SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Or he has said he`s going to do things about pharmaceutical prices and he hasn`t done that so yes, it is a sobering moment but it is this moment is way beyond the politics of a Democratic primary, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: No.
KLOBUCHAR: And I think we have to remember that. I`m hopeful that we`ll see a change going forward.
TODD: Well, that`s the question I have. Is that I think we`ll see a change in tone and how you guys compete against each other. Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you. Stay safe on the trail there in Iowa. Thanks very much. That`s all I have for the night. We`re up against the clock here.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
TODD: More MEET THE PRESS DAILY tomorrow. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber right now.
Good evening Ari. I owe you 10 seconds.
ARI MELBER, HOST, MSNBC: All good, thank you Chuck. Good evening and thanks to everyone joining us for this newscast. We begin tonight with another shooting. This time in Sacramento, a man a woman believed to be husband and wife dead in what authorities believe is a murder suicide in an assisted living facility.
This comes in the wake of a deadly mass shootings in El Paso and taking a reminder of this grim reality in American, on average more than 2000 people are shot a week. Many don`t make the news because this has become normal. And President Trump is headed to El Paso and Dayton tomorrow but his own words and policies leave him exposed at a time like this.
With a long rhetorical record contributing to this toxic environment which has some El Paso Democrats urging him to stay home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Words have consequences and the President has made my community and my people the enemy and this is why from my perspective, he`s not welcome here. He should not come here while we are in mourning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: People in these clearly traumatized communities are obviously exercising their right to say they`re not going to welcome a President who stokes division and really takes a break from politics which would have to be put on hold for any reasonable presidential visit to have any potential value.
Now look one counter argument would be that you have to see how the President acts. His allies say that his scripted speech yesterday carefully avoided the taunts and hate from his rallies and tweets.
But Mr Trump has already quickly shredded that defense today by attacking former President Obama for his careful statement about the horrific shootings. So if you`re keeping score, Donald Trump made it through precisely one work day before reverting to form and seizing on this tragedy to pick political fights.
Barack Obama`s remarks avoided mentioning any particular politician or Donald Trump. He generally called to reject racist, excuse me, to reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or and this is where he mentions racism, normalizes racist sentiments.
He also said it`s time to reject leaders who demonize those who don`t look like us or suggest immigrants threaten our way of life. Barack Obama`s phrasing left Trump and his supporters with two choices. Either claim that such fear mongering and race baiting does not apply to Trump or admit that it does. They went with door number 2.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess he`s talking about the President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think so. I`m just wondering where - did George Bush ever condemned President Obama after Sandy Hook. Fed news for you, mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: President Trump then quoted that very segment in his response to Obama. And while mass shootings are a long standing U.S. epidemic, the criticism of Trump is not about being President during these shootings. It`s about demonizing immigrants in ways echoed by the El Paso shooter himself.
A campaign warning of invasion in 2000 Facebook ads, words used by the shooter. It`s about race baiting and racial profiling and violent rhetoric and openly egging on crowds that shout about shooting immigrants and chant about rounding them up and sending them back.
As we watch a President deploy the language of segregationists and embrace violent times that can spin out of control at any moment, tonight in America Donald Trump`s new found call to condemn racism has become itself another touch point in this culture war.
And let`s be clear about what we`re seeing. It`s not because all of the words that Trump said on Monday are wrong. No. It`s because of the speaker of those words. Even by the grim standards of 2019, it does still feel brazen to watch a man perform the theater of speaking out when he is the only speaking out against his own recent words and deeds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. Hate has no place in America. They`re bringing drugs, they`re bringing crime, they`re rapists open wounds cannot heal if we are divided.
CROWD: Send her back. Send her back. Send her back.
TRUMP: Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside so destructive. And find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love.
Yes Sir, we have Bob Wire going up because you know what, we`re not letting these people invade our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Juanita Tolliver, Campaign Director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy officer for Raices, the non-profit group which provides legal services to immigrants in Texas and Jess Morales Rocketto, the Chair of the immigration rights group, Families Belong Together.
Erika, what do you do with that contrast?
ERIKA ANDIOLA, CHIEF ADVOCACY OFFICER, RAICES: Ari, I`ve been - I`ve been 32 year old brown woman who grew up undocumented most of her life in Arizona. I know what racism looks like. I know what racism feels like especially being someone who is openly undocumented and has gotten so many threats on social media after the President was elected in 2016.
I know what it feels like when somebody tells you go back and to me, I don`t think he understands or maybe he does understand, I don`t really know but what I know is that his word cause for a man to go to El Paso and specifically look for Mexicans to shoot because of what he believed was the right thing to do based on what the President has been preaching.
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Yes, and there has been absolutely no recognition, no accountability for the impact of Trump`s words. His words incite violence. His words motivate people to go out and target brown communities.
And it`s really problematic because there`s nothing we can do until the President comes forward and comes to term with this. I think when I heard his statement yesterday morning, I was like wait, so Trump is condemning himself? Is he`s saying that his own words are what is wrong with what is happening in this nation because after hearing Kellyanne Conway tell nothing`s wrong with what he`s saying and he`s going to keep saying it.
And he believes this. There is no surprise to me that he went back and challenged former President Barack Obama`s words in the way he did and went back and forth in that splice video that you showed because this is how he acts so we know how Trump behave so no one should be surprised by any of this.
MELBER: What you mention is he condemning himself and so just before I bring you in, I want to throw another thing in for all three of you which is how does the country in this tough time assess the credibility of what the President says because as mentioned, there maybe people particularly if they`re not as tuned in who say oh well, what he said on Monday, who could disagree with that?
And it goes to being clear enough and factual that understand the context that he disagrees with that so it`s not enough for him to just say it which sparked a bit of a debate that I wanted - that I want to bring you all in on, not because of media but because of what it says about how we deal with these things.
The first edition in New York Times which I`m going to put up on the screen for folks of the Monday speech began by saying Trump urges unity verses racism, a kind of a straight reed and if a different more credible President had given that speech, that might be a reasonable headline.
They got huge blow back for the reasons we`re discussing and they went with and it was changed in time as folks can see on the right side of your screen here Assailing hate but not guns. Starting back with you, Juanita, because you brought up this point, what do you think of that shift, that blow back, this time in America where people are having to deal with the fact that the President regularly lies, regularly stokes racial division and hate.
And thus that has to be factored in to even any objective reference to something he said.
TOLLIVER: Seeing that first headline really brought to life Beto O`Rourke`s question to the media, WTF, what are you doing and why does it take getting called out in mass for you to know better because the reality is, I think that initial headline came as though like you said are it was from a President who doesn`t have a record of calling Latinx community and members of those communities, rapists and murderers.
Doesn`t talk about them as invading entities that are sub human so to have that headline be the takeaway that the New York Times, which was the headline which remained on newsstands today and was printed and delivered to homes across the country is ridiculous.
JESS MORALES ROCKETTO, CHAIR, FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER: Yes, you know I think this is really about actions speaking louder than words. Trump can say whatever he wants but we know that he only is out for himself. He`s not out for the American people and who he is, is a white nationalist. Who he is, is a white supremacist.
And that is really shown to us by his policies so yes, he doesn`t have to take responsibility for every single person and what they say and what they say motivates them. But he does have to take responsibility for his own actions which have terrorized our communities, which have separated thousands of families, which have kept families in conditions that have been like in the concentration camps, which have kept parents and children separated still to this day and have created an emboldened white nationalist and white supremacist in our country.
He absolutely has to take responsibility for that because he is the top dog of white supremacists and white nationalists.
MELBER: One, you mention what`s being done, the actual policies and so much of this is about the climate and the some of these shooters are responding to the climate. So that`s a huge priority for us. We also want to dig in so stay with me panel.
I want to present some of what we know about the Trump administration policies. Donald Trump was ducking the issue of background checks in that very speech. His administration people should know, he`s actually downgraded the White House counterterrorism adviser post.
That person no longer reports to the President. Curtailed the national program to counter violent extremism. And despite these recent references and talk about mental health, Donald Trump actually canceled an Obama era safety rule that tried to prevent mentally ill people from acquiring guns in the first place.
Juanita, I wonder where those issues fit in because above and beyond all the rhetoric and division when you talk about security and you talk about these references, the record also undercuts some of the President`s claims.
TOLLIVER: Just like Jess said, actions speak louder than words so whatever you said in that statement yesterday morning is nil compared to his record of rolling back programs that are meant to improve public safety. I think the other concern here is the fact that not only Trump is behaving this way, but Congressional Republicans are doing nothing to improve the situation and prevent gun violence in our communities across the country.
There hasn`t been a vote taken on HRA which passed the House months ago which would call for requiring background checks for any gun sales and so I`m looking at congressional Republicans, Mitch McConnell, what is the holdup?
People`s lives are at stake, people are dying and these weapons need to get off the streets.
MELBER: Erika, I want to read to you as well from Susan Rice, a top Obama official of course with national security pedigree and also one of the highest ranking women of color in a recent administration. The headline is quite clear. When the President is a bigot, the poison spreads.
She writes when the President United States reveals himself to be an unabashed bigot, attacking minorities in his own country, America`s ability to stand credibly against human rights abuses is thwarted in ways lasting and immeasurable. Erika.
ANDIOLA: Yes absolutely. What he has done at this point I think, we have already seen that it has had an impact in you know, just his own policy, that`s had a big impact on millions and millions of people in the United States and at the border and right now even in Mexico you know, there`s a lot of people who are homeless right now because of his own policy like the MPP or the return to Mexico.
So his policies have definitely created chaos and a lot of pain for the immigrant community but you know, again words also matter and what he has been saying about us, not only has you know, taken lives in El Paso but also has you know, created this sense of just fear within our communities.
And so everything that he`s been doing has proven very differently to what he has been saying in the past few hours and we`re not going to stop until you know, we go to the elections in 2020 and then we can remind America, who he is and what he`s been doing and at the end of the day, he`s going to keep on carrying to his base but it is going to be our job to make sure that our communities come out to vote, that our communities come out and say we`re done with this.
We`re done with his policies, we`re done with his rhetoric. We need better. Our communities of color need a solution and we need to stop being attacked and being killed by people who listen to him.
MELBER: And Jess, a final thought from you on where we go from here, given what`s been laid out.
ROCKETTO: Yes, you know I do think that this is incumbent on - we already know the President is not going to act for anybody but himself and that means America`s counting on Congress and especially on congressional Republicans to really take action, to do more than provide their thoughts and prayers.
But to actually use their legislative power to ensure that Americans are safe and to ensure that guns get off of our streets.
MELBER: Jess Morales Rocketto, Erika Andiola and Juanita Tolliver, thanks to each of you. When we come back, we have a special report on the way that some right wing media is using a megaphone that matches white nationalist propaganda. I also will be joined by an Obama official who warned against domestic extremists and then was shut down.
Plus Mitchell McConnell facing new pressure to act on guns including some rays of hope according gun control activists in Ohio and later, our experts are going to break down what the Fed should really do to treat domestic terrorism and white nationalist threats on par with yes, 911. I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC,
MELBER: Now we turn to some facts and context about one of America`s fault lines after this weekend shooting. How we all view immigration? Our views come from experience of course, from our feelings, from words. Which is why battles over how to handle immigration often turn on the words we use, undocumented versus illegal.
Asylum verses anchor baby. Some words could be offensive because they are dehumanizing or worse. Now Donald Trump`s adopted the inflammatory language of invasion and the El Paso shooter echoed that very language from Trump as the New York Times reports which has some Trump allies pushing back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you use the term an invasion, that`s not anti- Hispanic, it`s a fact. If the Russians were coming through Alaska through Canada, the President would be using the same language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The primary definition of an invasion is a foreign military invading. That`s why it sounds ominous. So the Russian or Mexican military crossing the border would be a traditional invasion. Now the word also refers to a large number of people entering a place, you can find dictionary examples of an invasion of fans in the stadium.
In fact people are looking up these very words right now. `Invasion` is in the top 20 most searched words today at Merriam-Webster`s website. Racism and fascism are in the top 5 for the week. So a lot of people are thinking about what these words mean.
But there is more to the whole answer than just stopping at the dictionary definition. The El Paso shooter explicitly cited a white nationalist dogma, the replacement theory that argues immigrant invaders are replacing basically white people in the West.
Now that doesn`t mean everyone whoever picks the word invasion in a sentence intentionally means it that way. But this week as Trump and his defenders publicly double down on invasion in this news cycle, it does mean they`re on notice the killer meant those words that way.
And he is echoing a line of other mass shooters who cited the same replacement theory. So word one, `invasion.` Word two, `replace.` If replace rings a vaguely sinister bell, well, that may be because of Charlottesville, which of course Trump proclaimed good people on both sides because it was there in Charlottesville that white nationalist openly marched against racial minorities and against Jews and chanted about not being replaced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s America. Replace is also award with a normal dictionary definition. Most people use the word replace in normal, typical ways. But even in a lawful and nonviolent political discourse, that word`s increasingly involved in this specific political context of use immigration as a zero some correct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Democrats know if they keep up the flood of illegals into the country, they can eventually turn into a flood of holders for them. Their political success does not depend on policies but on demographic replacement.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Democrats who want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever increasing number of chain migrants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve seen this in Europe, we`re seeing it here and they are attempting to replace us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Attempting to replace us. Now there are plenty of legitimate, peaceful arguments for limiting immigration. As we`ve noted on this program before most countries with net positive migration have rules limiting it. But how you do it matters. How you talk about it matters.
And how you talk about it especially if you have authority, a megaphone or power can shape whether our nation sees this as another policy to be discussed and peacefully decided or as something more akin to a war footing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s called an invasion and thank God, we have a President that will stand up to an invasion like this.
TRUMP: I don`t care what the fake media says, that`s an invasion of our country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s an invasion by foreigners in other countries.
TRUMP: We have right now an invasion if you look at what`s going on with the caravans, it`s an invasion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re just streaming across. This is a flat out invasion.
TRUMP: Stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This invasion. We need more than simplistic politicized and even hateful rhetoric right now. And we probably need more than just food faith criticism of that rhetoric. So we turn now to two nationally renowned experts on this very challenge when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: As we go a little deeper on the language and the practice of this extremism, I`m joined by historian and Brown university professor, Monica Martinez, the author of `The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas.`
And Brian Levin, Director of the Center of the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Thanks to both of you for being here. Brian, how do you chart the main lining and spreading all these ideologies and these words and where`s the distinction or the good faith space for people who may echo a word or pick up a word and not even realize some of its hateful roots.
BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER OF THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY: I think you`re right and by the way, there is an invasion of the United States going on by foreigners but it`s Russians and some of the things that they`re doing is manipulating social media to have anti-immigrant sentiment. We have all this in our latest report which is on my pinned tweet at Prop 11. But let me answer your question. In the lexicon of the white supremacist movement, we actually had a computer analyst Andrew Thompson look at this kind of verbiage being used on places like Forchheim and we found it hate crimes and hate speech often but not always peaked around the same times.
And often around political rhetoric. Let me just give you a couple of quick examples. November 2016, worst month for hate crime going back 14 years. James Nolan from West Virginia university and I and John Wrightful did a study with that but also listen to this.
Bush speaks 6 days after 911, hate crimes drop when he speaks of tolerance, hate crimes drop by two-thirds the next day against Muslims and Arabs and two-thirds in that year.
MELBER: I`d let you continue but I think you`re siding his speech at a mosque.
LEVIN: Yes at the Islamic center DC.
MELBER: This was a President who widely criticized for many things but this was a President who saw 911 happened and went to a mosque to urge tolerance, such a contrast to today so you`re saying that while causality on any individual incidents obviously always very difficult in your field, you do see correlation there in what the political leaders are doing.
LEVIN: Oh, absolutely listen to this too. Charlottesville, worst month - I`m sorry - tied for the second worst month this decade. So give an example of that. When Obama was about to become President in October 2008, another spike month so we can ask you do day by day tip using disaggregated FBI data and we found that.
And you can read that in the report but what it like to do is ask you respond little bit outside the data world, really briefly and that is Robin Williams from year old stomping ground a Cornell University where my son wants to go by the way, a professor emeritus said there`s a printed circuit of stereotypes and this printed circuit of stereotypes labels certain people as legitimate targets for aggression.
So we need to tone it down and even if somebody thinks that they`re using a word that`s a bit benign, for instance, in the hate world, in that toxic hate world, it has a particular meaning and let me just say one other thing. Shortly before these attacks, President Trump was re-tweeting a British national who was convicted of hate offenses over in the U.K.
MELBER: Right and who was suspended I believe, one of those accounts for terms of service violations for that very thing. Monica, I want to get your expertise based on the work you`ve done and also in a serious segments so I`m low to joke around too much but Brian is clearly caffeinated, I think that`s clear and Brian, I would love to get a hold of your source of caffeine because you`re coming in firing on all cylinders on important topic which we appreciate.
So Monica, bringing you in, your work sheds what light do you think on this discussion and on the point that I raised in the lead and that Brian raised which is the way these words do have consequences.
MONICA MARTINEZ, PROFESSOR, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I`ll say we need all the energy that we can get right now to demand social change so I appreciate the energy but the history of racial violence that I study on the Texas-Mexico border in the early twentieth century has striking parallels to what we see today, especially when we see the loaded use of rhetoric.
That might seem benign but that actually has deep roots in histories of racial violence and deep roots of eugenics, Eugenesis thinking that shaped immigration policies.
MELBER: Explain that. What are you referring to?
MARTINEZ: Well, so in early twentieth century, especially between 1910 to 1920, hundreds of Mexican-Americans and Mexican nationals were murdered by Texas Rangers by local law enforcement and by vigilantes and this was a period of violence that was called for and inspired by the rhetoric of politicians and local residents who profiled Mexicans as bandits, as rapists and thieves and as a threat to Americans.
And so there was rhetoric of bandits crossing the Mexican border into the United States to terrorize Americans and that violence was largely justified by the press and by politicians and law enforcement enjoyed a culture of impunity and that emboldened vigilantes to then go on and also commit crimes.
And so this period of violence shaped our current institutions of border policing but it also thankfully shaped a long tradition of Mexican- Americans and Mexican nationals fighting for their civil rights and fighting against this hateful rhetoric, to trying to curb the tide, to actually demand their own civil rights and to demand their place of belonging in the United States which this rhetoric of invasion completely ignores the deep roots of Mexican-Americans, many of which have been in places like Texas since before Texas was a part of the United States.
MELBER: And you mentioned how people are affected by it. Let`s take a listen to some reporting we have of hearing directly from some young people impacted in El Paso. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To see that our city has been attacked by some outsider was just so hurtful and full of hate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m having to like realize that racism is so alive and strong that people are willing to kill us for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re supposed to be one of the best countries in the world and this is still happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: To Monica and then Brian, does the scholarship tell us anything about inoculation, about how to help people particularly young people who were coming up in these environments?
MARTINEZ: Well, unfortunately, history tells us that that young people are victims of this violence. And so when we look at the historical record, you know, young boys, teenagers were impacted, were shot and killed. And so when we think about the impact, we have to think about the way that it`s going to shape generations to come.
People who witness or experience this kind of violence, those sentiments of injustice stay with them for multiple generations and it shapes the way that they think about their place in the world, their relationship to their government, and especially their relationship to law enforcement.
But you know it`s also deeply unsettling because places like El Paso are such vibrant communities that stand in the face of what white supremacists dream of a world being. You know, this is a community of people who have bicultural, a bi-national, a bilingual heritage and pride. And to have this community be attacked with such horrific violence is deeply, deeply disheartening.
But it was also unsettling because people in El Paso, people in places like McAllen and Brownsville, they have also been in the front lines literally picking up the pieces of broken humanity as a result of the state- sanctioned racial violence that takes the form and manifests in violent border policing and immigration policies like a family separation and zero- tolerance policies.
And so to have a community like El Paso that has carried the burden of trying to restore humanity and try to call for a more humane life on the border, to have this community terrorized and targeted should alert all Americans that we have a responsibility to demand change, to demand a more humanitarian immigration policy, and to demand policies, basic, basic, basic forms of gun reform to protect people so that everybody has basic rights of safety in our own communities.
MELBER: I got to fit in a break now, but I want to really thank both you for your expertise, Monica and Brian. And Brian, since I didn`t get to come back to you, your son gets into Cornell. It`s settled.
LEVIN: Thank you.
MELBER: Thanks to both of you. High spirits on tough topics and your work I think is invaluable so we do appreciate it. When we come back, we have a terror expert who warned about right-wing extremism over a decade ago, only to be attacked for it speaking out now about what we do.
And pressure on none other than Mitch McConnell plus some cracks in the GOP resistance to gun safety measures.
MELBER: Today the FBI is announcing a domestic terror investigation to the Gilroy, California shooting which hit before El Paso and Dayton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BENNETT, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: The shooter appeared to have an interest in varying competing violent ideologies. Due to the discovery of the target list as well as other information we have captured in this investigation, the FBI has opened a full domestic terrorism investigation into this mass shooting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The El Paso shooting also under investigation as terror, domestic terror. And specifically, white nationalist terror is on the rise. We know that. And there`s our renewed debates over how to combat it and whether it should be basically a 9/11 style priority.
That`s part of the call from people with gravitas on that very score, the chairs of the widely heralded 9/11 Commission. The point here is not to abstractly say gosh, every big deadly problem should just be tackled like 9/11.
The point is security experts are telling us that the facts show these domestic shootings are now on par with the current foreign terror threat. Now, that`s a security fact that may not have sunk in yet in our society or in our politics, but these experts are pointed to statistics like this.
The people killed in attacks linked to Islamic radicals and the far-right since 2002 are as you see here, virtually the same, basically 104 to 109. Now, there are legal challenges as well. Federal officials can disrupt foreign terrorist plots with different levels of intensity to preventive action and the right that they were basically fortified after 9/11.
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan spent 25 years fighting Jihadist. He says white supremacist aren`t so different from a law enforcement perspective, saying we can`t fight domestic terror groups efficiently until the law treats them the way we treat foreign ones. But with domestic terrorism, officials are more limited.
New York Times reports that of course the First Amendment and other domestic civil liberties concerns makes preventing these terror acts committed by Americans much more challenging. Now, the FBI in California they addressed this difficulty in starting a domestic terror probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENNETT: An act of violence alone, even a large-scale and horrifying as it may seem does not necessarily give us the legal authority to open a federal terrorism investigation. We have to determine that individuals ideology caused them to commit the act of violence in furtherance of their political and social goals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Daryl Johnson, a former Senior Analyst for Domestic Terror at DHS, the author of the new book Hate Land: An in-depth look at yes, Domestic Terror here in America, and former Federal Prosecutor Joyce Vance who has national security experience obviously as a U.S. Attorney. Thanks for both of you being here. Darrell, how do you view it?
DARYL JOHNSON, FORMER SENIOR ANALYST FOR DOMESTIC TERROR, DHS: Yes. I mean, this topic of domestic terrorism is basically a political minefield. You`re talking about very divisive topics in America, things like gun rights, abortion rights, immigration, and other things. And you know, the concern that I have is the backlash that I was subjected to back in 2009 has a chilling effect on both the law enforcement and intelligence communities.
So you have a reluctance on the part of federal agencies to pursue these issues because they saw what happened to me and my unit and how it got shut down and people were fired.
MELBER: Let`s dig -- yes, let`s dig into that for a moment because part of the thing about especially immediately after 9/11 was if you could link anything to 9/11, it fortified it in Washington whether it was a government reorg, or funding, or taking more extreme measures and there are legitimate civil liberties balancing as I mentioned. Tell us what you met about the political blowback you experienced.
JOHNSON: Yes, so we wrote a report back in `09 that used the term right- wing extremism which I guess some people in Congress took that as meaning, the Republican Party or the Tea Party. We also had a vague definition buried in a footnote that was taken out of context that talked about how these groups are generally anti-government or hate-based.
And then the third issue that was raised was the point we connected the returning military veterans being susceptible to recruitment into these groups.
MELBER: Joyce, how much of this is harder for what we might simplify as good reasons like it is supposed to be harder to go on a war footing inside the United States border as opposed to when you have foreign terrorists coming in? And how much of it is for what we might call bad reasons like things being either political as Daryl mentions are just being out of date?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it`s really difficult for both reasons, Ari, some legitimate, some illegitimate. It`s incredibly important that law enforcement priorities be set on the basis of data, not ideology. We have a lot of data that tells us that domestic terrorism has been steadily increasing and that that threat needs to be addressed. So that`s the data that people should focus on.
At the same time though, there are legitimate civil rights concerns, First Amendment concerns, and you`ll recall that when the Patriot Act was first passed, there were a lot of privacy concerns that were implicated by it. So we want to make sure that in this particular moment we don`t go too far, that we appropriately balance the equities and give law enforcement the tools that it needs.
Fortunately, law enforcement has a lot of tools. There are a lot of statutory bases. They may not be designated as terrorism and it would be nice to have a domestic terrorism statute, but they can still use some of the other statutes particularly the hate crime statute.
The real matter here is resources and personnel. Domestic terrorism needs to be identified as a priority for FBI offices. Prosecutors need to have the resources to prosecute it like they`ve historically had since 9/11 for foreign terrorism.
MELBER: Daryl, how about that?
JOHNSON: Yes, I agree with everything that she said. And in my office, we had what was called intelligence oversight where we had files that were inspected annually, we got training, and we were also subjected to unannounced inspections or files to make sure that we weren`t violating people`s First Amendment rights or Third Amendment rights of free assembly.
MELBER: And so, is there a main change you would make to federal law if you could, Daryl?
JOHNSON: Well, as your other guest pointed out, a domestic terrorism statute might be a step in the right direction to add penalty enhancements if you commit an act of domestic terror. I think the first thing that needs to be done is you know, our government leaders, police chiefs, directors of federal law enforcement agencies, when they see this ideology that spurs someone to violence, call it terrorism.
We shouldn`t be dismissing it by saying it`s a crazed gunman or the person`s mentally ill. That has nothing to do with whether it`s terrorism or not.
MELBER: Yes. And both of you are speaking to the reality that I think viewers know and that is increasingly becoming a point of organizing action which is if any foreign entity ISIS or you name it came in and did all this weekend with the same body count, would there be a clamoring to do something national whether it`s what you`re talking about some of these reforms package together or whether it`s gun safety or if it were a foreign entity it would be how do you go hit them back.
And yet here we are with the Congress in recess and a president you know, as we`ve covered this hour, doing double-talk. Daryl and Joyce, thanks to both of you.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
MELBER: When we come back, we look at one ray of hope according to many gun safety advocates. Why Ohio could show the model to put pressure on Mitch McConnell.
MELBER: Did mass shootings ever changed the politics of gun safety in America? Top Democrats think the answer is yes as they pressure Mitch McConnell.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We are calling on Leader McConnell to bring the bill that passed the House.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator McConnell has to call up that gun legislation for a vote. We have waited for too long.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And today I say to Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate, stop allowing the NRA to dictate gun policy in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Speaker Pelosi has already send gun safety bills to the Senate, McConnell rejecting these calls for an immediate vote. So that`s one answer to the question of whether shootings change the politics at the level of Mitch McConnell anyway.
But here`s another level. When the McConnell`s old Senate colleague Mike DeWine is now governor in the Republican-leaning state of Ohio, and you`re hearing the sound of constituents shouting him down as they reeled from that staged shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMERICAN CROWD: Do something! Do something! Do something!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Does it make a difference? Here are some new headlines right out of Ohio. The governor proposes new gun control laws marking shift from past GOP leadership, or a Republican governor wants courts to take guns from people as he now backs bills the Republican legislature there had resisted.
I`m joined now by Conservative Bill Kristol, a man with some Republican experience. How are you, Bill?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I`m fine, Ari. How are you?
MELBER: I`m good. What do you think about that scene in Ohio and the contrast to Washington?
KRISTOL: Well, they`re in -- they`re in recess here in Washington which is yet another problem, right. There`s various national crises and a sense of we need leadership, we`re not going to get it from the president. It seems to me if I were running either branch, and I say this about Nancy Pelosi as well as a by Mitch McConnell, I might try to reconvene for at least a few days to kind of at least suggest that our representatives are trying to deal with these problems.
I understand that Pelosi doesn`t think McConnell will do anything so I suppose it would look a little futile but you know, it is a real breakdown of the democratic process. I think that`s a point. You just -- we`re taking it for granted.
Now we heard Chuck Schumer I think at the beginning a couple of minute ago. He`s like you know, I`m calling on leader McConnell to bring up the bill. What kind of democracy is this? I mean, if one House passes a bill, the other House should put it through committee, bring it up, it could defeat it, it can amend it, it might not become a law, the president might veto it. There may not be the votes to override the veto. That`s fine. That`s democracy.
But both on gun control and election security where there are Republican co-sponsors of several bills, McConnell just says I`m not bringing it up. It really is not the way democracy and the way legislative branch is supposed to function.
MELBER: Right. And I wonder how it would work in a different -- in a different administration. I mean, Mitch McConnell is dealing with a president who is completely uninterested in the details even when he has "skin in the game."
I also wonder what you think about the shifting politics because Washington is a town that certainly cares about history. It`s sort of very you know, institutional old-fashioned in that way, but sometimes lives too long in old historical lessons. Here`s a report from Bloomberg the political dynamics of guns.
Some republicans raising alarms that their opposition to new certain firearm limits could be toxic to suburban women and college grads who shape 2020. Do you think that the "lessons of gun politics" have been over- learned in Washington?
KRISTOL: Yes, very much so. And I think you will need to combine the lessons of gun politics, the lesson of election security politics with the lessons of kind of democracy. I mean, the assault weapon ban I believe was passed in 1994, repealed in 2000, were left to expire they`re were to pass it in 2004. But at least there were votes.
I mean, we saw what Congressmen and women, members, the Senators had an obligation to step forward and vote. Why isn`t McConnell bringing it to a vote? Not because he doesn`t have the votes or he`s worried about putting his members on the spot.
And I think making that point and putting pressure on members on senators who were vulnerable not just in 2020 but more broadly who have ambitions in the future, say Marco Rubio co-sponsored an election security bill, if you`ve done anything to put any pressure on to even ask Mitch McConnell to pass it, and the same with on the gun measures where there are some Republicans who were willing -- Pat Toomey has been favor of certain gun measures, may not be exactly the one the House passed.
So I do think pressure across the board is important not just on McConnell, not just appeals to McConnell, but pressure on a whole bunch of Republican senators, Republican Congress -- members of Congress to really change this situation.
MELBER: When you were in a Republican administration which as I mentioned is in the past but the NRA sort of dictate these things, was there no room to ever make an exception?
KRISTOL: No. I mean, at first, some Republicans voted I think for the `94 assault weapon ban and there were I believe measures during the first Bush administration which is when I was there, that curbs some aspects of guns.
But look, I mean, George Mitchell was a very tough majority leader of the Senate Democrat from Maine when I was in the Bush White House. He was against for example the first Gulf War. It didn`t occur to him that he wouldn`t let it come to a vote, you know.
I mean, I just -- I find that part really astonishing. We have a national crisis here. Everyone agrees upon it. And the Senate is on recess, the Houses are at recess too. And the Senate in particular though, they`re both on recess and we get no votes, no accountability, no committee hearings, no nothing, right, on election security, on gun control, and on other issues as well.
MELBER: Bill Kristol reminding everyone that if it looks bad, it`s actually worse. But in the case of Mitch McConnell, maybe that`s something people want to assess because we are still a democracy if people want to do something about any of it. I thank you as always for joining us.
KRISTOL: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: We have one more story to tell you when we come back. The amazing Nobel Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison passing away at 88. I have something for you to hear from her, next.
MELBER: Tonight, the world is saying goodbye to novelist Toni Morrison who died today in New York. She was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She wrote the acclaimed Beloved which tackled themes of slavery, how it haunts the south, mother-daughter relationships, and racism`s impact on black masculinity in America.
The work was famously adapted into a film starring Oprah, who remembers Ms. Morrison today as a truth-teller while President Obama is paying tribute to her tonight as a national treasure. We didn`t know Ms. Morrison would pass at a time like this in America, but it is worth taking a moment right now to listen to part of her Nobel lecture on how the language of oppression and hate has such deep, lasting impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONI MORRISON, NOVELIST: Oppressive language does more than represent violence. It is violence. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And the bottomed-out mind. She wasn`t speaking about politics or partisanships or elections. She was speaking about something much deeper. And we leave her final words as our final words tonight.
Thank you for watching THE BEAT. "HARDBALL" starts now.
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