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Trump backtracks on race-baiting chant. TRANSCRIPT: 7/19/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Hakeem Jefferies, Brittney Cooper, Afaf Nasher, David Corn, JehJohnson, Margaret Cho, Howard Dean

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST: That will do it for us tonight, we will be back Monday with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber begins right now. Ari, good evening.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Peter. Thank you so much. We have a lot in tonight`s show. Donald Trump defending the crowd at that North Carolina rally that was chanting send her back as patriots even as he backtracks. Also how Trump`s attacks are crashing into his approach on immigration.

Have a top Obama official in a special interview, later tonight. Plus it is of course the countdown to Bob Mueller`s now delayed testimony. It hits next week with new pressure on Hope Hicks. We`ll explain but we begin with the fallout from Donald Trump`s race baiting campaign all week. Trump today did a couple things. First, he tried to back up his supporters.

This was hours after he also tried to claim that he is not supportive of that very chance that he authored "send her back." Take a look just one day after saying he was "unhappy," he now says these people who were chanting his words are patriots.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was quite a chant. And I felt a little bit badly about it. I was not happy with it. I disagree with. You know what I`m unhappy with? I`m happy with the fact that a Congresswoman can hit our country.

Those are incredible people, those are incredible patriots.


MELBER: That is the way Donald Trump has struggled to explain himself and his supporters in what he has uncorked this week. Meanwhile, some of the very loudest voices on Fox news which is quite loyal to the Trump administration are having their own troubles. Now you may say what`s the point of even looking at this but it shows where the line is and maybe the line is in a bad place, a low place, a sad place. But there are still lines and we`re seeing a real struggle from these loyalists to explain how anyone could abide by what happened at that rally.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I don`t think they were saying send her back as much as they`re saying these views are repugnant.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, FOX NEWS HOST: Some people at Trump rally make some innocent little chant, board of fun, people having fun, it`s a take-off on lock her up.

JESSE WATERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Citizens of this country in North Carolina having a little fun, maybe getting carried away. They chant some pretty bad stuff for the football game. Politics is a top sport.


MELBER: Maybe carried away or maybe the words don`t mean what they said. Sean Hannity becoming quite relativist because if everyone was chanting a criticism of the Congresswoman`s views, repugnant or not, that would not be the problem they have today.

It was 13 seconds that went on. We showed that earlier in our broadcast this week where Donald Trump stood by and basically seemed to really be fine with what he heard and it wasn`t an isolated moment. None of this takes place in a vacuum.

During that same rally I want you to understand a wider context. At one point Donald Trump pointed to a baby wearing an onesie that said Trump on the front and Q on the back, you see it there, seeming to welcome a conspiracy theory that`s been widely discredited and I`m not going to repeat its claims here.

Joining me for more context is a member democratic leadership, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee. Brittney Cooper, professor at Rutgers and author of the book `Eloquent Rage,` and Afaf Nasher, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic relations, thanks to all of you for being here.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Good to be here.

MELBER: Congressman, at the highest level, you and your colleagues have just said this is racist and you in trying that this week, taking that unusual step to rebuke Donald Trump. At a more granular level it does seem that it got out of hand even for Trump, what does it mean to you that he tried to back away and at times lie about what he did this week.

JEFFRIES: Well, in my view, there may have been some individuals close to him saying this is getting out of control and for at least 24 hours, he walked things back and then he walked back to walk back. And at the end of the day that shows you that he is who he is.

He cannot help himself and it is a part of. Donald Trump as an individual to pedal this xenophobic poison and he`s doing it in a way that is increasingly dangerous. And I would suggest that some of his friends, his family members, his allies who pretend to believe in civility go to him and say, cut it out, you are crossing the line.

This is no longer politics, this is dangerous for our country.

MELBER: You say - you say it`s dangerous and you`re obviously in the political opposition to this President but you`re also a government official with an oath to uphold the constitution. When you see another government official urging on people in that crowd to chant that way, does it concern you that it could amount to incitement?

JEFFRIES: Certainly I think it demonstrates sort of a reckless disregard for human life. And a depraved indifference to the safety of those four members of Congress. He can disagree with their perspectives, he should not be jeopardizing their safety and wellbeing.

In a country one, where we have far too many guns, more than 300 million circulating throughout the country and we know there are some sick individuals and we`ve seen some sick incidents.

Both, in terms of targeting Democrats Gabby Giffords as well as Republicans in the context of the congressional baseball shooting, a few years ago. So this is not even a partisan issue.

MELBER: Understood.

JEFFRIES: This is an issue about decency, civility and the wellbeing of public servants and that`s why we have been saying that we have to ensure the highest levels that our four Congresswomen who have been targeted viciously by him are protected and we uplift their right to express their own views.

MELBER: Understood. Brittney, I mentioned the reporting about Donald Trump backing off because I think the details matter and it`s a reminder that cynicism is not the answer because it is - it is pressure and for some people activism and optimism that still our reporting shows makes a difference.


MELBER: I also and I want to make light of this but you know, we`re not handing out cookies either. Now we`re talking about backing away from terrible, vile things and we`re also tracking something I want to play for your analysis which is not all Republicans of course are even running away from this.

Some are seeing this as a new type of political messaging. Look at this Republican Senator using very clearly coded language here at something called the National Conservatism Conference. He is teeing up on a word you may have heard "cosmopolitan."

Now technically the definition refers to diversity so it`s already pretty clear what he`s saying and many people feel that it is an attack on certain groups. Take a look.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MI): The cosmopolitan elite look down on the common affections that once bound this nation together. The cosmopolitan economy has made the cosmopolitan class an aristocracy. The powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities. The cosmopolitan consensus for the cosmopolitan class. It`s time we ended this cosmopolitan experiment.


COOPER: You know, that is you know, an experiment in using the wrong words and not understanding that words actually mean things. Well, the thing that bothers me about Trump and his cronies is that they have a long history of attacking women of color and it`s really important to say that these comments are not just racist.

They`re also deeply sexist. They don`t attack people of color. They also specifically go after women of color and it`s - and so we need to take the long view. This is Trump`s attack on journalists April Ryan, it`s his attacks on Maxine Waters, it`s even the way that he is locking up these babies and their parents at the border because he sees women of color as the people who reproduce all of these folks that are keeping him from making America white again.

There is a real visible reason why he has such a hatred for women of color and our job is not to play nice with this, it is to call it out at every level. It`s not to give him any credit when he backtracks because the other thing that Donald Trump does. He is a gas lighter. Gas lighters are people who provoke you, who do harm to you and then tell you that you were just imagining it.

So this is what they`re doing on Fox news. They`re saying even though we send her back, that`s not really what we meant. You know, so it`s like the abusive boyfriend who says mean things to you and then that`s the way you took it not the way I meant it.

MELBER: You know I didn`t know you would bring this up. We do have some receipts from Fox news for what you`re talking which is it`s everyone else`s fault but the person who wrote the words.


MELBER: --that the people chanted. Take a look.


GREG GUTFIELD, FOX NEWS HOST: They took his words and they turned it into something he didn`t mean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I were a subversive opponent of the President, I think I would have beat myself at a rally and get people to start chanting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn`t the one that was chanting it. The crowd themselves started chanting this and it wasn`t the whole crowd, it was a couple of people right there in the front but he didn`t say it.


MELBER: He did say it, he wrote it and distributed it to millions of people and then it got chanted back at him, Afaf.

NASHER: Yes, time and time again and we`ve seen this President`s word reverberating through his entire choir, his entire base and let`s not mince our words here today. Words do have consequences and we see it. We see studies that say every time there`s a Trump rally in a particular county, hate crimes go walk by over 226 percent.

We see it here in New York where a mother will be outside at a local Target or a shopping center and somebody will come up to her and reiterate his exact words, go back home. We see it even from the FBI reports that tell us that hate crimes are up more than they`ve ever been in a decade and if you don`t want to believe our own government, if you don`t want to believe those that are reporting these crimes, then why don`t we believe the words of the killers themselves.

They guy that went into New Zealand and killed 51 innocent people while they were worshipping cited Donald Trump, in Charlottesville, it was a love with Donald Trump, in the Tree of Life synagogue, there was a reference to Donald Trump and his words. So we are not going to mince the words from the actions and say there`s no direct relationship.

There is a direct relationship and by the way, standing up for 30 seconds - 13 seconds, right? Sometimes admission of an act is just as bold as bad as an act itself and he needs to take responsibility for that as well and he has the power to do so.

MELBER: He has the power. He has the power. He`s the one who said he can shoot on Fifth Avenue. He obviously can stand down his folks and say, we`re not doing that.

COOPER: Right.

MELBER: Or don`t do it like that and Brittney, I think each of you have really cover the ethics and morality of this which is important. There are politics to this and one of the things I`ve heard from people in our work is that Donald Trump also has brought some strange bedfellows together.

None other than my friend Fat Joe who told me, he was surprised to find he was in common cause with Bill Kristol because they had a different history but they came together to stand up against what they view as Trump`s bigotry.

I`ve got someone else who may not be at that level.


MELBER: But who I don`t think you`ve been partying with all that much from your writing.


MELBER: His name is David Brooks.

COOPER: Oh no, definitely not.

MELBER: Right? So I mean if you and David Brooks 5-10-15 years ago, I don`t see a lot of co-signing.

COOPER: Not at all.

MELBER: Right?


MELBER: But here is David Brooks today. He sounds like you or you sound like him or you to agree on this central questions so I point that out and I read to you. The headline of the new David Brooks piece in The New York Times paper record, "Donald Trump hates America. He suggests a true American is white. Trump`s national story is closer to the Russian national story than it is toward our own."

And he goes on to take a 2 by 4 to what he calls this hatred of everything that is good about America.

COOPER: Well, look, let me get on my Fat Joe and say, lean back and welcome David Brooks to the party. He sounds like me, he sounds like, us, our crew. We`ve been saying this and part of what has to happen on the Republican side is they have to recognize that Donald Trump in their reckoning with decades of rhetoric that has been anti-immigrant, that has been fancy people of color, it has been more subtle.

It has been more civil and the reason that Donald Trump is not horrifying them is because he says every terrible thing and he says it really explicitly. Do I think he`s a more extreme version of the Republican Party? Sure. But do I think he`s a logical extension if someone vocalizes the dog whistles they`ve been engaged in, it`s literally the difference between a person who says cosmopolitan and a person who says send her back.

But they`re talking about the exact same thing and so we need more Republicans and more conservative writers to stand up and call this man out and say this is not the vision that we have for America, that`s the only way this will change.

The other thing that we need to say which is why don`t trouble is so dangerous. He`s not a averse to inciting crowds to violence in order to serve his purposes. Remember that in the 2016 campaign, he called the people - when he was talking about Hillary Clinton, he said, well, you second amendment people might actually handle that.

So he actually give gloss to this violence and then gal lights and tells us that that`s not what he`s doing.

MELBER: I appreciate you citing those receipts as well. He also in the same month, you`re quoting from infamously said at a rally, he would cover the legal fees of anyone at the rally--

COOPER: That`s right.

MELBER: --who engaged in violence. It`s not a drill, it`s very real.

COOPER: That`s right.

MELBER: I do have to fit in a break. I want to thank Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Brittney Cooper and first time guest here on THE BEAT, Afaf Nasher. Hope you come back.

NASHER: than you Ari.

JEFFRIES: Thank you.

COOPER: That`s for having me.

MELBER: Thanks to each of you. We have a lot in tonight`s show as I mentioned, Bob Mueller hits the road in Washington, testifying next week. Democrats leaking some of their Mueller playbook. We have that for you with Maya Wiley, David Corn.

Also a key committee now asking tonight brand new, did Trump DOJ stop a potential indictment over the fact that he was President here in New York and later Trump`s race-baiting rhetoric colliding with his actions in immigration.

I have a special report followed by top Obama official and later on in the hour, we`re going to show you Jon Stewart absolutely blasting Rand Paul over supporting 911 victims plus yes, it`s been a long week, maybe you need it more than ever.

Comedian Margaret Cho with of course the doctor, the governor, the Governor Howard Dean together tonight for fall back Friday. I`m Ari Melber. We`ll be right back.


MELBER: New heat on former Trump adviser Hope Hicks tonight stemming from the Mueller probe. These court documents that just came out suggest she might have misled Congress when she faced questioning. It`s a reminder though of how high stakes any committee grilling can be.

Hicks` problems stem from prosecutors closing that Michael Cohen campaign finance probe which the New York Times calls an apparent legal victory for Trump. But Democrats say there`s no time to celebrate. They`ll be deploying Wednesdays Mueller hearing to hammer shocking evidence of criminal misconduct.

House Judiciary Chair Nadler laying out the plan.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We will ask questions designed to elicit the information designed to get the information out there that we want, designed to show, what his report found that is at odds with what the administration and the Attorney General and have been saying.


MELBER: I`m joined by David Corn and Maya Wiley, both experts on this Beat, nice to see you on this Friday.



MELBER: What are you looking for on Wednesday?

CORN: We talked about this a week ago and we thought he would be testifying this week and I said the key words were within the lines. You know whether he would stay within the lines that we expect and say nothing beyond the report or whether he would go well beyond that.

Even in terms of putting italics in, adding an exclamation point because he`s doing - I think even in doing a dramatic reading--

MELBER: What about a highlighter?

CORN: A highlighter yellow you know, whatever, emoji something that would just give some more attention to some of the findings. We saw when he did his press - that wasn`t a press conference, press appearance, it was nine minutes long. It gave a lot more juice to the report because it is long.

It`s and a lot of most Americans, in fact almost every American has not read it.

MELBER: What emoji do you give volume one and two in the report.

CORN: Mostly thumbs up. Maybe a little bit like that for some but I do--

MELBER: See because I think and Maya, I`m going to bring you in here. At the end of the day, volume one on whether there was election conspiracy was definitely one of these you know this emoji, right?

And then volume two was like a burning mad face of like Mueller in his legal way saying, there`s more than one crime here, substantial evidence of more than one crime.

WILEY: Yes and I think that was what was interesting about the road map we saw today is at least for House Judiciary Committee, they are going - I think that they`re identifying to focus on with Robert Mueller, are the places in the report where his report says things like substantial evidence, obstructive act.

Meaning you could literally ask Mueller to read the section or the sentence or they could read it and ask him a very pointed question. In fact, you found in your report that there was an obstructive act and substantial evidence that Donald Trump was trying to interfere with your investigation.

That is the kind of thing that is very smart.

MELBER: And this is the tension that that you lay out between you, the prosecutor telling us how to ask these questions and you, among other things, a Washington expert, anyone who`s seen a little bit of hearing knows they struggle to ask these questions the right away.

CORN: yes.

MELBER: Take a look at Neal Katyal  who this week previewed for us how you`d really do it. Take a look.


NEAL KATYAL, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So Donald Trump tweeted right after report came out. He said no collusion, no obstruction, totally exonerates the President. So question number one Mr. Mueller, Trump says that you found no obstruction, is that true?

Question number 2, Trump says that you found no collusion, is that true? Question number 3, did you did your report totally exonerate the President? Yes or no? Simple.


CORN: Those are good questions and you have you know 24 or so Democrats in Judiciary Committee. All get five minutes. They`re going to have to really make sure they coordinate and don`t go in different directions because in between their questions, the Republicans were basically asking more like tell us ways that you`re part of the Obama deep state conspiracy that was designed to get rid of Trump ten years ago before we even knew he was going to run.

But the other thing to remember is, there are two hearings on Wednesday. The first is Judiciary Committee and they take a break. They will wipe the chairs down and they bring in the Intelligence Committee which will go up to the issue of Trump and Russia.

MELBER: But you think Neal`s questions nailing it that way are good.

CORN: I think those are good for the opening.

MELBER: Right.

CORN: But I do think and this is my bias, I wrote a book on this with Isikoff that focusing overly on the obstruction issue as opposed to Trump having played footsie with Russia and denying the attack and making it easier for Russia that that to me is the bigger deal in a lot of ways.

And to the American public, if you can`t convince them of that being a big deal than whether you obstructed the investigation is not going to be I think as important. It is important to us. We care about these things but I think the big story is Russia attacked, he helped, he benefited.

That`s in the report and that should get as much attention as what he told Don McGahn to say.

WILEY: Well, I agree absolutely with the importance of the attention on what Russia did and why in fact we should have a lot of serious concerns about Donald Trump and those in his administration even now, right.

CORN: Yes.

WILEY: Like Jared Kushner who are actively and aggressively trying to get the benefit from Russians and also the way their policies have lined up to benefit Russia which doesn`t make a lot of sense in national - in terms of national security.

At the same time I think the obstruction does matter and I think it matters a lot if they do what Neal Katyal is saying and going into the meat of it in their five areas because polls show that Republicans actually are concerned about if they - if they get the message, if they get the facts of the report they actually are concerned about whether or not there is someone in power might be abusing it.

MELBER: And narrowing the questions in a way that people actually can hear the clear - the clear implication. I`m sure you remember, common - formally known as common sense musician and you remember his song `The questions` David?

CORN: My favorites song.

MELBER: Where he says--

CORN: Why is this night different from all the nights?

MELBER: That`s the four questions which - which really relates to some of this. I mean, that`s an immigration story if you want. Exodus, movement of ja people as Bob Marley would say but Common famously asking the questions. Why I got I have I`d to get ID. If I had I`d, I wouldn`t need ID.

CORN: It`s Catch 22 but I will say--

MELBER: We`re out of time so keep it--

CORN: One small point.

MELBER: Nail it.

CORN: One small point.

MELBER: Nail it David.

CORN: Republicans want to make Wednesday into a circus. They`ll do everything possible to make that clear message not come through.

MELBER: But you can`t blame the Republicans and Maya gets the final word. Republicans can make noise, Democrats have the gavel. It`s up to them.

WILEY: Absolutely and you know, Mobb Deep because son, people scared you know why, Ari. Say it with me.

MELBER: Son, people scared because there`s no such thing as halfway crooks.

CORN: Get up, stand up.

MELBER: Fight for your right to party.

CORN: That works too.

MELBER: Wow, I think we did a lot here.

WILEY: We did.

MELBER: We did. If you`re watching still, thank you and thanks to David and Maya and although it`s Sunday night, we have a new special The Mueller report: What you need to know. It debuts this Sunday, brand new on MSNBC.

When we come back my special report breaking down the race-baiting and how it shapes policy and later, the fight between Jon Stewart and Rand Paul, guess who`s winning, tonight.


MELBER: This was not an average week in politics even for 2019 on Capitol Hill. Congress took three unusual actions over a few days. Considering and then tabling and then impeachment resolution for the first time since the Dems took over, voting to rebuke a President for the first time in a century and voting to hold two officials in criminal contempt.

Meanwhile Trump spent a full week on a race-baiting attack against minority members of Congress, culminating in his supporters now infamously chanting the very script he gave them, "Send her back," which then caused such a backlash that Trump is now backing off and lying, claiming he didn`t agree with what he wrote.

Now, these developments are all tied together by of course racial strife. America`s original and enduring problem and they`re tied together by immigration. America`s original and enduring source of Americans.

Now let me repeat this basic but vital point tonight. When we say American, we`re virtually always saying immigrant. 98 percent of today`s Americans come from a lineage of immigrants, literally. Only 2 percent of today`s U.S. residents are from families that actually started out here as indigenous people.

Now some are of course not being literal when they say immigrant. They don`t mean all migrants as the dictionary word. They mean some smaller group that they don`t want here. For President Trump these days that`s sometimes Latinos and Muslims.

He originally backed writing discrimination against them into law, running on that Muslim ban which was later revised.

Historically for other presidents, it was Asians, Italians, Greeks, Jews who were sharply restricted by a 1924 immigration law.  When President Coolidge signed that very law which discriminated, he said America must be kept American.  Sound familiar?

For decades, U.S. immigration law was explicitly bigoted under that law he signed until the civil rights era beat back those policies and President Johnson ended bigoted immigration categories in a later 1965 law.

Now, since the 1960s, federal law has banned bigotry in who America lets in.  Few would admit they want to go back to the formalized legal bigotry before then.  Few but well, not all.  In fact, you could count the first person Donald Trump put in charge of enforcing federal law Jeff Sessions because that bigoted 1924 law Coolidge sign that I`m telling you about tonight, Sessions said it was good for America in a 2015 interview with Steve Bannon.


JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES:  When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the President and Congress changed the policy and it slowed down immigration significantly.  And we`ve been assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.

And then we passed a law that went far beyond what anybody realized in 1965 and we`re on a path now to surge far past what the situation was in 1924.


MELBER:  1924.  There`s been a lot of talk this week about going back.  If you mean it geographically, well 98 percent of Americans could go back to their original families home countries.  If you mean it in terms of time, Trump`s call to make America great again plagiarized of course from Reagan is seen often as a nostalgia for the 80s or the 70s or even going back to the 50s.  Sessions wanted to go back to the 20s.

And this is where today`s race-baiting and immigrant-bashing and racist attacks all collide because this is the bigotry which was written into immigration law for decades only removed by relentless protests, civil disobedience, people facing beatings.  This week some of the people who took those beatings are trying to defend America from falling back into bigoted policies.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  You know, make America -- you know this hat make America white again.  They want to make sure that people, certain people are counted.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA):  The President of the United States of America is the flexion.  He`s preaching the seed and sowing the seed of racism.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD):  They said the same words.  They said, "go back to your neighborhood."  "Go back to where you came from."


MELBER:  In America, 98 percent of our families originally came from somewhere else.  We`re not going back across the map, but there is a very real threat we could go back in time.  That`s the challenge I`m going to discuss right now with the man Barack Obama just put in charge of the border when he was in office.  Jeh Johnson when we`re back in 30 seconds.  Nice to see you.



MELBER:  I`m back with Jeh Johnson who ran the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.  Good evening.  Thanks for coming on THE BEAT.

JOHNSON:  Ari, this is my first time here.  I was brought here on false pretenses.  I was promised it was "FALLBACK FRIDAY" but I`ll get over that.

MELBER:  We`ve brought you on a Friday, and I promise to get you in a fallback.

JOHNSON:  Yes, you did.

MELBER:  And I will.

JOHNSON:  Anyway.

MELBER:  Promise coming in the future.

JOHNSON:  We`re here for a serious discussion.

MELBER:  Well on the -- I appreciate you saying that.  On the serious side, what does it mean when you see this language and rhetoric hit policy and people around Trump say we should go back from before 65 when you literally had bigoted laws?

JOHNSON:  Ari, I used to tell audiences when I was in office those who know history learn from it.  Those who don`t know the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them.  Seventy years ago yesterday, my own grandfather who was a sociologist wrote a lot about civil rights in the 1940s and 50s gave testimony before Congress seventy years ago yesterday and it was before the House on American Activities Committee.

You know there`s been discussion this week about if you object to government policy, if you complain about government policy, if you have problems with our government you`re somehow unpatriotic.  And the first -- one of the first questions he was asked when he testified before the House on American Activities Committee is are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party.

And this is a man who was a World War One Vet, honorary degrees, had to deny that he was a communist, went on to say wanting the elimination of inequalities and racial discrimination is not wanting to subvert the government, and that was the threat of his whole testimony.  And he was a man like myself who loves this country as a patriot but sees the problems and wants us to address the ball.

And so I listen to today`s debate about how if someone has a problem, if someone objects to the direction our country is going, they somehow do not love our country and I strongly object to any notion like that.

MELBER:  I appreciate that.  I didn`t know you`re bringing that but it fits right with the discussion of how far back where we`re going to go.  I want to get you on the actual way this works.  You`re one of the best people given the knowledge you have.  What we`re hearing from Republicans and I had a the border chief on last night for example, is that basically, you have to overhaul these processes.

Take a look for example of Senator Graham saying overhaul asylum and you won`t actually have as many children waiting around.  Chuck Grassley, we can put this up, says, I want to stop the separation of families at the border by repealing the 1997 Flores Court decision requiring separation of families and we`ll put that up as you answer.  Basically is that true that if you made those changes, you would fix this.

JOHNSON:  Well, first there`s a broad consensus in the American public that to do anything in this space, you should address taking care of the people who were here, the DREAMers, but also secure the border.  And that`s kind of lost in this debate right now.

The other large picture point is that to do any of those things you just said, you need Congress to change the law.

MELBER:  But would those things be good?

JOHNSON:  Well, yes and no.  It`s a little more complicated than that.  The Flores decision was a settlement reached in 1997 that covered unaccompanied minors.  In 2015, the judge overseeing that case determined that the settlement actually covers kids who are part of families as well.

At the time we -- I opposed that ruling and we argued then that it would constrain enforcement policy.

MELBER:  So just to be clear.  You`re saying on policy some of these Republicans do have a point that there are sort of grandfathered in restrictions that make it harder to actually be humanitarian about where --

JOHNSON:  I believe that our enforcement practices, our detention practices which should be fair and humane should be regulated by the executive branch, not a federal district court in Los Angeles so there ways to do that.  But in the overheated rhetoric right now, we`ll never get there.

MELBER:  Right.  Let me get you before you go on someone that you used to work with Mr. Morgan who I had on last night who wouldn`t say whether or not the go back statement violates DHS protocol.  Take a look.

MELBER:  Would you say that telling someone to go back where they came from violates those standards or not?

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


MELBER:  Doesn`t the president send the wrong message to the country and the line agents when he engages in this kind of race-baiting and shouldn`t someone in that position be able to say so?

JOHNSON:  Yes.  The President of the United States is the leader.  He`s a leader of the country.  He`s the CEO of the executive branch.  He has the largest microphone.  He sets the agenda.  And the Border Patrol is wrestling with a lot right now.  They`ve got the crisis on the border.  They`re overwhelmed by the numbers.  They`re under stress.  There was -- there were the social media messages that came to light last week which are horribly offensive.

And when you`re talking about the Border Patrol, it`s time now for strong leadership.  And this is why having so many acting`s like Mark Morgan matters.  If you have actings, you need -- you need people who are in Senate-confirmed positions to take a strong position.

MELBER:  Right.

JOHNSON:  If I were in office right now, I think I could safely say, if I had the crisis we have with the Border Patrol right now, I`d be in there saying OK, we need to really turn this around.  And you`ve bought them doubt and tomorrow is the first day we begin to rebuild.

MELBER:  And as you say, the President`s use of acting in the undermining of the authority of these positions has become quite a deliberate pattern that undercuts that.  Jeh Johnson`s first time on THE BEAT, I hope not to last, and I hope as you said, "FALLBACK" next time.

JOHNSON:  All right.

MELBER:  All right.

JOHNSON:  Thank you.

MELBER:  Jeh Johnson.  Up ahead, Jon Stewart blasting Rand Paul.  We`ll show you that.  First, tech giants grilled on the Market over market power on Capitol Hill.  That`s next.


MELBER:  In a big story that has gotten much attention, the government just hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine for mishandling data if approved will be the largest ever and that`s just the start.  Consider that while Congress received a lot of attention this week for all the racial controversies, it was doing other things.

Speaker Pelosi touting a historic vote to raise the minimum wage, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee demanding executives from Facebook and other big tech companies Google, Apple, Amazon, faced a grilling over competition.

Here was the scene at a dry but important committee on antitrust hearing pressing over Facebook and whether it has become an illegal monopoly.


REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO):  Is Facebook in your view a monopoly?


NEGUSE:  When a company owns four of the largest six entities, we have a word for that and that`s monopoly.


MELBER:  Now, the corporations deny that claim but they can`t deny their ambition.  From his first days touting Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said it would be more than a Web site or a dating site, he pitched it as the backbone of the internet.  A fictional Mark Zuckerberg explained it in this dialogue from the Social Network.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People want to go on the internet and check out their friends so why not build a Web site that offers that friends, pictures, profiles, whatever you can visit, browse around, maybe it`s someone you just met at a party, but I`m not talking about a dating site, I`m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.


MELBER:  I`m back in the real world hearing this week.  Some witnesses struggled to name one competitor to Facebook.  That`s a problem because monopolies can be illegal and get broken up.


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA):  There is competition to Facebook.

PERAULT:  Yes, congressman.  There is.

JOHNSON:  Who would be the competition if I might?

PERAULT:  Many of our competitors are sitting here at this table with me.

JOHNSON:  Any other social media platform that could compete with Facebook?

PERAULT:  There may not be an identical competitor to Facebook --


MELBER:  And that became a theme.  Corporations that dominate their product the way saran-wrap dominates, what do you even call it, plastic wrap?  So it`s hard to even think of one other name brand.  The execs did try to remind everyone their competitors exist.


PERAULT We face intense competition, Twitter, Snapchat. IMessage, Skype, Telegram, Google YouTube, and Amazon.

NATE SUTTON, ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL, AMAZON:  Walmart, eBay, Target, Safeway, Wayfarer, and Kroger.

KYLE ANDEER, CHIEF COMPLIANCE OFFICER, APPLE:  The customer wants to use iCloud doesn`t want to use iCloud, they can use box, Dropbox or any number of other options.


MELBER:  I`m showing you this because it`s important, but it may not look super exciting.  Politically the best thing going for these companies is how dry and complex these hearings might seem, but they do boil down to fundamental values.

Should our economy have competition or be a monopoly?  Should you control your private information and maybe your kids information or should these corporations?  And should new companies get to avoid law because of the accident that there are new companies so the old laws didn`t happen to mention them because they were written so long ago Web sites didn`t even exist?  Or should they face the same safety protections as other industries or the way we protect food and water under the law?

There is a reason that monopoly is a bad word.  If you remember the monopoly video games, I should say T.V. ads for the board game?  It refers to unfair business practices.  In the board game, in fact, of Monopoly, you can end up in jail, something that sounds increasingly fanciful for real- life corporate executives these days though this week`s record fine for Facebook and skeptical hearings do suggest some things maybe gradually shifting.  We`ll keep our eye on this story and I`ll be right back with "FALLBACK FRIDAY."



MELBER:  Time now for a very special edition of "FALLBACK."  I am joined by comedian extraordinaire Margaret Cho.  She`s headlined at Nashville comedy tours and done All-American Girl and earned an Emmy for her portrayal of the late North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In NBA action, Kim Jong-un won the championship today.  Our brilliant comrade scored 200 points and then went hot tubbing with a couple guys he`s definitely just friends with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Excuse me, lady, you do the vow, you know, speak now or forever hold your peace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh my God, are you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I`m nobody.  Kim Jong-il is dead.  I`m only waiter.


MELBER:  Only waiter.  The new podcast The Margaret Cho is on the Earios network and her comedy tour right now is fresh off the bloat.  Check that out.  Also with us Howard Dean.  You know him as a governor, a presidential candidate, a party chair, and yes, a doctor.  Thanks for being here.



MELBER:  Who needs to fall back?

DEAN:  Well, my first is I use my role as a doctor.  There`s a Congressman named Chris Smith who thinks that Lyme Disease is caused by a CIA drug experiment to -- and that`s the reason that so many -- 300,000 people a year get Lyme Disease in the United States.  That`s pretty scary.

MELBER:  Where do you --

DEAN:  He`s a congressman.

MELBER:  Yes,  he`s a policymaker.  So he`s ObamaCare policy, he`s in charge with --

DEAN:  Well, he`s on the other side of the aisle so ObamaCare is not his favorite thing.

MELBER:  Well, getting rid of it may be.

DEAN: Right, getting rid of it.  I`d like to get rid of Lyme disease.  Or actually maybe -- do we have to get rid of the CIA to get rid of Lyme disease?

MELBER:  I mean, that`s a big question, because it -- does it trip you out how little some politicians know about medicine?

DEAN:  It doesn`t trip me out how little they know about medicine, is that they`re willing to talk about it when they know they don`t know anything.

MELBER:  Stay in your lane.

DEAN:  Which is common -- yes, stay in your lane.

MELBER:  Margaret, what`s on your "FALLBACK" list?

I think maybe it`s white people who think that they are people of color.

MELBER:  I heard about this.

CHO:  That`s a good -- I mean, can`t we have just one thing?  I want to just have like people to own one thing being a person of color.  I mean, white is a color.

MELBER:  OK.  I thought white was the absence of color on the color wheel.

CHO:  Is it?  I mean, well to me -- for example I guess, what I would say then to white people it seems like the absence of racism or the absence of hardship.  That`s sort of my perception of white privilege but I think also part of that is like this thing -- this idea that we live in a world that is post racist or somehow we`re beyond that, but we`re in the midst of it.

MELBER:  When you`re up doing shows, do you notice anything different about where maybe people or the culture are from reactions when you`re -- when you`re touring?

CHO:  I don`t know.  You know, I think that right now there`s a lot of people who are just very angry and very desperate.  And now it`s actually crossing party lines.  It`s not -- it`s not as ---we seem to see really this sort of allegiance to our parties before but I think now all of that has kind of gone away and there`s a lot of people that just need to laugh.

MELBER:  Do you have anything else on your "FALLBACK" list?

DEAN:  No -- well, Facebook.

MELBER: Those apps.

DEAN:  The face app thing.  I think Margaret -- this is on Margaret`s list too and she`s a lot funnier than I am so don`t dare say it.

CHO:  No.

DEAN:  But basically, there was a very funny tweet this morning on my Twitter feed from some older guy who`s saying how come the generations -- younger generation thinks it`s time to move out of their way if 100 million people are giving away their Facebook -- their facial recognition and artificial intelligence for nothing which can be used in -- you just have to sign something online that says it can be used in perpetuity for the rest of their life for whatever reason they want without paying them any royalties.  There`s 100 million kids who signed up for this on Face App.

MELBER:  But the --

DEAN:  And it`s a Russian app.

MELBER:  The counter-argument is it`s fun for five minutes.

DEAN:  Yes, exactly.

CHO:  Yes, but I mean, I already know where my wrinkles are.  Like I know where they`re coming in.  When you hit 50, this is not a fun app anymore.  This is more just like a mirror.

MELBER:  No, I heard you were also interested in one of your fellow comedians is doing talk about entertainment and politics.  Jon Stewart roasting Rand Paul.

CHO:  Which is great.  And you know, this is a very simple thing.  He`s just wanting to take care of the first responders of 9/11, people who were very affected by 9/11 by the tragedy, by the you know, all of the fallout not just you know, not that -- you know, PTSD of course, but everything, all of the stuff that was happening.  They deserve to be taken care of.

And you know, Rand Paul is kind of using it as a platform for his own idea of like there should be somehow a cap on government spending and it`s just -- it`s confusing the issue.  This is about taking care of people that we need.

MELBER:  I want to ask you a serious question about this somewhat goofy topic, right, which is what is it about Jon Stewart as a comedic truth- teller that he`s been so effective?  Because everyone has got freedom of speech but I don`t think people believe that if Dane Cook was waging this effort, it might have gone as far.

He has been by all accounts, my reporting in Washington, very effective at keeping this on the front burner.

CHO:  There`s something to the fact that he was reporting news at a very difficult time in this country where people didn`t want to look at news anymore.  They want to have some way to absorb it, that humor that would somehow help us but without losing the humanity, without losing the real information, without an apparent agenda, which I think Jon has always had.

He`s got an earnestness to him and you know, and I think that he`s really - - this is a really important issue.

MELBER:  Governor, what do you think about that?  Because in a sea of partisanship, division, and also frivolity, this comedian has been laser- focused on getting support to 9/11 victims since 2001.

DEAN:  When Jon was on the air, it is -- this is a true -- the majority of people under 30 got their news from Jon Stewart every night.  So I mean, he has enormous.  Now those people were almost 50 or 40.  So --

MELBER:  Well, according to FaceApp, they`re like 80.

DEAN:  That`s right.  That`s right.  So I mean he`s unbelievably effective truth-teller than he was 20 years ago.

MELBER:  Governor Howard Dean --

DEAN:  It`s my pleasure.

MELBER:  Thanks for being here.  Margaret Cho, first time on THE BEAT, thank you.

CHO:  Thank you.

MELBER:  I appreciate it.


MELBER:  Really great having that conversation.  I also have some weekend homework.  You never know when a former DHS Secretary will give you testimony from the old House on American Activities Committee.  That`s what Jeh Johnson did giving us all some food for thought about how we handled dissent in this country.

Again, my thanks to all our guests.  That does it for THE BEAT.  I`ll be back here Monday night 6:00 p.m. Eastern and part of Mueller coverage next week.  "HARDBALL" is up next.