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FBI arrests suspect. TRANSCRIPT: 8/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Stephanie Valencia, Malcolm Nance, Annise Parker

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  On Monday, one of the things we`re going to be watching is the start of the criminal trial for former White House counsel in the Obama administration, Gregory Craig. He`s the only Democratic administration official who`s been caught up in any of the prosecutions that derive from the Mueller investigation.

Mueller`s team passed on the Greg Craig prosecution to other federal prosecutors. That trial is going to start on Monday. They had initially charged him with two felony counts. A judge this week threw out one of the two felony charges.

So he`s just going forward on one felony count related to work he did in conjunction with President Trump`s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. It should be a fascinating trial that`s going to start on Monday.  We`ll be watching that before we get back to you here on Monday night. Now it`s time for the "Last Word." Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. You have yourself a fantastic weekend and we`re watching for this on Monday.

MADDOW:  Thank you. Appreciate it.

VELSHI:  I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell on this Friday night.

Breaking news, the FBI has arrested a Nevada man who they believe wanted to attack LGBT and Jewish targets and he was promoting white supremacists ideology. Agents say the suspect had illegal firearms and had bomb making materials.

We`ll have more on that in just a few minutes but we begin tonight with the president`s own accusations of encouraging white supremacists and the continued backlash over Donald Trump`s divisive and inflammatory rhetoric leading up to the deadliest attack targeting Latinos in recent U.S. history.

The El Paso shooter`s manifesto referenced Trump`s language saying his attack was quote "response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas." And in an affidavit filed today "The New York Times" reports that the shooter divulged to the police that his target was Mexicans. The very same people that President Trump slandered the day he announced his campaign for president in this video here.

A "USA Today" analysis of the rallies Trump has held since 2017 found that Trump has used the words predator, invasion, alien, killer, criminal and animal at his rallies while discussing immigration more than 500 times. The Trump administration isn`t treating these people any better.

The administration is accused of intentionally separating children from their parents at the border and caging them in overcrowded detentions, sleeping on concrete floors with insufficient food or showers. Today, child welfare services are grappling with caring for children who were left stranded after ICE arrested nearly 700 undocumented workers in Mississippi on Wednesday, the largest raid in a single state in U.S. history.

Roughly 300 of those people are still being detained. "BuzzFeed" reported that hundreds of children across Mississippi missed school yesterday because they were afraid to leave their homes. School and welfare agencies were not alerted about the raids because it could have botched the operation, ICE officials told NBC News.

As one ICE Official said, "We`re a law enforcement agency, not a social services agency." One worker who witnessed the raids said. "I`m thinking of the separated families, fathers and mothers deported, children left alone because their parents were arrested. What I saw was traumatic, painful." Well, traumatic and painful, but the cruelty is the point. Today Donald Trump was asked specifically about this lack of preparation.


KRISTIN WELKER, JOURNALIST, NBC NEWS:  Why wasn`t there a better plan in place to deal with the migrant children in Mississippi?

DONALD TRUMP. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The reason is because you have to go in, you can`t let anybody know. Otherwise when you get there, nobody will be there. But I want people to know that if they come into the United States illegally they`re getting out, they`re going to be brought out. And this serves as a very good deterrent.


VELSHI:  A very good deterrent. "The Atlantic`s" Adam Serwer says that the real deterrent is exactly the cruel conditions immigrants and asylum seekers face at the border under President Trump.

In his piece entitled -- from last year -- entitled "The Cruelty is the Point," Serwer writes. "Trump`s only true skill it the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty and the delight it brings them that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear."

But Donald Trump`s immigration policy is causing pain on the other side of the border as well. NBC News correspondent Cal Perry crossed the border to see how Mexico is handling the overflow of migrants and those deported from the United States and join us live from Mexico City. Good evening, Cal.

CAL PERRY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, good evening, Ali. As you said, this administration is changing immigration and asylum in America. They`re changing what it means to be an immigrant in America. But as we found out, these policies have a wide ranging impact that go beyond America`s borders. In this case all the way to Mexico`s border with Guatemala.


PERRY (voice-over):  In Tapachula, Mexico most people are from somewhere else, and everybody has a story.

Did you think about going to the U.S.?


PERRY (on camera):  Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because I got deported already.

PERRY (on camera):  What is it like here in Tapachula?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don`t know. It`s bad for the expression but it`s not good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right now the situation in America is very difficult for illegal immigrants.

PERRY (voice-over):  President Trump isn`t just affecting the lives of migrants. He`s shifting policy inside Mexico. His tune on the country has recently not so subtly shifted.

TRUMP:  I want to thank, by the way, the country of Mexico. They`ve got 21,000 soldiers on the border right now. I`m starting to like Mexico a lot.

PERRY (on camera):  This is the new reality for the Mexican government ever since President Trump threatened this country with tariffs, 11,000 new National Guardsmen have been stood up along the border with Guatemala. For the commander here and his personnel, the mission is as tenuous as the politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation):  Our function is to give security and support the immigration department.

PERRY (voice-over):  For security reasons, the military insisted we conceal his identity.

What`s the stated mission of the soldiers who have been stood up here on the border?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation):  We can`t hit them, we can`t touch them, can`t follow the migrant.

PERRY (voice-over):  Traveling back and forth between Mexico and Guatemala has been a part of daily life and commerce for centuries. It`s only in the era of President Trump that you now officially need an I.D. when reaching the Mexican side of the river.

PERRY (on camera):  That show of force along the border with Guatemala is only half the story. The Mexican government is setting up centers like this one in an attempt to get migrants to register. It`s their way of trying to bring some semblance of order in what is very clearly a chaotic situation.

PERRY (voice-over):  People from all over the world queue up and jockey for position by the gates that seem to swing open at random. Authorities both eager to get people into the system and at the same time are overwhelmed by the volume of human traffic.

All the while people are stuck here, many after a treacherous journey, afraid still to show their faces. Fearing it`ll hurt their chances of eventually making it to the United States.

As night falls on this border town, we meet Ishmael (ph). His parents brought him to California when he was only 3 years old. Recently deported, he`s trying to get back to the only life and family he knows.

PERRY (on camera):  Are you trying to get back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am. I am trying to get back.

PERRY (on camera):  How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Either legally or if possible illegal.

PERRY (on camera):  So, you would cross back illegally if you have to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, definitely.  Just to be back with my family.


PERRY (on camera):  Ali, Ishmael told us he feels like a foreigner living in Mexico, that he`ll do whatever it takes to get back to his family in California even if he dies trying to cross illegally. Look, as you said, these policies are advertised as deterrents, in many ways they are. But the cost of that is human suffering, people in detention, people who have been separated from their families, deportations or in this case, people stuck at international borders unable to move in either direction. Ali.

VELSHI:  All right, Cal, stay with us. I want to bring in Stephanie Valencia. She`s on the advisory board of the Latino Victory Fund and is co- founder of Equis Labs, and Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and an MSNBC legal analyst. She wrote a new piece about her experiences as a prosecutor with ICE. Welcome to both of you.

Stephanie, you and I spoke earlier this week. I want to get your take. It`s been a remarkable week for Latinos, Hispanics in America both with the killings from last weekend, the targeted killings, then with the ICE roundup in Mississippi. You said to be last week that things have changed, people are becoming aware of the fact that this targeting now has a price.

STEPHANIE VALENCIA, ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER, LATINO VICTORY FUND:  Absolutely. And trust me, Ali, there are a lot -- many more places I`d rather be on a Friday night than talking about the kind of attacks on the Hispanic and immigrant communities that have happened over the last week, and quite frankly over the last several years.

I think what was clear from Cal`s piece is that, you know, the slash and burn approach to Trump`s immigration policy is not solving the root causes of migration. People are coming to this country because they are fleeing violence and persecution. And they come here to seek a better life and more safety for themselves and their families.

And in addition to that, we have an economy as we saw earlier this week with the Mississippi immigration raids, an economy that relies on immigrant labor, and we cannot be hypocrites as American citizens here, including Donald Trump, who "The Washington Post" again revealed earlier today in a piece, had the reliance of immigrant labor at his hotels.

And so we as a country need to understand that our economy ultimately does rely on immigrant labor and that, you know, people who are literally putting food on our table, chicken that we -- many of you probably had in chicken salads earlier this week, were people that were separated from their families.

Whether it`s DACA, large scale immigration raids targeting workers, but not employers, whether it is kids in cages at the border or rounding up and starting to detain U.S. citizens, which has happened multiple times under the Trump administration.

The slash and burn policy is not working, and there is only one thing to think is that, you know, ultimately he`s going after the Hispanic and immigrant community. Obviously, the messages that he`s sending is resulting in acts of violence on our community in places like El Paso.

And so we have to put a stop to it, and we have to stand up. And what wave seen in the last week is we`ve seen lots of leaders, hundreds of leaders signed onto our op-ed that ran in "The Washington Post" earlier this week. But people are fed up and people are awake.

VELSHI:  And you were one of the authors of that op-ed. Joyce, let`s talk about when President Trump became president and John Kelly was his Homeland Security secretary, they talked about the fact that if you were not a serious criminal or a criminal, you were not going to be targeted for deportation.

His elegant term for it was bad hombres. But they were talking about the kind of people who are a threat to society, a menace to society. In fact, to Stephanie`s point, many of the people who we know, we have reported on who have been targeted for immigration action and deportation have been people who have been working in the United States 5, 10, 15, 20.

We know of instances 25 to 30 years including some of these people who were arrested in Mississippi. Tell me about how we`re supposed to think about these ICE raids because you were a prosecutor who had jurisdiction over some of these things.

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYS:  So the way you think about this sort of a situation as a prosecutor is it`s important to prosecute the most culpable people and the people who represent the greatest threat to your community. In a situation like this, that would mean seeing if you can prosecute the employers who after all are the ones who were employing all these people illegally.

And also if you`re going to look at people who were in the country without legal immigration status, you want to focus on removing those who were violent, those who were engaged in criminal activity. Both of those items should be the priorities, but this week we saw law enforcement go after, you know, what prosecutors would call low hanging fruit, going into a workplace and arresting people who were at their jobs.

VELSHI:  And Stephanie, I want to play -- people have maybe seen this before, but I think it`s important to play a little bit of the sound of an 11-year-old girl whose father was taken in the ICE raids in Mississippi. I want to talk to you on the other side about this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Government, please put your heart. Let my parents be free with everybody else please. Don`t leave the child who are crying and everything. I need my dad and mommy. My dad didn`t do nothing. He`s not a criminal.


VELSHI:  Stephanie, those images, that girl tells us a story that we have been covering for the last -- more than the last year, about a line we cross when it comes to humanity, right? That girl, her father was arrested, but we have seen children who have been detained.

We have seen children detained at a cost to taxpayers that would be higher than spending a night in a Four Seasons hotel who don`t get clothes and who don`t get toothpaste and who don`t get showers. What -- this is about more than immigration. This becomes our humanity.

VALENCIA:  It absolutely is. It absolutely is. And that little girl`s voice has kept me up at night, all week since the Mississippi raid happened.

And for people who aren`t shaken to their core by hearing that and hearing the fear and sadness in her voice because she does not know the next time she is going to see her father, and was picked up on the first day of school for her, which should be a joyful and happy day for a kid her age.

You know, this is call to conscience for all Americans like, do we -- are we okay as United States citizens, with the way that we are treating people like that who again, who are part of our communities, who are putting food on our table, who are doing back breaking work in our country?

Are we okay with how they are being treated and I think this is call to conscience. I think the images that we see of children being separated from their parents, of kids in physical cages, you know, it really is awakening a set of people beyond just the Hispanic community.

The Hispanic community and the immigrant community in this country feels very much under attack, but I think that because of what we are seeing and what we are hearing every single day now, I think a broader set of people are becoming aware and they are angry about it.

And I do think that this is also a wake-up call for Republicans to step up and be a call to conscience, you know, and really speak and work with their conscience. I think as Joyce said, we should really be thinking about how we create an immigration system that works to put a pathway to, you know, put many of these folks on a pathway to citizenship.


VALENCIA:  But to also focus our enforcement resources where they matter most, which is getting, you know, the scariest criminals out of our country. But I think ultimately this is the time for us to rethink what immigration in this country should be moving forward.

VELSHI:  Yes. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, right. You can keep those hardworking people who are in this country here, Cal, and you can completely put your enforcement efforts behind people who are conducting, you know, criminality and behavior that is unsafe for Americans. Cal?

PERRY:  Right. And listen, don`t forget, 300 of the 600 people that were swept up in those raids were Americans, right. I think Donald Trump and Stephen Miller, and I think we need to say that name, Stephen Miller, are changing the fabric of what the means to be American and what it means for America.

You know the thing about traveling around the world and reporting and then returning home to America is that America is the place that protects people. America is the safe place that people can come, that they can apply for asylum when they`ve reached America and they`re on American soil.

And what`s happening now is they`re going in detention facilities. We`re putting kids in cages. We`re separating families. We`re deporting people including Americans. And it has not only changed the fabric of America, but it has changed how the world is looking at the United States of America.

People here in Mexico are afraid on the front pages of the papers. There was quotes from this gunman that said, "I was trying to shoot as many Mexicans as I could," and we didn`t hear anything from the president of the United States for 48 hours. People here noticed that and they`re talking about it, Ali.

VELSHI:  Joyce, Brett Stevens, conservative has written in "The New York Times," "that the right attempt to down-play this specifically ideological complex of the El Paso massacre is a transparently self-serving effort to absolve this president of moral responsibility for his damaging rhetoric. This, too, shouldn`t wash. The president is guilty in a broad sense of a form of incitement."

To Stephanie`s point, this is as clear an opportunity as one gets for Republicans to be able to say this isn`t America. This is a bridge too far. But that doesn`t seem to move this president.

VANCE:  It really doesn`t, Ali. And if this president wanted to disassociate himself with that sort of racist sentiment, he could very clearly take to twitter or do an interview and say I don`t want anyone to harm Mexicans.

You know, whether these people are legally in our country or not, American citizens of Hispanic origin, no one should use violence against other people. And I think it`s remarkable that from Charlottesville on, we`ve not seen this president make any sort of statement like that at any point in time.

Every Republican elected official needs to be asked if they believe if they continue to stand with the president or how they view the need for violence in this society.

VELSHI:  Joyce Vance, Stephanie Valencia, Cal Perry, thank you all for your contribution to understanding this very troubling issue.

Coming up, breaking news that the federal government has arrested a suspected white supremacists who was allegedly planning to attack Jewish and LGBT targets armed with an assault rifle.

And is President Trump pushing Texas toward the Democrat? Former Houston mayor Annise Parker thinks it`s possible. She`s going to join me at the end of the hour.


VELSHI:  Amid controversy at Fox News over Tucker Carlson insisting that white supremacy is a hoax and the Trump administration refusing to give Congress data on white supremacist domestic terrorism, we have breaking news tonight.

Just six days after a white supremacist killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, the FBI has arrested a white supremacist in Las Vegas who was allegedly in possession of illegal firearms and bomb making materials. Twenty-three year-old Conor Climo was arrested Thursday morning and charged with one count of possession of an unregistered firearm.

According to the criminal complaint, the FBI seized an AR-15 rifle and a bolt action rifle from Climo`s bedroom along with bomb making components. Climo allegedly discussed attacking a Las Vegas synagogue and a bar that he believed catered to the LGBTQ community. Climo also reportedly used derogatory racial anti-Semitic and homosexual slurs in online conversations.

In 2016, a local Las Vegas news report featured Conor Climo patrolling his Las Vegas neighborhood in a tactical vest carrying AR-15 style assault rifle and 120 rounds of ammunition. Climo faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Joining me now is Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive programming at SiriusXM radio and an MSNBC political analyst and Joyce Vance is back with us. She has extensive experience prosecuting possession of illegal firearms and destructive devices cases.

Joyce, good to have you back. Zerlina, good to see you. Zerlina, this complaint as I read it is detailed and remarkably disturbing. Not just in what he`s alleged to have planned, but in his degree of comfort --


VELSHI:  -- in talking about it freely to the FBI, and as we saw, in news have planned but in his degree of comfort in talking about it freely to the FBI, and as we saw in news reports.

MAXWELL:  Well, I think that we`ve reached a point in this particular moment in history where it`s all out in the open and there is no shame attached with having these kinds of feelings, expressing them out loud, going onto these forums, sort of finding your tribe so to speak and going back and forth with ideas and slurs.

I think what`s most disturbing -- not just that he`s a security guard by day, that`s alarming.

VELSHI:  Right.

MAXWELL:  There needs to probably be a better vetting process for that employer. But that he had bomb making materials.


MAXWELL:  Which is separate and apart from the conversation we`ve been having all week about access to AR-15 and assault-style rifles.

VELSHI:  Right. Correct.

MAXWELL:  So I think that when you`re talking about the FBI being able to find these folks who want to do people of color harm, you know, the addition or the necessity for bomb making material to sort of flag this person and the FBI to take action, that`s really alarming to me.

I`m glad that the FBI was able to do something and intervene before anybody got hurt, but it seems like, you know, you shouldn`t need to have the pieces of a bomb in order to be flagged by the authorities.

VELSHI:  To flag -- and Joyce, the complaint details the work that the FBI did. And it does seem quite impressive that they were able to coax out this guy had -- I mean, he was ready to burn up a synagogue. He wanted to set fire to it, explode a bomb and kill everybody inside.

But what`s Zerlina says is interesting to me and I`d love to get your take on this as a prosecutor. The fact that these things seem to be out in the open, the fact that there does not seem to be shame associated with going out in the media and saying what you believe about people, is that good or bad from an investigative and prosecutorial standpoint?

VANCE:  You know, what we know from the complaint in this case is that this defendant was talking online in chat rooms to undercover employees. First, to a confidential source and later to an FBI online employee. It`s unlikely that they were telling him that they were law enforcement.

They were instead learning about his intent, whether he was committed to staying in the Nevada area and so forth. And he was remarkably forthcoming. Apparently, there is in fact a space online where people feel very comfortable talking about their desire to harm people because of their religion or because they are a part of the LGBTQ community.

It is a good thing for law enforcement, though, because it means that here that the FBI was able to prevent a crime. It`s not another El Paso where we`re looking at the aftermath. And the line that Zerlina is talking about here, why do we have to wait until he has a bomb.

The FBI has to be careful. They can`t prosecute someone for speech. But here where there`s the actual potential for violence he`s crossed the law - -

VELSHI:  I want to just -- we`re going to get Joyce back in a second. I want to just play a remarkable clip that appeared on Las Vegas` ABC station in 2016 in which they were focusing on this Conor Climo because he was walking around in tactical outfits with a very serious weapon. Let`s just watch a bit of this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How many bullets are in here?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Times four magazines, Conor Climo says the weapons are necessary since he`s patrolling alone.

CLIMO:  If there is a possibly very determined enemym, we have at least the means to deal with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So you were briefly in the army?

CLIMO:  Very briefly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That`s all Conor would say about that. As far as what he`s going to be looking for.

Define suspicious activity. What does that mean?

CLIMO:  People like they`re outside when they`re probably not supposed to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How would you determine that?

CLIMO:  You know, I`d just be walking and then I just see, you know, like silhouettes.


VELSHI:  OK, that was in 2016, Zerlkina, and he`s talking about a very determined enemy, you know, and the people he`s going to -- and now, the context around this is that this guy`s real problem was with Jews and gays.

MAXWELL:  Right.

VELSHI: and who else, I mean --

MAXWELL:  And whoever else.

VELSHI:  Usually it goes in groups, right? This becomes really interesting. This is guy who`s walking around with weaponry, bragging about the fact he`s ready to take on an enemy --

MAXWELL:  Right.

VELSHI:  -- and then we find out who the enemy is.

MAXWELL:  In some ways I feel like it reminds me of George Zimmerman, right.

VELSHI:  Patrolling his area.

MAXWELL:  Patrolling the neighborhood and then killed Trayvon Martin and --

VELSHI:  Who he thought was a threat.

MAXWELL:  -- who he -- right, but I think --

VELSHI:  But he or he had convinced himself was a threat.

MAXWELL:  Convinced himself that Trayvon was a threat when he was not. And I think that, you know, what`s scary about this is imagine if that was a black person walking around with a giant gun in the neighborhood. I don`t think that we should shrug when we see white men anymore doing these things.

I mean, there have been sort of viral photos of people in open carry state. My parents live in an open carry state. And so that`s something that we`ve have to adjust to being from New Jersey and just being around guns more and then being out in the open.

And my question is always, why do you need the gun in Tropical Smoothie when you`re just getting your breakfast smoothie?

VELSHI:  Right.

MAXWELL:  It seems to me that the normalization of having these giant guns in places where they`re not really necessary, I mean, the argument that you need it for self-protection or somehow you need it to be the good guy with the gun. What we`ve learned this week, well that is a fallacy.

That is not something that prevents these massacres from happening because --

VELSHI:  Right. Texas is full of their guys with guns --

MAXWELL:  Exactly.

VELSHI:  -- and guys would kill to (inaudible) legal right.

MAXWELL:  They`re everywhere. They`re everywhere. And they`re not preventing these massacres. So, perhaps we should try to tackle other strategies in finding these extremists online and stopping them like they did in this case.

VELSHI:  Joyce, I want to read -- we have Joyce back, by the way and I`m glad about that. Joyce, I want to read from the criminal complaint. I think you`ve had a look at this as well that was filed in district court in Nevada.

It says, "In a journal found in his room, Climo sketched a picture of an attack of a Las Vegas bar that he viewed as catering to homosexuals. Additionally, in the same sketch, Climo drew what he described  he grew what he described as two infantry squads attacking the bar with firearms from the outside and one attacking it with a firearm from the inside. Where does all this fit into the law? Does that qualify as something more than free speech if you`re drawing pictures of a place being attacked?

VANCE:  So he`s not charged here with having drawn those pictures. The charges and the complaint are very narrowly drawn to illegal possession of the components of the destructive device, the bomb making items. But these sorts of sketches and the other items in his room may help law enforcement put together a better picture of what his ultimate goals were.

There may be other witnesses. He may have acquired other items. Often people who were involved in making bombs will have a separate site which is their bomb making facility because it`s dangerous to put those components together. You don`t usually want to do that in your living room.

So this is complaint, what we`ve seen so far in this case but it may well turn into a superseding indictment with additional charges down the road.

VELSHI: By the way, he apparently had the fluid components of the bomb and the circuitry on a shelf in his bedroom. So I don`t know whether that tells you that he`s uniquely sophisticated because he seemed to have some bomb making ability or that`s kind of ridiculous to keep bomb making stuff in your bedroom.

VANCE: You know, the complaint is pretty specific here and it says he has components that he could readily combine to put together a destructive device. That both triggers the criminal violation that he`s charged with and it does tell us that we have someone who`s gone to the trouble of learning how to put a device together and of acquiring all of these components including the ignition components.

VELSHI: Remarkable. Joyce thanks good to see you as always. Joyce Vance and Zerlina Maxwell, thank you both you for joining us tonight.

Coming up is the President choosing personal loyalty over loyalty to the country inside the nation`s security apparatus? Malcolm Nance is my next guest.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An Acting Defense Secretary an Acting Chief of Staff, an Acting Interior Secretary.

TRUMP: It`s easier to make moves when they`re acting. Really I like acting because I can move so quickly gives me more flexibility.


VELSHI: I like acting, that`s the way President Trump describes how he liked to staff his cabinet back in February. Normally when a cabinet level official resigns or is fired the President of the United States appoints a new person to the position who is then confirmed or rejected by the Senate. That`s how this is supposed to work.

But it`s no secret that President Trump has had some problems staffing his administration, so he often relies on acting officials. Just a week ago John Radcliffe, the President`s nominee to replace the outgoing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates had to withdraw from consideration after news outlets found that he had seriously embellished his resume.

That melt the role would likely be filled for the foreseeable future by an acting director. According to DNI policy the person who was supposed to fill that role was this woman, Sue Gordon, a Career Intelligence Official who had served under both Republicans and Democrats.

The only problem was that Sue Gordon is a Career Intelligence Official who has served under both Republicans and Democrats. That meant she was likely to lead the agency as someone who was actually interested in intelligence gathering and not as someone who would just tell the President what he wanted to hear.

So yesterday the President announced that Sue Gordon would be retiring and that the job of Acting Director of National Intelligence would go to Joseph McGuire, the current Head of the National Counter Terrorism Center.

In her resignation letter Gordon made it clear that she was not leaving by choice writing I offer this letter as an act of respect and patriotism, not preference. You should have your team. We don`t know yet if Joseph McGuire will be the kind of loyalist that President Trump prefers.

The Senate will not get to question him. Therefore he takes the all- important job because even though he`s Trump`s handpicked choice, he is an Acting Director. And as such does not require a Senate confirmation hearing.

What does that mean for our Nation`s Intelligence Services? When the President fires people who tell him what he doesn`t want to hear and circumvents Congress` role in overseeing who will replace them. I`ll ask MSNBC Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Analyst Malcolm Nance that question next.



TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you talk to your intelligence chiefs today about displeasure you have with their --

TRUMP: I did. And they said that they were totally misquoted and they were totally it was taken out of context. So what I do is I would suggest that you call them. When my intelligence people tell me how wonderful our run is if you don`t mind I`m going to just go by my own counsel.


VELSHI: That`s how President Trump usually talks about America`s intelligence community. But now he`s getting a chance to actually reshape it. Malcolm Nance is an MSNBC Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Analyst.

Malcolm, the President talked about in January with that clip we showed from January 31st that he said his intelligence people were misquoted and taken out of context. That was at congressional testimony. So I`m not sure what he thought was misquoted and taken out of context because we`ve got the tape?

This is just remarkable, that the President of the United States is choosing loyalty over Career Intelligence Officials.

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTER TERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I think at this point by the choice of Admiral Joe McGuire he thinks he`s choosing loyalty over intelligence experience. Look, Sue Gordon was a commensurate intelligence professional 30 years at the agency Deputy Director at National Intelligence.

She knew how to shape the strategic plan of how the United States was going to collect information against terrorists and our near peer adversaries of China, Russia, Iran and whatever threats that came up in this world.

Her depth of knowledge comes from that and then managing those 17 agencies to meet the strategic goals the United States so that it`s not we are all protected. Admiral McGuire, I think Donald Trump has made a strategic mistake himself.

He is the Head of the National Counter Terrorism Center. He`s a former navy S.E.A.L. Admiral, Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. He`s a user much less of an intelligence collector or a manager.

But the problem is for Donald Trump is that Joe McGuire is not going to be politicized. He is not a yes man he is not going to be allowed to be turned into a person that will just allow the President to believe what he wants.

VELSHI: So this is an interesting point because when the President replaced Janet Yellen as the Head of the Fed, there was no complaint about the work. Janet Yellen was doing good, he is a very experienced. He brought in his own guy Jerome Powell, and how he`s fighting with his own guy because Jerome Powell is trying to resist being politicized by the President.

But to the end by the President, the fact that you`re somebody else`s person or you existed before he got there is enough to make him question whether or not you`re working in his interest.

NANCE: Yeah, and this is his mistake. He views the whole world as a series of cronies and lackeys. And when you`re talking about the intelligence community particularly you`re talking about the top, you know, the top S.E.A.L. Admiral who by the way was close, personal friends with Admiral Bill McRaven, a person who Donald Trump has very, very contentious relationship with to put it at the least.

They have a professional military ethos. They have an ethos with regards to their oath to the constitution of the United States. And I don`t think he`s going to violate that in any sense of the word. He may be more diplomatic, Admiral McGuire, but Donald Trump sees these guys out of central casting. He sees the navy S.E.A.L., he sees the trident on his chest and that`s all he thinks and he thinks oh, those guys are on my side.

He is going to get an intelligence organization and apparatus that is going to be even more aggressive than what I think Sue Gordon would have done because McRaven is a forward operator. He ran the shooters and so he now understands how from the shooter`s collection needs to be brought up into that broad space operational field, and he won`t -- he won`t lie when North Korea launches a ballistic missile and tell the President that that`s your best bet.

VELSHI: That`s the important part, right? This is one of those things where the intelligence community by definition sometimes works in a way that most Americans don`t understand what they`re doing and don`t understand the value of it.

Nobody in America, virtually nobody outside your community understood who Sue Gordon was or knew who she was? But there is a dangerous in politicizing this because it`s the kind of thing autocrats do.

NANCE: Yes, it is. And I met Sue Gordon when she was at CIA. These are people you would never notice passing on our streets because their commitment is to the constitution of the United States, to doing that job day in and day out and taking care of their people.

Care and feeding of the intelligence apparatus is the job. But if the President of the United States thinks that he`s getting Vladimir Putin 2,000 which is where he brought on his KGB friends to support him and then turn then nation state into an intelligence apparatus and then use those skills to, you know, corrupt the world, that`s not going to happen for Donald Trump unless he puts a political lackey in, and then the intelligence community can only produce the material. We can`t make them consume it, but we`re going to keep doing it the professional way.

VELSHI: Malcolm, always good to see you, thank you sir, Malcolm Nance. All right, coming up Mexican-Americans and suburban women is President Trump driving them both away from the Republican Party and driving Texas toward Democrats? That`s next.


VELSHI: Call it the growing texts that is, the growing trend of Texas Republicans not running for reelection. Just this week, Congressman Kenny Marchant became the fourth Republican in the State to bow of the 2020 election. Three of the four represent competitive Texas districts.

After a generation of dominance in Texas, Republicans are finally facing the same challenges as their counter parts in other parts of America. "The New York Times" explains by linking themselves to President Trump and his incendiary brand of nationalist politics, they are alienating the sort of suburban voters who are once among the Republican Parties` most dependable supporters.

Two Freshman Democrats Colin Allred and Lucy Fletcher were pushed to victory in 2018 in part because of this realignment and Democrats are hoping that this shift will lead to more gains next year. As VOX points out in 2018, six incumbent Texas Republicans kept their seats by less than five points.

Democrats have made clear those seats will be high priorities after Senator Ted Cruz won his reelection bid by less than three points last year, more party members voiced concern about the chances for Senator John Conan (ph) who is up for reelection next year.

Several factors are making Texas so competitive all of a sudden. One of them is a rapidly diversifying population. The number of Latinos in the state has grown by 1.9 million since the 2000 census accounting for more than half of Texas` population growth.

Another factor is Trump`s unique unpopularity. A June Quinnipiac Poll found that 48 percent of Texans approved of Trump`s job performance while 49 percent disapproved. After the break we`re going to talk with the Former Democratic Mayor of Houston about the path for Democrats in the lone star state.



REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): The two largest growing groups of voters are minorities and young people and the Republican Party should be talking to those groups of folks. I always say in Texas if the Republican Party in Texas doesn`t start looking like Texas then there will not be a Republican Party in Texas.


VELSHI: That was Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas one of the four Texas Republicans who will not seek reelection in 2020. Joining us now Annise Parker Former Mayor of Houston and the President and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund. Mayor, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.


VELSHI: What`s the shift all about in Texas? Obviously, all of Texas isn`t the same as Houston an urbanizing center diversifying full of immigrants, with sort of more urban concerns. What happened in the rest of Texas that was supposedly so solidly red that shows some threat of turning blue?

PARKER: The big cities in Texas have long been big blue islands in the vast red sea of Texas. They were big blue islands. They were urban surrounded by reliably Republican suburbs and then the vast rural areas.

What`s happened is that those reliably Republican suburban rings around the big blue urban areas have begun to go purple and it`s not just in Houston but it is in San Antonio, it`s in Dallas, it`s in Austin, it`s in El Paso.

And when you combine a very large urban population in rapidly growing cities with these suburbs that shift, I won`t say they`ve turned blue but they definitely purple, they`re thoughtful, educated voters and they are more issue voters than party voters and their party has left them behind and fortunately, we`ve had candidates and the issues to bring them toward the Democratic side.

VELSHI: So this is interesting when you say they`re more issue voters than party voters, a lot of people who are not from Texas who wouldn`t necessarily think that because there has been a long mythology about Texas being a conservative place, which, you know, in the last few decades has been a Republican place. What are the issues that are pushing some of these folks over to thinking about democratic candidates?

PARKER: Well, Texas is still a very conservative place but again conservative and the Trump brand of Republicanism doesn`t necessarily equate. You saw the Bush family move very much away from Trump in the last election, but you also see that some of the suburban areas and I`m most familiar with Harris County and the area around Houston.

The suburban communities had become much more international. Large South Asian populations, large Asian populations moving into the suburban area so the demographics are changing but also, the voters in those communities are turned off by divisive social messages.

And when you look at what is happening in terms of immigration issues, of trade issues, sort of the classic Republican issues, their party has left them. They are then turning to who are the best candidates in the race rather than who is the Republican in the race?

And fortunately for us, we`ve had some really great Democratic candidates. And Beto O`Rourke when he ran his statewide campaign was a game changer. One of the things that happens to candidates is that we fall into the trap of talking to people that agree with us.

One thing that Beto did masterfully was that he talked to all of Texas and he campaigned in all of Texas and what we discovered or we were reminded of is that when we have the kitchen table conversation about real issues that matter, people respond.

VELSHI: Mayor, good to talk to you. Again, thank you for being with Mayor Annise Parker, Houston -- Former Mayor of Houston. That is tonight`s "Last Word." "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up tonight on the day we learned that the El Paso gunman admitted to targeting Mexicans, the President on route to vacation predicts Congress will pass what he calls intelligent background checks for guns.