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Russian Hackers target Sen. McCaskill. TRANSCRIPT: 07/27/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Jared Bernstein

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 27, 2018 Guest: Jared Bernstein

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: For the record, they still have not corrected the video. The video still leaves out the Putin wanted Trump part and we thought that was worth noting.

That does it for us tonight. I will see you back on Monday at 6:00 p.m. eastern for my show, THE BEAT.

But now it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with LAWRENCE O`DONNELL where I`m told Katy Tur is in for Lawrence.

I say good evening to you. And if you have time, I have a quick question for you.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Sure, go ahead. I`m all yours, Ari.

MELBER: Yes? You have time?

TUR: Sure.

MELBER: I was going to ask you, Katy, because I always love talking with you, do you know what is black and white and red all over?

TUR: A newspaper.

MELBER: It`s a teleprompter.

TUR: Also a teleprompter. Ari Melber, wow. You are a very clever man.

MELBER: I wish you a fantastic show and a great weekend, my friend, Katy Tur.

TUR: Ari Melber, good to take it from you for once. Instead of me handing off, I get to get the awkward moment where you try to throw me off my game. I like it. MELBER: I would never to try you threw out your game. I am accustomed having you toss to me sometimes at 6:00. I guess you are right, this time we have slowed down, flipped it and reversed it.

TUR: Ari Melber, surrender the flow, my friend.

I`m Katy Tur, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

One of Donald Trump`s biggest denials about Russia maybe unravelling tonight amid the civil war between the President and his former lawyer.

Today, the President lashed out at Michael Cohen after reports that Cohen is willing to tell Robert Mueller that Donald Trump knew in advance about the 2016 Trump tower meeting where the Russians promised to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton. Cohen`s account would directly contradict the President`s repeated denials that he knew nothing about that meeting.

Donald Trump tweeted this morning, I did not know of the meeting with my son Don Jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jab unrelated jam. Trump added, taxi cabs maybe? An apparent reference to the federal investigation of Cohen.

The question now, what did Donald Trump know? The President`s story about the Trump tower meeting has already shifted. His lawyers claimed he was in the involved in a statement falsely claiming the meeting was about adoptions. Then they admitted in the memo that he dictated the statement.

Now the strategy for Donald Trump is to attack Michael Cohen to boost the President`s credibility. Trump allies are gaming on how to quote "bury Cohen," according to "the Daily Beast."

The first attempt did not go so well. Rudy Giuliani tried to claim that the long-time Trump organization lawyer is a liar.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: I expected something like this from Cohen. He has been lying all week - I mean, for two - he has been lying for years. There is nobody that I know that knows him that hasn`t warned me if his back up against the wall, he will lie like crazy because he has lied all his life.


TUR: But today, team Trump was reminded that the same Rudy Giuliani said this about Michael Cohen just a few months ago.


GIULIANI: He doesn`t have any incriminating evidence about the President or himself. The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.


TUR: Cohen`s story may be just as dangerous for Donald Trump Jr. as it is for the President. Cohen reportedly wants to tell Mueller that Donald Trump learned of the Trump tower meeting from Don Jr. Don Jr. has already told a different story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you tell your father anything about this?

DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP`S SON: No. It was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell. I mean, I wouldn`t have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. It was literally just wasted 20 minutes which was ashamed.


TUR: It is not a crime to lie to Sean Hannity. It could be a crime though to lie to Congress.

In September, Don Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he quote "never discussed the meeting with his father." Today, Democrat Patrick Leahy of the Judiciary Committee said he wants Don Jr. to come back before the committee to answer questions, again in public, regarding Cohen`s claims.

On the same day that we learned Michael Cohen may provide key evidence about potential collusion, "The New York Times" reported that Robert Mueller is examining Donald Trump`s tweets as part of his wide ranging obstruction inquiry.

The times reports Mueller is scrutinizing Trump`s tweeted attacks on Jeff Sessions and former FBI director James Comey under a section of the U.S. code titled tampering with a witness, victim or an informant.

Meanwhile, "the Wall Street Journal" reported that the Trump organization`s finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, has been called to testify before a federal grand jury in the Michael Cohen probe. A former Trump organization employee told me Allen Weisselberg quote "knows where all of the financial bodies are buried within the Trump organization." Interesting choice of words there.

Joining us now is Jason Johnson, politics editor at Also joining us Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor and columnist at "the Washington Post" and Daniel Goldman, former assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. All three are MSNBC contributors.

Ruth, let`s start with you. Credibility is going to be the key portion here or the key takeaway. Donald Trump has repeatedly lied in public. It is On the Record. We have his statements. We have his contradictions. Michael Cohen, many would say he`s not trustworthy, doesn`t have credibility because he worked for Donald Trump and, I don`t know, presumably, he did things that were not truthful for Donald Trump or said things that were not truthful.

We don`t have a lot of On the Record lies or falsehoods if you want to use that word, from Michael Cohen. The only one, Ruth, that I can think of is that he told Chris Cuomo that he wasn`t recording him when he actually was. That was the story that came out a couple of days ago. So in the credibility fight, Ruth, who is going -- who do you think is going to have the upper hand?

RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, in the credibility fight you have to ask a few questions. One is who has the greater motive to lie here?

One of the things we have learned, say, from Robert Mueller is if you go to him or his investigators with a false story and lie to them, you are going to get in a lot of trouble. So if Michael Cohen is not telling the truth here because he is looking for a deal from Robert Mueller and he peddles an untrue story, he is going to get himself into a heap of trouble.

On the other hand, President Trump has some motive here to lie because it would be a very big deal, in fact, if, a, he knew about this meeting and if he had been lying to the American people about it all along.

The second thing, and Dan can speak to this, is if you have got a witness who -- or somebody who may have some credibility problems, you are going to look for corroborating evidence. What do the other people who allegedly heard this say? What happened with these phone calls around the before and after the meeting to the blocked number? Who were they? What was Don Jr.`s practice in terms of telling things to his father?

So, it is not a simple he said he said swearing contest. You can bring in other facts to buttress your case as to figure out who you should believe here.

TUR: Daniel, what else would they look for?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, one of the things you want to use to assess the credibility of someone is generally people don`t lie against their self- interest. So if Michael Cohen were to get on the stand and he were to admit to all sorts of wrongdoing and crimes and he were to say, by the way, these other people did those with me, generally you credit somebody like that because he`s admitting to his own criminal conduct.

If he`s saying, oh, I`m pointing the finger at somebody else. I didn`t do it. Then that`s more speaking in your own self-interest, and there is more motive to lie.

TUR: But right now, isn`t it in Michael Cohen`s self-interest to go out and claim these sorts of things in order to make it appear that he is more - he is more of a valuable informant or cooperator, I should say, against Donald Trump with the special counsel. If he`s more valuable to cut a deal with rather than somebody just to try to prosecute.

GOLDMAN: So it is interesting because we love this. You know, we are sitting on television and Michael Cohen is saying, oh, Donald Trump was there. Rudy Giuliani is saying he is a liar. This normally only happens in a courtroom when there is cross-examination and someone calls the cooperating witness a liar. It almost never happens in public. And the reason is because most cooperating witnesses are guided by their lawyers and they know to be quiet in public.

Michael Cohen, if he is acting in his self-interest, will be quiet because this is not helping him at all.

TUR: You have a piece in "the Daily Beast" today where you say free advice for Michael Cohen from ex-federal prosecutors, shut up.

GOLDMAN: Yes. He is not helping his cause by doing this. And to your point about, oh, let`s flag this for the SDNY or for Mueller that I have this information, he doesn`t have to do that in public. He has an incredibly able and capable experienced lawyer who is very used to having these conversations with prosecutors, who are very used to having those conversations with defense lawyers. That`s the proper way to do it. The way he is doing this in public is only hurting him.

TUR: Regardless, it is getting ugly certainly in public.

Here is a new report from Emily Jane Fox of "Vanity Fair." There is an increasing sense inside Cohen world that Trump`s former attorney is ready to torch the man he once vowed to take a bullet for, telling allies about a quote "treasure trove of material he could unleash to create headaches for Trump." There is a lot more to come, he has said. There is a lot.

Jason, what do you think of that?

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: I mean, the thing is, Katy, all he is doing, Cohen is really just confirming what most people with common sense would have assumed about President Trump anyway. Remember, you know, prior to Cohen, you know, Donald Trump used to hang around with Roy Cohn. I mean, it is not like he has a history of dealing with ethical and responsible lawyer.

So if this guy was his (INAUDIBLE), this guys was his fixer, it is highly likely that, you know, Cohen has all sorts of dangerous information about him that he could reveal. And the reason this is playing out in public is because, one, a lot of these guys like to get on TV and, two, this has become a large spitting match between these gentlemen.

You know, there are egos involved, I mean. You know, Cohen is not necessarily any more ethical than President Trump, but he may have some valuable information. And that`s why this is playing out in such a loud ugly way. It is why Rudy Giuliani is out there running his mouth and contradicting himself every other day because none of these men, regardless of what their technical positions are, whether that is President, a lawyer for the President, a lawyer protecting himself during the investigation seem to really respect the rule of law or the norms of how an investigation is supposed to happen.

TUR: Ruth, there is also this. The "Associated Press" is reporting that that lawyer, the Trump tower lawyer, the meeting that was between Don Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is a lot more well connected to the Kremlin than she claims to be. She was a ghost writer for top Russian government lawyers and received key assistance from the interior ministry in a case involving a client.

I mean, she is not being honest about her connections to the Kremlin. There were problems with the initial statement about what was actually happening at the Trump tower meeting. Donald Trump saying he had nothing to do with it and then it coming out from his lawyers that he actually dictated that statement. What else are we going to learn, Ruth?

MARCUS: Can`t wait to find out. But, you know, we were told in the original solicitation to Donald Trump Jr. precisely who she was. She was identified as a Russian government lawyer who was offering information about Hillary Clinton because the Russian government, Donald Trump Jr. was told, wanted to see Donald Trump elected President. Don`t need more than that.

What would a responsible patriotic person do in a situation like that? They would call the FBI. At the very least they would say no thank you. What did we have? We had this meeting?

And then what do we know? Donald Trump helped to orchestrate a lie about it when it was discovered. Then he lied and his people lied, his lawyers lied about whether he was involved in orchestrating that lie. So now we need to find out is he lying or telling the truth about whether he knew about the meeting at the time.

TUR: Guys, we also have something of an anniversary to celebrate. It is now two years to the day that Donald Trump called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton`s missing 30,000 emails and then I had this exchange with him. Let`s look.


TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.

TUR: You said the Russians --

TRUMP: He has no respect.

TUR: You said I welcome them to find those 30,000 emails.

TRUMP: Well, they probably have them. I would like to have them released.

TUR: Does that not give you pause?

TRUMP: No, it gives me no pause. If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I would love to see them.


TUR: Daniel, that day keeps coming up. It was in the Mueller indictment a couple of weeks ago. We know that the investigation really got started to get interesting into the Trump campaign and what they had to do with Russia because of that exchange because people in the intelligence community were like what is going on? Why is he saying that? Why would Donald Trump call on Russia specifically to find Hillary Clinton`s emails?

GOLDMAN: Prosecutors are trained not to believe in coincidences. And that doesn`t mean that they don`t exist. But you are always skeptical of coincidences. So when you see him say something like that and then it later materializes that Russia actually did have those emails, you naturally ask yourself what did he know. And that will be -- that is, I`m sure, a significant focus of the investigation. The same is true with this?

TUR: How far is it, though, to make this connection? What sort of proof will they need to make that a definitive connection?

GOLDMAN: Well, look. There is going to be internal emails, memos, text messages? There is all sorts of documentary evidence in this day and age with communications. And that will also be the case as relates to this Trump tower meeting.

When Trump promises a big speech on Hillary Clinton that is supposed to follow this meeting and then the meeting is a fail and that speech never happens, the same kind of thing is going on in both instances.

TUR: Daniel Goldman, thank you very much. Ruth Marcus, Jason Johnson, we appreciate it.

Coming up, President Trump and Vladimir Putin have now invited each other for more talks. But are they talking about how Russia is reportedly working to disrupt the election this fall?

And while President Trump is celebrating strong economic news, some Republicans are sounding the alarm about the midterms.


TUR: The President is open to visiting Moscow. That was what the White House said today in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who invited President Trump to come to the Russian capital for yet another meeting between the two world leaders.

Not only did this invitation come on the two year anniversary of Donald Trump`s invitation to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton`s emails, but it also came just hours before President Trump met with his national security counsel for their very first meeting on election security.

After that NSC meeting, the White House released a statement saying quote "the President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors.

But nowhere in the full press statement are the words Russia or Putin, despite the fact that many people in that very meeting today have concluded and believe that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and that Russia will try to meddle in our elections again.

In fact, just this week. we learned about the first identified target of Russian meddling in the 2018 elections. "The Daily Beast" first reported that the Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 cyber attacks targeted senator Claire McCaskill as she began her 2018 reelection in earnest.

In a statement, the Democratic senator, who is in a tough reelection campaign said quote "while this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Putin is a thug and a bully."

Joining us now, Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and former independent Presidential candidate. Also back with us, Ruth Marcus.

Evan, a couple days ago, Donald Trump tweeted something that opened a lot of eyes. I`m very concern that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming election. OK, people probably happy about that. He`s saying yes to that. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, some would argue on that, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats.

Huh? They definitely don`t want Trump. Vladimir Putin said last week that he wanted Donald Trump to win. What is Donald Trump doing with a tweet like this?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: He is doing what he always does, which is try to muddy the water. He tries to say, if someone accuses him of one thing, then he accuses everyone else serves of his opponent of that same thing. So that it becomes a --

TUR: It I`m rubber, you are glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and stick to you.

MCMULLIN: Absolutely. And I know it sounds childish. It is childish, but actually I think it works. And when I say it works, I`m not saying that it is a good thing. It is not a good thing at all. But what happens is, you know, and I talk to Americans across the country, and they are busy. They are getting their kids to school. They are working hard to make ends meet.

And what they hear, they get bits and pieces of this back and forth where somebody says the President is doing this thing wrong or he is this or he is that and the President uses those same words against them. And people just throw up their hands and say, look, I can`t tell what`s going on. I can`t tell what`s true, what`s right, what`s wrong. And they give up and they turn off. And that`s sort of one of the most alarming things. But it is a seemingly silly tactic but it does have an impact, unfortunately.

TUR: You know, interestingly, last week, I was filling in for this show, and I told people what my favorite analogy for Trump is, which is he has a white shirt. He gets a stain on his shirt. Instead of changing his shirt because there is a stain there, he`s just staining his shirt with whatever he has on hand, ketchup, mustard, whatever. And then people look and they say, oh, the shirt is supposed to be like that.

MCMULLIN: I heard you say that, and I agreed. Absolutely, that`s the tactic.

TUR: Ruth, it is not just the President who is throwing this sort of stuff out. It is now John Bolton, his national security advisor. John Bolton, who before this, I guess, was a very strong Russia hawk. But now he is saying the President believes the meeting should take after the Russia witch hunt is over. So we have agreed it will be after the 1st of the year. What is John Bolton doing, Ruth?

MARCUS: You know, I first met John Bolton many years ago during the Reagan administration when he was an official at the department of justice whose investigation he was now trashing. And that`s just really shameful.

I think that comment was one of those audience of one comments we see from administration officials so often. That`s just a comment that`s sucking up to the President using the kind of language the President likes.

But I want to say something. I think everything Evan said was right. But I think he is actually being a little too kind to President Trump. I know that`s not your usual MO, Evan, which is in this way.

It is not just that it`s I am rubber, you are glue. The President is laying the potential predicate when he talks about the Russians intervening now on behalf of Democrats to do something that he liked to do in the 2016 campaign, which is to complain that it is rigged. So if the Democrats win, is it going to be because the election was rigged? Is it going to be because the Russians rigged the election for them? This is a very, very dangerous argument for him to be making. It is just appalling.

TUR: I`m glad you brought that up, Ruth. Because I think this is one of the things that when we talk about the 2016 election, this is one of those things that people don`t remember very well. What Donald Trump was doing in the last month of the election. We talk about WikiLeaks a lot. But he was also going out and claiming that there is a global conspiracy run by the media elites that was trying to keep him out of office and keep the every day man Donald Trump supporter, the working man down. They are trying to do this because they are trying to protect their special interests.

He was saying these dog whistle sorts of things at the end of the campaign. And when I read that tweet about they definitely want the Democrats, I read it in the same way, which is that this is him laying the ground work for a rigged election because he thinks the Democrats have a good chance of winning in the same way that he thought in 2016 he was going to lose and Hillary Clinton was going to win.

MARCUS: When he wins, it`s the biggest, most amazing, most historic victory and, you know, no matter what the popular vote was. But if he loses, he is just going to do everything he can to dismiss the legitimacy of it. And that is actually really what the Russians want. They want Americans not to be able to trust in their democracy or trust in their elections. And he is aiding and abetting them when he does this.

TUR: Well, this sort of thing is not going to help. Here is a new reporting from Ken Dilanian. Current and former officials tell NBC News that 19 months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference. And no single person or agency in-charge.

In the statement, White House took issue with that saying, a strategy was put in motion when Donald Trump took office. No such strategy has been made public or even mentioned before.

Evan, they don`t -- I mean, they don`t seem to have a strategy in place.

MCMULLIN: There is not a strategy. That`s -- there is not a whole of government strategy. Individual agencies and leaders within agencies are certainly taking the action that they can take. But the President has certain authorities, authorities to bring these agencies together, authorities to coordinate their efforts, authorities to deconflict their efforts, to make sure they`re efficient and effective. Without the President`s leadership, we can`t respond the way we need to respond.

TUR: So when Claire McCaskill`s office doesn`t fall for the phishing scam, that fancy bear tried to use to get into her emails, the way they got to John Podesta`s email, is that just luck?

MCMULLIN: Is it just luck that she didn`t fall for it?

TUR: Is it just luck that somebody didn`t click on an email that seem -- ? Because the email was made to look like it was coming from the Microsoft server. Microsoft saying you need to change your password. The prompt looked legitimate. It just brought you to a fake Web site where they were able to use that to get into the email.


TUR: Is it just luck that somebody didn`t by chance click on it this time.

MCMULLIN: Well, look. I think everyone is getting smarter, especially in campaigns about needing to protect information. But I would say that I would shy away if I were her, if I were the Senate and I`m sure he gets this very well from conclusively stating that she hasn`t been effectively hacked. She won`t know that until it`s too late. That`s the reality.

So, you know, I`m very concerned. And I think we are going to see -- Microsoft has already acknowledged that other 2018 candidates have already been hacked. I think over time, we are going to learn and I have reason to believe that we will, that other candidates in difficult races, Democrats in the Senate, are being attacked. And the reason for that is they are vulnerable. And the result of their elections will impact the President and his -- you know, his longevity potential as President if he is impeached in the House.

So what happens in the Senate really matters. And it will likely hinge on just a couple of races.

TUR: Microsoft has said at least two other candidates, I don`t know who these candidates - we don`t know who these candidates are. There is also, remember the DCCC emails that Russia was able to get a hold of for the 2016 election that haven`t really made an appearance quite yet. So we`ll see what happens with that.

Evan McMillan and Ruth Marcus, thank you very much.

TUR: Coming up, the Trump administration went to court today to defend keeping hundreds of kids away from their parents. That is next.

And later, some Republicans are worried the President will overhype the economic successes because not everyone is feeling the benefits.


TUR: The Trump administration has missed a court ordered deadline to reunite 2,551 migrant children with their parents. In a high stakes showdown with the ACLU in a San Diego courtroom today, the government argued that all eligible children have been reunified. In the hearing, the government revealed that 1,820 children have been reunited with their parents. So what are these next steps for these newly reunited families?

According to the government, 1,000 families could face immediate deportation. Six hundred families have been released under supervision in their communities, 392 families are still being detained and being held in ICE custody. This still leaves 650 children the government deems ineligible for reunification because their parents have already been deported.

We should never forget that these are numbers. These are children. This isn`t an accounting exercise. These children`s lives have been forever changed by separation and detainment at the hands of the U.S. government. Here are some of those children in their own words. Nine-year-old Diego told the "Washington Post," "I felt like a prisoner. I felt like a dog."

Eight-year-old Sandy (ph) said, "They always kept the boys and the girls separate and they punished us if we went near each other. They told us to behave or we`d be there forever."

A 10-year-old girl told the court, "I didn`t cry the first day when I was at this facility, but I began crying all the time on the second and third day because I missed my mother. The majority of the other girls in my cell were also crying the whole time I was there. The lights were always on. There were no windows and I didn`t know whether it was day or not. I never got to see my mom until we left the facility."

A phone call between a detained seven-year-old boy named Osmond (ph) and his mother in Guatemala was captured by "Vice News" tonight on HBO.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Are you OK there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When you want to talk to me tell them that you went to school with me, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, Mommy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Can you talk more?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Not anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Don`t cry my love. Be happy. You`ll get out of there soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every time I go to sleep I pray for you.


TUR: That boy is seven years old. The ACLU has asked the court to block any deportations for seven days upon notice of the family`s reunifications. Judge Dana Sabraw will issue an order on this matter and next steps for the 650 children still waiting to be reunited with their families.

But at today`s hearing, the judge noted, "This problem cannot repeat. What was lost in the process was the family. There has to be a procedure or protocol in place." Joining us now from San Diego is MSNBC`s Jacob Soboroff who was at today`s hearing and Maria Teresa Kumar, the president and CEO of Voto Latino and MSNBC contributor. Jacob, what is the latest?

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Katy, the name of the game was to reunite the 2,551 kids that the Trump administration systematically separated from their parents and put into the cages like the ones that I saw down in McAllen, Texas. And the reason I wanted to come down here today to the court in San Diego was to see if the Trump administration was going to reunite the children beyond those that they deemed "eligible for reunification," about 1,800 of them.

We`ve been asking them the last couple of days if they had any plans to do so and they wouldn`t say to us if they did. It turns out in that courtroom today, it became very clear they had no plans to reunite what they called ineligible children and only because the judge has said now that he will issue an order to reunite 651 ineligible children with their parents, including 431 what he called missing parents.

Parents that have already been deported outside of this country and can`t actually get back in the country in order to be reunited with the kids, and that may end up happening at all. And that`s on top of the 1,000 reunited families that have orders for immediate deportation. And that`s what that other order is about that we`re waiting for from the judge. We didn`t get it today. But we expect it over the weekend or Monday to either stay those deportations so the ACLU can get to them and help them not to deport if they actually have a valid asylum claim or not.

TUR: Jacob, hold on, when you talk about ineligible parents, I think that word can be a bit confusing. The government is using it to make it a blanket statement. People will assume that that means all of those parents have committed crimes or there is something dangerous involved. Is that what that word actually means?

SOBOROFF: No, absolutely not. Actually -- let me be very clear. The kids in that ineligible category were separated in the exact same way from the people that they came with, that the kids in the eligible category were as well. There is a relatively small group in that category of around 650 at this point, of children whose parents have committed some form of crime. We don`t know the seriousness of that crime, and that came out today inside the courtroom.

The largest portion of that group are the 431 parents that have already been kicked out of the country without the children and the children now are sitting here in the United States with no way to actually get back to those parents and the parents certainly categorically can`t come back into this country to be reunited with the children. They are essentially stranded here in the United States at this point and that`s all that ineligible really means.

TUR: Well Maria, the ACLU is arguing that a lot of those parents that were deported didn`t actually understand what they were doing when they signed the waiver for deportation, that they were told they were going to be reunified with their kids pretty quickly after they were deported only to get deported and realize that there is no process in place to get them their kids back quickly.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That is (inaudible) and that many of these individuals that were coming, that were fleeing places such as Guatemala were actually not even native Spanish speakers. Their native tongue is indigenous and so even when people were trying to explain the paperwork, they didn`t know what they were signing.

We have heard cases where a father has been -- was promised that they were going to -- he was going to be reunited with his child on the airplane only to find that his child was not there and he was already in flight. And what we`re seeing now and what we`re hearing is that a lot of nongovernment -- NGOs -- are going down to Guatemala down to Honduras trying to find needles in haystacks trying to identify these parents so that they could basically do the government work to reunite these folks.

And Katy, what I tell you is that the government had no plan. They basically said that they were going to use this as a deterrent. This was something that they crafted to exact maximum pain on people already fleeing horrible -- horrendous conditions. These folks were fleeing violence. They were trying to protect their family. They were traversing two to three countries with basically just the clothes on their back to give their kids a better shot.

And instead of following international asylum laws, this government exacted completely the opposite. The U.N. has basically said that what the government did was actually against -- it was violating the rights of the children and we have to figure out how do we quickly reunify these parents. So, I (inaudible) to the judge that basically said that (inaudible) that he has to put a plan in place and also that we have to create rules and regulations and oversight so that these separate departments, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Human Services, actually make sure that this does not happen again.

TUR: We rely on the numbers that report this story because we can`t get to a lot of these families. They have already been deported. We can`t locate them and we certainly can`t get to any of the kids. The government has been keeping cameras out, so you don`t get to put a face adequately to these stories. And I think the problem with that is that you`re not getting the full impact of what`s going on and what it is like for these children to be inside these detention centers away from their parents and how scary that must be.

KUMAR: Right. And Katy, some of these children can barely speak, right. So some of them are two, three, four years-old and so we are finding stories with the parents saying that the child does not recognize them. Well that`s because they haven`t seen them for two, three, four, five months as well.

TUR: Marie and Jacob, thank you very much.

KUMAR: Thank you Katy.

TUR: And coming up, the economy is doing great according to the president. So, why are some Republicans still worried? That`s next.


TUR: With 102 days until the midterm elections, President Trump took a victory lap today after it was reported the economy grew at a rate of 4.1 percent in the second quarter.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have accomplished an economic turn around of historic proportions.


TUR: That right there would be news to FDR. The Associated Press said Trump`s claim of a historic economic turnaround is false. The economy was on the upswing when Trump took office in 2017. CNBC`s John Harwood put today`s number in the context of other recent presidents which show this quarter would rank fifth best under Obama, fifth under George W. Bush, 13th under Clinton, fifth under George H.W. Bush and 14th best under Reagan. President Trump also made a prediction based on today`s numbers.


TRUMP: These numbers are very, very sustainable. This isn`t a one time shot. I happen to think we are going to do extraordinarily well in our next report next quarter. I think it is going to be outstanding.


TUR: "The New York Times" reports today that economists outside the administration caution that the latest acceleration is unsustainable in the long term and could raise the risk that the recovery will flame out in the years ahead.

And other economic analyst told the "Washington Post," Trump has to be careful not to overhype this. There are still areas of the country that have not fully come back, and that`s Trump`s constituency.

Today`s economic growth numbers, the unemployment rate very low at 4 percent and the Dow above 25,000 indicate that the economy overall is strong and it is where Donald Trump gets his strongest numbers in polls. A new national Quinnipiac poll this week shows Trump`s overall job approval at a dismal 38 percent with 58 percent disapproval.

But am NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken earlier this month shows a majority of voters, 50 percent approve of the job Trump is doing on the economy. That same poll shows voters said the economy and jobs are their number one issue. The old political wisdom says, "it`s the economy, stupid." But does that still apply in the Trump era?


TRUMP: So many things have taken place, but the economy is the strongest ever and I think that`s going to have a very positive impact. And I am going to work very hard. I will go six or seven days a week when we`re 60 days out and I will be campaigning for all of these great people that do have a difficult race. And we think we are going to bring them over the line so I really believe that because we`re doing so well as a country and so well with the economy, I think we`re going to be surprising a lot of people.


TUR: Jared Bernstein and Jason Johnson join us next.



TRUMP: We`re having the best economy we`ve ever had in the history of our country and this is the time -- this is the time to -- right. This is the time to straighten out the worst trade deals ever made by any country on earth ever in history.


TUR: God, then hyperbole with that guy. Joining us now is Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was the former chief economist and economic policy advisor to Vice President Biden and Jason Johnson is back with us. Hyperbole, everything is the best or the worst with the president.


TUR: It`s wild. Jared, listen, economists are going to debate whether Donald Trump deserves any credit or whether this is going to sustain itself, this economic numbers or whether it`s actually as good as it looks because what you`re seeing in wages is not as good as what you`re seeing with just these baseline economic numbers. Wages aren`t rising.

But when you talk to most people out there, they`re not economist. They`re seeing that the Dow is up and everything is plugging along and unemployment is down and they might say, hey, Donald Trump is doing a great job. I mean, look at this. In one of our recent polls, voters in blue wall states and Trump country -- blue wall states rate Trump on the economy.

Four in 10 voters in all three states -- this is Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota -- say the economy has improved and give Trump some credit. One- third doesn`t give him any credit and a fourth say it`s not improved. Jared, what`s breaking through?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I don`t really think that the big GDP number that we got today is breaking through in the way that Trump and the White House would like it to precisely because we just have this long term structural inequality problem in America. And people understand that in the form of their paychecks.

So they hear GDP is going up 4 percent. They hear the stock market is going up big time. And they recognize that their paycheck in real terms has been pretty flat. Now, that doesn`t mean that people aren`t benefitting from a strong labor market. There are a lot of jobs out there but there is more jobs quantity than there is job quality.

And so given the range of the statistics that you just rattled off, you`d think that the folks impression of the economy would be probably better than it is. So, I don`t think that it`s not hurting the president by a long shot. It`s probably not helping him as much as it would if it were reaching more people.

TUR: Jason, how are the Democrats seizing on an economic message to fight against Donald Trump?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, the Democrat`s message of course is about income equality. They`re going to talk about, you know, the fight for 15 and those other issues. But Katy, what this really boils down to is understanding why Donald Trump got elected. I mean, he got elected in part because of racial animus.

You just had a certain number of Trump voters who hated having a black president and had wanted to vote for him. He had some who voted for him because he was a Republican, some who voted for Donald Trump because they wanted change. And if you look at it, even though the economy has been good, his approval ratings are still trash in lots of Midwestern seats.

And the reason is because Americans are now nominally used to a halfway decent economy but they see the policies he`s engaging in. They see what`s happening with Russia. They see what`s happening with kids being locked in cages in the border. They see what happens with banning transgender people from the military.

All these different issues, that doesn`t make people happy during a midterm. So, if the economy got worse, it would definitely damage Trump and damage the Republicans but a good economy alone is not enough to save them this fall and not enough to save this president.

TUR: Donald Trump`s win is often attributed to economic anxiety, Jason. Is it really economic anxiety or is that a word that was masking something else that`s still there?

JOHNSON: Yes. That was a word that was masking something else. And I tell you this as somebody who was teaching in Ohio at the time, Donald Trump support ran across all socioeconomic levels. All the data proved that he got college educated rights. He got working class right people. This was about ethnic identity. This was about a certain swath of American voters who think that changing demographics in America are dangerous and they wanted someone to fight back against the Obama era.

The idea of economic anxiety or that economics in general is the greatest strength of this president, it`s never been true. It`s never been true in his campaign and it`s not going to be true in the future. But what we will see and if this is a non-sustainable economic growth that we`re having right now, if the economy goes bad, we can imagine his number will go into the 20s.

TUR: Jared, one number that`s not good for Donald Trump is the deficit and Trump`s tax cuts are causing a trillion dollar deficit. The "New York Times" has a new article about it. What is the deficit going to mean for regular folks?

BERNSTEIN: Probably not nearly as much as you might think. I mean, polling results for a long time now show that people put the deficit really very low on their list. What matters is kind of what`s showing up in your paycheck and how you feel about the general economy. Inflation is certainly very real to people and that`s been ticking up lately, by the way.

But in terms of the budget deficit, I think where that might show up is in the following lane that links to something Jason was talking about. Somewhere out there, nobody knows where, is the next recession, the next downturn. And what you`re going to hear from the Congress is that we put too much spending on the credit card.

The debt to GDP ratio is getting close to 80 percent and we therefore we can`t afford in economic terms, if you don`t have the fiscal space in order to counter at the recession with the kind of fiscal policies that you need. The sort of steps we did in the last recession, you know, that was actually quite helpful.

So, I think at the end of the day, the deficit isn`t going to resonate until perhaps in a downturn when Congress points to it and says here is why we can`t help you.

TUR: Jared Bernstein, you make it all clear. Thank you very much. Jason Johnson, thank you to you as well. Tonight`s "Last Word" is next.


TUR: Now for the good news, the Mamie Johnson little league team beat the Capitol Hill little league team Tuesday to win the District of Columbia championship. They are now headed to the regionals in Connecticut. The tournament has been held for 31 years and the Mimi Johnson team is the first all African-American team to win.

The team was established in 2015 for boys and girls in Ward 7, an economically challenged area of Washington. The league was named in honor of Mamie Peanut Johnson, the first woman pitcher in the Negro Leagues. One of three women added to the roster in 1953 as a novelty. She turned out to be a star. Johnson died this year at age 82. Before the big game Tuesday, the boys made sure to make it clear who they played for. They cheered for Mamie.


MAMIE JOHNSON, PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER: I used to think, hey, I know I can`t do this because they wouldn`t let the white boys play with the black boys, you know. And the black boys are not even players so I know I`m not going to make it there. So, you know, I kept playing and playing. I said one day I`m going to play baseball.


TUR: Girl power. That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts right now.


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