CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Cara Bell, Maria Teresa, thank you very much. That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening Ari. Sharpen your Sharpie.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We`re ready. Thank you Chuck. We have plenty to get to tonight including some of Sharpie-gate. Hurricane Dorian is calling up the Carolinas. Donald Trump is defending his gaffe. Bill Karins will give us the facts, something people need on the weather tonight as well as a lot of other stories including Donald Trump raking money from Puerto Rico and military day-care centers to try to get money for the wall which he said famously Mexico would be funding.
Nd a key confidante to Roger Stone will testify at that trial which of course grew out of the Mueller probe. We have that tonight as well. So all of those stories including in a few minutes more on the politics but we begin right now looking at these live pictures of this storm making its way up the east coast.
This has weakened slightly to a technical category 2 hurricane but heavy winds are walloping coastal communities preparing for a storm surge and contending with potential tornadoes. At least three people in United States have died just in the midst of preparing for this storm. The Bahamas struggling to recover from that devastation that`s been reported all week.
20 people there now dead but in the midst of all of this and this is serious stuff as hundreds of thousands of Americans already are dealing in situations where they`re scared, where they`re worried, where they don`t have power, where there are life threatening conditions, we`re told by our own U.S. government, it is fitting perhaps for 2019 to see what the President is focused on.
Continuing to double down and defend false and phony claims that he originally made a mistake which by the way anyone could have made and corrected when he wrongly said Alabama was in the storm`s path. There are six more tweets about this just today.
This comes of course after Donald Trump punked himself, there`s really no other way to describe it, when he used a - apparently used a black Sharpie to show what you see there. This doctored map of the storm`s path. That occurred in an otherwise serious briefing in the Oval office.
The president is focused here on petty cover ups, on basically massaging his own ego and all of this is a split screen contrast for the 2019 era that you see right here. Donald Trump`s state of mind obsessed with his own Alabama error on Twitter as America and other parts of the Caribbean deal with this very still serious storm.
That is a portrait. We want to turn now to the right side of the screen to the factual side. NBC meteorologist Bill Karins guides us through so many of these situations. Sir, what do we know?
BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Well, we know that we`re about to see the impacts of a hurricane. We haven`t had hurricane conditions anywhere on land since the storm left the Bahamas. We had tropical storm conditions. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina but we haven`t had hurricane conditions. There`s a big difference.
That`s when you get the damage, that`s when you get the trees down, a lot of power outages. It had scattered stuff up to this point but now we`re starting to see the center of the storm, the eye where all the powerful winds are approaching areas right around Wrightsville beach, the Wilmington area.
That`s what we`re going to be watching this evening. Winds 110 miles per hour, that`s nothing to sneeze at. This is still a good strong category 2 hurricane. Only a little bit higher and it still be a category 3 major so the problem we`ve had all day long, these outer bands, this has been producing numerous tornadoes.
This is a tornado watch. It`s in eastern North Carolina. We`ve had 11 tornadoes, we`ve had significant damage done to a bunch of structures. I haven`t heard of any injuries or fatalities thankfully but that`s still a concern through the night and that`s not even with the eye, that`s just the outer bands.
So here`s the forecast in the hurricane center. If we time this out, it goes past the Wilmington area, I don`t know we`re going to get a land fall or not but at least a portion of the eye will be through this beach area. That will be happening as we go from about 9:00 PM till about midnight and then by about 2:00 to 3:00 A.M., the potential landfall Carteret county here, Morehead city area, Atlantic beach, Beaufort, North Carolina and then going over the outer banks toward sunrise.
When we wake up tomorrow morning, it should be somewhere here near Cape Hatteras or the Buxton area and then heading out to sea and as far as the biggest impacts go, we have one more high tide cycle to go through, that`ll be later on tonight and then of course we`re going to have to watch out with the potential of that heavy rain, flash flooding and these winds even Morehead city tonight, when that makes landfall, possibility went up to 100 miles per hour.
So again, if we`re going to have - this is going to be in the lower 48, a big deal that`s going to require people to be out without power and we`re going to have storm surge issues, everything`s going to happen in the next 18 hours because we`re done with this by about noon tomorrow.
MELBER: Understood and hopefully most of the devastation is over. Bill Karins, as we`ve come to rely on you, our viewers have been relying on you throughout. Thank you as always, Sir.
KARINS: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate it. Now we mentioned the President`s state of mind. What he`s focused on during as we said, something that`s cost American`s lives because, people in the Bahamas lives. He`s tweeting and defending his false claim that he thought Alabama could have been in the storm`s path.
Now he tried to back that up in a number of ways. He shared a map of the storm`s potential routes. This is Donald Trump tweet but as you see that map was a week old, it was out of date when Trump made his erroneous claim about Dorian hitting Alabama on Sunday.
A weekend when he said he was focused on monitoring the storm. It also includes a disclaimer if anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product. All of this after Donald Trump of course got himself in its mess by doubling down with his blown up map of the storm`s path which included the extra line appeared to be drawn in Sharpie by someone.
Someone using a sharp in the Oval office that was designed to try to edit what you see in the white line and say that the black line under the red arrow somehow meant Trump was right all along. Now again I can`t report for you confirmation. We don`t have for example Oval office video surveillance about whether Donald Trump drew that line and the White House won`t really say much.
We don`t know if it wasn`t the President, who else would have done it sometimes in these self-inflicted gaffes, you get a blame game going. But we do know it`s technically illegal to put out false weather reports so what about the DHS, Department of Homeland Security, well, they`re referring questions about the map back to the White House.
And we do know what Donald Trump said when he was actually confronted about again, something that should have been a non-issue that he made into an issue. Donald Trump wasn`t matter surprised about it. He didn`t say he`d make an effort to track down the culprit either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: That map that you showed today, it looked like it almost had like a Sharpie.
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Juanita Tolliver is Campaign Director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Sam Seder is the host of The Majority Report radio show. Good evening to both of you.
SAM SEDER, HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT: Hi Ari.
MELBER: Sam, this is a lighter story so I go to you first not because you`re a light weight but because you have a familiarity with these issues. I know from listening you on the radio sometimes you mix - you mixed the serious with the absurd.
What does it say against the backdrop of the serious that we just reported and we got our weather facts from Bill Karins but this is the state of mind of President of the United States and people who say they`re not surprised, is that good enough or should we be more than surprise? Should we be disappointed?
SEDER: Well, yes, of course, I think we should be disappointed. I think we should be a little bit nervous frankly. I mean I have no idea what this says about his state of mind but his mind but it`s not great but I think you know there`s something that`s going on here and I would never credit Donald Trump with some type of grand strategy or even I don`t know how much we can attribute to you know these being thoughtful tactics.
But you know, if you listen to some of the right wing radio, they`re talking about this as the media is going after him for a gaffe, right? And there`s a lot of things that that we`re - none of us are talking about that are going on right now that I think you know if you were a staffer for Donald Trump, you`re thinking that maybe this is not a necessarily - I mean they wouldn`t have chosen this but since it`s there, it`s not necessarily the worst thing to talk about because you know, you`ve got to keep in mind, on one hand down jobs making these gaffes.
But all this week the presumptive front rider of the Democratic Party has made some very major gaffes himself and so when they`re thinking about the campaign which of course they are, maybe they`re thinking let`s keep it on less substantial things and keep it in this gaffe room because we don`t actually have a deficit.
MELBER: Well, there`s always that balance. I think it`s a fair point to consider as you say, whether or not it`s deliberate you know, Juanita, I don`t want to turn this discussion to you know, a tease for what else is in the broadcast tonight but we have a special report tonight on the way the Trump administration is gutting payday loans and trying to protect abusive financial lenders.
I think that`s a story they might not want on the air, it`ll still be on the air tonight. We have a congressman talking immigration. We try to cover a lot of things here and yet Juanita, we know that the President doesn`t like to be humiliated and yet he seems to have self-owned here. Take a look at the way it`s playing in late night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: This was the real original chart which did not include Alabama and this is what Trump showed us today with Alabama in it.
TREVOR NOAH, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: I mean, don`t get me wrong, I`m impressed that Trump can locate Alabama on a map but still.
SETH MEYERS, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS: Look at this. I mean, after this I have to wonder if it`s high school report card was legit.
REPORTER: That map that you showed today, it looked like it almost had like a Sharpie.
TRUMP: I don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Juanita, what you`ll notice is most of those clips of late night jokes didn`t involve a lot of writing or addition. It was just sort of showing people watching a comedy show this is the President.
JUANITA TOLLIVER, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: And that`s exactly what it is. This is the President who just can`t seem to fathom using the words, we got it wrong. He will do anything to save face. He will do anything to protect his ego and even if it means force feeding this false information to the American public.
What I think should be alarming for most people is that he is continuously pressing this message. At one point, sure, it can be as a distraction but in reality it`s because he believes it, he really wants to drive this home and we should all be alarmed by that because I`m sure this is the same approach like at the end of the day, Trump is the Commander-in-Chief.
He is the one who controls our military forces. He`s the one in the situation room and his approach to this is probably being married in those other situations. So this should raise a lot of red flags for the American public that he is doubling down on this and force feeding this narrative to the American public when Americans lives are at risk right now.
MELBER: Yes, I mean, Sam, that`s the part that`s really bizarre and I don`t know how much you follow Bill Karins who was on just before you but he`s not into what you might call political tweets or sassy tweets if you know the term.
MELBER: He`s a less sassy tweeter than you as far as I know.
SEDER: Right, right.
MELBER: And yet take a look at what he felt compelled to do in his role as meteorologist. He writes to the President, sorry, today`s not about you. We have $1 billion weather disaster unfolding in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Where does that fit in, the idea that apart from any other political analysis, it`s hard for Donald Trump to watch something that really is about the serious active governing and preparation and dealing with hardship and not inserting himself.
SEDER: Right, well, I mean look, and we`ve seen him do this you know, many times before. Somethings that had less consequence like you know, the inaugural attendance and then there are you know, there`s a host of other things where he`s just simply lied about stuff and then refused to back down off it.
I mean I think you know, I - the question is really is like how much will this ultimately hurt him with the American public. For a lot of us, we`re like yes, this is - this seems to be path for the course and of course in this instance you know there`s a real danger that people could be in jeopardy because they actually listen to the President and take him seriously or literally as it were.
But you know, I think it speaks volumes that it is politicizing people like weathermen and meteorologists in that respect and so I mean maybe, it`ll have some greater impact beyond this. It`s genuinely bizarre though.
MELBER: Yes, Sam and Juanita, my thanks to both of you. We`re going to fit in a break and come back in just 30 seconds. We have Donald Trump`s new plan, taking disaster money to pay for the border wall. Congressman Anthony Brown is here. A key aide to Roger Stone has agreed to testify as a government witness at that big trial and later, a former FBI agent who spent years infiltrating white supremacist groups is here and tonight, something we are very excited about my special interview with award winning novelist, Salman Rushdie.
We`re going to talk Trump and a whole lot more and we`ll be back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: It`s official. Donald Trump wants Americans to pay for the border wall and today we`re learning the Pentagon is now formally directing $400 million that was designed to serve as the island recovery for the devastation from hurricane Maria, well, that`s going elsewhere.
The administration also taking money from military projects all over the country. You`re looking at just some of the headlines we found on all of this. Today even Donald Trump`s allies over at Fox news are saying well, there`s at least one obvious problem for him politically which is this is all drawing clear attention to how he broke a promise and they`re saying he should have never promised Mexico would fund the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump raids elementary schools to pay for wall. Mexico off the hook. He`s right. The President never should have said Mexico is going to pay for the wall though he says he`s going to get in fees at border crossings.
I think he did think initially that he would find a way for Mexico to pay for it but as we know that did not work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland joins me. Two military projects there are being canceled to help fund this wall. First, given your role in that local representation aspect before we get everything else, is this good for your constituent? Is it good for Maryland?
REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): No, first of all Ari, it`s actually three. It`s bad for my constituents, it`s bad for Maryland and it`s bad for the country. One of them is a child care center, this is - you have children right now who are in a World War II era building that`s dilapidated. We would have build capacity, given them a modern facility.
But instead we`ve got families whose children will now be on a wait list and they`re going to spend $10,000 more per family per child for childcare because Donald trump wants to build a wall. It impacts morale and which impacts of military readiness.
MELBER: And sometimes what we have to do is hold officials accountable, take them at their word, even if they lie a lot. I want to play for your - for your response the President, then candidate Trump`s claims about who would pay for the wall. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Believe me. Mexico is paying for the wall, OK? That`s it. If I win, if I become President, Mexico will pay for the wall.
And by the way Mexico will pay for the wall, they will pay for the wall. That I can tell you.
Mexico is going to pay for the wall, they don`t know it yet, they don`t know it yet. They`re starting to have a very good idea but that`s OK.
And Mexico is going to pay for the wall and they`ll be happy to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Are Democrats going to hammer that aspect of this? There`s what he is taking the money from you just spoke to that but there`s also what looks to be one of the greatest now most famous broken promises in modern American history.
BROWN: No, we`re absolutely going to do that because Mexico`s not paying for the wall, it`s American taxpayers. But I think it`s important to put a face on who is really paying for it. It is that family with a child who now no longer has military child care. It is that Special Forces unit in Europe who know longer has a facility to support their important and most often dangerous mission.
It`s the residents and service members in Puerto Rico, you mentioned this in the - in the opening who are not going to have a power generation plant that was destroyed in hurricane Maria, restored with that funding. So that`s who`s actually paying for it and that`s the face of the people who are impacted by the President`s misleading statement throughout his campaign.
MELBER: While I have you, I also want to ask on immigration. As you know, a lot of controversy and some backtracking about people inside United States awaiting health care, sometimes for life threatening conditions. ACLU and civil rights groups are now filing against the Trump administration with a lawsuit, they`re calling it an "abrupt termination of this long standing program that protect seriously ill people from deportation and what they call the risk of death."
The administration`s action they argue is unconscionable and also illegal. Your view of that suit and what do you and Democrats in Congress intend to do about this issue.
BROWN: Right, well, listen, Congress is going to say vigilant on whether it`s their military construction project issue or whether it`s his healthcare and immigration issue and we also know that there are many lawsuits pending against this administration ranging from the border wall to we saw, a recent case on the citizenship question and now on healthcare and immigration.
So those battles need to happen in the courts but that`s a substitute for the work that Congress has to do so whether we`re using our oversight role, appropriations and we`ve got appropriations coming up this month in September as we pass a budget, we`ve got to use all the tools available to make sure that we`re holding this administration accountable.
MELBER: Congressman Brown, thank you as always, good to talk with you.
BROWN: Thanks Ari.
MELBER: Up ahead there`s an important hearing on white supremacist violence in America today. We have a former FBI agent who actually infiltrated those very groups. He`s here tonight. That should be an interesting discussion. Also my special report tonight on how Donald Trump is not only profiting off the presidency but the way the swamp is growing in affecting American consumers.
But first, a new setback for Roger Stone`s trial. His wingman ready to testify against him. That important Mueller story is next.
MELBER: New developments in this pending case from the Mueller probe. Prosecutors now plan to make Roger Stone`s wing man testify this trial in November. The witness is named Andrew Miller. Now he fought a Mueller subpoena for a year and he`s worked for Stone for about a decade including joining him at the 2016 GOP convention, a period when Trump was taking over the Republican Party and fallout continued from those Russian hacks to help Donald Trump.
Now Miller`s testimony rounds out prosecutors` plans. They`ll use him and Randy Credico to argue that Stone knew what he was doing when he allegedly obstructed the Mueller probe and tampered with witnesses. Stone was arrested on a seven count indictment. Obstruction, five counts of false statements including lying to Congress about Wikileaks and then one count of witness tampering against the potential witness and now confirmed witness Randy Credico.
Mr. Stone has not pleaded - has pleaded not guilty. I am joined by former federal prosecutor John Flannery. Good to see you, Sir.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Good to see you.
MELBER: Here we are this is a reminder to everyone that cases take time. Mueller has closed up shop. Some people he targeted are in jail like Mr. Cohen and Mr. Manafort, others awaiting trial like Mr. Stone who as we mentioned is legally presumed innocent.
What does it tell you that the prosecutors who continue Mueller`s work have zeroed in basically on these two witnesses, Mr. Miller who is less known and Mr. Credico who some viewers may remember?
FLANNERY: Well, they identify them in the indictment. I mean not by name but the person one and person two and it was pretty clear what they had to say and you`ve had an interesting exchanges with Mr. Corsi in the past about how he told the truth about his lies and the lies were to you know, get the Senate and the House off what really happened there.
Which is what communications and how they were made with Wikileaks and they could have anticipated and known when the tranche of documents was going to come down, particularly the October 7 developments and then Credico was in a position to have actually had Assange was is now sitting in the London tower as a guest on a show and we`re waiting until next year for Assange to come to America.
And so we have Stone who is in the past said, he`d like to have Assange come and testify for him but he has another witness he could use. He could ask Mr. Trump to come for him.
MELBER: Well, I`m sure you would like that. I think when it comes to Credico though, you know our job is not just to look at the negative information and we`ve covered - there is a lot of negative stuff on Mr. Stone but also to look at what his defense counsel will be able to do.
They will try to show a kind of a ridiculousness or a silliness to all of this in the same way that we hear sometimes people say oh, the defendant said words that sound bad but they weren`t serious, they weren`t literally, they weren`t knowing, they weren`t you know serious.
They were if nothing else jokes. Listen to what Randy Credico told me when I pressed him really on why did this all happen? Why was Roger lying to the Feds about him and others? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now that`s the problem is over, do you have any idea why it was important to Roger to blame you for something that Mueller found involved Corsi.
RANDY CREDICO, MUELLER WITNESS: You know it`s a conundrum inside a riddle inside a Rubik`s cube. I really do not know why he had to do that. If he had just told the truth, he wouldn`t be - I wouldn`t be here today. None of us. I don`t even know why he went before the House Intel committee. He could have invoked a fifth. There`s no reason to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: John, don`t you don`t you think that Mr. Stone`s lawyers will have some argument on their side to say this wasn`t that serious and to really go at these witnesses including Credico?
FLANNERY: Well, I think that what you have there is, it was better to have Credico look like he was the player because to go with Corsi, he brought it closer to Stone so I think that he was a sacrifice and he said he couldn`t understand it but that`s the way, I think these people operate.
And Corsi was in communication supposedly with Credico to have an access to Assange which appears to have been established in other means and you talked about you know, is this all a joke and the trouble with that theory of defense is that, there are so many communications and so many questions and I do wonder if the Cohen conversation that he overheard between Stone and Trump will find its way in as a similar act or part of an action--
MELBER: Which is a big - that`s a big interesting. One of my last question for you is, do you think Roger Stone would take the stand and should he?
FLANNERY: I wouldn`t put him on the stand. I`ll tell you why. In every case, civil and criminal when you put the client on the stand, they make real things that are questionable so if the theory of the defense in this case is to beat up the government and say das mak nix, there`s nothing here, then what they should do you keep them off the stand and say he didn`t show their case.
Particularly if they heard the witnesses who have you know they`ve been on both sides of these issues at different times and you`re right, that`s a damaging thing for a jury to hear but you know birds of a feather flock together and that`s what juries also decide.
MELBER: Would you be willing to come back and cover the case with us when it goes to trial?
FLANNERY: Oh yes, are you kidding? Keep me away with a stick.
MELBER: OK, me, I would like that. I think some of our viewers hopefully would too because John Flannery, former federal prosecutor knows his way around these kind of trials. Thank you Sir.
FLANNERY: Thank you. Nice to be with you.
MELBER: Nice to have you. Appreciate it. Now coming up, something I`ve been promising for you guys. Our special report tonight on what lobbyists are getting out of the Trump administration after spending big at his own Doral resort.
And later, a former FBI agent who actually infiltrated white supremacy groups is here. Congress holding a key hearing today and later, another special interview, what a show tonight. Salman Rushdie on THE BEAT on Trump and truth. That`s his first time here. That`s coming up.
MELBER: Now to our special report tonight on policy and profiteering in the Trump era. Congress is already probing the potential corruption in Donald Trump pushing his own Florida hotel to host the next G7 Summit. It`s another in a string of examples of Donald Trump trying to profit off his government job. Industry groups have also been following Trump`s lead.
Our report tonight focuses on an industry that`s gotten quite a bit less attention in other issues these days, payday lenders. And their lobbyists have spent a million dollars at Trump`s Doral Resort for their annual conferences sending profits to Trump with a tab featuring steak and shrimp entrees at an open bar. And Doral has a bottle of Trump sparkling wine from Monticello that goes for $18 a glass.
Now, these payday lenders aren`t just to use, maybe a new phrase, "partying like Bill Barr", which is when you spend money at a Trump hotel to impress Trump. They`re also getting money thanks to Trump policies. And that`s the important part of this special report. Let me walk you through this.
The very month before these lobbyists convention at Doral, a Trump official running a key consumer protections bureau gutted regulations that protect consumers, that protect most Americans from potential abuse by these same payday lenders. They ended a rule that restricts payday lenders from preying on people who can`t afford their loans in the first place. The Trump administration also backing lenders in a lawsuit gunning for many of those same protection rules.
Now, this is all about how these companies, they`re financial institutions, target vulnerable lower income people who are desperate to get money fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONEYTREE AD: When we save money and time, we need money. When you need it.
WESTERN SKY AD: Put up to $10,000 in your bank account by tomorrow based on trusting you with no security of any kind, just your signature.
PAYDAY LOAN TREE AD: Where money really does grow on trees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: But it doesn`t grow on trees. You could say it falls from trees, along with some very heavy burdens for paying that money back, which is why as you may remember then Professor, Elizabeth Warren, proposed a bureau to protect against exactly this kind of abuse. And then President Obama embraced it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D)-MASSACHUSETTS: Millions of American families are hemorrhaging money right now. Today and tomorrow and next week on tricks and traps in credit products. We are going to fix that.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be a watchdog for the American consumer charged with enforcing the toughest financial protections in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, that was the bureau that President Obama tasked Warren to run. Republican senators though blocked her nomination, which actually, in a footnote to history, it freed up her time to run for office where she defeated a Republican senator and paved the way for her current presidential campaign. As a side note it`s one Mitch McConnell strategy that totally backfired on him.
But meanwhile, on these policies, you have the Trump administration trying to limit that same bureau that Warren helped create from continuing this work that Warren and Obama and other experts said is so vital to protect so many Americans.
Now, this problem has no partisan colors, payday lenders prey on people in states red and blue. They`ve set off debt cycles for most consumers, because about 80 percent of these loans basically roll over and force new costs on the borrowers.
Now, about 20 states already have made the most abusive payday loans illegal. Twelve million Americans still get caught up in the mill and the huge fees go back to these lenders to the tune of $5 billion. Now, big picture, this is a classic test of whether the law protects you regardless of how much money you have.
Now, Warren has a view here. She argues these lenders shouldn`t even be allowed to loan out what they know people cannot afford to pay back. Basically, the argument is they`re using their financial power to trap you, potentially in loan fees, that are larger than the original loans that people even ask for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THE TODAY SHOW, NOV. 30, 2011: Like so many Americans, Preacher Mary Love knows what it`s like to be tight on cash. So when she started to fall behind on her rent, she went for a quick fix. Things quickly spiraled out of control. She says she couldn`t repay the loan, because the interest rate was far too high for her. On her $400, she ended up paying $1,420 in interest alone. About a year later, that`s more than 300 percent. Three times what she first borrowed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s also not fair. You don`t need to be a financial expert to understand, the experts know what they`re doing. They`re taking advantage of people who sometimes don`t. This is the key part. This is what makes payday loans so dangerous. Even a small, what they call principle, with this crazy high interest rate adds up very quickly.
And because these terms are basically hidden in formulas laid out in all kinds of tricks, like counting weeks instead of years. Well, people get confused. Now, this is a trick that Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter illustrated when she was grilling Donald Trump`s very own pick to lead this bureau.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE PORTER, (D)-CALIFORNIA: If you could even ballpark on a $200 loan for a term of two weeks with a $20 origination fee, and a rate of $10 per 100. That is 10 percent. Ballpark, what is the APR?
KATHLEEN KRANINGER, CFPB DIRECTOR: And I`m telling you that the APR calculated --
PORTER: Is that a no?
KRANINGER: Is a math exercise and the question, when am I going to pay off the --
PORTER: Reclaiming my time. I take that as to a no that you cannot do the calculation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I know that you can`t do the calculation. That little moment actually went viral, because the question exposes the problem. If the experts, or Trump`s appointees, can`t even say how these loans work, then maybe it`s not fair to trap people in them, and then threaten them with bankruptcy for something lenders shouldn`t have pushed in the first place.
Now, this protection bureau is supposed to patrol that kind of abuse, and it did. Under the Obama director, it got results, taking $43 million a week back from those financial interests and plowing towards consumers. That`s a figure that absolutely crashed by over 90 percent now that Trump`s director is in charge.
The difference there? Well, it`s over $40 million. That`s what these payday lenders are celebrating at Trump`s resort. And what`s a few hundred thousand dollars in fees and an $18 glass of sparkling Trump wine in comparison to the millions these groups are now saving, getting back, earning under Donald Trump`s policies protecting them.
This is a sorry scene. It is literally millionaires celebrating money they extracted from some of the poorest Americans through tricky loans that shouldn`t have been offered in the first place. That is what the swamp looks like when it has no shame.
Now up ahead, we have more in tonight`s show, including this growing white supremacy violence crisis. A key hearing in Congress today. And a former FBI agent who infiltrated some of these groups is here with me. And then later, as promised, something we`re very excited about, the award winning world famous novelist, Salman Rushdie, makes his debut on THE BEAT.
MELBER: Today, House Democrats are doing what they claim the Trump administration won`t do, address this growing threat documented around our country of white supremacist violence. Consider that the owner of the website, 8chan, is now testifying after facing a subpoena by lawmakers, noting that three of the acts of white supremacist violence were linked to that very website this year alone.
There`s been a wave of mass shootings and a drive by extremist type of hate. You could think about El Paso. Think about California. Think about internationally the issues in New Zealand. Well, my next guest has special insights into this. Mike German is a former FBI agent who spent years infiltrating white supremacist hate groups.
The FBI now says 40 percent of the 850 domestic terror cases they`re investigating relate to race or religion. This is an exclusive interview. Mike German is here. And I should mention his new book is "Disrupt, Discredit and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy". It`s coming out next week. So great to have you. Let`s get right into this. What is important to understand about this growing threat?
MICHAEL GERMAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, I think the most important thing to understand at this moment is that the U.S. Department of Justice doesn`t even know how many people white supremacists kill each year. And that`s because they have, through a matter of policy, deprioritized the investigation and prosecution of white supremacist crimes for decades now. And it`s really important that Congress is now taking these steps and having a number of hearings to try to understand what it is we haven`t been looking at over the last couple of decades.
MELBER: So how do we know what we know? For example, I going to show folks from the data we do have the rise in some of these incidents. You have this 35 percent increase in what they call right wing extremist-related killings. Now that`s ADL. You`re saying the government hasn`t caught up with that kind of tracking?
GERMAN: Right. The government does not keep an official count. So they rely on private groups like the Anti-Defamation League and some academic institutions like the START program at the University of Maryland`s Extremist Crime Database. And they do as good a job as they can, but they can only identify a crime if the police have already identified it as a crime, or the media has identified it as a crime related to white supremacist violence. But we have to understand that half of the violence in the United States today goes unsolved.
GERMAN: And that includes for 40 percent of the murders in the United States go unsolved. And because the Justice Department has this policy of deprioritizing the investigation of white supremacist crimes, we don`t know how much of that violence is related to these groups.
MELBER: What did you learn when you were actually infiltrating these groups? What drove these people? Was it a turning point they could never turn back?
GERMAN: It was it was a very complex movement is one of the things I understood. There are a lot of different groups that might have the same goal of a racially pure white ethnic society, but they have different ideologies, philosophies and even theologies that justify this behavior. And there is an awful lot of friction between them and discontent between them where they don`t get along with each other. And a lot of the violence involved in these groups is intergroup violence.
The other thing I learned about and, I think, understand better than a lot of other terrorism researchers is the association between white supremacist violence and state violence. You know, we have to understand that these ideologies aren`t some fringe elements of our society. They were actually founding principles of our country that justified slavery, justified European colonization, justified the genocide of indigenous peoples. And really up until just recently, justified Jim Crow laws and systematic racial discrimination. So it`s really only in our recent history that that we`ve even enshrined civil rights in law in a way that would that would suppress these ideologies.
MELBER: Yeah, it`s well laid out, a serious problem. You`ve got a lot of experience on it. And the book, while sad, is hopefully a timely part of the solution. I should mention again, for folks interested, "Disrupt, Discredit and Divide: How The New FBI Damages Democracy". New from Mike German next week. Thanks again.
Fitting in a break and then turning to something we`re very excited about. Acclaimed author, Salman Rushdie, not afraid to speak his mind. I`m going to get into politics, truth and his new book when we come back.
MELBER: America often feels more divided than ever, and many turn to music, culture, art and literature at these times, not always to escape from our realities, but even to better understand reality. And there may be few better to answer all of those kind of questions at my very next guest, who is out with a brand new book exploring the outlandish world of Cervantes`s Don Quixote, but set in the middle of a troubling American landscape that may be familiar to people watching right now.
This is Salman Rushdie, author of 14 novels, winner of the Man Booker Prize. The new book is "Quichotte", shortlisted for the Booker Prize. So great to have you here on THE BEAT. Thank you, sir.
SALMAN RUSHIE, NOVELIST: Thank you. Delighted to be here.
MELBER: Let`s start with all of these parallels. What were you thinking of in today`s politics and culture in writing the book this way?
RUSHIE: You know, the novel I wrote before, it took place almost entirely in New York City. When I finished it, I thought, next time, get out of town. You know, I really wanted to do something which was a more panoramic look at America, not just something, you know, written from my hometown.
By accident, I had a chance to read again Cervantes novel, "Don Quixote". And it made me think that a variation of that character would be a very helpful guide to what`s going on. Because the thing about him, my character, Quichotte, as well as Cervantes`s character is that they have a kind of sweetness to them. You know, they have a kind of innocence and optimism to them.
And I thought if I could take this kind of holy fool, this innocent, optimistic man, this dreamer, and send him out again across a country that may not be having its most optimistic moments, that contrast would be, I hope, illuminating.
MELBER: I want to read a passage from your book that interests us, frankly, because it could be about politics. But I`ll let you explain it. You write, "It was the age of anything-can-happen, he reminded himself ... there were no rules anymore ... It was no longer possible to predict the weather, or the likelihood of war, or the outcome of elections." Anything can happen. What are you getting at there?
RUSHIE: Well, I really think we do live in this strange moment in which, and not just in America, but also in Britain, also in India, these three countries that I`ve spent my life thinking about, in all of them, it`s as if the rules of the game have decayed. We don`t know anymore how things work or why things work. Why do things happen the way they do? The unexpected happens every day. Things that you would have thought impossible a couple of years ago are now everyday reality.
I mean, to make a political point. You can have a president who wants to bomb hurricanes with nuclear weapons. That`s something, which if I had presented that idea to a publisher for a short story, they would have said, "That`s really not convincing. Good. Think of something more plausible." So implausible things are now everyday reality. And I think it`s for a lot of people bewildering to live in this world where there are no rules, you know.
RUSHIE: Nobody knows what the new shape of the world will be.
MELBER: Well, you say that we have those conversations at a more humble level. We`re not writing literature here. But as we put together the stories in the news rundown, as they call it sometimes, yes, it does feel like, well, that`s absurd. No way. That`s what`s happening. Something else serious in the book is, the plotline deals with the opioid crisis.
MELBER: How important is that in your understanding of American culture today?
RUSHIE: Well, I think it`s a testimony in many ways to the breakdown of some of these values that I`ve been talking about and also to the kind of loneliness of America. Many people leading very isolated lives and seeking succor in these kinds of drug.
I had myself, in my own life, a couple of close people who died from opioid abuse. And so, it`s for me, it`s kind of personal, including my youngest sister about 12 years ago, at a very young age, 45, had a heart attack. And it was clear afterwards that opioid abuse had been, really, a major cause of that. So I`ve been following that, digging into that story for a while now. You know, I think for a decade. And it`s only now that I felt ready to write about it.
MELBER: That`s very striking. And it`s something that affects so many people`s lives. And that is, you know, there`s, of course, still a stigma about even discussing that you lost someone.
MELBER: And that all kinds of people struggle with that. On the politics, you mentioned comedy. I think literature. I think also cartoons --
MELBER: -- can sometimes go deeper and even be a little tougher than what we -- Go ahead.
RUSHIE: No, I mean, some people have said these days that, you know, satire is dead, because reality is weirder than satire. But actually, I think I`m grateful to TV comedians to, you know, late night hosts who -- because I think sometimes that the comedy lets them go deeper into the mountain and actually cut deeper and be more truthful in some ways, you know. So I`m hoping that comedy for me is also a vehicle towards the truth.
MELBER: Well, you mentioned the truth. I think that`s a fitting place for my final question. I want to read again from the book, which we mentioned is fiction. But you write about, "A wholly imaginary chief executive who was obsessed by cable news, who pandered to a white supremacist base." And if people know anything about you, I think it would be that you take no prisoners. You`re not afraid of political intimidation, to be sure. And you have an incisive mind. So I wonder, what do you think is still not fully understood, or is worth reckoning with about this real life president, Donald Trump?
RUSHIE: Well, the one thing that I think that what Mr. Trump is doing here that is similar to what`s happening in Britain, and what`s even happening in India, is that in all three places, leaders are inventing a mythology of a false past, a kind of golden age. You know, that if we could only get back to that, everything would be good. You know, make America great again.
You want to ask, when exactly was that? Was it last week? Was it before slavery was abolished? Was it before the civil rights movement? Was it before women had the vote? When was America great in the way that we should get back to. It`s the myth that the golden age is always a myth.
Boris Johnson, right now in Britain, is trying to sell the idea of a golden age of England that could be restored if only all these inconvenient foreigners would go away. You know, Mr. Modi in India has tried to sell the idea of an ancient golden Hindu age, which has been ruined by the presence of Muslims. All three are doing the same thing. They`re inventing a history in order to justify actions in the present. And I think that`s really dangerous.
MELBER: It`s a profound point. And it`s also illustrative of the fact that if your campaign promises nostalgia, you never have to be called on it, because you`re not running on anything real to begin with.
MELBER: You`ve given us a lot to think about. Salman Rushdie. Thank you so much. I`m again mentioning the book, "Quichotte", is out now. Thank you, sir.
RUSHIE: Thank you.
MELBER: And that does it for tonight`s show. I think we had a lot. I will mention tomorrow, we have a very special guest who`s making headlines and says if they win, Donald Trump won`t even get to run for president. We`ll explain more tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. if you tune in. Thanks for watching. "HARDBALL" is up next.
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