IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump heads to G7 summit. TRANSCRIPT: 8/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Jared Bernstein, Jennifer Rubin, Linette Lopez, Alexander Kaufman,Mark Takano, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Christian Picciolini


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so I will a person who tries to fight against voter suppression that could activate and engage the kind of voters and coalitions. They`re going to win states like Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Corey Booker in debate night two. The Democrats who are going to be on stage in debate three have done themselves a lot of good, every single one of them in each of the previous two debates.

Making that debate stage is crucial. And it`s the best opportunity any of them will have to make their campaigns bigger and more effective that they`ve been even yet. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Now it is time for "The Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. I fully appreciate that they have done a great job. We`re five plus months from the first caucus. And to have that reset tonight that you did to show us sort of where they have all stood and how they have all gained during this campaign has been really helpful. Thank you very much for doing that.

MADDOW:  Thank you for saying that. Much appreciated.

VELSHI:  You have a great weekend, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI:  I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Any minute now, President Trump is taking off for the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France after a day of creating economic chaos in the United States. The president is taking it abroad.

We`re going to discuss several of these crises in our hour. We start with the president`s public meltdown on twitter, pushing the trade war between the world`s economic super powers into a dangerous new phase. Trump set the stock market tumbling thanks in part to a series of tweets over the last 12 hours.

It all started when he called the chair of the Federal Reserve, the guy he picked after he unceremoniously threw out Janet Yellen who was doing a fine job -- he called Jerome Powell a "enemy of the United States" and compared him to China`s President Xi after Powell acknowledged that trade uncertainties were affecting the global economy.

Yes, Donald Trump compared his own hand-picked fed chair to the authoritarian leader of China. If that wasn`t norm shattering enough for you, the president also ordered U.S. companies to cut ties with China, something that, in fact, the president at least today cannot do.

And we saw almost in real-time the effect of Trump`s tweets. Here is what happened. Just after the president sent those tweets, at first jog down in the market, the Dow dropped. It dropped fast. It never really recovered, closing more than 700 -- I`m sorry, 600 points lower. It was more than 700 points lower and made a little recovery in the last few minutes of trading.

Trump`s bizarre twitter tirade after China slapped retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, and then late this afternoon, Trump made good on his promise to respond to that move. Trump tweeted that he would be raising the tariff rates on some $250 billion in Chinese goods from 25 percent to 30 percent.

The president also tweeted that he would increase the tariff rate on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods that have yet to go under tariff. These were supposed to happen on September 1st. As you recall, the president so generously said he will delay those until December 15th so that it doesn`t affect anyone`s Christmas shopping.

This is arguably the worst kind of trade war because it is lose-lose. Everybody loses. Farmers are losing. Consumers are losing because prices are going up and we`re not selling more goods to China. It is worse in China. There is no resolution in sight because the aim of this trade war is entirely unclear. It is unarticulated by the president.

Nobody in the White House has articulated what success looks like. And don`t forget, this is all happening as Trump`s own aids are warning of a business climate that is at risk of faltering thanks in large part to the president`s own chaotic policies.

As the "Washington Post" reports, top White House advisers notified President Trump earlier this month that some internal forecasts showed that the economy could slow markedly over the next year, stopping short of a recession but complicating his path to re-election in 2020.

That`s the news tonight as the president prepares to leave the United States for France for the G7. Former Vice President Stanley Fischer, Fed Vice President Stanley Fischer, put it this way in a speech earlier today.

He said the president is "trying to destroy the global trading system. We are in a system in which things are getting worse by the day." We are in uncharted territory as the president prepares to meet world leaders in the midst of the latest crisis of his own making. And here at home, no one, no one in the president`s party, no Republican seems willing to stand up to him on his trade war or anything else.

Just think about this. Not a single Republican has denounced the president for calling the Federal Reserve chairman an enemy or for escalating his trade war with China or even for his Greenland debacle. That was just this week. He was going to buy Greenland.

In fact, the Republicans National Committee and the House Republican`s campaign arm were actually selling t-shirts in support of the president`s idea of purchasing Greenland.

In this uncertain world, only one thing is certain, the chaos never stops. If you thought we`d hit the peak of presidential chaos earlier this week, back when he was buying Greenland. Today was a strong reminder that there is always more chaos just around the corner with this president.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Jared Bernstein, a CNBC contributor and the former chief economist and economic policy adviser to Vice President Biden, Linette Lopez, senior financial correspondent at "Business Insider," Jennifer Rubin is an opinion writer at the "Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Jared Bernstein, you have seen a lot in your life and work in politics and in business, in economics. The president starting a war with his Federal Reserve chief, comparing him to the leader of an authoritarian nation is something I have never seen.

JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Yes. I got to say I don`t pay close attention to a lot of what Trump says because it`s often meaningless. But that one just got deeply under my skin, much as I sense it did yours and hopefully many of our viewers as well.

I have known Jerome Powell for a while before he went over to the Federal Reserve. This is a guy who has been as thoughtful and dedicated public servant for as long as I have known him. And for Trump, who is, as you have said, delivering the chaos and the crazy at a rate that`s massively accelerated from what was already too much to take.

For him to come after Powell that way is beyond norm breaking. It`s just reprehensible. And as you also correctly point out, just kind of getting back to the economics, now he is taking his chaos to Europe to meet with other international leaders and, look, based on what we`ve seen, I don`t see how that ends well.

VELSHI:  Jennifer Rubin, it`s like pig pen. He is just -- he`s got a swirling cloud of chaos around him literally to the extent of the G7. I have never even heard of this before. I`ve covered G7s. I`ve never heard that they`ve decided before the whole thing started that they`re not putting out a joint communique because there is no point. They`re not going to agree on anything.

The "New York Times" talks today about President Trump -- they. He said "Mr. Trump`s wild and unscripted pronouncements on Friday renewed questions about his stewardship of the world`s largest economy. Even some of his own aids and allies were alarmed by his behavior, seeming it as the flailing of a president increasingly anxious over the dark clouds that some have detected hovering over the economy."

Jennifer, we were all there for 2008 and none of us want to be there again. But if and when recession comes because it is likely it will, what we don`t need is chaos at the helm.

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Exactly. President Trump has always thrived on chaos. He thinks it puts his opponents on their back heel. He thinks that that somehow makes him the big guy because he`s able to come in and clear up the chaos that he started.

This does not work this way when you are president of the United States. It sure doesn`t work this way when you are playing games with the international trade system. It sure doesn`t make that any sense when you are starting to shoot out decrees that the businesses of America will cease doing business with China.

You know, I think his insults that the Democrats are all a bunch of socialists kind of went out the window with that because it`s kind of a Stalinist decree. He of course does not have the power. But who knows what he`s going to do next? Who knows what executive order he will issue? Who knows what court fights American businesses are going to be in.

And the shame of this is, Congress could prevent every bit of this. The power of regulating trade and tariffs resides with Congress. They have legislated that away and they could take that back hook, line and sinker, even a national security excuse, which he has -- exemption, which he has abused.

And they are too chicken to do this. They could save the economy and they won`t. So, when this economy does falter, it`s not only going to be Trump`s fault. It`s going to be the Republicans in Congress who have not did absolute one ounce of energy of spine to do anything about this.

VELSHI:  Linette, there is so much wrong with that hereby thing that he did today. He said our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.


VELSHI:  There is a lot wrong there.

LOPEZ:  If there is anything American CEOs love to do is take orders from a trust-fund-baby-casino-bankrupting-reality-T.V.-rodeo-clown. I mean, I`m sure that they are loving --

VELSHI:  Even if it were illegal -- even if it were illegal.

LOPEZ:  And it`s not legal and I`m sure that there will be reactions in the business community that will be very quiet. But business investment has gone down. That is speaking very loudly to the president. The manufacturing sector is slowing down. And the tariffs that he is about to enact will hit the consumer. The next round --

VELSHI:  No, they won`t because China pays for it.

LOPEZ:  Oh, right. I forgot. We live in a crazy land now. But, yes, so next round we`re hitting retail. Round after that you are hitting, you know, toys, et cetera. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where the rubber hits the flat screen TV in December.

And in September it`s going to be the sneakers, the jeans, et cetera. The American consumer is keeping the global economy afloat right now. This is the last thing that you want to do. And, frankly, he`s laying out a path to destruction.

The thing that also worries me is that Chairman Powell seems to be internalizing some of what Trump is saying. He was talking about the Feds responsibility to keep the expansion going. That`s like the governor of Florida saying that hurricane season is canceled, you know?

Recessions happen. They`re cyclical. Trump may have gotten a -- maybe he had some bad luck. But he`s turning that bad luck into disaster with this trade situation.

VELSHI:  Jared, at the top of the show I was saying that this is a lose- lose situation, that those aren`t actually my words. They are actually your words. You said this to me last week. You said this is the worst kind of war because everybody is losing on every front.

We will not get the soy bean contracts back that we had with China because they are now getting that soy bean from Brazil. The lobsters that we`re not selling this to China, they are getting from Canada now.

The fact is we will never get it 100 percent of it back. Farmers lose money. Americans spend more on stuff. The Chinese are suffering more than we are. And it is -- there is no articulated view of what success is here.

BERNSTEIN:  Yes. I think that`s exactly right. I mean, the only way to win a trade war is to not be in one. And in fact, what you are starting to hear some of these business is saying is that they have tried in many cases to find new production platforms from which they can import the goods that are now facing increasing tariffs in China.

And it`s just really hard to do. And by the way, note that that does not accomplish Trump`s goal. Trump`s goal is some version of import substitution, meaning build stuff domestically that`s being currently built (inaudible). That`s not what we`re hearing these producers are saying.

They`re saying well OK, well -- maybe I`ll go to Cambodia, to Vietnam, to India, to Malaysia and it`s very hard to shift those supply chains and that`s why we`re having some of the economic problems that Linette was just talking about including diminished investment.

Now, I think the idea was that if you look at any article that was about a potential recession in the wind over the last couple of weeks, they all mentioned the trade war in paragraph one as exhibit A of Trump really damaging the economy.

That was before this level of escalation and this market reaction today. So whenever that kind of recession risk factor that`s going on, it has now been amped up by the president.

VELSHI:  So Jennifer Rubin, there is all sorts of talk. There are people accusing the media of amping up the idea of a recession. There are people saying the Democrats want a recession because it will put Trump out of office.

Let`s be clear here. Anybody wishing for a recession is just got a black heart. But the fact is they do happen and there is nothing that is going to affect Donald Trump`s base or erode his support more than people actually losing jobs and losing their wages, which actually happens in a recession.

So I would think for all of the dozens of things over the last two years that we have heard Republicans stay silent about, I would think this would be the one they`d say, no, no, hold on a second. You cannot run this train right off the tracks because we`ll all lose the next election.

RUBIN:  Well, I somewhat casually sent off a tweet today how many points does the Dow have to drop before the Republicans get into the game? 5,000? 10,000? 15,000? What is it going to finally take to get them off the stick?

And I think part of the problem here is not only is this a complete mess, but way back when, do you remember we actually had a real problem with China, which was the theft of the -- extortion of our intellectual properties.

VELSHI:  That is correct. That`s actually the thing that we should have dealt with --

RUBIN:  That`s actually a thing.

VELSHI:  -- and the entire world would have supported the United States in dealing with.

RUBIN:  Exactly. And we would have signed on to TPP which excluded China, put the pressure on China, cemented our alliances. So we have done just about everything wrong to not only not solve our old problems but create new ones.

And by the way, one thing we haven`t discussed is as they have refigure the jobs numbers for the last couple of years, turns out there is 500,000 less jobs created than we thought. So this tax cut which was supposed to land us in plus 3 percent -- 3 percent plus land --


RUBIN:  -- hasn`t done that. It looks a lot weaker than we even suspected it was. And as a result of that, what`s he going to use now? We already have a trillion dollar deficit. What`s he going to use as a fiscal stimulus if we go into a depression? The Fed, yes, has cut rates, but they are so low already there is not that much room on the monetary side. So, pray tell. How do you get the economy out of the ditch if Trump drives it into one?

VELSHI:  Linette?

LOPEZ:  Well, the thing that concerns me about what he was saying is that it seems like he`s let go of making a deal and now his goal is what we call in, you know, nerd circles decoupling with China, which is just severing the economic relationship between the United States and China, which would be horrific and which many worry would, you know, divide the world between an economic and digital iron curtain.

And you would really have to choose between two Internet, two economies, two worlds. I don`t think we want that again. And what he seems to be moving toward full steam ahead if he can`t get his way from President Xi like a, you know, screaming pouting child, is that he`s going to pull for this decoupling notion and --

VELSHI:  He said it today. He tweeted it out today.

LOPEZ:  It`s very scary.

VELSHI:  Jared, explain why that`s really tough because it`s not just that we buy stuff that`s (inaudible). This is not a normal relationship that we would have described 20 years ago where we`re buying manufactured goods from China. The relationship with China is substantially more complicated than that from a currency perspective, from an investment perspective and from what China does around the world.

BERNSTEIN:  So Donald Trump thinks that he can unscramble the globalization omelet, and he can`t. It`s not just that we import toys and televisions from China. We also import tons of intermediate goods. These are imports that go into products that are produced here. So our linkage is to the Chinese economy are not just the kind of, you know, stuff that`s on the shelves of Wal-Mart.

And even then, as I said in my last remark, those goods are not going to be made here. The globalization ship has left the port and now, as I`ve mentioned, those producers are looking to import from other countries often in Asia.

So, A, the notion of import substitution that we`ll just replace all that stuff domestically is just not going to happen. That`s just not the structure of the global economy. And, B, you are really hurting American producers. It is just what you said at the beginning of the show.

Now, the farmers are getting hurt by retaliation, but it`s actually American producers using intermediate imports and their production from China that took the first hit and it`s continuing to deepen.

VELSHI:  Thank you to the three of you for helping me out today get started on this very -- this complicated day. We all do this a lot, but this president can make it complicated every time he tries. Jared Bernstein, Linette Lopez and Jennifer Rubin, thanks to all three of you.

Coming up, there`s a rapidly unfolding environmental crisis underway at this very moment, something world leaders want urgently to discuss, but that could set up a clash with Donald Trump. Trump chaos and G7 meeting is next.

And later, how the president`s recent disturbing behavior is connected to the growing calls for immigration.


VELSHI:  In just a few minutes, President Trump will depart for the G7 meeting in France where leaders are facing what might be the biggest problem on earth tonight. The fires currently burning and destroying the Amazon rainforest, which affects all of us -- 20 percent of the world`s oxygen -- that`s how much of the world`s oxygen supply comes from the Amazon rainforest.

Just think about that for a second, one in every five breaths you draw, because the Amazon absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and filters it. It is a sink for carbon dioxide and expels breathable clean air. There is carbon dioxide stored in the Amazon. It is why the Amazon is often referred to as the Earth`s lungs. And the Earth`s lungs are collapsing.

Experts estimate that if we lose between 20 and 25 percent of the Amazon, the ecosystem will fall apart and the Earth`s lungs will essentially stop working. We are at 17 percent. That`s part of the reason that French President Emanuel Macron is pressing for an emergency meeting at the G7 on the Amazon fires.

Three things to understand about this story -- while these fires are burning in Brazil, their destruction is a global problem. Number two, what`s happening in the Amazon, this is not strictly a natural disaster and I`ll have more on that in just a moment. And n umber three, Brazil`s right wing climate change denying president is blocking the international community`s help.

The president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a climate denier. He`s a man who`s been referred to as the Trump of the tropics and he ran on a platform of ending environmental protections and opening up Brazil`s protected forest for private industry.

Nonprofit groups have pointed to evidence that the fires are a direct result of Bolsonaro`s policies while Bolsonaro has shockingly and baselessly claimed that his critics started the fires themselves to make him look bad.

NGOs, whose only concern is preserving the Amazon, its indigenous people who live in it and the wildlife that it sustains set the fires to make the president look bad. That`s how crazy this is.

Alexander Kaufman is a reporter at "Huffington Post" covering climate, environmental policy and politics. He was in Brazil in March reporting on the Bolsonaro government`s climate policy. Alex, good to see you. Thank you for being here.


VELSHI:  This is an unmitigated disaster that will hasten the destruction of the world. I`m not being extreme here. This is really serious. There aren`t a lot of Amazons around the world that take carbon dioxide out of the air. This is the worst problem because you`re burning that sink and, by the way, putting carbon into the air in the burning of it.

ALEXANDER KAUFMAN, REPORTER, HUFFTINGTON POST:  That`s right. It is the world`s biggest terrestrial carbon sink. It`s also the home of millions of people. You know, that`s one of the important things that gets lost in this.

It isn`t just something that affects all of us because you have climate change that`s going to be worsened by destroying that sink. But there are many, many people that live in that forest and many of these tribes that are being deliberately displaced through this activity.

VELSHI:  Right. So there is logging going on, clear-cutting and then this is what some say, the burning of the stuff that`s left behind so that that land can be cleared for agricultural use.

KAUFMAN:  That`s right. So, you know, Brazil is a major exporter of beef, second only to the United States.

VELSHI:  Right.

KAUFMAN:  It is also a major exporter of soy, which is why, you know, going vegan isn`t necessarily a way to address this problem. But, you know, you have these agricultural interests in this area.

There is the BBB lobby, the ruralistas in Brazil, the Beef, Bullets and Bible Lobby that helped to elect Bolsonaro in the first place. And they are very keen to see this area exploited and to become much wealthier for it. And that is --

VELSHI:  And let`s not forget that Brazil is a beneficiary of this trade war between the United States and China because of good stuff, the produce that -- I mean the soy beans. Brazil`s the only place in the world that could potentially create enough soy beans to trade with China.

KAUFMAN:  That`s right.

VELSHI:  So why is -- what`s Bolsonaro`s whole thing in this thing? He doesn`t get how important the Amazon is? He doesn`t believe that it`s a sink for carbon. He doesn`t makes it his problem. He sent a message to Germany the other day to say, why don`t you reforest your country? Don`t talk about mine.

KAUFMAN:  Well, Bolsonaro ran as a right wing populist. He is a hard line nationalist, which is part of why they call him the Trump of tropics in the first place. And he is somebody that has a long history of disregarding the people that live there.

He is a noted racist to his long made comments about the people who live there, calling them savages and saying that they need to be civilized. And he is somebody who firmly believes that it is the only pathway to prosperity for the country if they cut these things down and exploit it for industry.

VELSHI:  Being a nationalist, where does that make one an idiot when it comes to climate? I mean, couldn`t you be a nationalist and not want to burn the most valuable thing in your country? Or it`s just not the case where Bolsonaro -- money from farmers is maybe or logging interest is more valuable?

KAUFMAN:  Well, I think it is important to note that the right wing in Brazil has long had connections to the right wing in the United States. You have a lot of industries and different politicians that have close ties. The gun industry, for instance, has a big footprint there.

The NRA has had a lot of influence in the country there. And so, you know, the fact that the right in the United States embraces climate denialism is something that has been replicated there as well.

VELSHI:  I want to just play some video from Paul Rosolie who is a conservationist who was on my show yesterday. He had just come back from the fires. Take a look at how this looks.


PAUL ROSOLIE, CONSERVATIONIST:  I`m not going to be able to stay here long because this fire is spreading, but everything behind me right now is the forest that I have been working to protect for the last 13 years. It`s burning like this every day.

There are literally millions of animals in this forest that cannot escape right now. And if you think our planet can survive this every day in the Amazon, you have another thing coming.


VELSHI:  There are European countries that have a lot of aid that is going to sort of sustaining the Amazon who have threatened to stop that aid because this -- Brazil has actually rebuffed international help. It is what Macron wants to discuss at the G7.

Donald Trump`s not that interested. In fact, he tweeted today, "Just spoke with President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Our future trade prospects are very exciting. Our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before. I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist."

But sort of as an afterthought, like -- that doesn`t seem to be alarm bells going off in Bolsonaro or Trump`s heads that this is the Amazon. It is the most serious thing in the world to be on fire.

KAUFMAN:  Both presidents named hard line climate change deniers who think that climate science is a Marxist hoax to their cabinets. So, clearly, it is not a priority for either of them. With that tweet, I will say it is important to read behind the lines.

And what Trump is really saying there is Jair Bolsonaro, you have nothing to worry about with countries like France and Ireland, saying that they are going to end the trade deal that was being negotiated with the E.U. because the U.S. is going to step in and offer its market instead.

VELSHI:  What a remarkable story. Alex, thank you for joining us.

KAUFMAN:  Thank you for having me.

VELSHI:  Alexnder Kaufman is a reporter of the "HuffingtonPost." More than half of the Democrats and the House of Representatives now support impeaching President Trump. But they don`t all support it for the same reason and the president`s most recent disturbing behavior could generate even more support. That`s next with one of the newest members of Congress who backs impeaching President Trump.


VELSHI: 31 members of Congress have come out in support of launching impeachment inquiries since the August recess started with three House Democrats coming out in favor of impeachment just yesterday.

According to NBC News, this brings the total House members supporting an impeachment inquiry to 133. That includes 14 House Committee Chairs. How many more are going to add their names to the list before the House returns on September 9th?

Joining us now is one of those Chairs, Democratic Congressman Mark Takano of California, who came out for impeachment yesterday. He is the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Congressman good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

REP. MARK TAKANO, (D-CA): My pleasure, Ali.

VELSHI: Tell me what made your mind up to come out in favor of this.

TAKANO: Well, Ali, it`s as I was listening to the show before my chance to speak to you, some - I`m impressed by just the amount of chaos and the ways in which this President breaks norms and undermines our institutions.

There is not a lot that I can do about that. But I can do something about standing up for the rule of law. And that`s the push back against the chaos of this Presidency. And I`m convinced of that. I also had a chance to be with some of my constituents to take a pulse on what`s going on in my district. And after having done that, I`m convinced that it`s time.

It was time for me yesterday to stand up for our Constitution, stand up for our democracy stand up for our Democratic institutions stand up for the rule of law. This President violated the law by obstructing justice so there is ample evidence contained in the Mueller report that demonstrates that.

And he obstructed justice not for a very trivial reason, but it was a very serious thing. It was a very serious violation of the law and it had to do with impeding and trying to stop a very significant investigation of Russian interference into our elections, which are the foundation of our democracy.

VELSHI: Let me ask you then. There are a growing number of your colleagues who are calling for impeachment. Some have done so as you have after going back for their recess and talking to their constituents. What`s the - how does that line break? Who is mostly in favor? And who is mostly still resistant? And of those who are resistant, what is it that`s holding them back?

TAKANO: Ali, I don`t know really how to answer that question because what I`m seeing are people like members, like freshmen, Lauren Underwood, who is from a very difficult district who I had no conversation with her. She is in a very difficult close district, maybe one of the ten most contested districts that we anticipate in the next year. And she came out for - for the inquiry.

Brad Snyder, a colleague of mine. He is a class mate of mine and, you know, he actually was defeated one term and he`s come back. I`m from a district that, you know, I was able to win, you know, rather comfortably. So there is no pattern here of who is coming forward and who is still remaining. You know, reticent to come forward.

I just think that what you`re seeing playing out here is a similar sort of pattern that I remember as a 13-year-old boy watching Watergate unfold. You know, Richard Nixon won nearly every state in union except for Massachusetts and the District of Columbia came in with a huge electoral victory. And it took many, many months for members of Congress to come around to the gravity of what President Nixon had done.

I think you are seeing a similar process unfold here. Members coming to grips with their conscious certainly it is not about the polling that`s causing us to come forward. Most Americans are still not convinced. But I think it`s important.

I go back to this principal of the rule of law. The rule of law is important to uphold that no person is above the law, including the person that holds the highest Office and the President of the United States.

VELSHI: Chairman Mark Takano, good to see you. Thank you for joining me tonight.

TAKANO: You`re welcome. Thank you.

VELSHI: Okay. Coming up next, we know where the House Democratic members stand on impeachment. Where are the voters on impeachment? Chairman Takano just mentioned that, we have been tracking some of the town halls in the middle of the country where the reaction to impeaching the President might surprise you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made the decision a while ago but announced it today, that I believe we should begin an impeachment inquiry.




VELSHI: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a Members-only call with the House Democratic Caucus today reportedly told her members, "The public isn`t there on impeachment". But some members are having a different experience at town halls in their districts.

Freshman Congresswoman Lauren Underwood represents a district that Donald Trump won in 2016. She flipped her Illinois district red to blue in 2018. Congresswoman Underwood came out for impeachment this week. Here she is telling Lawrence why.


REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D-IL): So I felt the need yesterday to make this announcement at the town hall meeting in response to a question from a constituent, right? People throughout the communities all across our country are watching what`s happening. It`s painful. It`s deeply disappointing, deeply disturbing. So we want the facts. And that`s what these investigations are hoping to achieve.


VELSHI: And here is Congresswoman Underwood at a town hall yesterday again in a district where Donald Trump got 49 percent to Hillary Clinton`s 45 percent.


REPORTER: You came out this week in favor of an impeachment inquiry after the current occupant on the White House?

UNDERWOOD: Let me start by saying this, no one, no person is above the law. That includes the President of the United States.



VELSHI: NBC News Correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell was at that town hall yesterday and several others in the Midwest and in Pennsylvania. She joins us now to talk about what she`s been seeing and hearing about impeachment from voters and what those voters have been telling their members of Congress? Hey, Leigh Ann.


VELSHI: What have you been hearing out there?

CALDWELL: Yes. So what we have been hearing. I just want to start when we chose the town halls that we decided to go to this week, one North of Pittsburg, two in the suburbs of Chicago. And we chose these town halls because they were in suburban districts.

A lot of these voters broke with Republicans in the 2018 election. And polls are showing that they`re doing the same right now. We chose these town halls also because that three members had not come out in support of impeachment.

Here we are in Illinois and as we`re here, two of those members, Brad Snyder and Lauren Underwood came out for impeachment when we were here. We of course attended their town halls. The Lauren Underwood town ball was extremely interesting because it was a town hall for seniors.

That was in a senior community, there was no one under the age of 65 there. We expected the audience questions to be about health care, prescription drugs, pensions, things that seniors really care about. But question after question was about impeachment.

And the audience was extremely engaged on this issue. The first time she was asked about it there was huge applause as you showed in your opening and there was a lot of applause at her reaction, too. In talking to these voters after this town hall, they were extremely thrilled that Lauren Underwood decided to come out in support of this impeachment inquiry.

VELSHI: However, one of the members of Congress you went to listen to Conor Lamb didn`t do that. Let`s just play what happened in his town hall on Tuesday in Pennsylvania when he was asked about impeachment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I`m asking you is whether you will join with your 127 colleagues in the House of Representatives and support an impeachment inquiry, one that is already going on. It`s happening.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you`re lagging behind it. And I`d like to know why?

REP. CONOR LAMB (D-PA): I do not believe so far that your statements about calling an impeachment inquiry, allows you to go farther. I don`t share your opinion about that.


VELSHI: What`s going on there?

CALDWELL: Yes. So it was super interesting because that woman was not the only person who asked Conor Lamb about impeachment. He got multiple questions. As you heard the audience applauded at the woman`s answer and they did not applaud at Conor Lamb`s response when he said that he didn`t support it at this point.

So Conor Lamb is also in a tough district. He is one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election in 2020. He is in the suburbs he barely won his special election in 2018. He more handily won the November election in 2018 that was just a few months later.

But he is having to navigate these difficult waters of a district that spreads from very conservative voters all the way to the most liberal. But he`s also taking a different tact than Lauren Underwood who he just saw who was in a very similar district. Who is also vulnerable in 2020, and she decided to come out and support it.

So these members are having to make these personal decisions on how they move forward to this issue taking into consideration their voters of course.

VELSHI: They are personal decisions because they will affect them in the next election. If they come for impeachment then they have to count on all those supporters who wanted them to do that to double down and make sure they get re-elected or the other side is going to come out. Very interesting. Thank you Leigh Ann. Good to see you as always.

CALDWELL: Yes, you too.

VELSHI: All right. Coming up only in the Trump Administration does the Department of Justice have to do damage control for distributing white nationalist propaganda that`s next?


VELSHI: A new report from ABC News has found that in the three weeks since the deadly Dayton and El Paso shootings more than 14 arrests have been made for credible threats to commit mass attacks.

Congress is already working on gun safety but House Democrats are also planning to rise of white supremacy this is respective motive of the alleged El Paso shooter. And now the federal government can combat it.

Congressman Jamie Raskin who sits on the Judiciary Committee told "The Washington Post" the threat has grown tremendously. We want to find out from the department of homeland security and the FBI what are their strategies and tactics for indentifying and preempting white supremacists inspired violence.

We want to know that there is a plan. This comes as the Justice Department is doing damage control for introducing or for including a link to a white nationalist website in an email to immigration court employees this week.

The department claims it was a mistake and it comes during a week when President Trump was rightly criticized for Anti-Semitic comments about Jewish voters and their loyalty. Reformed White Nationalist Christian Picciolini wrote a book about the culture of white extremism. He`s been working to reach people in the throes of that culture in an MSNBC series "Breaking Hate".

In the latest episode Picciolini helps the Former Leader of the largest Neo-Nazi organization in the United States to leave behind the identity and a livelihood that`s based on hate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just been on my radar for 20 years so when I began to hear from sources that he wanted out of the movement, I did something I almost never do. I reached out to him. Until today, it`s been unclear what`s motivating his desire to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I see happening is a lot of violence coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the movement? You think it`s going to get worse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you say to these young people who you think, you know, are ramping up for more violence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what I want to do now because I know I can use my influence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you want to do what I`m doing, you want to help people kind of disengage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t contain this. Things like the Synagogue shootings, Mosque shootings, Church shootings. I understand the psychology behind it, what is driving people to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me for real why they shouldn`t do it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should not kill innocent people.


VELSHI: Christian Picciolini joins us next to talk about why he thinks white nationalism is on the rise in 2019.


VELSHI: Joining us now is Christian Picciolini, Host of the series "Breaking Hate". He`s a Former White Supremacist helping others "Escape the Movement" Christian, good to see you again. Tell us how you encountered Jeff Scoop and what you did to convince him to walk away from the hate group?

CHRISTIAN PICCIOLINI, "BREAKING HATE" HOST: Jeff Scoop has been a central figure on the white American White Supremacist Movement for 30 years. He was getting into the movement just as I was kind of at my peak 28 years ago.

He`s somebody that stood out to me somebody that I followed for a very long time as I`ve been researching this movement trying to help other people disengage. And just over the last couple of years, I`ve seen some cracks in his armor so to speak I`ve seen some hesitation in him.

So I did something that I typically don`t do, I actually went after him and I persuade him and very quickly established a good rapport with him and listened to him and how tired he was of the hate and also how sorry he was for some of the things that he`s been seeing happening lately.

So I really just listened to him and I tried to be an ear for him because in that movement, there is not a whole lot you can be honest about with the other people in it. It`s always about putting up a show of force. So I think for the first time in his life, he actually had somebody listen to vulnerabilities. That doesn`t mean he doesn`t have a long road to go. He has a lot of work in front of him.

VELSHI: Hate sound is so active. The concept of being tired of hate and having vulnerabilities inside your hate seems so unusual. What does that look like to you? How did you sense that was possible? What language do you use to say to someone aren`t you tired of it and I can help you with this?

PICCIOLINI: You know, I think most people would be surprised to learn that I do a lot of listening instead of talking. I don`t debate. I don`t tell them that they`re wrong because I know that just pushes them further away.

So I did a lot of listening what I call potholes, the things that happened in his life that 14 years old detoured him down that path just like I had been detoured at 14 years old. And then I started to fill those potholes in trying to build his resilience.

And I showed him compassion when he`s a man who wasn`t getting a lot of compassion from anybody rightfully so, he didn`t deserve it for the hate that he was putting out into the world but I used that as an opportunity really let him pour out his soul to me and when he did that I started to see that there really was a broken child inside that 45-year-old body.

VELSHI: What does change look like to somebody like that? If you`re 45 years old, how old were you when you changed your outlook? How does that happen? We feel like we`re grown developed fully baked beings and then you`re going to set someone not just on a course that`s sort of neutral, I guess if you live in a world of hate, neutral doesn`t sort of isn`t a great place to be after that?

PICCIOLINI: I was 14 years old when I was recruited in 1987. I was out after eight years in 1996 when I was 23 years old and it was really the compassion that people showed me, people that I least deserved it from people who were African American, who were Jewish, who were gay, who saw in me something else.

They weren`t interested in pushing me away for murder and wanted to explore who I was underneath that armor that I was wearing. It was compassion that I received from them at a time I least deserved really was the most powerful thing.

For somebody like Jeff Scoop who has been in this movement since he was 14 years old and in his 40s now, he`s never held a job outside of the movement. He`s never had any interactions with other people outside from ideological comrades that he has had.

So for him, it really it`s going to be a difficult road and because when you take somebody out of a sense of identity, community and purpose, you have to replace it.

VELSHI: It`s a rebirth of sorts what an interesting thing. Christian thanks for the work that you`re doing and thank you for joining us tonight.

PICCIOLINI: Thank you.

VELSHI: You can watch the premiere of the latest episode of "Breaking Hate" this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.