ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Well, you know, what better time, Nicole, than to be -- to have a front seat to everything that is going on. You know, in 20 years they`re going to ask us about 2020. What were you doing in 2020? And I`ll have a good answer.
You just mentioned Kris Kobach. Kind of remarkable, he was at the beginning of the Trump administration part of the voter fraud panel that was set up. Remember Donald Trump set up a panel to show us how bad voter fraud was in the last election and it came up with goose eggs?
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Well, do I remember? That was sort of the beginning of my unraveling. I remember shouting at the television, there is no voter fraud. That was -- if you look at them as bookends, that was the first lie. And now, they`re picking up with the second lie.
What`s remarkable to me, having once been a Republican, is that the RNC is also now saying the quiet part out loud and saying that this guy is what threatens their Senate majority. The guy that threatens our Senate majority is the guy in the office with no corners.
VELSHI: That`s absolutely right. Nicolle, good to see you.
By the way, you are joining a very small club of MSNBC anchors who have officially two-hour long shows. You have been anchoring that for a long time. But it`s official. So, welcome to the club.
As I tweeted out earlier, more Nicolle Wallace is what the country needs right now.
Thank you, my friend. Have the rest of the evening to yourself and enjoy it.
WALLACE: You`re so kind. Thank you.
VELSHI: All right. We begin tonight with the numbers. Spain, zero new cases. France, zero new cases. Canada, which is one-tenth the population of the United States, 285 new cases. The United States, 48,849 new cases.
There are now more than 4.7 million cases of coronavirus in the United States and over 156,000 reported deaths. The rate of new cases in the United States is higher than Europe combined and any other single nation.
And Donald Trump`s only real strategy to combat the coronavirus remains the same, denial. It will disappear. States will disappear. Do less testing. Take hydroxychloroquine.
The medical experts surrounding Donald Trump who are not Dr. Fauci, even though they are now refuting his outright lies.
Here`s what Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary at HHS, said about using hydroxychloroquine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY AT HHS: I think most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based and they`re not influenced by whatever is on Twitter or anything else. And the evidence just doesn`t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now. I think we need to move on from that and talk about what is effective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Well, the rest of us have moved on from it, but some people like to keep bringing it up.
Dr. Deborah Birx yesterday, the coordinator of the president`s coronavirus task force, warned that the outbreak we`re experiencing now is in some ways worse than earlier this year because of how widespread it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: What we`re seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It is into the rural as equal urban areas. And to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus. And that`s why we keep saying no matter where you live in America, you need to wear a mask and socially distance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Saying the virus was extraordinarily widespread garnered two reactions inside the Trump administration. Dr. Fauci confirmed and amplified Dr. Birx`s comments. Donald Trump called it pathetic and claimed that Dr. Birx took the bait and hit us.
The coronavirus continues to affect the entire country with new cases increasing in 16 states and Washington, D.C. with the new school year weeks away, it is not surprising that Americans are worried that their children, their parents, their grandparents, well, they`re all going to be in danger.
The president`s response to their fears, no plan. Just repeatedly demand that children go back to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must focus on protecting those at highest risk while allowing younger and healthier Americans to resume work and school with careful precautions. Ideally, we want to open those schools. We want to open them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, keep in mind you probably know this, of course, Trump is powerless to actually tell school districts what to do. He made that demand to open schools today after the largest and second largest school districts in the country, New York and Los Angeles, have already said they will not be returning in full -- to full in person school in the fall. D.C. public school will not be returning to full in person instruction this fall either, nor have the neighboring schools in Maryland and Virginia.
But some schools across the country have begun to reopen with troubling results. A school in central Indiana is temporary -- temporarily closing two days after starting the school year because at least one staff member tested positive for coronavirus and several others are quarantining. The school will close for one week of virtual learning before reopening again.
Similar results occurring across the country. In the Atlanta area, 260 employees of one single school district in Gwinnett County tested positive or were in quarantine last week before classes resumed.
So much of this pain and suffering during this pandemic has been self- inflicted, exacerbated by poor leadership. And with the unemployment rate above 11 percent, the worst since the Great Depression, with so many businesses unable to operate at capacity or in some cases open up at all, with congressional Republicans pulling the rug out from unemployment people when they let the $600 unemployment benefit expire at the end of the week, the Democratic-led house passed an extension back in May.
Here is what Nancy Pelosi said about Republicans not wanting to extend the unemployment insurance benefit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF TE HOUSE: Millions of people could have fallen into poverty without this $600. They`re so fussy about any anecdotal information they have about somebody not going to work because they make $600 on this but so cavalier about big money going to companies that really shouldn`t be having it. So the $600 is very important in the lives of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Leading off our discussion tonight, Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington Medical Center. He`s an MSNBC medical contributor.
Jared Bernstein is a former chief economist and former economic policy adviser to Vice President Biden. He was doing this, by the way, in the last recession. So, he knows a thing or two about this. He`s a CNBC contributor.
Welcome to both of you.
Dr. Gupta, I need to start with you. This may not be a popular thing for me to say. But the whole country is going to run to the defense of Dr. Deborah Birx, all of a sudden, because Trump called her pathetic. She hasn`t been like Fauci. She hasn`t been steadfast in speaking the truth in the face of the president. She`s actually been on far right media a lot defending the president, calling him smart and saying that he`s well read and understands public health.
And now, we have 155,000 dead people in America and 45,000 new cases today. I think at some point, we`ve got to call a spade a spade.
DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Ali.
You know, as to Dr. Birx and her history here, I empathize with the situation that somebody like her, she has a career history in the U.S. Armed Forces. She has nothing to prove when it comes to her career in public health. Now she`s in this position.
I agree with you. She has contributed to the mixed messaging, which has been frustrating for those of us who previously looked up to her as a leader, and she has not always amplified the right messages and tones of Dr. Fauci. What`s clear more than anything is that I hear constantly from teachers, from school districts, from parents, from former patients of mine, that they need rapid testing.
That`s the solution. That is the prescription here for a safe reopening of schools. And right now, we just don`t have enough of them. We need a moon shot on it, Ali. We need that type of tests which exists, that 30-minute test, we need that at scale.
VELSHI: In fact, I have just got a tweet from Chuck Grassley who said just saw on TV the president took exception to some interview Dr. Birx said about the status of the pandemic. I hope the president knows she is a scientist and not a politician.
The president says he likes to hear all sides. So, you heard Dr. Birx. You might disagree. Use love, not anger.
Let me ask you about the testing thing, Dr. Gupta. The president continues to say day after day, he tweeted it again that the reason we have more cases in America is because we have more testing. Can you just deliver for our audience the logical fallacy there? Because we have a commensurate increase in deaths. Testing definitely doesn`t lead to death.
GUPTA: Well, here are the facts. Our aggregate total of testing peaked on July 24th. Go to covidtracking.com. If any of your viewers want to actually look at the data as it is, without me -- you don`t have to trust me. Just look at the data.
Aggregate tests peaked at 933,000 on July 24th. And we`ve seen a sustained decline ever since. You know what happened, Ali, in the interim? Deaths have actually increased steadily since the beginning of July.
So we`re having a rise in deaths with a commensurate decline in testing. That is a recipe for disaster, Ali. This is nothing, absolutely nothing to do with more testing.
One, we have the wrong type of testing. We have the type of testing that you get results in seven to 10 days. It is virtually useless for individuals to actually interpret, for public health officials to act upon.
So, we don`t have the right type of testing. But we have less than a week ago and deaths continue to climb.
VELSHI: Jared Bernstein, let`s talk economics for a second here. It galls me, the conversations that I`m hearing. Mitch McConnell said we`ve done enough. We have a number of senators saying we`re paying people to stay home.
We have endless money to keep interest rates really low. We have record stock markets because there is no other game in town but to invest in stocks. People who are wealthy are gaining money in the stock market and they`re refinancing their homes at sub 3 percent mortgages.
The rich are getting richer. But we can`t afford 600 bucks a week for people who are out of work through no fault of their own.
JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST TO VP BIDEN: Yeah. This is just not only terrible economics but just deeply immoral. You`re talking about a bunch of politicians who have a perfectly curb cushy jobs and are delaying vital help to people who desperately need it.
These are folks who rarely have any savings to fall back on. When they were laid off from work, they didn`t get any paid leave. They have been dependent on these checks to make ends meet, which means putting food on the table and avoiding evictions. It has been very clear, and Democrats have been really promulgating this message all the way back to May when they passed their legislation, which Congress on the Republican side didn`t take up until far too late, as we`ve seen, that these -- that these enhanced benefits have been a lifeline for these workers.
VELSHI: Think back to the recession of 2008/2009 after which you took office. And what lessons did we learn? We let too many people lose their homes. We didn`t get involved fast enough. We did ultimately help out the banks in terms of helping people save their homes.
But once you`re passed that wave, rebuilding it, putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again is much harder than stopping him from falling in the first place.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. So, here are some of the great questions, here`s some of the lessons we have learned. If we were doing this intelligently, we`d be doing all the things Dr. Gupta just talked about, of course, because if we don`t control the virus there is no economic recovery. It`s that simple.
But, yeah, looking back then, first of all, enhanced support not just for unemployment benefits but nutritional support through food stamps, now called SNAP. State and local fiscal relief, extremely important, also occurred back then.
But the other thing that happened back then is that the impact of the stimulus ended before the economy was ready to really come back on its own. We found ourselves in a similar situation. Obama and Biden tried to do more but Congress once again blocked them.
So the tendency is to do too little, not too much and that`s exactly what we`re seeing now. By the way, the really important difference between then and now, and this was Joe Biden at work just to get that on the record, was execution and implementation, right? It is not enough to pass these measures if you don`t oversee them with the kind of execution and implementation attention that we tried to implement back then under Biden`s leadership.
VELSHI: I recall, Jared. You remember that`s where you and I got to know each other well during those days because I was reporting on it and you and I would argue on it back in those days, but you know these things.
Dr. Gupta, can you clarify for me? Because every day we go to bed putting this hydroxychloroquine story to rest and every morning I wake up to Donald Trump talking about hydroxychloroquine again.
GUPTA: (AUDIO GAP) Ali, I feel like I have done this five times in the last week.
GUPTA: Here`s the data on hydroxychloroquine. In in-patient studies, what we know is that if you`re admitted to a hospital with COVID-19, and you take hydroxychloroquine, you have a greater risk of adverse effects than if you don`t take hydroxychloroquine.
You aren`t taken off the ventilator more quickly. You actually have higher rates of mortality, higher rates of cardiac arrhythmias and other side effects. So there is no benefit. It is actually harmful to take hydroxychloroquine if you are admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. Clear, case shut.
VELSHI: Thank you to both of you. Dr. Vin Gupta and Jared Bernstein, thanks for joining us and kicking us off tonight.
Coming up, the people of Nevada have scored a big victory in having the choice to vote safely by mail during the pandemic, something everybody in the country should have the right to do. Donald Trump says he will take Nevada to court to stop that.
Coming up next, we will talk to the lawyer who`s going to meet him there. Marc Elias, he`s been fighting and beating Republican attempts to prevent people from voting in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What Nevada has been doing, if you look over the last few days, you have to look at what they have done. We will be suing in Nevada, and that`s already been taken care of. We`ll probably file something tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: OK. So let`s look at what Nevada has done that is so bad, so awful that Donald Trump is going to sue them for it. Nevada today became the eighth state plus Washington, D.C., that will automatically send ballots to all registered voters for the presidential election happening during a pandemic.
This afternoon, the state`s Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, signed it into law and had this message for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D), NEVADA: I understand that there is an attempt to suppress voting. You know, it is my job to make sure that we give everybody that wants to vote the opportunity to do so and remain as flexible as possible.
That`s what this bill does. I`m confident it will be well received. I was proud to sign it, and I`m proud to work the legislature did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: OK. We`re not going to play Donald Trump`s comments about voting by mail. But, instead, we`re going to quote this report from "The Nevada Independent". The Nevada secretary of state, a Republican, who opposed the bill, reported no evidence of voter fraud in 2018 election and no such reports came in during the primary in June.
But Nevada states senator, Nicole Cannizzaro, the leader of the Nevada Senate is mad. She`s really mad about the Republican smear campaign around helping more people vote safely. She tweeted at the head of the RNC. I`ll be damned if I`m going to let a partisan hack like you use this pandemic to suppress Nevadans` right to vote. Nevada will have a free and fair secure election this November.
Joining me now is the person who wrote that tweet, Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro. She`s a Democrat who represents parts of Las Vegas. She`s also a chief deputy district attorney in Clark County, Nevada, which is relevant to us, Senator, because I want to start by saying, I don`t even understand what standing Donald Trump has in this.
He doesn`t cast a ballot in Nevada. I`m not sure why anybody is voting against everybody getting a ballot. But is this even a relevant lawsuit?
STATE SEN. NICOLE CANNIZZARO (D), NEVADA: Ali, it is great to be here with you. And I think this is exactly the same sort of strategy that we have seen here in Nevada and nationally. And it is an effort to frankly suppress the vote of people in this next election.
We here in Nevada have faced this type of a lawsuit before with unfounded claims of voter fraud. And, frankly, we`re happy to have that fight again. These cases have been dismissed, and we feel very confident that we are standing up in the right way to make sure that all Nevadans can safely and securely exercise their right to vote this November.
VELSHI: I was speaking to the secretary of state from Colorado the other day. The things that states that want to have everybody vote by mail want to do, there are concerns but they`re logistics concerns. They`re not fraud concerns.
CANNIZZARO: And, Ali, I would say this. We actually here in Nevada just implemented a mostly vote by mail election this last June for our primary and we were able to successfully do that. We have record high turn-out for the election. We had many people who participated in that election. Our local election officials here in the state are able to really execute those elections, and we know that we can do that again this November.
And, frankly, again, these allegations of voter fraud are simply unfounded and we even heard testimony that there were no instances of voter fraud.
So I really think we are going to see an election here in Nevada come November where people can safely and security exercise that constitutional right to vote.
VELSHI: And I just want to put on the screen the percentage of people voting on Election Day in Nevada. In November 2018, you had 34 percent in person. November 2016, 30 percent in person. June 2016, 29 percent. And 2020 at the top of the chart, that`s the one you were just talking about, 1.6 percent voted in person because we were in the middle of the pandemic.
But you succeeded in getting record voter turnout because people were allowed to vote by mail.
So the bottom line is, your goal in Nevada is to get more people to vote and by doing it by mail, you can achieve that.
CANNIZZARO: Absolutely. And I think we should be doing that. We should be standing up for that constitutional right that so many people have fought so hard for. And we`ve seen that here in Nevada.
We know what we`re seeing in terms of these allegations of voter fraud is simply a Republican strategy that they don`t want to be part of an election where there is high turn-out because as the president said in his tweet earlier today when more people vote they`re afraid they can`t win, and we want to make sure people can vote. And I think that`s exactly what we saw this June and I`m very much looking forward to having an election that is taking place in the middle of a pandemic that we are still facing and we still have to do everything we can to protect people.
VELSHI: Thank you for joining us this evening. Nevada state Senate leader.
Joining us now is the person who they will face in court should they chose to fight Nevada`s vote by mail law, Marc Elias. He`s a Democratic voting rights attorney and the founder of Democracy Docket, a platform fighting against voter suppression.
Mark, I thought of you today because I listened to President Trump saying absentee voting is great. It`s fine. He even does it. Lots of people in Trump orbit do absentee voting but vote by mail is terrible. And my puny, little brain can`t get my head around what the difference is.
MARC ELIAS, DEMOCRACY DOCKET FOUNDER: There isn`t any difference. Thank you for having me on. And no matter how many times Donald Trump and his minions try to contort or confuse, the fact is that their lawyers in federal court in Pennsylvania filed a pleading in which they said the two terms, vote by mail and mail-in voting are used interchangeably. And that`s because they are used interchangeably. They both are ways in which individuals who don`t want to go to the polls because they`re out of town or they don`t want to risk illness with COVID are able to receive a ballot in the mail and return it.
VELSHI: There seem to be two distinctions the president is making. One of them is the universality of it. He seems remarkably and deeply offended that everyone who qualifies for the franchise in Nevada or elsewhere would actually get a ballot. That`s wild.
But the second one is in a number of states, you have to have a reason to vote absentee. And being afraid of catching coronavirus doesn`t qualify.
ELIAS: Yeah. So there is actually three distinctions. One is universal. In other words, that`s automatic in that the ballot is automatic automatically sent to you.
The second is no excuse absentee voting, which is one of the predominant method is in this country. In other words, anyone who wants to vote by mail or vote absentee is free to do so. The third are states that allow excuse only absentee voting, which is the minority of states.
And the problem is that Donald Trump and his aides are mixing these. Something tells me that what Donald Trump is not concerned about (INAUDIBLE) is Oregon and Hawaii, which are states that have automatic vote by mail. He`s probably not also worried about the most of the states that have excuse only absentee.
What most of the states that are called battleground states (INAUDIBLE) who wants to vote by absentee and if they want to vote in person, they can. And all -- you know, there is nothing wrong with that either.
VELSHI: Marc, I want to ask you about colleges. We do not know in many cases. We`re just starting to find out which colleges are going to have people on campus and which ones are not. And some of them are going to make decisions later and some are leaving it up to some of the students.
That becomes very confusing for voting. We have already seen evidence that young people are a little confused about this whole mail-in balloting thing anyway. Gets a little more complicated when you are living away from home and you have to get a mail -- a ballot at a certain time. Give me your thoughts on this.
ELIAS: Yeah. So, I`m glad you asked. I actually wrote a piece on democracydocket.com about the five steps that colleges and universities need to take today to ensure that we don`t have colleges disenfranchised, and I started a change.org petition that I would everyone signs.
The problem that college students face is that they have the uncertainty not only of what the rules are where they want to vote in normal times but they face the unique circumstance now where they`re being told part of their learning may be remote. Part of their learning (INAUDIBLE), it could be that they start in person and then wind up going remote. And it`s incumbent on colleges to be the gold standard of information and to provide accurate information to students so that students know if they are at home, they`re entitled to vote and that the local community, whether it is the elected officials or the town needs to accommodate that.
We have an epidemic (INAUDIBLE) why we needed the 26th Amendment (INAUDIBLE). And even today Republicans throughout the country tried to prevent young voter from voting, particularly (INAUDIBLE). It is really important that colleges pick this up and help solve this problem.
VELSH: Marc, thanks for joining me. Appreciate it. Marc Elias is a Democratic voting rights attorney, founder of Democracy Docket.
It`s a platform fighting against voter suppression. I would recommend for those of you on twitter you follow him, because every time nonsense comes out about voting, Marc tweets the truth about it.
All right. Coming up, there`s no other way to say it. Donald Trump isn`t limiting his attacks to his opponent. He`s declared war on the election itself, an all out desperate attempt to make people doubt the process and outcome three months ahead of election day. Why? Well, it`s obvious. The polls are showing him trailing Joe Biden, and a Manhattan district attorney may have offered another reason today in court. David Frum joins us on that, next.
VELSHI: Before the break, we showed you what Donald Trump is doing to delegitimize the presidential election. Now we`re going to look at why he`s doing it.
There`s the fact that he`s trailing Joe Biden in national and battleground state polls. There`s the fact that the latest -- Trump`s latest Gallup job approval rating shows him at 41 percent with 56 percent disapproving as the dual health and economic crisis continue to rage.
But there is also this. In Donald Trump`s ongoing fight to keep his tax returns secret, today the Manhattan district attorney told a federal court its investigation into Trump and his business is much wider than we knew. "The Times" reports quote, "The Manhattan district attorney`s office suggested on Monday that it had been investigating President Trump and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past. In the new filing, the prosecutors did not explicitly identify the matters under scrutiny in the grand jury inquiry, which by law, is conducted in secret."
Joining us now David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic" and a former speech writer for George W. Bush. He`s the author of "Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy". David, my friend, good to see you.
Years ago, you may or may not remember this, we were in our native land in Canada. We were in (INAUDIBLE) I think in a conference and you were lamenting that the Republican Party that you had joined and were part of had, you know, opened up several ballrooms to the right of you. And that was your chief complaint. And that was in the pre-Trump era.
Now it is just weird. Now you`ve just got a president who`s rampantly dishonest and seems to conduct his business illegally on an ongoing basis - - a whole different problem than the one you were trying to fix a few years ago.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR FOR "THE ATLANTIC": It is, indeed. And it`s why, as you said, President Trump`s personal legal problems and this election overlap because he knows should he lose the election he is in for a world of grief. And this Vance investigation in New York is an example of it.
Let me just mention one example of the kind of thing that Cyrus Vance has in his gunsights. In October of 2019, ProPublica the investigative Web site that does amazing work got hold of lease documents from two Trump buildings for the tax year 2017. And they discovered that Donald Trump had reported significantly different amounts to tax authorities and lending authorities for what the buildings were paying.
And it`s hard to imagine an innocent explanation of this. It looks like what he did was either bank fraud or tax fraud or maybe both.
VELSHI: Right. So he underrepresented it, it looks like, to tax authorities so he`d pay less tax and overrepresented to the bank. And either way you are doing something illegal.
VELSHI: But to your earlier point, Donald Trump is in for a world of hurt if he leaves. We know that from a lot of people including the New Your attorney general Letitia James.
The issue though is that he may not have an out for this one. At this point, he`s tanking even among those Republicans or people leaning Republican who had supported him for a while. He`s now down to that base in the mid to high 30s, which I don`t think he`ll ever lose. And that may prevent him from holding on to office and the immunity that he gets with that.
FRUM: Well, this month may be a very dramatic one. President Trump has been able to hold on to about 40 percent despite all the bad news. But as I think everyone who watches this program knows, on July 31st those Americans who were out of work lost that $600 federal supplement. And American parents and American school children are about to discover that they are not going to be going back to school in the fall or in August, whenever school starts.
And that is a devastating fact for many families, it`s a devastating fact for those children and I think that has an impact. You know, when I think about the school year, I mean there`re so many stories to think about. But I worry about are the kids who are in academic trouble in about grade nine.
If they miss this next few months of the school year, they may leave high school altogether, never finish. And we may see in the coming years a huge bump in high school dropping out because of the failure to get hold of the COVID problem.
VELSHI: David, good to talk to you, as always. Thank you for joining us. David Frum is the author of "Trumpocalypse", senior editor at "The Atlantic" and a former George W. Bush speech writer.
Coming up another day, another inside look at the Trump administration that Donald Trump doesn`t want you to see. We`re going to show it to you next.
VELSHI: Time after time, the Trump administration has tried to silence insider accounts that show how dangerous it is to have Donald Trump in the White House surrounded by enablers. Donald Trump didn`t want you to read the damning tell-all books by his niece Mary Trump or by his former national security adviser John Bolton or by the renowned journalist Michael Wolfe or by the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Bob Woodward.
And now the latest work that Donald Trump does not want you to see is here. It is a documentary. "Immigration Nation" was released today on Netflix. "The Week" calls it, quote, "the most damning inside portrait of the Trump administration yet".
We now have this important account of history, thanks to our next guests, two daring film makers who were granted unbelievable access to follow ICE agents in early 2017. I`m fascinated by how they got this access.
Donald Trump was just beginning to implement his racist and inhumane immigration agenda. Over three years, Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau captured the unconscionable and unbounded cruelty of Donald Trump`s immigration policies.
"The New York Times" reports quote, "As the documentary neared completion in recent months, the administration fought mightily to keep it from being released until after the 2020 election. The film makers said they were told that the administration`s anger over the project came from all the way to the top," end quote.
Here are some of the real stories Donald Trump does not want you to see. ICE officers lying to immigrants to gain access to their homes, mocking them after taking them into custody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I see a warrant?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not obligated to show it to anybody.
I have a warrant. I`m not in here without it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows that he`s done. There is no judge for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: In multiple occasions, the film makers witnessed ICE officers being told by supervisors to arrest as many people as possible, even those without criminal records.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what`s up, man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t care what you do, but bring at least two people in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knew you guys were with me, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The documentary also reveals the administration`s misinformation in action. Here`s the ICE spokesman preparing talking points with misleading information while pushing an ICE agent to inflate the percentage of immigrants detained with a criminal record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The field officer stats that 91 percent crime or criminal arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are not going to have that today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`ve got that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I mean for this op.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are local stats. Yes, I know, we`re not going to have --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean for this op. I mean, I think we`re about 35 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. That`s fine. Yes. I mean just own it. Yes, absolutely. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Just own it. And the heartbreaking stories of those who guided by desperation risked their lives to cross the most arid conditions. Some just don`t make it alive across the Arizona deserts, others are rescued on the borderline of death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s up, man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to reach my family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, sit here.
Yes, you can tell he`s already been eating cactus and stuff. He`s in pretty rough shape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to your hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were coming to the United States and the guide that brought me abandoned me in the desert.
I`m going to Los Angeles. Where am I right now? I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tucson. This is Tucson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tucson?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tucson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is -- and Los Angeles?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And the story of a U.S. marine who was deported after serving his country and now advocates for other deported veterans like him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That should have never happened. This is a tear in the American fabric of our society and we need to mend it. And we need to mend it with actions, not words. We need to do it now. Save me, please.
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VELSHI: All right. This all exposes how the Trump administration seeks to inflict maximum pain on immigrants through a bureaucratic system filled with falsehoods. The documentary shows that the administration`s policy of deterrence is a political lie used to validate violence against immigrants.
After the break, the two film makers who captured all of this suffering will join us to talk about what has become one of the darkest chapters in American history.
VELSHI: In the new documentary "Immigration Nation", the filmmakers got rare access to the inner workings of ICE and the agents who carry out the immigration policies of the Trump administration.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not going to be easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a dad. Nobody wants to see children hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t tell you how exhausting it is day in and day out to be putting cuffs on people doing exactly what I would do in their situation.
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VELSHI: Joining us now, the directors of "Immigration Nation" released on Netflix today. Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau Thank you for being with us today. We appreciate this.
I am fascinated by how you got the access you got. Did they not know that you were there with cameras and mics and recording what they were saying because in just the few clips we`ve played, Christina, I`m fascinated that they let you tape that.
CHRISTINA CLUSIAU, "IMMIGRATION NATION": Yes. You know, we had about two and a half years of access within ICE. And it started back previously from an acquaintance that we had. And we asked ICE if they wanted to do something under the Obama administration, and they said no.
And so when Trump got elected, we decided to go back to them and ask them again if they`d be interested. And this time they said yes.
SHAUL SCHWARZ, "IMMIGRATION NATION": Yes, it was a --
VELSHI: So they thought it was a better idea to do this after Trump was elected?
SCHWARZ: Yes, I think the agency was coming under a lot of heat. They understood that the rhetoric from the campaign would bring heat to the agency. You know, keep in mind that ICE is a very special law enforcement agency. It changes quite quickly under political shifts. And I thought they felt that they would come under pressure and wanted someone to come in and document and, you know, we were obviously thrilled to do the story.
VELSHI: Christina, talk to me about your impressions of the people who work for ICE. Was there at any point empathy that you had for the job they had to do? Or did they come across as the instruments of a racist government policy?
CLUSIAU: You know, I have a lot of empathy for the ICE officers. After you spend a lot of time with them through the couple of years, you start to -- you find common ground. And I think that was one thing to recognize.
And so the common ground also led to conversations and so on and so forth. But you understand that in a culture of policies that are enacted under immigration, when you see from the top down that they`re meant to install fear, it sometimes trickles down into the culture.
SCHWARZ: To add to that, I think --
VELSHI: Sorry. Go ahead. There`s a little bit of a delay, so it`s hard when there`s a space. Go ahead.
SCHWARZ: I think we saw them to some degree like, you know, people were asking us, are these guys horrible? Are they monsters? The truth is, listen, they have been put in a very hard position.
As the rhetoric around immigration got so heated and, of course, zero tolerance and children separation coming in, the ICE officers got put into this impossible position.
So, you know, on one hand we saw people -- some of the people kind of embracing it and maybe becoming more bullies themselves and taking this kind of out. But on the other hand, we saw a lot of doors not opening.
We saw people who first at ICE were thinking Trump`s the best thing that ever happened to us. Well, suddenly became the most hated agency in the government. So, you know, I think to add to Christina, feeling for them to a degree, you see people struggling doing their job.
And at the end of the day, they are the enforcer. They`re not the decision- maker. I think many of them agreed that the system is broken which I think comes across strongly in the film.
VELSHI: Christina, tell me about the problems. What is the legal threat from the administration look like?
CLUSIAU: You know --
SCHWARZ: For two and a half years, we had incredible access. And for that we`re grateful to the men and women of ICE for showing us a very honest picture that I think has never been shown before.
But in order to get that access, we had to sign a contract called a multimedia agreement. It`s a common contract for people working with DHS to sign.
And at the end of that process, we had to show the tape to them under the condition that factual inaccuracies and what is called police enforcement sensitivities, meaning if they`re using a certain tactic that would give away their work, would be -- you know, they would have authorized to ask for changes.
Unfortunately, when the review process began, they asked for a lot more changes than that, and we pushed back and said, no, you may not editorialize the show, and this is not the way the contract works.
And when that got worse, we kind of got bullied and threatened for a while, and eventually there was some delay of time games and eventually they even asked -- tried to pin us to releasing the show in November.
I think the good news is that the show is the show we intended to do. The show -- you know, our First Amendment rights won, and I`m happy the people will get to see it as it was intended.
VELSHI: And what do you want the takeaway from this to be? When people watch it, what are you hoping they leave with?
CLUSIAU: I really hope they leave with the fact that they know that the immigration system is complex in this country. And that it`s vast. And that there`s a lot of important conversations to be had. But when it`s such a divisive and political issue, a lot of those conversations aren`t being had.
And also that there`s a human toll that`s at the cost of this all. That it`s not just the ICE officers but it`s the toll on families, on lawyers, on advocates that really are swept up and chewed up in this immigration system.
SCHWARZ: And if I can add to that --
VELSHI: We heard a little bit -- yes, go ahead.
SCHWARZ: I`m sorry. The lag`s getting us. I think there`s a lot more that we can agree on on immigration than it seems. You know, in the show, for example, we show Caesar, a deported veteran. I think most conservatives would actually agree that we shouldn`t be deporting people who were willing to die for this country.
There`s issues that -- like this that polarize this country, particularly since the Trump administration came, but historically. And if we can actually try and find some common ground to at least agree to things that we can change, like deporting veterans that shouldn`t be happening, then the human toll and suffering that we saw in the broken system -- and every ICE agent out there says the system is broken and most people agree to that -- we could really scale back some human suffering. And I think you`ll see that in the show.
VELSHI: What about the degree to which the mission of ICE has been expanded under this administration? We have heard of missions that ICE has undertaken, places that they are going to, things that they are doing that are not what Americans understood that ICE was meant for.
In fact, you called for some people -- you got people who started calling for the abolition of ICE as a result. How do the ICE officers feel about that?
SCHWARZ: Again, I think they`re in a very difficult position. I think when, you know, they are very angered by the Abolish ICE Movement which obviously really took off after the zero tolerance policy.
But this is some of this administration`s goals. They as a tactic, political tactic, decided that they would install fear under this thought, under this idea that, you know, if we make your life hard enough, you`re probably just going to leave.
Now, that`s clearly not been successful. What it has done is put people more in the shadows, and I think that`s unfortunate. But I think the ICE agents -- again, it`s a big agency. Some people are going to be tougher. Some people are going to be emboldened to kind of being more bullies.
Others are just placed in a very hard position to do their jobs. They`re not used to being hated daily. In any event some of the men and women of ICE do important stuff like I think most countries need an immigration police so when there is a criminal immigrant that needs to be removed, I think it`s ok that there is a unit that does that. The question is under the rhetoric where it goes and what that does to us as a nation.
VELSHI: Is it going to be clear from your documentary, though, that maybe there are men and women in ICE who are empathetic, good beings and that this is a government policy problem? Or can you make that distinction when you`re watching some of these people?
SCHWARZ: I think -- I think that`s a little bit in the eye of the beholder. I think the viewer -- we -- you know, it breaks your heart to sometimes see the toll. It really does. And I think to some degree there is a toll on the ICE agents themselves.
But mostly, of course, the toll is on the immigrants. I think we`ve seen not only undocumented immigrants but people who try to follow the law get hurt. And that`s when we`re really turning our back on our history.
VELSHI: Thank you for making this. It`s a remarkable effort, and it`s available now. You can stream it on Netflix.
Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, thanks for joining us tonight.
And that is tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" begins right now.