RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It has been a dark week. These are difficult times for our country. As always, that just means all the more reason to pay attention and all the more reason to appreciate stuff totally outside of what is going wrong when it still goes right. Like Happy Valentine`s Day. We will see you again on Monday. Now it`s time for the "Last Word." Ali Velshi in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: And Happy Valentine`s Day to you. We will see you on Monday, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks my friend. Appreciate it.
VELSHI: Tonight, Michael Moore will join us. I`m going to ask him to help us assess Donald Trump`s re-election chances. Michael is always honest about this. It`s going to be a good conversation.
Plus, we`re on the ground in Nevada talking to voters about the Democratic race and former Governor Bill Weld of Massachusetts will join us on what his stronger than expected showing in the New Hampshire Republican primary means for Trump this fall.
But we begin, as Rachel discussed, with the country`s rule of law facing a growing crisis as the controversy widens over the Attorney General and President Trump`s influence over the Department of Justice.
Tonight, new controversial developments involve the people both at the center of the president`s impeachment and the Russia investigation. And the Department of Justice is deeply divided tonight because of the influence of Donald Trump as he tries to vindicate his allies and to exact revenge on his perceived enemies. Here`s what Attorney General Bill Barr wants you to believe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case. If he were to say, you know, go investigate somebody because -- and you sense it`s because they`re a political opponent, then an attorney general shouldn`t carry that out, wouldn`t carry that out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That`s what you might call a red herring. We`ll discuss that. Just hours after Bill Barr said that, we learned that he has assigned an outside prosecutor to review the criminal investigation of a Trump loyalist, Trump`s former National Security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Let`s just remember that Michael Flynn, a retired general pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the investigation into Russian interference two years ago. Interestingly and somewhat mysteriously, Flynn recently tried on withdraw his guilty plea, an effort which the judge rejected.
NBC News` Carol Lee reports, "The inquiry into Flynn`s FBI interview could be aimed at several former officials Trump has repeatedly criticized including former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, people familiar with the inquiry said.
They also said it could be part of an effort to make a presidential pardon of Flynn more palatable. James Comey and Andrew McCabe are two of Trump`s favorite punching bags. Trump has repeatedly called for McCabe to be prosecuted.
And the Department of Justice seem like it might be prepared to do just that. But today -- look, those are all the tweets asking for McCabe to be prosecuted. Today, the Department of Justice announced that McCabe will not face charges and that has reportedly infuriated Trump. We also learned that the federal judge who was overseeing the McCabe case raised alarms in court about the president`s involvement in the case.
Judge Reggie Walton, a Bush 43 appointee said in court, "The public is listening to what`s going on, and I don`t think people like the fact that you got somebody at the top basically trying to dictate whether somebody should be prosecuted.
I just think it is a banana republic when we go down that road and we have those types of statements being made that are conceivably, even if not influencing the ultimate decision, I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undue inappropriate pressure being brought to bear."
Now, McCabe, Flynn, and Roger Stone are all involved in the Russia investigation. But there is a new development regarding the Ukraine scheme. The Washington Post" reports that as the impeachment trial was coming to an end, federal prosecutors took new steps into their investigation of Rudy Giuliani including an interview with a witness last week.
Prosecutors have also sought information related to the former U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom you will recall Giuliani pushed hard to oust. Prosecutors have also inquired about two companies with ties to Giuliani`s former associate, Lev Parnas, the guy in the red shirt.
But here`s the weird thing. On Monday, the Attorney General Bill Barr, confirmed that the Justice Department has created an "intake process" to evaluate dirt on the Bidens that Rudy Giuliani continues to collect from Ukrainian sources.
The "Washington Post" puts it this way, "The parallel developments mean that one part of the Justice Department is scrutinizing Giuliani while another is accepting information from him allegedly concerning a political rival of the president."
Now, this all comes as the president has made a stunning admission about Rudy Giuliani. During the impeachment inquiry, President Trump strongly denied sending his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to Ukraine on his behalf.
But in an interview with Geraldo Rivera yesterday, the president changed his story and admitted he did do it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine, your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not at all. Rudy was a great crime fighter. You know that maybe better than anybody else.
RIVERA: Of course. Yes. I interviewed him --
TRUMP: Rudy`s totally on his game. So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and the one other thing about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the very best prosecutors and the best mayor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Well, he`s just the best. Joining me now is Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general and an MSNBC legal contributor. He`s the author of "Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump." Neal, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.
I just think we need to remind our viewers. It`s been a few days. People have had some chance to soak this in. There is nothing normal about what has been going on at the Justice Department in the last few days.
Bill Barr has made it seem like, hey, I`m the attorney general. We`ve got prosecutors around here. We always sort of chew the fat and talk about sentencing and changing recommendations and things that we`ve asked for. That`s not really true and it`s not really true when the only ones that Barr seems to get involved in are things directly related to Trump.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Ali, that`s poppycock, really, to put it mildly. This is unprecedented. It is incredibly disheartening to me and everyone who works at the Justice Department.
I can tell you Ali that, you know, I`ve talked to a bunch of former high ranking Republican, Democrat, people who served in the Justice Department. There is not a single person who is not enormously worried about what is going on right now. It should transcend politics
VELSHI: I mentioned at the top of the show that Bill Barr may have been throwing out a red herring here. I want to just play a little bit more of what he said and I want your evaluation of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job. I`m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: I mean, evaluate that for me. He`s not going to be bullied or influenced by anyone. He knows exactly what Trump wants. Trump puts it out always in plain sight with tweets. He said later in that interview, I don`t see tweets or I don`t know that anybody tweeted. It was only after he told the prosecutors in Roger Stone`s case to ask for a lower range that he found out the president had tweeted about it. I think the legal term you used in your last answer was poppycock.
KATYAL: Yes. So look, I mean, I think we should wait to hear what Attorney General Barr`s explanation is for what has happened this week and what mishmash he was saying. I mean, it doesn`t make any sense.
If you think it`s impossible to do your job, you are the attorney general of the United States. You then resign. You don`t go and complain about it in an interview.
And by the way, I don`t understand why he`s giving an interview to ABC and not the Congress of the United States. I mean, these are some of the most serious things the Justice Department ever confronts, which are political accusations that they are using the prosecution power to fix cases, to help the president`s friends, to hurt his enemies.
I mean, he should be up there and explaining that now not later. And, you know, this is an attorney general who comes in with a very blemished record. He falsely summarized the Mueller report with that four-page memo before.
Last week he stood by while the president gave his, you know, his celebration for being, you know, not found guilty in the impeachment thing. The president said -- he attacked "FBI scum" and the attorney general sat there and did nothing.
I would think those kinds of things make it impossible to do the attorney general`s job. The attorney general is of course the boss of the FBI.
VELSHI: Let me ask you about that. On March 31st, he will apparently go before the House Judiciary Committee at Congress to maybe explain. I don`t know what he`s going to do. Earlier today, I spoke with Michael Conway who at the time of the Nixon impeachment was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and asked him what he thought might happen on March 31st. Here`s what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CONWAY, COUNSEL TO THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DURING NIXON IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY: We used to worry that someone would put their thumb on the scale of justice. Bill Barr is breaking the scale of justice. He`s become the errand boy for the president and politicized the Justice Department completely.
The career members of the Justice Department are very demoralized by this. And I think that the House Judiciary Committee will grill him. But we`ve seen in the hearings that he had before the Senate Judiciary Committee`s confirmation.
Bill Barr is a wily speaker. He`s not going to be flummoxed by this questioning. He`s going to dodge and weave. He said he was going to enforce the rule of law and now we see what he`s really done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: So Neal, the one compliment we can all pay Bill Barr is he is a good talker, he is wily. He`s good at this stuff. So what comes of Bill Barr going to Congress and being asked to explain himself?
KATYAL: Well, you`re right. I mean, I think Barr is not Trump. I mean, Trump as you were to saying about Ukraine, he can`t keep his lies straight at all and, you know, he just gets confused. Barr doesn`t have that problem.
But I think Barr has a deeper problem when he goes and testifies on March 31st, which is really the reality, which is the president and Barr seem to be bent on investigating all of the president`s enemies and benefiting all the president`s friends.
I mean, he has now launched investigations into the investigators over Michael Flynn, the president`s National Security adviser, Roger Stone, the president`s campaign official and close confidante, Carter Page before that, also someone who worked on the Trump campaign.
So, he`s been launching all of those investigations. And it`s kind of like Ukraine in the sense of, you know, the president said what I did was right. I was trying to fight corruption. And he was asked, Well, can you come up with any other example anywhere in the world where you actually cared about corruption? And he couldn`t then.
And similarly here, Barr should be asked, you know, here you are doing president`s bidding time and time again. You`re now magically concerned about unfairness over Roger Stone. There are thousands of criminal cases in the system. Why aren`t, you know, which other case have you --
VELSHI: Why did you get involved in these three?
KATYAL: Yes. What other case have you been concerned about the unfairness which wasn`t tied to the president`s, you know, political favors and the like?
VELSHI: Well (INAUDIBLE) on this guy. We could chart it all out and look at it statistically to say, oh, you know what, every 12 days he gets himself involved in one of these sentencing cases. We`d love to see that evidence to see how regularly he does because he is presenting this as normal.
And you said something, you said time and time again. You made a reference to, I think it was about the middle of 2018 when Bill Barr, private citizen, former attorney general, wrote this memo, this 20-page memo, unsolicited to Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general about why Trump shouldn`t to have answer Bob Mueller`s questions.
It sounds like that might have been a job interview or an application because eight or nine months later, he was confirmed as the attorney general who was then receiving Bob Mueller`s report and didn`t tell the rest of us for three or four weeks about what was in that report.
So, it is time and time again, Bill Barr has shown us who he is over and over again. If anybody doesn`t believe it now, shame on them.
KATYAL: Yes. And I just want to say one word about why this is so important. I mean, our prosecution system depends on people having trust that it`s not political, that you`re not using the awesome machinery of justice and imprisonment and prosecutors to go after the enemies of the president or to help the president.
That`s how I always saw it. In two different administrations of the Justice Department, I saw so many instances in which the politics said to do one thing, or even the White House`s desires, the president`s desires.
But the Justice Department said no, that`s not the right thing to do for the country and the interest of the United States government and they didn`t do it. And this president, it seems like it`s always the reverse.
VELSHI: And we say they didn`t do it. They, people who might have been Republicans, people who might have been Democrats, people who are career prosecutors. This has been tested over and over again. And generally speaking, the apparatus and the structure and the spine of the Justice Department has survived this sort of effort to influence it.
KATYAL: Correct. And it`s not just the career folks. I would even say the political folks. I mean, I remember one occasion in which there was a White House official who was trying to lean on me to do something and I said I will resign before that. And that wasn`t an uncommon thing.
I mean, if there was ever pressure put on someone in a way, they would do the right thing and say no I won`t do that or I resign. They don`t go and do the president`s bidding and then go give some, you know, a mealy mouth speech about how it makes it impossible to do their job, but then they continue doing the job in the way the president wants them to do it.
VELSHI: Neal, always good to talk to you. Thank you, Neal Katyal.
Just ahead, we`re going talk about the Trump primary challenger, the former Governor Bill Weld and his take on the growing crisis at the Justice Department, and we`ll discuss his campaign`s surprise showing in the New Hampshire Republican primary and why that could be a bad sign for President Trump in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m not happy with it. Do you think I`m supposed to be happy with if I`m not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is sending a signal that the Pentagon should look into disciplining Vindman.
TRUMP: We sent him on his way to a much different location.
ALEXANDER VINDMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SCURITY COUNCIL: Dad, I`m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol. You made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry.
TRUMP: The military can handle him any way they want.
VINDMAN: I will be fine for telling the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: What a great ad, pointing to just one still picture of Vindman and showing you what everything that Vindman had on his uniform jacket meant about what that man has done for America.
It`s an ad by The Lincoln Project, which is an organization of Republicans committed to defeating Trump in 2020 after Trump removed the decorated veteran Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman from his -- and his brother, by the way, his twin brother, from the White House.
Vindman had testified in the impeachment investigation on November 19th. He was removed two days after all but one Republican senator voted to acquit Donald Trump, including this particular Republican senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the president has learned from this case.
NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS NEWS HOST: What do you believe the president has learned?
COLLINS: The president has been impeached. That`s a pretty big lesson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Well, Donald Trump told reporters he wanted the Army to investigate Colonel Vindman. But today the Army flat out shut down that request. And here`s what Senator Susan Collins, the last remaining congressional Republican from New England has to say now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think there`s any lesson that he learned from being impeached?
COLLINS: I don`t know which actions you`re referring to. I`ve made very clear that I don`t think anyone should be retaliated against. That has nothing to do with the basis by which I voted to acquit the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right. One Republican who has a lot to say about President Trump is this man, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. Now, I want to talk to him about running for president in a minute, but during Watergate, Bill Weld was a counsel on the House Judiciary Committee. He is also running for the Republican presidential nomination against President Trump. Governor, good to see you again. Thank you for joining me.
BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
VELSHI: Governor, you and I spoke on the morning after the New Hampshire primary. This other story had not ripened at that point, this whole story about Bill Barr and Donald Trump and the Roger Stone story. It is kind of remarkable -- I was just talking on Neal Katyal about this -- that Bill Barr has spun this tale about what the Department of Justice is and how it works. That is not in keeping with our traditions or perhaps with your understanding of what it is supposed to be doing.
WELD: Ali, I`m just sick about the whole thing with the Justice Department. I was inspired to go into law enforcement by my work on the Nixon impeachment. And I got there and I served seven years in the department under Ronald Reagan, five as a U.S. attorney and two as, you know, a pretty good job, as assistant attorney general of the United States in charge of the criminal division, first among equals in Washington.
And my entire time there, I was dedicated to trying to keep politics out of law enforcement. And I`ve never seen anything so brazen as what the president and Attorney General Barr are trying to do, and doing on a daily basis.
I mean, when A.G. Barr said the president is making it impossible for me to do my job, what he meant was, Mr. President, you`re blowing my cover. Don`t call attention to what I`m doing. And, you know, when I was a criminal and Steve Trot and Lowell Jensen were my superiors in the department, all career prosecutors, long time prosecutors, there was sort of an informal death penalty for anyone who interfered with the U.S. Attorney`s office in the field, doing what they thought had to be done.
And that was a golden era of law enforcement. And the president and his attorney general who auditioned for the job are trashing that entire tradition, and with it goes the rule of law and the idea of a government of laws and not have men and women.
VELSHI: And I want to remind everybody, you are a Republican. And everybody we`ve had on here who was a former Department of Justice employee has the same thing to say. That there have always been pressures, there have always been political pressures, there`s always been White Houses which wanted the attorney general and the Justice Department to do certain things. But this level of interference is unforeseen. It`s not something that we`ve ever seen before and it`s not something anybody would have expected.
WELD: It`s unprecedented. And when I received hints from ranking people in the government that maybe I should go slow or fast on a case because someone was a friend from the president, I was gone. I resigned. And that was a good job.
And so did the deputy attorney general of the United States, Arnie Burns, and so did his top two aides. And so did my top two aides. We weren`t fussing around, because the principle of the rule of law and keeping politics out of law enforcement was at the core of our professional commitment.
VELSHI: So, you`re doing more than what most people who have made a national past time out of lamenting this administration is doing. You`re actually running for president. But for the rest of us, what are the options here? March 31, Bill Barr goes before the House Judiciary Committee for which you were counsel. What can possibly happen? What can come out of that?
WELD: Well, I think the attorney general is way over the line. I think the memo he sent in to Rod Rosenstein in June of `18 was an audition for the job of A.G. He has persuaded the president that in the president`s words, I have this thing called Article II of the Constitution and it says I can do whatever I want.
I believe that came straight from Bill Barr. Bill Barr used to be a good strong guy, by the way. This is a new person to me. And you know, he has said that the president basically has absolute power when he is exercising, an enumerated power under the Constitution, he can`t be questioned.
It doesn`t matter if he took a $100 million bribe to do it. If it`s something he has the right to do, he can`t be questioned. Well, that`s so obviously not the law. It`s ludicrous.
VELSHI: Well, except what the president`s lawyers argued in the impeachment case, is that if there is something that maybe in the president`s personal interest, but there`s also a national interest involve. He`s covered. Now, not a lot of people believe that argument, but that seems to be the --
WELD: That is -- that is also ludicrous as is the president`s claim that because he is Article II, that Article I, that Congress has no oversight authority over him. That flies in the face of the plain language of the Constitution. So you just -- it`s hard to imagine a more effrontery than the president, and I regret to say this, Bill Barr are displaying here.
VELSHI: Governor, again, you are a man who has been in there, you know, the whole time, and you`re still in the arena against this president. On Tuesday, you participated in the Republican primary in New Hampshire. And I just want to put the numbers up here.
You got 9.1 percent of the vote. Donald Trump got 85.6 percent of the vote. Notwithstanding the fact that you got an uphill battle to take him on in the election, and I just want to maybe put up on the screen the number of states in which primaries have essentially been canceled. You know, that you`re not going to have a fair chance to go up against him. What is the fact that you got 9.1 percent of vote tell about the election in November?
WELD: Well, I think we can do better than that on Super Tuesday. I`ve got Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado, California, Utah, pretty good states for me. So I think as people come to realize that there is an alternative to President Trump in the Republican Party, and that would be me, and I`m still standing and we`re going forward, I think we can do better than that.
And that will, you know, be even more of a hole in the SS Trump ship below the water line. And you know, Steve Bannon said that if the president loses 3 to 4 percent of the, in his words, "traditional Republican vote," then the president can`t be re-elected. Well, that means, you know, losing 9 percent, the president is already not going to be re-elected. But I think we can do a lot better than that and it`s full speed ahead for us.
VELSHI: Bill, you`re doing better than still standing. You`re thriving. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. Thanks again for joining us tonight.
WELD: Thanks, Ali.
VELSHI: All right, coming up, the president`s reckless post impeachment behavior makes it seem like he thinks he`s invincible but aren`t his actions doing more damage to his reputation than we actually think? Michael Moore is joining me next to break down the numbers and give us some insight on what voters are really thinking about Trump as the presidential election heats up.
VELSHI: Donald Trump is the first President in history who was running in a general election after being impeached and acquitted. And it begs the question just how strong is the support for Donald Trump and his 2020 re- election campaign?
Last week, a Gallup poll showed Donald Trump with a 49 percent approval rating, that`s the highest in Gallup since he took office in 2017. But this poll is an outlier. Trump has never at any point in his presidency in any credible national poll hit 50 percent. And in fact, in four recent post impeachment poll, President Trump`s approval rating never got near 50 percent. They were 41, 41, 44 and 43.
Now, in a new University of Texas, Texas Tribune Poll, President Trump is underperforming with Texas voters. Now, these numbers still look favorable for him, but 48 percent of voters in Texas, which Trump won in 2016 by five points, now say they would vote to re-elect Donald Trump.
The poll also shows the President narrowly leading all of the top Democratic candidates in Texas within the poll`s margin of error. But it`s important to note that Trump did not receive a majority of the vote in any of these head-to-head polls.
Joining me now Michael Moore, an Academy Award winning filmmaker. He recently launched his new podcast "RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE". Michael, what do you make of all of this? Donald Trump, whether or not it seems reasonable, hit an all-time high in that particular poll in the week he was impeached.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Yes. No, in the week that he was--
MOORE: So America loves a winner. So I`m not surprised that that people that may have just hung up the phone in previous weeks on pollsters call. They might have said, yes, all right, good. He beat the system. That`s - we are that way as Americans. But, no, I think listen, let me--
VELSHI: But there`s a real concern here. There`s a real underlying concern that lots of people--
MOORE: Absolutely. No, no, no and I want to speak to this.
MOORE: But I first want to preface that. Anything that sounds like optimism coming out of my mouth. I want people to - at home to know that nobody can slow down or think that they don`t have any work to do between now and November.
MOORE: Everybody has to be off the bench and involved in a significant way, or there will be four more years of Donald Trump.
Having said that, I think that what we`ve seen recently is that Trump is actually very beatable. I mean, I know a lot of people, especially Democrats, whatever, they`re very nervous, they`re very afraid. Who do we pick? Who do we pick? It`s got to be the person who is going to beat him? Well, all the polls are showing you for the last few months that there`s at least three or four Democrats that beat Trump and every head to head poll. Every head to head poll, the Democrat wins.
VELSHI: Right. But you know more than most people that head to head polls don`t tell you how it all breaks down.
MOORE: Well, I know this, especially because of what happened in `16 and what I tried to warn Democrats--
VELSHI: In states like he run.
MOORE: In states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. That if the candidate, if the party decides to flip off a state and literally not go, like to Wisconsin - like that`s what happened in `16. Candidate - the Democratic candidate did not go there.
In Michigan, it was even weirder. We couldn`t get yard signs. I mean, literally, nobody could get a yard sign. And finally, when I was making my film the year after, and I talked to one of the top people in the DMC Hillary campaign, I said, just a quick question here. How come we couldn`t get yard signs in Michigan?
And he knew the answer. I said, you mean it was on purpose? He goes, oh, yes, yes, we decided it wouldn`t be a good idea for Trump voters to see a lot of Hillary signs on the road are on the street, because it would remind them every day that they had to get out there and vote. I said you made a decision out of fear? You were afraid of Trump, so you thought people weren`t going to know there was an election going on if you didn`t put a Hillary sign in the yard?
I mean, this is the way - this is what I - is killing me about Democrats and people who are going to vote Democratic, to be in the sense of this place of fear. Trump is not some invincible, large iron giant that`s going to crush everybody. He is disliked. He`s the most disliked President that`s run for office. Certainly, an incoming President, probably since - I hate to say it, Jimmy Carter`s numbers are pretty low - was a great man.
But, there`s no way that people should be afraid of him. And, frankly, the more you sink into your despair, the more that that you just are in the state of anxiety, the more power you give Trump--
VELSHI: But that state of anxiety is shared by a lot of people. You are--
MOORE: --we`ve lived through three years of this.
VELSHI: But you, in particular, are a - you come from a blue collar place. Your - you have that background, you`re a white man in America. And when we look at the numbers of people who--
MOORE: And I only have high school education.
VELSHI: Right. So you look at--
MOORE: So I am Trump demographic.
VELSHI: Correct. So look at the congressional election study in October- November of 2016 shows that 12 percent of people who voted in that primary reported voting for Bernie Sanders. You are a Bernie Sanders supporter.
VELSHI: Then in November they voted for Trump.
MOORE: Correct. Right. Right. Yes, that`s what happens. And it was even worse in 2008. 15 percent of people who voted for Hillary in the primaries between her and Barack Obama - 15 percent of Hillary voters voted for John McCain. Even more, in 2008, Democrats who voted for Hillary voted for the Republican more than what then the--
VELSHI: So what does that tell you?
MOORE: It tells me that we got - by `16 we got better. We got better at it, because there were fewer Bernie voters from the primaries who decided to vote for Trump.
VELSHI: But many of those voters, their economic anxiety, and their economic concerns are the same, right? They - both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have tapped into a rich vein of frustration.
MOORE: Yes, frustration. That`s a plain way to put it.
MOORE: People in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and elsewhere--
VELSHI: Right, more than frustrated.
MOORE: --are more than pissed off at what is going on. And a lot of people who didn`t necessarily like Trump saw him as this human Molotov cocktail that they could throw into a system that they wanted to blow out.
MOORE: Well, enough of those people. By the end of the first year Trump, I think, saw the error of that, and they`re not going to ---
VELSHI: Do you believe that to be true?
VELSHI: Because you know more about this part of America than I do.
MOORE: Yes, because they didn`t like Trump to begin with.
VELSHI: Do you really think they are mad about - do they do think they get that their wages are not up significantly, that the stock market is at record highs, but it`s not affecting their lives?
MOORE: Yes. Are you kidding? of course, they`re living it. Everything they get--
VELSHI: So why are we still seeing those farmers who were affected by the trade war, saying we`re sticking by Trump.
MOORE: OK. I can`t - I know I see that on TV, and I`m just thinking, this is bad casting or something. I don`t know where they find. But I shouldn`t say that, because I spent a couple weeks in Iowa. And it was so - the level of fear and frustration was so low - I mean, low in the sense that people were low.
VELSHI: People were low. Yes,
VELSHI: The level of frustration was high.
MOORE: The level of frustration was high. People were very depressed. And they don`t really know where to go or what to do. The question that keeps getting asked, especially on this network on all the shows, how is it that Bernie is so far ahead? Why is he still number one?
Now he`s 10 points ahead at number two in today`s poll. And 70 percent of young adult voters in Texas say they`re for Bernie. And you got to - or how about this statistic? This is just last weekend. The candidate that has the most contributions from active duty service members, active duty military is Bernie Sanders.
Why don`t we hear that? Why don`t we know that? Why don`t we - I think that - I think it`s confounded the pundit class too. I think it`s been - how did he get here? Why would people - he`s not going to win. Oh, really? Well, I think you`re about - then you`re the same people who told us Trump wasn`t going to win.
VELSHI: Are guys like you - and you`d be honest with me.
MOORE: Yes, yes.
VELSHI: We grew up sharing international border.
VELSHI: S Bernie Sanders, the guy who can create a coalition really? Because we know a lot of people who say Bernie Sanders isn`t a Democrat, really. And if he runs, I`m not voting for him. How do you address that honestly? This is just Michael Moore and Ali Velshi, no cameras here.
VELSHI: I can tell you exactly how I have been addressing it. First of all, I know Bernie. I`ve known for 30 years. You don`t see this part in the clips on TV, but he`s a person that is - he says this all the time in his speeches. I never see it.
He talks about love and compassion, love and compassion. He really does like his - the people that he`s running with or running against on the Democratic stage. He that he doesn`t - when I was out there last week in New Hampshire. Every day, we get a memo from the campaign, saying please remember, be kind, don`t--
Yes, have the policy debate, have the disagreement, but only talk about actions, don`t talk about a personality thing. It`s wrong. It`s wrong just on a human level. This whole point from the campaign, it`s - but still, people watching this right now, they`re going, I don`t know, can you win? Can you win?
And it`s that jittery, that nervous thing that what part of this don`t they understand that I think that sometimes - look in life there`s not going to be anything that`s absolutely certain. And you`re going to have to take a bit of a risk in your own mind. But I`m telling you--
VELSHI: Hold that thought. We`re going to continue that discussion, because--
MOORE: Dot, dot, dot--
VELSHI: Until they get a podcast I actually started--
MOORE: Dot, dot, dot, dot--
VELSHI: I have to take commercial break. Good to see you Michael. Thank you, as always. Michael Moore.
MOORE: Thank you.
VELSHI: After the break our panel, Zerlina Maxwell, and Christina Beltran join me. And later we`ll get thoughts on the Democratic primary from voters in the next state - Nevada.
VELSHI: Trump is very beatable in 2020. That`s a conversation I just had with Michael Moore. Joining me to talk about the Zerlina Maxwell, Senior Director of Progressive Programming at SiriusXM radio, and an MSNBC Political Analyst; and Christina Beltran, an Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural analysis at New York University. She`s the author of " The Trouble with Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity" Welcome to both of you.
Zerlina, let me just start with you. I want you to give me an evaluation of what Michael just told us. That frustration, that probably helped Donald Trump - not probably, obviously, helped Donald Trump into office in 2016, maybe the same frustration that he says gets him out of office in 2020.
ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that, you know, there`s been a lot said about what that frustration should be called, whether or not it`s so called economic anxiety or something else. But I think that there is a lot of anxiety in groups of Americans that we don`t talk about enough and that also contributed to the 2016 outcome.
So what I say is that why don`t we look at all of the voters, not just the 77,000, but the diverse coalition that you`re going to need. And if a million black people stayed home, if turnout dropped among people of color in these critical states, because remember, black people live in Wisconsin as well, then that that is also a place where Democrats can surely benefit in focusing on turnout. Because any democrats going to get 90 percent of the black vote, but it matters how many votes that actually ends up being.
VELSHI: Christiana, what do you think?
CHRISTINA BELTRAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NYU: I think she`s exactly right. I think democracy is on the ballot. And I think that one of the big issues in this election is how do you turn nonvoters into voters? So rather than simply, you know, looking for the same types of voters, I think we have one task in this election, right, which is get rid of a tyrant and get rid of enablers of tyranny. Right?
So I think that really thinking about this in a more democratic and broad way, rather than just thinking about these three states. It`s about down ballot elections. It`s about transforming the whole vision of what we`re trying to do in an election.
And I think that - you know, for me, that`s one of the issues I have a little bit with Bloomberg is I feel like we`re looking for someone to rescue us. And I think something that we really have to take seriously in this election is that we are going to save ourselves. So whoever the candidate is, that`s one question.
BELTRAN: But the bigger question is, who are we
VELSHI: But, generally the 2018 election actually showed a bit of what Christina is talking about. The idea that there were down ballot races. There were independent - people who were otherwise not politicized young people, women, people of color, women of color, who ran for office and actually won. It was people saving themselves. How does that become victory in 2020?
MAXWELL: Well, I think what it should tell us is that we shouldn`t - like to Christina`s point, not look for the savior. We`re never going to find the perfect and safe candidate that`s definitely going to be Donald Trump. This is an American election. Those are usually close.
And so what we need to do is build the coalition. In order to do that, you pick the candidate that that elicits enthusiasm from the base of the Democratic Party, which is a coalition of people of color. And if you don`t start there, then you`re doing it wrong. You don`t start with the 77,000. You start with the core of the party.
VELSHI: Everyone else.
MAXWELL: I asked the Republicans just to start, you know, with the John Kasich voters and forget the base. And so we should not do that on our side. We should focus on exciting black and brown voters and they do - you do that through speaking directly to their issues.
VELSHI: And Christina, arguably every candidate that came out of New Hampshire said they were the one to do that. Everybody`s speech was about that. I am the one who can build the coalition.
VELSHI: Who our viewers, who our people who are watching these things supposed to believe how do you make - how do you discern who wins, because that`s the ultimate strategic voting right? If you want to defeat Donald Trump, you elect the person you think is the best coalition builder. But how do you determine that?
BELTRAN: I know. I think it`s really hard to play pundit. Right?
BELTRAN: To sort of think about, well, who would - I mean, basically, every single one of these, we don`t have a transcendent candidate this year. We don`t have kind of a - I think the way Bill Clinton sort of eventually popped out or the way Obama did.
I think that every one of these candidates has amazing strengths. They galvanize certain segments of the electorate. But they don`t galvanize every segment of the electorate, or they risk losing one part of it, and they risk, gaining another. They have the possibility of gaining another.
So I think that rather than thinking about it sort of strategically and tactically, people really should think, who excites me, whose agenda do I believe in, and then fight like hell. But, again, I also think it`s really important to think about if your if your commitment is to defeating Trump, then I think each and every one of us have to ask ourselves --what am I doing in the next nine months? What organizations am I donating to, what groups am I organizing with? Am I joining the League of Women Voters?
Like, what am I doing to transform this electorate? Am I talking to my family members. But it`s a democratic project for the public, not the perfect rescue candidate that will solve our problems. They`re all - in a way this is a grown up election, because there`s nobody perfect and we`re sort all for--
VELSHI: No is going to save you. You`re going to save yourself.
BELTRAN: And we`re sort of all going.
VELSHI: Hold that thought. Zerlina and Christina, stay with us. When we come back. We`re going to hear from voters in Nevada. That`s the next state to caucus. What are they looking for in a candidate? Let`s ask them directly, and what could sway their vote. That`s next.
VELSHI: The Nevada caucuses are next Saturday, I`ll be there. But early voting in Nevada begins tomorrow. There are 36 pledged delegates at state, statistically very small, but it`s important for a couple of other reasons.
A new poll out of Nevada today has Bernie Sanders in the lead with 25 percent of the vote. Biden`s in second with 18; Warren is in third with 13; Tom Steyer has been spending a lot of money and time in that state is at 11 percent; Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are at 10 percent.
Joe Biden just wrapped up a town hall in Henderson, Nevada, NBC News Embed, Marianna Sotomayorw was there and she talked to some voters to see how they`re feeling about the Democratic primary. Here are two voters, Joe and Leslie talking about what they`re looking for in a candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a strong supporter of Joe Biden.
MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, NBC NEWS, POLITICAL CAMPAIGN EMBED: And why is that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like everything he stands for. I just think he`s the one to beat Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump has to go, that`s it. And I want the most honest and authentic human being, the most empathetic human being that`s possible to get in there. My grandmother was a Democratic Socialist, my mother was. I am. I want Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: But even Biden volunteer Ryan Phillips says he will support anyone as long as it`s not Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN PHILLIPS, BIDEN CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: It`s not like races in the past where there`s been a very clear front runner. I really don`t know what to expect. I think it`s really healthy and important for our party to have a robust primary.
You know, I`m going to support whoever the nominee is and do everything that I can to make them be the next President of United States. I think that most Democrats will, and hopefully most of the candidates right now will encourage their supporters to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Zerlina Maxwell and Christina Beltran are back with me. You heard him. Ryan, just say, Zerlina, I`m going to support whoever the candidate is, the nominee is. I think most Democrats will do that. That`s a really important statement. Is that true? Will most Democrats - most people we talked to say that.
But in the end, will people come out a Bernie Sanders is the candidate? Will people who don`t like Elizabeth Warren come out for her? Will people of color come out for Amy Klobuchar, because she`s ranking kind of zero with them right now. Is Michael Bloomberg going to trip up too many times? What do you think?
MAXWELL: Well, I think the question is, will they come out? Yes, if they have a reason. So if the Democrats who are putting forward their plans, you know, the Amy Klobuchars and the Pete Buttigiegs of the world, they can`t start with a sentence like, well, I`m really trying to get the support of the black community. But what - how? How are you doing that? What are you giving them so that they can show up and support you?
And I - you know, Pete Buttigieg has put forward a specific plan - "The Douglass Plan" for black America, and black voters can read that plan and assess for themselves whether or not they think - one, he can achieve it and, two, whether or not it will improve their lives. But it`s those kinds of plans, the details speaking directly to that community, that`s how you get voters to turn out.
So whether or not Amy and Pete can put in the work and earn those votes is an open question. Because part of part of that comes through time and trust and that`s the advantage that a Joe Biden has.
Elizabeth Warren is another, I think, under covered candidate in the sense that she`s building slowly. So she`s hiring staffers of color. That is a very important factor when you`re considering campaigns. Who are the people standing behind the candidate talking through the policy details with them, and how it`s going to impact those communities of color?
Are those staffers white and have no relationship to those communities, no connection to those communities? Or are those actually the community leaders themselves, the "Black Lives Matter" activists, the movement leaders who are informing those policies.
And so, I would advise, you know, encourage voters listening to go take a look at who folks have hired, what staffers are advising these campaigns, so that they can actually authentically speak to communities of color, and build those coalitions that they turn out in November.
VELSHI: And Zerlina is talking about the "The Douglass Plan," Pete Buttigieg`s plan. But a number of these candidates have got developed plans, particularly for disability communities, communities of color and not all of them, like, Mike Bloomberg has been doing, are tripping over themselves about that stuff.
Elizabeth Warren has been very strong this week about redlining. A lot of these candidates have plans. And there`s a sense that amongst communities of color and disadvantaged communities in America, they have a sensibility about these policies that might - they might find attractive in these candidates.
BELTRAN: Oh, no, I think definitely. And I think that - I think what`s interesting is also the difference between familiarity and being accountable to these communities. Because, you know, we have a long history, I mean, Bill Clinton went on Arsenio Hall, and he played the sax, and he felt very comfortable with communities of color.
He didn`t always violence and harm to those communities as well, like the `94 crime bill, which, you know, Biden was also a part of, the immigration laws. 1996 welfare reform laws did enormous damage to legal immigrants. That was only sorted about Bill Clinton.
So I think one of the things that these campaigns have to say is, you know, so someone like a Klobuchar or Buttigieg, you have to kind of say, I know you know me less. But I think one thing you have to do is judge me by what will do, and not just by the fact that I seem comfortable in these communities. It`s more than comfort, it`s also about being accountable to those communities.
VELSHI: That`s very notable point. Thank you for that.
Christina Beltran and - having trouble today. It`s the end of the day, I`ll get my mouth working again--
MAXWELL: Its Friday night. It`s OK.
VELSHI: --by tomorrow morning. Zerlina Maxwell and Christina Beltran, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
And tomorrow after I get a little bit sleep, catch the premiere of my new show "Velshi" airing Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am to 10:00 am Eastern. Our first show is going to go in-depth about why Michael Bloomberg is seeing a surge in African-American support, in spite of a weak - of racially changed controversy.
That is tonight`s "Last Word". "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" begins right now.