Elie Mystal, Tim Alberta, Mark Morgan, Howard Dean,Dapper Dan

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we have for tonight, we`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. It`s been a hot one in DC. Can you tell? "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Peter, it happens to me all the time.

ALEXANDER: 100 plus heat index brother.

MELBER: It`s hot. It`s hot and then at the last minute when you got to do the last thing it`s when I always stumble for a moment. Let me ask you something.


MELBER: What`s worse, the heat or the humidity?

ALEXANDER: I don`t know, they make for an awful - awful combination these days.

MELBER: Awful.

ALEXANDER: 106, yes.

MELBER: I was in Washington this week. The humidity, it was unbelievable, it was literally - I hate to say it - I hate to be cliche - it was like walking outdoors into a sauna.

ALEXANDER: That`s why we begged to fill in the studio.

MELBER: Deep thought, thank you Peter. Appreciate it. Having addressed the weather, we`re going to address a lot more in tonight`s show. Republicans are now formally giving Donald Trump cover after literally some of the ugliest attacks that he and his supporters have made thus far.

Also new revelations from that Michael Cohen investigation and tonight on THE BEAT for the first time ever, I will interview, grill and cross examine the man in charge of Customs and Border Protection for the Trump administration. I promise to make sure it`s factual even if that requires a live fact checking.

So that`s tonight but we begin with this disturbing scene last night at Trump`s rally in North Carolina. The President who began with birtherism, encouraging a crowds blatantly racist attack on a sitting member of Congress who is a U.S. citizen although frankly it`s awful either way, chanting to send it back Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who did come to the U.S. originally as a refugee when she was a child.




TRUMP: She looks down with contempt on the hard working Americans saying that, ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.


TRUMP: And obviously and importantly Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.



MELBER: That`s what it sounded like, that`s what it looked like. This could be one of those days that when we report to you that Donald Trump is doubling down as he did on his original tweets. But Donald Trump now is claiming falsely that he somehow actively disavowed the chant.

Now you just saw it so you can judge for yourself. The crowd starts chanting and he looks around, he holds the sides of the podium. He lightly nods and if you want to count up because this is part of the fact check of what the President is now telling his base happened last night.

It was 13 seconds before he even used the power there the microphone to speak again so he knew what he was doing and he stood by allowing this attack to continue and everyone knows the racist origins here. But if you want a refresher, take it from Elijah Cummings.

So I want to mention before you listen to this keep in mind Congressman Elijah Cummings is widely known in Washington for working across the aisle, for working with Republicans. There was a hearing recently where he defended a Republican, who happened to be Caucasian over issues of whether he`d stepped over the line.

So Mr. Cummings speaks with great care and sobriety when he reminds people exactly what the facts and history are what`s going on.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MJ): I cannot help but think about when I was eleven years old. Finally integrated the swimming pool in my district. And we were chanted, we were - stones were thrown at us, bottles and they told - they said the same words. They said go back to your - Go back to where you came from.


MELBER: Go back to where you came from. Now there are ways to deal with this. For one thing, Republicans can say they agree with so much of what the President stands for advocates of policy and they disagree with this.

Indeed many Republicans previously claimed they disagreed with exactly this but now they`re exposed because apparently they don`t when it matters. Giving this President cover once again.


REPORTER: Last night as we were hearing these chants, the President just stood there. He didn`t intervene.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The President moved on with the speech. The President did not join in. The President moved on.

REPORTER: Isn`t it racists though to say, send her back?

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): No, I don`t think it`s racist. A Somalia refugee embracing Trump would not have been asked to go back.


MELBER: I turn to Elie Mystal, Editor of Above the Law and Blair Imani, an ambassador for Muslims for Progressive Values. Good evening to both of you. Blair, what do you hear when you hear that chant?

BLAIR IMANI, AMBASSADOR, MUSLIMS FOR PROGRESSIVE VALUES: It makes my heart palpitate, hearing those chants. It`s not surprising, it is deeply disappointing. This is an America that is familiar to many of us including those of us in the black community, those pf us in the Muslim community.

When I converted to Islam, it was like part of my Americanness was stripped away. People immediately started telling me to go back. Oh you don`t like it here? Go back to where you`re from. And so I`m very cleverly would post links to my PayPal and say OK, send me back, buy me a ticket. I`ll go wherever you think I`m from.

And you know you have to be a resilient person to deal with this but we should absolutely not have to endure this as people of color, as people from religious minorities here in the United States, it`s unconscionable.


ELIE MYSTAL, EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW: Every grown black person has a story about the first time they were told to go back to where they came from. Every growing brown person has a story. First time happened to me, I was in third grade.

I was pretty - I had a smart mouth, I just said you first since we are all are from Africa but look, I mean, I think that one of the things that shows is a point that some people, me included have been making since Trump showed up on the escalator, since he started with birtherism, right?

He - Donald Trump is a racist. The people who support him are racist. The people who support him believe in the racism that Donald Trump puts out.

MELBER: And let`s take your point about what you`ve experienced and what we know from historical record because if anything can come from this week where the President has been formally rebuked at on his record forever.

Some people say who cares. Well, no one but he cares because he`d rather not be rebuked in the history books and know that his children and others are going to look at this. This history though if people don`t know it must be relearned as so many American lessons can be.

So I want to put up some headlines to the point you just made that you remember this from when you were a child. Neal Katyal told us, he remembered this from when he was a child. We have this reporting from when they would literally desegregating the schools.

15-year old black teenager surrounded by this white jeering crowd. Several troops had to use their clubs to push this crowd to prevent anyone from molesting this young woman, this young woman of color. "Don`t let her in. Go back where you came from," they yelled. That was 1957.

MYSTAL: My story is from you know, 1981. Like these things happen and again, the - to me the point is not so much is Trump racist? Of course, he`s racist. Are his supporters racist?

Of course they`re racist. I think what has to happen now is that we have to understand what - we have to understand how to defeat these people, right? We know that a majority of white people will vote for Trump again. They did the last time. A majority of white people have voted for the Republican nominee every Presidential election since the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

That`s just the fact. That fact is not changing but we also know that a majority of white people are still a minority of Americans and we know that when you pull together non-white people and Jewish people and the white people who reject this kind of racism, that we have enough to beat Donald Trump.

And so the point, I think that we have to take from this week is that now we can see clearly, we have to put this election on the moral grounds. Are you going to support the now openly bigoted President and his openly bigoted supporters? Or are you not? It`s a simple binary choice.

MELBER: And you say it`s binary and Blair, that pressure which I alluded to in our introduction of the segment was clearly felt by the President today. In other words whatever the ethical and moral condemnation is, the notion that he will just go on and do anything has not been borne out.

What Elie is referring to as some sort of coalition or pressure, appears to have worked at least for a few hours today because we went through the fact check now so viewers can hear. I will show what we were fact checking. Which is the President`s claiming that you know, he didn`t stand by it all really. Take a look.


REPORTER: When your supporters last night were shouting, chanting, send her back, why didn`t you stop them? Why didn`t you ask them to stop saying that?

TRUMP: Well, number one, I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. It really was a loud - I disagree with it by the way. But it was quite a chant. And I felt a little bit badly about it but I will say this, I did and I started speaking very quickly.


MELBER: And Blair, I want you to respond. Of course, I want to say as the anchor here, that`s false. The President was being quoted, I just - I know, some of our job is to just say the obvious but this is language that he resuscitated as we`ve shown from this historical racist playbook and the chantists chanting it back to him.

But what does it tell you today under this pressure, he also wants to lie and say no, he disagreed with his own words.

IMANI: Well, I think it`s not just a part of the historical racist playbook. It`s part of the historical fascist playbook and you know Ilhan Omar said earlier today that President Donald Trump is a fascist and I absolutely agree with that.

It`s terrifying and horrible to see him walking it back even you know, during the rally when he said, oh tomorrow they`ll tell me this is all controversial and I`ll brush it off. Well, I think that it`s kind of a point where he`s gotten backed up into a corner but what President Donald Trump can`t do is you know, do - so many young people do which is you know, not do their homework the entire semester and be shocked with the class when they fail the class.

And in the same way, he can`t be espousing racist ideology and then be shocked when his supporters are picking it right up. When the chickens are coming home to roost which is what`s happening right now and I really do fear for not only Congresswoman Ilhan Omar but Congresswoman AOC, Ayyana Pressley, Rashida.

You know, it`s terrifying to see and to also be a woman of color in the United States, experiencing this vitriol but he`s clearly very threatened by this amazing firebrand activism happening within the Democratic Party and it`s not a question of whether or not these people represent the Democratic Party.

But this absolutely is the core of the Democratic Party and so I`m excited to see people standing with these women and pushing against this hate and pushing against this racist vitriol.

MELBER: Very strongly put. Stay with me. I want to add to this conversation for another part of the story. Tim Alberta who is an author. The new book you may have heard about, `American Carnage: On the front lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.` And some of the things in that book of have fueled funny stories on TV, lately. Thanks for joining us.


MELBER: Given that you`ve been up close there, one of the first things we hear and viewers of this show will know that we invite on people across the board, I mentioned at the top of the show, I have a current member of the Trump administration on in the show later. A lot of them say look, it`s not all Republicans, it`s not all Trump`s supporters.

And it is some quantum of ugliness and racism that is in everybody. How do you in your reporting approach that. What is your metric and where does your book take us on this battle?

ALBERTA: Well, it`s a good question. Look, I think that what the President misses here and anybody who is around Donald Trump will tell you that he talks incessantly of the base. The base, the base, the base.

He is laser focused on the base and when he talks about the base, Ari, he`s talking specifically about the culturally conservative sort of middle and working class, largely blue collar rural and exurban, that`s your demographic profile of his base. The true believers the people who wear the MAGA hat, show up to the rallies, some of the people who were chanting last night.

That is his base but it`s really important to understand that in politics you win with coalitions and for every one voter that Donald Trump believes he is mobilizing and galvanizing in his base with that kind of rhetoric, he is potentially alienating--


ALBERTA: - the other part of the Republican coalition which is more traditional, suburbanized Republican who doesn`t like this.

MELBER: Yes, that`s him. That`s what we`ve been covering. That`s almost a little bit of the rhetorically easy part. I`m asking you the hard part. How popular is this stuff across the Republican Party and why do so many Republicans who used to speak out, including in leadership like Lindsey Graham, why have they changed their tune?

For that, take a look.


GRAHAM: He`s a jackass.


GRAHAM: That he`s bringing his name down and he`s not helping the process and he shouldn`t be Commander in Chief.

REPORTER: Isn`t it racist now to say send her back?

GRAHAM: No, I don`t think it`s racist.


ALBERTA: Yes, well, so you`re asking two different questions. How popular is it within the Republican Party and then why don`t they speak out. The answer to the second question is very easy, Ari.

They don`t speak out because there`s a binary choice in today`s Republican Party, are you with Trump or are you against Trump? We are way past the point in which there were significant ideological differences that divided a tea partier or from a moderate or whatever.

However you want to think about that dichotomy. The Trump party circa 2019 is a very simple choice, facing these people. It`s Jeff Flake, Mark Sanford, Bob Corker, Justin Amash. The rest of the Republican elected officials in Washington can see very clearly what happens when you cross the President.

So that`s why they don`t cross him. They`re worried about their careers, it`s political self-preservation 101.

IMANI: But what about integrity?

ALBERTA: What about integrity? I mean, that`s a - that`s a whole different question. Look, there`s a - there`s a reason that people like Justin Amash finally just threw up her hands and left the party, right?

And there`s a reason that people like Paul Ryan waited until he was in retirement to ultimately voice these concerns that he had and obviously he`s got a ton of blowback for it but to your first question, Ari.

Look, I think that there are an awful lot of Republicans who are willing to go along with this because they think that the President`s going to win re- election, because they don`t want to cross the President but at the first sign of Trump losing in 2020, there is going to be a race for the exits, everybody`s going to be trying to wash their hands in this so that they can look good in history book.

MELBER: I think--

ALBERTA: And obviously, it`s probably not going to work.

MELBER: I got to fit in a break. I think the point to Blair just raised, the fundamental question that we can sit with and what connects each of the points you guys of all raised here is, what will it take because going along with something for politics that cuts at the divisions that caused a civil war in this country, that go to the original sins of this country.

If politics is your rebuttal to that, you might have some explaining to do to yourself in the years to come. My thanks to Tim Alberta and your reporting. Blair and Elie, for your wisdom tonight. Thank you each.

IMANI: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it. As I mentioned, we have to fit in a break because we have a lot on this show. The lawmaker driving Trump impeachment now says there is a first step and it continues that it was something that is just getting started from last night.

Howard Dean is here on the democratic party. Also administration officials, how do they defend these immigration policies, these photos, this testimony. I have a Trump border official joining us for the first time tonight and we will get into it, cross exam style.

Later, new documents from the feds on Trump`s involvement in the Stormy Daniels hush money case which of course is what landed Michael Cohen in prison. We just got our hands on those. A lot more ahead tonight on THE BEAT.


MELBER: Donald Trump`s border policies under fire and pressed for accountability today. There`s new evidence on what many are calling totally horrific conditions inside these detention centers. Now the Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan who actually helped implement the original family separation policy was in the hot seat before the House Oversight Committee.


CUMMINGS: You feel like you`re doing a great job, right? Is this what you`re saying?

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY, DHS: We`re doing our level best in a very-

CUMMINGS: What does that mean? What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces? Can`t take a shower? Come on man. What`s that about? None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings.


MELBER: That was an intense hearing about these intense topics. Now there a lot more questions that need to be answered with other officials. Consider Mark Morgan who just recently took this huge post as Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He has a lot of power.

We have a lot of questions for him. He joins me when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Joining me now is Trump Administration Acting CBP Commissioner, Mark Morgan. Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

MARK MORGAN, ACTING COMMISSIONER, CBP: You bet. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Let me start by playing for you some of the emotional testimony we`ve heard and I know you`re familiar with some of this. This is a mother describing the death of her one-year old daughter in U.S. custody and she says, ICE officials told her "this is a country of Americans and we can take your daughter," take a look.


YAZMIN JUAREZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR), LOST DAUGHTER IN U.S. CUSTODY: Sadly, my daughter died, slowly and painfully. Just a few months before her second birthday, she passed.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Did you see with your own eyes, a culture of cruelty inside the facilities?

JUAREZ: They gave us a telephone interview with ICE immigration officials. He told me these words: did you know this is a country of Americans and that my President is Donald Trump and that we can take your daughter.


MELBER: Is that death avoidable and is it acceptable?

MORGAN: Well, of course it`s not acceptable. I mean, I think, we can all agree but I do think it`s avoidable and the way it`s avoidable is for Congress to do what we`ve been asking them to do for a very long time. It`s not complicated.

You dressed a forward settlement agreement which says we have to release kids and families in 20 days. TVPRA which tells us that we have to let kids into this country and fix the beginning part of the asylum process. If Congress does that then you  deincentivize and you pull and you fix the loopholes in the center--

MELBER: And to make sure--

MORGAN: You`ll see the numbers go.

MELBER: To make sure I understand your response though are you saying that that death is not the fault of the people actually in charge of the detention facility? It`s the fault of the policy makers in Congress or it`s sort of no one`s fault in your view?

MORGAN: No, I think that`s part of the challenge. I`m glad you`re asking that question. This isn`t about fault, right? This is about looking at this from a holistic approach and seeing the tragedies. Let`s talk about it. I`m glad you showed up. I`m glad we`re talking about it.

What I`m saying though, if Congress passes meaningful legislation to address the loopholes in our current asylum process, you will see these individuals stop making this perilous treks, stop making the cartels a multibillion dollar industry, stop risking their lives. That`s what I`m trying to say.

MELBER: And that goes to - that goes to the multiple reasons that people make this trek as you know. I want to dig into some of the facts. It`s your first time on the show and appreciate you coming on and you have a big job. The President said there would be these mass raids described as thousands of arrests.

Were there mass raids? Yes or no?

MORGAN: First of all, I don`t actually call this raid and I think - I think words matter.

MELBER: Words matter so I`m going to get to your response. But were there mass raids as promised.

MORGAN: Again, these are not raids, these are targeted enforcement operations and you know, no one said about--

MELBER: OK, let me play for you, let me play for you - people did say about numbers. The President tweeted about millions, then the administration said thousands and this is what your boss, the President said.


TRUMP: It starts on Sunday and they`re going to take people out and they`re going to bring them back to their countries or they`re going to take criminals out, put them in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re absolutely going to happen, there`s approximately a million people in this country with removal orders.

TRUMP: Many, many were taken out on Sunday. You just didn`t know about it. We had many people. It was a very successful day but you didn`t see a lot of it.


MELBER: So what you just said disagrees with President Trump. You`re saying in fact those were not those mass raids.

MORGAN: No, no, no, that`s not correct, that`s not what I said. You`re putting words in my mouth. So everything that you just played is absolutely correct. There are over million individuals here illegally with the order of removal.

ICE does this every single day. Yes, there was an operation which they do every single day that makes a step towards removing--

MELBER: Was it in the thousands?

MORGAN: - people that are here illegally.

MELBER: Was is in the thousands?

MORGAN: This is what ICE does every single day.

MELBER: Was it in the thousands? I know you can hear me.

MORGAN: So first of all, I`m no longer the director of ICE.

MELBER: I understand.

MORGAN: So with respect to the results of the operations, ongoing operations, ICE is the best person in best position to give you those numbers.

MELBER: Well, you have - you are here because you have authority. You have authority over people`s lives. You`re at CBP, used to be at ICE, you were in these meetings so we are trying to draw information from you and if your position is the President was wrong to claim mass raids occurred, that`s important for people to know.

If your position is mass raids did occur--

MORGAN: I did not say that. That`s not my position. So don`t put words in my mouth.

MELBER: So let`s - I`m not putting words in your mouth, Sir.

MORGAN: I just said the opposite.

MELBER: Sir, I`m not putting words in your mouth but I am--

MORGAN: You are.

MELBER: - cross examining  you on what you`re doing with your authority in the U.S. government. Now let me put up the facts on those raids and then I`ll give you a chance to respond. Multiple outlets, not a lot of debate here, despite weeks of threats raids begin with a whimper. Large scale immigration raids fail to materialize, says the Wall Street Journal. Few signs of mass raids. No reports of mass arrests.

When the President says multiple times that there are going to be these mass raids in the thousands, when you heard Mr. Cuccinelli say, it is absolutely going to happen and it did not happen. I`m leaving these facts on the screen. What is your response to that and isn`t it problematic, if not altogether misleading for the United States to announce things repeatedly, not do them and then the President to say, actually they did happen.

MORGAN: So I disagree completely with your characterization set from a law enforcement perspective. You can ask the President himself what he meant by any of his tweets but from a law enforcement perspective, you will not find a single law enforcement officer or professional that referred to this as mass raids or gave you the numbers that were going to happen with this targeted enforcement.

MELBER: So the President overplayed it.

MORGAN: I completely disagree with your characterization.

MELBER: So he overstated it in his tweets?

MORGAN: No. In my opinion, if you look at the facts of what he was saying and if you look at the facts that have been presented. When somebody says there are million - over a million people here with final orders removal, that`s what they`re saying.

No one said that in a single operation, we were going to target and apprehend thousands in one operation, no one said that.

MELBER: I`m going to move forward, Sir with the time but I just showed the viewers who also follow the news, the President said it, he wrote it, he posted it to the internet and then Mr. Cuccinelli, your colleague said it was absolutely going to happen.

I want to get you one more thing as I mentioned all the authority you have. I don`t read to you the standards in the Commission, the CBP Commission that you run, Mr. Morgan which say employees will not act in a manner which improperly takes into consideration race or national origin.

I assume you would say, you take that seriously and enforce it with your staff, is that correct?

MORGAN: 100 percent.

MELBER: Would it be consistent or inconsistent with those standards for your staff to single out people based on race or national origin and say they should go back where they came from?

MORGAN: So look, I know what you`re referring to. It`s the President`s tweet so again you`re going to have to ask the President, what he meant by his tweet.

MELBER: No Sir, I`m asking you--

MORGAN: But I can tell you--

MELBER: with the authority you have, would you say based on the standards, I`ll put it back up on the screen, this is about you and your staff and what you`re doing now and the people you`re in charge of. "Employees won`t act in a manner which takes into consideration race or national origin."

Is telling people be they American citizens or not to go back where they came from consistent with that or not?

MORGAN: If that happens, I will take a look at that and determine whether there was a violation and if there was a violation of policy, we will aggressively investigate.

MELBER: So you would view that as unacceptable by your agents and yet that`s what the President is doing now in public.

MORGAN: Again, I knew that`s where you`re going but again, you can`t take someone out of context--

MELBER: But Sir, this is not a mystery. It`s whether--

MORGAN: - and thoroughly investigate.

MELBER: But you have an obligation to constitution above and beyond making the President happy.

MORGAN: Yes, I do and I take that - I take that obligation freely and seriously.

MELBER: And final chance though, would you say that telling someone to go back where they came from violates those standards or not?

MORGAN: Again, you have to take every situation in context. If that does happen by employee, we will investigate it take it seriously and if we find a violation as you suggested, we will absolutely impose appropriate disciplinary action.

MELBER: Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan, you are obviously dealing with a lot of work, you`re busy, you`re in the line of fire, appreciate you taking the questions.

MORGAN:  You bet.

MELBER:  Thank you, sir.  We have a lot more.  These new FBI documents came out today showing Trump`s level of involvement in an illegal hush-money scheme paying off Stormy Daniels.  Michael Cohen just issued a new response from jail.  We`ll share that with you.  But first, this impeachment debate hits a boiling point inside the Democratic Party next.


MELBER:  The other big story is Democrats politically united in their outrage over Donald Trump but now clearly divided on what to do.  Consider a single data point.  41 percent of Democrats voted to support this new bill to impeach Trump.  Translation, the majority when asked to go on record for the first time in the Democratic House said no or not right now.

I want to get right into it with the man who used to run the Democratic Party among other things, Governor Howard Dean.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER CHAIR, DNC:  OK, so Democrats are furious.  Trump is wrecking the country.  What do you want to do about it?  And that`s the problem.  The problem is if we continue to make Trump the issue, he`s going to win the election.  Trump is really good at making himself the center of attention.  When he does it, everybody knows he`s a jerk and they don`t like him.  When we do it, we`re not getting our message out.

MELBER:  When Democrats do it, you think that looks like they`re enabling him.

DEAN:  Yes.  The best thing that could happen to Donald Trump is we impeach him and the Senate clears it.  And then he runs around saying hey, I was cleared for the whole election cycle.

MELBER:  So you actually disagreed with Congressman Green who really forced Pelosi`s hand this week.  Take a look at what he`s saying now.

DEAN:  Right.


REP. AL GREEN (D-TX):  Well, the resolution was tabled but the march is not, the effort was not.  This is a process.  That was a step in the process.  This president will be impeached.  We will continue.


DEAN:  That may be true and I don`t disagree with that.  The only criticism I have at this point -- we`ve been talking about this for three or four weeks and I continue to support Pelosi`s choices here.  I do think the committees are going to move faster.  I think the Oversight Committee the Judiciary Committee --

MELBER:  To bear down on him.

DEAN:  To bear down.  We`ve got to get -- yes they --

MELBER:  Before I let you go, I want to go ahead some vintage Dean on Dean because you`ve been dealing with these internal debates in your role for a while.  Take a look.


DEAN:  I`m tired of trying to get reforms through Congress and then have the Democrats fight among each other about how to do it.

We can actually stop arguing among ourselves and do something.

In four years, when I was running the DNC, I could never get the Washington Democrats to stay on message.


DEAN:  That`s true.

MELBER:  Is there something about "Democrats" that they debate each other more than the Republicans.

DEAN:  No, that`s actually not true.  The reason that we aren`t on messages is we don`t have a standard-bearer.  When we do, we`ll be on message.  I never worry about that in the off years.  I do worry about that going up into the election.  When we have a nominee, we`re now then going to have a very clear message.

When you have 22 people each with their own little nuances about them -- not to mention you know 200 members of Congress and 40 senators or whatever it is, you`re going to have 40 different messages and I`m not worried about that.

MELBER:  Final lightning round.  Speaker Pelosi, a grade one to ten, you give her a --

DEAN:  I give her a 9 1/2.  She said she`s going to be a transitional figure I think that`s important.  I see only one more term after this one at the most.  But she`s best to the business, she is the best of the business.

MELBER:  We want to talk Democrats, you were the guy.  Howard Dean, thank you as always for coming by at THE BEAT.

DEAN:  Thank you.

MELBER:  All right, we`ll see you soon.  Coming up, we`re breaking down the revelations that are coming out of these newly-released Michael Cohen documents including news on what Trump knew about the illegal payments.

And then later, I want to tell you we have a very special report that goes deeper into these racial and cultural clashes including how the echoes of the past matter from Reagan to Trump and beyond coming up.


MELBER:  This is new.  The Feds have just revealed Donald Trump knew certain details about the Stormy Daniels hush money payments and was personally involved.  This is a revelation that comes because Michael Cohen`s warrants were unsealed just today.

Cohen exchanging "a series of calls, text messages, and e-mails with figures in Trump land including yes, Donald Trump himself."  Now, Cohen is in jail for this scheme among other charges.  And last night, the former top prosecutor right here in New York told us this if this.


MELBER:  If this candidate who benefited from these payments and made them through his company were not the sitting president but were a civilian, in your view will the SDNY charge that?


MELBER:  Would you charge that case?

KELLEY:  By the facts, yes.


MELBER:  That`s the former chief of SDNY which handled this case and he knows the people who deal with it.  He doesn`t say that lightly when he says basically the candidate who benefited Trump would have been indicted in his view if he weren`t the sitting president.  Wow.

Now coming up, I want to tell you we have something very special we`ve been working very hard on.  Stay tuned because we`re going to trace the arc of some of today`s biggest cultural clashes including race with one of the most special guests we`ve ever had.  He came up the ranks from Harlem from Trump to Reagan and beyond when we come back.


MELBER:  Now we turn to something different and very special.  It`s a story decades in the making that sheds light on the politics of today in the broadest sense.  I`ve been working on parts of this for the last few weeks and I believe it will interest you a lot.  It begins as a story of crime and drugs, politics, and fashion in 1970s Harlem with shootouts, dice games, and a drug epidemic that sparked a national crackdown in policing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, in the streets of New York it`s called crack, and the deals go down quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  With crack so cheap and accessible on inner-city streets and with a waiting list for drug treatment programs so long no one is even guessing at how widespread the epidemic of crack babies will be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This squad of cops all but one white is heading for patrol duty in New York`s predominantly black Harlem.  There have been charges of abuse and brutality.


MELBER:  The U.S. murder rate hit an all-time high back then in 1980.  New York was ground zero.  Ruthless gangsters like Nicky Barnes, Harlem`s biggest drug dealer scared the city, and many saw this problem is a product of black inner-city neighborhoods while plenty of gangsters outside Harlem also terrorized New York with brazen violence.

On a busy street in midtown Manhattan, gangsters assassinated mob boss Big Paul Castellano.  Drug and gang violence was rampant and New Yorkers like Donald Trump called for a crackdown as law and order became a national political mantra.


TRUMP:  I hate these people and let`s all hate these people because maybe hate is what we need if we`re going to get something done.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Crime today is an American epidemic.  We intend to do what is necessary to end the drug menace and cripple organized crime.


MELBER:  Politics shapes policy and there were new laws for the war on drugs waged largely against poor and minorities.  And this was the environment that raised this man, Daniel Day born in Harlem in 1944.  He did what many young men did to survive, hustling, gambling, finding ways to make money underground.

And while so many of his peers were cut down by drugs or violence or prison, Day not only survived, he thrived by building the persona, Dapper Dan.  First as one of the best-dressed hustlers in Harlem, then is a first salesman, then turning himself into the fashion icon he is today, originating a luxury style that fashion companies were not offering.

Top houses like Louis Vuitton and Gucci did not cater to Harlem`s black community.  Dan saw a market opportunity.  His peers prized luxury brands that these companies didn`t even sell his clothes.  And Dan knew then what many corporations were ignoring.  Harlem had style and had customers and it had money especially from the gangsters.

So Danny innovated a whole new look from whole cloth buying up Gucci bags and luggage for the logo sewing it on two newly tailored clothes and marketing that as a new street style, a remix of downtown luxury uptown.

Take a look at this bomber jacket with the Gucci logo prominently featured along with that custom leather trim.  It repurposes the iconic Gucci for a new jacket.  And Dan says his customers knew he was making something original.  They weren`t paying for the Gucci logo but for the remix.

And the style became a hit with underworld anti-heroes like some of these gangsters.  Dan lined some of the coats with bulletproof material upon request.  Athletes and musicians started to echo the same style.  Here are his tailor jackets for the heavyweight champ Mike Tyson, or NBA player Walter Berry sporting this jacket covered in Louis Vuitton logos, the same look favored as you see here by the rappers The Fat Boys or rapper LL Cool J wearing a tracksuit covered in those logos.

Stars ranging from Beyonce to Salma Hayek would go on to rock Dan`s signature style.  And Dan`s Harlem shop grew from the attention.  While his customers paid extra for the Dapper Dan look, they knew they weren`t buying a Gucci product just like Andy Warhol`s fans knew he was making art not soup ads.

But the fashion houses did not see it that way.  They cracked down suing Dan, seizing his product.  More heat followed, subpoenas for his Harlem clients raids on his store.  There was even a talented young lawyer named Sonia Sotomayor now on the Supreme Court who showed up one day to help her fashion client lead a raid.

Dan recalls she did everything by the book and even complimented a mink coat he had in the showroom.  Dan had many customers and artists on his side and most culture echoes something.  Picasso joked bad artist copy, a mature artist steal.  He openly remixed other artists like you see here Velazquez.  But the fashion houses had money and power on their side and they ran Dan`s shop out of business.

He went back underground, battled financial troubles and some sad days struggling with the next step after a life`s work was shut down.  Now in his 70s, what was left?  And I want to tell you this story could end there.

But that thing about artists copying and stealing, it came full circle as one of the fashion houses that sued Dan was now copying his signature look.  You see here from 1989 the Dapper Dan outfit, and Gucci echoing it on this runway jacket in 2017 igniting controversy over why a corporation gets to do the very thing it sued Dan over.

Now they first claimed it was an homage and this story might end there with some blowback until people moved on.  But then Gucci partnered with Dan to reopen his boutique in Harlem so they could make clothes together uniting the fashions of the runway in the street under one roof and offering an alternative ending for two styles that were so rival risk they competed as they copied each other.

This all includes Dan`s triumphant return, his appearance at the height of fashion Anna Wintour`s Met Gala just this past May.  Dan says people coveted his fashions because he deconstructed brands to the essence of their power, crest that signified wealth respect and prestige.  He explains my customers wanted to buy into that power.

Dan built wealth, respect, and power for himself in his community, and lost some of it when those corporations came for him.  It`s a testament to his work and the spirit of Harlem that he now stands taller than ever astride these two worlds drawing respect and power from both.

My special guest tonight is Dapper Dan.  Thanks for being here.

DAPPER DAN, FASHION DESIGNER:  Thank you.  Thank you.  That was an excellent introduction.  Thank you so much.

MELBER:  You have inspired a lot of people.  How did you persevere when as we saw there was so much coming up against you?

DAN:  You know, Ari, I think that when you`re born poor and you go through early trials and tribulations, you always have that likeability to bounce back.  I mean, everybody knows how to go do good but we learned early on how to do bad so coming back was just in my blood.

MELBER:  We look at a young Donald Trump bad-mouthing Harlem.  We looked at President Reagan singling out the drug epidemic.  What did you learn from the excesses of crime and violence in that era that you had to survive?

DAN:  You would have to have lived in it to understand, right.  And at the time, when the RICO Act put a lot of people -- minority people in jail but at the time there was a major change taking place.  You can argue that we have a lot of men of color in the national penitentiaries and throughout the country now, but you have to have seen what a crack baby looks like.

You know, when you see what a crack baby looks like, and if you go back in time to see what that did, to see baby crying through the night and see families begging, walking away, and leaving their children, you know it`s a different feel.

MELBER:  We have a culture I would argue across diverse communities where there is a glorification with the drug and gangster life whether it`s the Godfather and that`s Italian mafia or the Harlem gangsters we`re talking about or Scarface.  What do you say to young people or people who look at this how to tap into that without being destroyed by it?

DAN:  You know, that`s the irony of the only thing -- the thing that I`m trying to escape from, they were glorified. you know and turned out the way that -- but what I tried -- the message that tried to give the young guys is that you know, we the gangsters, we would never -- and the culture was never about glorifying it and staying involved in it.

The culture was about with the gangsters to escape it and then the rapper`s came along and changed the message.  They change it to make it look glorified and make it look a honey-coated and it wasn`t honey at all.

MELBER:  I want to take a page out of musician Nas who`s very famous, worked with many artists talking about you because so many people in the culture in Harlem and Beyond knew about you even after you were shut down.  Take a look.


NAS, RAPPER:  He had the foresight to do back then what they just started doing maybe ten years, five years after him.


MELBER:  Would you be at the height you are now without the stars and without the streets and which mattered more in supporting you?

DAN:  It`s the combination of both because it`s also important because they interpret the culture of the street.  And the reason the stars gravitated towards me is that I was the street.  They were buying into the life that I walked away from.  So the credibility was enormous.

I`m the guy in between who can take them there, who can give them that credibility, and that`s why they gravitated towards me.

MELBER:  You write in here the only people who were excited about hustling were people who didn`t actually have to do it every day.

DAN:  Exactly.  The street has a light side and the dark side.  If you don`t understand that, you`ll be there when it enclosed.  Even the person like myself as skilled and as knowledgeable like myself, I had to realize that you cannot be in it and that of it.  So eventually I had to pull, withdraw.

You know, and when I went underground, that`s it.  I have a bullet in my neck as a result of trying to be there, you know.  There was days when I had a three-story building 105th Street, but I started out for my table on 135th Street.  And when the brand`s raided me down, I always prepared myself to start all over again and I went back to a table on our 125th Street, and then underground for 20 years man.  So that`s something I was prepared to do.

MELBER:  I want to ask you something a little funny, that`s the exact story you described because in the near the end of the book, everything is shut down, it looks dark and you say you had trouble even selling a t-shirt at that very table.

DAN:  Yes.

MELBER:  And I read that and I thought, here`s someone -- if I may and tell me if I`m wrong.  Here`s someone who has incredible pride, the very little ego.

DAN:  Yes, and that`s the key.  But if you can bury your ego then there`s always possibilities.  You know, I`m riding around in the Mercedes-Benz, Gucci belt, I`m riding around with a Jeep MCM out.  I mean, I`m the talk of the town but I had to learn to swallow that and go back to where I started that and start all over again.

And in that incident you`re talking about, when I had to start all over, I got out -- I was out there and tour buses was coming to Harlem on the 125th Street and I was trying to sell t-shirts.  I counted 144 buses and didn`t sell one t-shirt.

MELBER:  In a single day.

DAN:  In a single day.  And I was determined to turn that around.  Next day -- the next year I looked up I had $100,000.  So that`s what perseverance is.  But I knew that I could do that.

MELBER:  Did you think you`d be here at this age at this height?

DAN:  My ambition is to talk about what you just -- what will you be talking about now.  I`ve seen it.  I`m the last generation that`s seen Harlem before a drug epidemic.  And I need to remind people what like or what we are.  This is not who we are.  All the children that`s growing up now and the young men is going up now, they`re drawing -- growing up in a drug culture and I have to tell the story.

Fashion is my platform to tell.  It`s the biggest story and that`s what I want to go on to do.  But I think the devastating effect and the root of a lot of young black men and Hispanic young men in jail has everything to do with the culture that grew out of the drug epidemic.

MELBER:  It`s a fascinating story that you tell here and that you`re here to continue to lead on.  I appreciate you coming by THE BEAT.  The book is Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem, a Memoir.  Dapper Dan, thank you so much.

DAN:  Thank you, Ari.  Thank you so much.

MELBER:  I really appreciate it.  And this has been THE BEAT.  "HARDBALL" is up next.