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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, August 25, 2020

Guests: Ben Rhodes, Claire McCaskill, Carlos Curbel


First Lady Melania Trump's speech offers sympathy for COVID-19 victims and addresses racial unrest. Mike Pompeo's RNC address from Israel stirs criticism. Some see chief diplomat's message of support for Trump policies as overstepping boundary between diplomacy and politics. Trump's use of White House as location for RNC speech blurs official business and politics. RNC claims Trump stands up for religious freedom despite anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We just need to talk about it openly. And you, the media, had the platforms to make that happen.

To the media industry and as a country, I ask that we all commit to helping in our fights against drug addiction by talking about it even more. Especially as we battle the COVID pandemic, we need to remember that suicides are on the rise as people who are struggling with loneliness and addiction feel they have nowhere to turn.

Parents, please talk to your children. Teachers, and caregivers, pay attention to signs of addiction. Lawmakers, pass legislation that allows those who ask for help to do so safely, and without fear, and to provide resources for organizations that help people impacted by addiction.

When the stigma is removed, people will no longer be ashamed to ask for help and lives will be saved.

And if -- if you're struggling with addiction, there is no shame in your illness. Please seek help. You are worth it.

In my next four years as first lady, I will continue to build upon Be Best and work with individual state to pass legislation to take care of our most vulnerable.

I plan to continue the work I have started with children in foster care, as well as in minority communities and tribal nations. I want to ensure children are being protected and communities have the resources needed to combat drug addiction and child neglect or abuse.

Like my husband and the administration, I will continue to encourage education that supports a child's individual needs. It is vital that children are given the building blocks to succeed.

I also look forward to continue my work to restore the people's house, which is a lasting symbol of pride for our nation. I believe this iconic home needs to be cared for and preserved so it can be enjoyed by the people of this country and visitors from around the world for years to come.

I'm passionate about this beautiful house -- the grounds, and all they represent.

And now, I have a special message for the mothers of this country.

This modern world is moving so fast. And our children face challenges that seem to change every few months. Just like me, I know many of you watch how mean and manipulating social media can be, and just like me, I'm sure many of you are looking for answers how to talk to your children about the downside of technology and their relationships with their peers.

Like every parent in this country, I feel there are so many lessons to teach our son. And the responsibilities as his mother but there's just not enough hours in the day to do it all. I remind myself that I'm more fortunate than most and still have days that I look for wisdom and strength to do the very best I can for him.

To mothers and parents everywhere, you're warriors. In my husband, you have a president who will not stop fighting for you and your families. I see how hard he works each day, and night.

And despite the unprecedented attacks from the media and opposition, he will not give up. In fact, if you tell him it cannot be done, he just works harder.

Donald --


Donald is a husband who supports me in all that I do. He has built the administration with an unprecedented number of women in leadership roles and has fostered an environment where the American people are always the priority. He welcomes different points of view and encouraged thinking outside of the box.

I know I speak for my husband and the family when I say we are so grateful that you have trusted him to be your president. And we will be honored to serve this incredible country for four more years.


As you have heard this evening, I don't want to use this precious time attacking the other side, because as we saw last week, that kind of talk only serves to divide the country further.

I'm here because we need my husband to be our president and commander-in-chief for four more years. He is what is best for our country.

We all know Donald Trump makes no secrets about how he feels about things. Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president. Whether you like it or not, you always know what he is thinking. And that is because he is an authentic person who loves this country and its people and wants to continue to make it better.

Donald wants to keep your families safe. He wants to help your family succeed. He wants nothing more than for this country to prosper and he doesn't waste time playing politics.

Almost four years ago, we went in to Election Day completely underestimated. Despite what is being said again this year, I know, just as you do, that Americans will go to the polls and vote on the behalf of their families, our economy, our national security and our children's future. To vote for those ideals is not a partisan vote, it is a common sense vote, because those are goals and hopes that we all believe in.

I believe that we need my husband's leadership now more than ever in order to bring us back once again to the greatest economy and the strongest country ever known.

God bless you all, your families, and God bless the United States of America.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: From the Rose Garden of the people's house with all the pomp and ceremony and music and scene setting and dramatic lighting of a state dinner or perhaps a treaty signing with a visiting foreign dignitary we have just heard from First Lady Melania Trump bringing night two to a close, as we welcome you once again as we continue our coverage of a convention that is shattering long standing traditions, maybe a few laws and regulations along the way as we begin another special two hour edition of the 11th Hour.

Let's start with what we have just seen, play out tonight. And we want to begin again with our friends in New York who have been anchoring all the way and watching along with us, Rachel Maddow, Nicole Wallace and Joy Reid.

Rachel, this is fielder's choice. Any of you may begin.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": I was just -- we've been talking about here on set among the three of us and you all help me out here. But we all remarked at the outset of her speech from the First Lady said very close to the top of her remarks, I want to acknowledge the fact that since March, our lives have changed drastically. The invisible enemy COVID-19 swept across our beautiful country and impacted all of us. My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one. And my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering.

Those are unremarkable remarks from a human standpoint, but it made sort of us all sit up and take notice, because that's the first time in two days that we have had even a straightforward expression of sympathy to the more than 179,000 American families who have lost a loved one to coronavirus.

This President is running for re-election, if there will very likely be more than 200,000 Americans dead on his watch just under the last few months leading up to his reelection effort. And it took the First Lady and these remarks tonight after two full nights convention coverage before somebody finally said I'm sorry for your loss. And I sort of didn't know I needed to hear it until I heard it. And then I realized, oh, my God, we've really made it this far without that before now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REIDOUT": You know, I was struck by the fact that, yes, Melania Trump made those remarks, but she made them in front of a crowd of like, 1000 people. And you know, there weren't that many shots of the way that this was shot. He didn't really see the crowd. But when they did show the crowd, I don't think there were a whole lot of masks being shown. You had Donald Trump also using the White House.

I was really struck tonight. And I have to say, not in a good way, by the use -- and in my view, misuse of the White House. They surrounded themselves with the trappings of the power, that in theory, they were given by the American people. These are not monarchs. This is not their property. You know, this was not an episode of cribs. I didn't need Melania Trump strolling down, you know, the galley way as if she'd just come from the living room in her home. But they use -- they have used the property of the American people, these sacred properties that are owned by the American people for politics tonight in a way that I think is offensive. I think is wrong. The -- and I was particularly as bad as this felt to me. I have to be honest. I'm -- you know, I'm not a fan of Melania Trump. I think the birtherism thing really sticks in my craw in a way I can't get out.

But even worse, I think was the naturalization ceremony that really stuck out to me tonight as the thing that is staying with me as I walk away from this. I mean, my mother did that ceremony. You know, when my mother came from Guyana, she was here for about 16 years before she became a naturalized American citizen. And that ceremony has such deep meaning for the people who become Americans. Donald Trump made that ceremony about him. He made that ceremony about celebrating Donald Trump. He did that ceremony inside of the White House when, as Jacob Soboroff reported tonight, other people who want to become citizens are being denied access to that ceremony. He's denying access to that ceremony to all these other people. And he did one specifically for politics specifically for his reelection. He used those people as props. He used people that would be from the s whole countries, he would not let into this country, people who look like those people who have the religions, perhaps of those people, people that are brown, like those people are barred from getting into the United States. They're not allowed to come in because they're not from Norway.

But Donald Trump used a color collection, a sort of crayon box of colors tonight to try to paint a false image of himself as welcoming to immigrants and welcoming to black people and brown people. It was offensive to see that done in the people's house that the naturalization ceremony is a sacred thing to a new American. It is not about Donald Trump. And he made it about Donald Trump. And he used the people's house to sort of, you know, play politics with. That's not a Barbie's Dreamhouse, that's the American people's house.

MADDOW: There is also, I'm saying the thread between using the White House and also using that sort of prop naturalization ceremony. You can also follow that through to doing the pardon.

REID: Yes.

MADDOW: Right?

REID: Absolutely.

MADDOW: As part of the convention tonight and having the secretary -- serving Secretary of State, given address while on a diplomatic trip and using a federal building.

REID: That's right.

MADDOW: All of these other federal properties, all of these things that basically are the province of the U.S. government using them for partisan purpose is against regulation in law in some cases, but there's a reason it strikes us all wrong. Those are all --

REID: It's monarchical. They used the monarchy.

MADDOW: It's the use of the powers of the presidency for a partisan end.

REID: Yeah.

NICOLE WALLACE, MSBBC HOST, "DEADLINE: I'm struck by two things. You know, we overuse this idea of norm busting but they are showcasing something. So norm busting is, you know, someone from the campaign shows they're facing the West Wing.

George W. Bush didn't let campaign staff in the West Wing any means of campaign staff were held in the residents just to dry physical boundary between when George W. Bush was thinking about his own reelection campaign, and when he was doing his day job. This is like the audacity of the grift on full display all night.

You got the son who, you know, got New York AG online too, holding for, Eric Trump and they're wailing away about -- God knows what making things up about Joe Biden

You've got the whole family really just, you know, the campaign seems to be carried out and showcased and photographed inside the people's house. And what strikes me is we are still for years in so ill-equipped for the depth of the grittiness of the Trump family and the audacity of the lies they tell. And even with, you know, you've done yeoman's work for two nights breaking into correct the facts. We are so -- we can't keep up with the propaganda. They're not telling lies. They are serving and producing propaganda, and we are still four years into his presidency, ill-equipped to respond to it.

REID: And Brian, if I could just say one more thing, just about the production of, just as television. We've been talking a lot about both the Democratic and the Republican convention just as TV. I don't know if anyone else agrees with this, but I found this droning. This felt like it was four hours long. If it had --

WALLACE: It was, wasn't it?

MADDOW: Well, it didn't move as quick --

REID: It didn't move because there's a droning quality to it. It's each person coming up and saying, Donald Trump is the greatest president ever. There's nothing better than Donald Trump. If you don't reelect Donald Trump, everyone is going to die over and over and over and over and over, all in the same tone of voice. There's no -- there was no art to it. It was sort of like, you know, watching a certain other network, but with the gamma turned way down, way down.

There was a -- there wasn't any life to it. And so convention is supposed to convince and compel the people who already like Donald Trump don't need to be convinced. They already believe Donald Trump is the greatest president ever and nothing can ever change their mind. Everybody else that watch this, this just wasn't television that was compelling to them.

MADDOW: I was -- I mean, yes, I think I do not disagree with you. And I think when we step back from this, what is tonight's going to be remembered for?

REID: Yeah.

MADDOW: What is night two of the Republican National Convention in 2020 going to be remembered for it's going to be either, Mike Pompeo saying that Ukraine has defensive weapons now. It's like literally bragging about what the President got impeached for while he stands on the roof of a Hotel of Jerusalem --

WALLACE: The audacity of it.

MADDOW: -- as serving Secretary of State. Exactly, you don't have to be a member of the Trump family to live in that form of array, to grift. But really the other thing that is going -- they're going to be remembered for is that this is the night that the very last second, they had to cancel one of their featured speakers, because she tweeted an anti-semitic conspiracy theory about the wisdom of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and how it's not an anti-semitic like that. I mean, this woman tonight literally tweeted that Hillary Clinton is a satanic priestess. And the Jews are out to destroy all the goyim. And at the very last minute, they decided they would cancel her. And then they did an entire -- a second night of speeches about how the Democrats want to cancel people for being politically incorrect. Like literally, really, it's -- I mean, the style stuff matters and the audacity stuff matters, but like we are so far down in terms of what our expectations are for how these nights are supposed to go.

WALLACE: I want to ask you for a question, Brian, because I've been on with you enough when you notice everyone in their official capacities. And you could not miss but maybe some people did military personnel in their official capacity tonight in that immigration ceremony. I mean, if you know anything about what's supposed to happen, that's like sticking your finger in a socket. It's so shocking and so jarring in the context of a political convention.

WILLIAMS: Active duty marine guards in the shot right there as they are outside the Northwest Portico, opening the doors, closing the doors with everyone who enters and exits all of this for political purposes.

And Rachel, coming out of the discussion about Melania Trump tonight you raised the pardon. One of the most awesome powers of the presidency is the full and complete power to pardon. That was done as a reveal, as a television segment. And just to be a television segment during this convention telecast.

MADDOW: Yeah. And it was -- I mean, in concept it's a little like the Roman Colosseum and the -- you know, there's the gladiators before them and the Emperor makes a show of, of showing his divine mercy, right, and deciding who lives and who dies. So there's that in terms of the showmanship of it, but also to continue to showcase the President's fascination with the pardon power feels different even in this presidency than it would in another presidency. It's a bit kind of creepy for any president to fixate on it in this way, but with what this President has done with pardons for people who have otherwise potentially been able to tell tales about him and his potential criminal behavior to prosecutors who are engaged in ongoing investigations of the President, his cronies his campaign, his inauguration and his businesses, that yeah, of course, he's he digs pardons, of course he's fascinated with that. Of course, he wants to talk about that all the time. It's -- it means something different when your son is actively defying subpoenas to give testimony under oath, the week that he's testifying on your behalf at your convention.

WILLIAMS: Or as we call it, Tuesday night around here. And to our friends in New York to Rachel, Nicole, and Joy, we get to do this again tomorrow night, and again the night afterwards. Thank you very much for your hours of on air service tonight as we now begin this special two hour edition of the 11th Hour. It is day 1,314 of the Trump administration, 70 days until our Presidential Election. Night two have this Republican National Convention such as it is virtually.

And we're following another night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After 29-year old Jacob Blake was shot in the back, point blank range by police that was on Sunday.

Today we heard from Blake's family who said he is now paralyzed from the waist down. His spine apparently shattered by one of the seven shots. He was in fact in surgery during this press conference today by attorney Benjamin Crump. We'll have more on what we heard from Blake's family in just a moment. But first, Mike Pompeo, his controversial address from the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, a former Obama foreign policy advisor is with us to talk about it as the 11th Hour is just getting underway on this Tuesday night.


SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY: To those of you who want to stand up and fight the socialists, poisoning our schools and burning our cities, join me in supporting President Trump. Let's rebuild America together.



MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm speaking to you from beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the Old City. I have a big job as Susan's husband and Nick's dad, Susan and Nick are more safe and their freedoms more secure, because President Trump has put his America First Vision into action that may not have made him popular in every foreign capital. But it's worked.


WILLIAMS: NBC news reporting tonight Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pre-recorded speech from the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem sharp focus not included appears to violate three legal memos issued by the State Department's own legal adviser our own Josh Letterman, Carol Lee And Andrea Mitchell, telling the story this way. "One of the legal memos in intended to guide political appointees, says explicitly in bold letters that senate confirmed presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention." House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee is now investigating Pompeo's decision to speak based on that internal guidance and then some.

So let's talk about it. With us to do that is Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Adviser in the Obama White House who is these days, co-host of the Pod Save the World podcast. Ben, I want to quote someone you and I both know and that's Richard Haass, Council of Foreign relations in New York and he writes tonight, the idea that Secretary Pompeo can speak at the RNC Convention, in his personal capacity betrays a basic misunderstanding any individual gives up his/her personal capacity to speak on foreign policy when he she takes the job. It is public service not political service. Ben, does Richard have it about right?

BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, he does, except for one thing. I actually don't think it's a misunderstanding, Brian. I think he knows that he's violating the law. And he just doesn't seem to care. Again, he thinks that there are rules that apply to his employees, the tens of thousands of men and women who served this country in our foreign service, in our civil service. And he thinks those rules don't apply to him.

And I think that part of what is important here is not only is he violating the law, not only is he doing something that has never been done in the history of the United States, but he's doing something fundamentally dangerous. He's politicizing the Office of Secretary of State. The rest of the world needs to look at that person and see someone who is speaking for all of America, someone who is representing American national interest, not just the parochial political interests of himself, or the President he serves. That's why secretaries of state don't do this.

WILLIAMS: Let's go down that very rabbit hole you just opened. How then do our allies and for that matter, our adversaries, who are all smart people view what happened tonight?

RHODES: Well, I think they've taken the measure of Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo. And they know that they're fundamentally interested only in their own political interests. And if you look at some of the things that Pompeo said, they just fly in the face of evidence, and they speak to this hyper focus on politics. He said NATO stronger. Donald Trump has done more damage NATO than any American president history, and our relationship to NATO allies have never been worse. He said that Donald Trump has held China accountable for the virus, when in fact, Donald Trump at the outset of the virus was praising Xi Jinping's leadership in dealing with it. Why was Donald Trump doing that? He was doing it because he wanted to get an election year trade deal from Xi Jinping that was important to his reelection campaign.

He sees everything in foreign policy through his personal political interest. Other countries have taken the measure of that and they know that they can gain this administration by taking advantage of that. The North Koreans, for instance, know, they can have a big showing meeting that Donald Trump can feel good about. It'll get a lot of television coverage. And they know that they don't have to do anything. They don't have to give up nuclear weapons. In fact, they build more.

And so again, the danger is other countries are looking at a government that is fundamentally not interested in protecting the security and interest of the American people but is only interested in their own parochial political interests.

WILLIAMS: Rewind here for the folks who may not have watched the speech but know the basics. This was taped at sunset yesterday afternoon, local time in Jerusalem. I believe he's moved on to Bahrain. But here's our Secretary of State flying into Israel on an aircraft emblazoned with the words United States of America of America on an official visit. It can't be anything but an official diplomatic visit. You're the Secretary of State of the United States. Remind People how far from normal it is then to choose that location for it to choose this guy to speak to a political convention back home.

RHODES: Well, first of all, the American taxpayer paid for that speech. We paid for him to fly to Jerusalem on U.S. government aircraft. I'm sure we paid for the suite of rooms that he's staying at, at the King David Hotel. That's where I stayed when I went on official travel to Israel.

And he's also politicizing the U.S./Israel relationship in exactly the kind of ways that people who support Israel always warn against, treating it as a partisan issue. Using Jerusalem literally as a backdrop to a speech at a political convention

And, again, you're talking about some of the most contested land in the world. You're talking about something that has been a source of conflict for decades, something that multiple administrations of both political parties have sought to secure Israel by brokering peace, by helping enhance Israel's security, not by looking at Jerusalem as something that's just a political backdrop to a speech you give to a Republican National Convention.

So, again, in the long run I don't think it's good for American foreign policy. I also don't think it's good for Israel to be treated like a political backdrop for a message that he wants to deliver to a Republican convention audience.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Ben, thank you very much for being our leadoff guest tonight. Our thanks to Ben Rhodes.

Coming up for us as our coverage continues, the Trump campaign had hoped the first lady's talk tonight would win over suburban women, or as the president prefers to call them, suburban housewives. We will ask our next guest how she did on that score. Claire McCaskill, Lawrence O'Donnell, Alicia Menendez standing by to join us when our coverage continues.



LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: The economy was rebuilt in three years. Then came a once in 100-year pandemic. It was awful. Health and economic impacts were tragic. Hardship and heartbreak were everywhere. But presidential leadership came swiftly and effectively with an extraordinary rescue for health and safety to successfully fight the COVID virus.


WILLIAMS: So with just under 180,000 souls dead, to hear it from the president's top economic adviser, the coronavirus pandemic is now pretty much behind us, so that is some good news we can all celebrate during our next discussion round.

And with us to do that, Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from the great state of Missouri. Plus two of our own, Lawrence O'Donnell, host of the 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour week nights, and Alicia Menendez, who you can see in the 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour weekends on this network. Good evening and welcome to all three.

Senator, I'd like to start with you, and I'm going to give you your pick. What affected you the most -- the awesome use of the presidential power to pardon used in this case as a TV segment reveal? The awesome use of the people's house as a soundstage in several different venues? Or there's always the Secretary of State speaking from Jerusalem.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO) FMR U.S. SENATOR: Yes. I have to take a deep breath here because I'm hopping mad. I'm just furious. I am furious at this little, small man trashing the people's house with his narcissism and his ego, using those people that were becoming American citizens as props. And by the way, he's the most anti-immigrant president in the history of our country.

I hope journalists are busy right now because I guarantee you there's somebody in that group that would not be allowed in this country under this president president's policies.

You know, it is just infuriating that he has blown up the hatch act like this and that all these people think these rules don't apply to them. Who do they think they are? It is just infuriating.

And by the way, Melania Trump, let me give her credit. She at least said for the first time anybody in this White House has ever said how badly she feels for the families who have lost a loved one to COVID.

But let's be real about whether or not she's really going to help him with women in the suburbs. They know what the deal is here. They've all defended husbands publicly. This is a woman whose husband had to pay court costs this week because he paid off a porn star because he was having sex behind her back with a porn star right after she gave birth to their son. Give me a break. I am done with this guy. Oh! Sorry.

WILLIAMS: Lawrence, Claire was unambiguous. Same question to you having spent years of your life and your early career in Washington. As far as we know, following the rules.

Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Yes. You know, I'm so -- I'm glad Claire let you know what it feels like for people who worked in government to watch this kind of abuse of literally of the buildings. It's kind of horrifying. When Claire was in the Senate and if she needed to make a fund-raising call or calls involving her re-election campaign, she had to leave the building, leave the building and go somewhere else, into a private building somewhere to make that phone call. And that's what senators do.

This kind of thing is respected. Staff respects it. The tripwires are everywhere on this kind of stuff, and it's very easy to observe these rules when you internalize them. This is really sacred religious for people who work in government to watch the White House being used this way, to watch what Mike Pompeo did in using all these government assets to go to Israel, to deliver that speech in Israel at the King David Hotel, a place where all of us who worked in government have stayed when we visit Israel.

It -- this thing is just filled with that kind of abuse through and through, and that's before you get to the policy stuff you just showed Larry Kudlow talking about how they had to rescue the economy when they arrived. They arrived with the greatest economy you could possibly ask for when Donald Trump entered the White House. Larry Kudlow and Donald Trump had nothing to do with energizing that economy.

Larry Kudlow did again tonight mention the Trump plan to cut Social Security taxes, and we just had the breaking news last night that I mentioned here was that the chief actuary of Social Security has said if the Trump plan goes into effect, six months into the next presidency, 2021, six months in, disability payments would stop, and they would stop forever.

The trust funds would be incapable thereafter of paying any disability. Retirement benefits would stop in 2023, halfway through the year, forever if the Trump plan goes into effect. That's part of what was inside Larry Kudlow's speech tonight.

WILLIAMS: Alicia, let's go back up to where Claire started the show. We call it the curated naturalization ceremony and how discordant people like Claire and people watching found it, not only to the tone, tenor and remarks of this gathering so far but the message sent by this administration.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Claire used the word "props" and that's the same word that I've heard from immigration advocates who highlight the president's record on this issue. Cuts to legal immigration, major changes to asylum in this country, the end of the DACA program, which allowed immigrants who came here when they were young to work and study in this country, to say nothing of the thousands of migrant children that this administration separated from their parents.

So they're trying to use this opportunity to say that the president is actually friendly to immigration. And what I found so interesting, Brian, is that right after you have that naturalization ceremony, one of the next things you have is a speech from the president's son where he begins talking about Joe Biden and the changes Joe Biden would want to make to immigration, accusing Biden of wanting to provide amnesty and health care to all undocumented immigrants.

Not true but red meat for Trump's base, saying, if you do not have a border, you do not have a country. So what you see here is the Trump administration knowing that they have a problem, knowing that a lot of these suburban women that they are going after find the president's xenophobia very distasteful and at the same time trying to satisfy their base, trying to thread that needle. And I think you're going to continue to see that into tomorrow night.

WILLIAMS: Claire, all these speakers named Trump. It was said in kind of the advance spin going into this event. Their goal was to humanize the president. We heard the first lady tonight call her husband an authentic person. In effect he is who he is. Do you think they succeeded?

MCCASKILL: Yes, he's an authentic liar. I mean he's, you know, somebody who doesn't know how to speak the truth. I thought that part of her remarks was really rich. You know, and god bless Tiffany, but for her to with a straight face say, I can really relate to everyone out there who's looking for a job, I mean did anybody proofread these speeches? Do they not realize how bizarre that is?

I mean she's the daughter of the President of the United States from a wealthy family, and she's trying to say she relates to these people in our country right now who are waiting for hours in food lines? And by the way, all of the plaudits they try to give Trump about what he did with an economic relief package -- where is the relief now?

I mean these states are not coming up with this other $100. Many of them are rejecting his $300 right out of hand. There is no extra money going to people right now. It is just -- evictions are occurring. This is not an administration that is in touch with the pain of this country, and his kids kind of just put a big exclamation mark on that.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Lawrence, the opening prayer mentioned Jacob Blake by name as the trouble continues in Kenosha. The first lady talked about the ongoing trouble in our country. What room do they have, though? How else could they have gone on that front? You've written your share of speeches over the years.

O'DONNELL: I don't think there's any room for this party, the Republican Party, to really address anything about the Blake case. It's just not something they have any kind of feel for. They don't have any recommendations about what to do about it, how to handle police use of deadly force, how to try to control it, how to deal with the aftermath. There's never been a proposal there.

And so it's not -- it's also not a place where they think there's a single vote for them to mind. Not a single vote. They don't believe that their votes live in the section of our population that cares about the kind of fairness and basic due process that was denied to Mr. Blake in the most horrendous possible way that we've seen on video with a police officer grabbing him by the t-shirt from behind, holding that t-shirt with one hand, pumping bullets into his back with the other.

This is not -- the Republican Party is not the party that looks at that and feels sympathetic impulses or thoughts that they need to express about that.

WILLIAMS: and, Alicia, back over to you because you lifted the curtain on the notion of suburban women, though I must remind you the president prefers to call them suburban housewives. Anyone on the fence who might have been watching tonight, anyone who is convertible to their side, I think that may be a heavy lift. It's been said over and over, this is just food for the base.

MENENDEZ: Well, there are two different things going on here. There was the desire to try to persuade some of these people, and then there were a lot of the scare tactics that we've heard coming out of this administration again and again. So I think it was notable that you had Jeanette Nunez once again evoking socialism tonight, right, which is in part a play for Florida, an understanding of the role that Florida plays on their path to 270. You had a president who underperformed with Cubans in 2016. They know they have some softness there that they need to make up. They also think there are other voters in Florida that may share some of those sensitivities, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans. Beyond Florida, they think there are young Latino men who are sympathetic to the president, see him as a businessman, have this idea that he has been got on the economy even as you have 30 million Americans out of work.

And to come back to your question, Brian, as much as it is a play to shore up some of that support, it is also a play to scare the suburban woman voter that you just asked about and to make her concerned that there is a radical element that they are choosing against or between. I'm sure that would of course come as news to Joe Biden. I think it is notable that his economic platform, the fact that he constantly returns to the dignity of work flies very much in the face of that, is very appealing to some of the voters we were just talking about. But that is the contrast that the Trump campaign, however erroneous, is trying to set up.

WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our friends Alicia Menendez, Claire McCaskill, Lawrence O'Donnell for sticking around and joining us tonight post-night two of the RNC convention.

Coming up for us, a former member of Congress from the critical battleground state of Florida, Carlos Curbelo, when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're now fellow citizens of the greatest nation on the face of god's earth. You followed the rules. You obeyed the laws. You learned your history, embraced our values, and proved yourselves to be men and women of the highest integrity.


WILLIAMS: Tonight the RNC tried to showcase the president's support for legal immigration while avoiding his visa restrictions, limits on refugees, drastic changes to our nation's asylum system. We're happy to have with us tonight former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of the state of Florida.

Congressman, it was, let's call it, a carefully curated group. So many things to take note of. Number one, the wall between political convention and the White House, the use of our White House is gone. Number two, for folks watching in certain parts of this country, no masks, no problem evidently. Everybody's just all together like the old days. But number three, the theme of land of opportunity. Has our country been that thus far under this president?

CARLOS CURBELO, (R-FL) FMR U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, Brian, the president is an immigration restrictionist. He has sought to restrict not just illegal immigration, which I think a lot of Americans understand, but also he has sought to limit legal immigration.

So this ceremony tonight, which in a way was highly inappropriate -- I've attended a number of these ceremonies throughout the years. I've had the privilege of speaking at these ceremonies, and the immigration officers there, the government employees always would implore you, remember, this is not political. This is about welcoming new immigrants. You are not to use this type of event to advance your political interests, your campaign.

And every member of Congress who speaks at these events is always very careful to not cross that line. And then tonight you have an immigration ceremony, the welcoming of new citizens in the context of a political convention. I thought that was highly inappropriate. It could run afoul of federal rules and laws, and that of course really the ceremony and the spirit of it is undermined by what has been this president's messaging and his actions when it comes to both legal and illegal immigration.

WILLIAMS: Congressman, I want to play something for you and our audience. This is the former chief of staff at Homeland Security, who since leaving has written about and is talking about what he witnessed in his dealings, especially with the president.


MILES TAYLOR, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF AT DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: He said, that's it. I don't want you to let anyone else into the country. And his words were, the bins are full. It was made clear to the president that doing that would be an illegal act. We could not prevent individuals from coming in if they had a legitimate asylum claim. What he wanted us to tell judges was just tell the judges the bins are full. And when again the president was told that that couldn't be done, he said, don't worry about it. Do it. If you get in trouble, I will pardon you.


WILLIAMS: Congressman, first off, does that sound correct and plausible to you? Second of all, the bins are full. Your reaction.

CURBELO: Well, there's no room at the inn, and that's right. The president has said numerous times the country is full. We cannot accept any new immigrants, and then tonight uses new immigrants to advance his political campaign. And so much of what we're seeing at this convention, Brian, I appreciate some of the speakers, legitimate. I think want to unite the country, maybe more traditional Republicans. I'm sure the first lady really has a good heart and wants to see this country come together.

But all of these themes and messages have been undermined by the president's own messages and actions over the last four years. So, again, we have this welcoming of immigrants tonight during the Republican National Convention after almost four years of sending the message that we don't want any more immigrants in this country, and specifically in some cases that we don't want certain types of immigrants from certain countries.

I fought those battles. I worked hard to try to get an immigration reform compromise on the house floor, and this White House was not an ally. So it was -- we'll call it interesting to watch this spectacle tonight.

WILLIAMS: Former Florida Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo, thank you very much for having us in and joining us on our broadcast tonight.

Coming up for us, more of our special coverage of this second night of the Republican National Convention when we continue.


WILLIAMS: Welcome back and good evening once again. As we cross the top of the hour, that means it's midnight here on the east coast, and so begins day 1,315 of the Trump administration, leaving 69 days to go now until our presidential election. Night two of the four-night TV show brought to us by the Republican Party is now history.


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