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tv   MSNBC Joy Reid  MSNBC  September 30, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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the photographs. i only ever got it for the articles, i know. >> i have heard that from a lot of guys. >> you know it's true from me. from "the daily beast." great to see you. >> great to see you, too. that wraps up this episode. stay tuned for the latest headlines. joy reid is next. again, and i can say this to you with a smile, i am not going to be distracted. my small comments, by politics, by petty issues. this is one goal, and it is sow save lives. >> yes. >> that's all that matters. >> in the aftermath of hurricane maria, mayor carmen cruz of san juan puerto rico is speaking out begging for help for residents of her city, who, of course, are american citizens. so they were rebuild and survive amid shortages of food, water
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and fuel. her pleas for help, donald trump, president of the united states, attacked her saying in an early morning tweet storm, the mayor of san juan, who has been haven't are very collectry only a few days ago told by democrats you must be nasty to trump. went on, such poor leadership ability by the mayor of san juan and others in puerto rico not able to get their workers to help, they want everything to be done for them. when it should be a community effort. 10,000 federal workers now on the island doing a fantastic job. joining me, speaker of the new york city council, and contributor jason johnson and republican culton kaitlyn dawson. thank for being here. counsellwoman, start with you. trump went on twitter attacking not just the mayor and the people of puerto rico implying trying to get the government to do everything, attacking the media. what do you make of this? >> just demonstrating how unfit he is to be the commander in chief, and obviously how out of
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touch and unaware he is of who we are as a people. and our political context and reality when it kwcomes to our relationship with the united states. the fact is that in being on the island, spending a couple of days after this, you saw the resiliency of people. people coming together. not waiting for government to do anything for them. clearing paths. trying to provide for each other and supporting each other. if your neighbor had an issue, an elderly person -- people were coming together and that's the spirit of who we are and contributions to the society and to this country, having served in the armed forces. giving our lives. so many contributions that have happened. we are treated as second-class citizens. that is a reality. there has been so much we have given, and what we're asking is for equal treatment. and to be receiving the level of support and resources that other disasters and response to disasters have merited. he is unqualified, demonstrating
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a lack of empathy and racism is really being exhibited on his sleeve that somehow those of us on the island of puerto rico, those on the u.s. virgin islands don't merit equal treatment. that is clearly what he is saying in terms of these tweets, and, again, i want to commend the leadership of the san juan mayor for speaking on behalf of not only her constituents but for all the island residents who are climbering for help who want to receive support, who are literally dying without the lack of proper response and that has to be called out for what it is. >> jason, if this is of a piece with what donald trump did last week. right? as the disaster unfolded in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin island and territories, focused on the nfl. attacking black nba players, and black athletes, trying to twist their protests into attacks on the military and he did it again this morning. went after and claimed, the fake news networks are working
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overtime in puerto rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our shoulders and first responders shame. trying to say anybody who criticizes him is attacking soldiers and first responders. your take? >> joy, yes. it's two levels. one, this is what white nationalism looks like as policy. we've talked about this all along. when you have a policy, a belief, that only white people are true americans. and a mayor, an nfl player, remember, a racist incident at the air force academy earlier this week, n world scrawled on the doors of the -- doesn't spend time on that. nfl don't appreciate soldiers,
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how about he appreciate american citizens? par for the course and the fact he didn't have an adequate budget even in advance of this disaster will make the recovery of puerto rico and houston and parts of florida more difficult down the road. >> by the way, shout-out to the lieutenant general. he gave an incredible and impassioned response to what happened at that academy. that was actually quite presidential. you know, this donald trump, this version of him, is odious to a lot of americans, constantly attacking women, people of color, showing this kind of are stand. wasn't even tweeting about puerto rico and the tragedy. now on a tweet against the mayor. donald trump did this after some other members of his -- fan club, started it. and callinged mayor of san juan garbage, called her a murderer, failed her people and should be in prison. is it worth if for donald trump to keep stoking this part of his
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base when he's already got then and not to ever address the rest of the american public? >> the word i guess i would use, joy, inappropriate at times, and maybe sad and disappointing, but with that said, the president, i guess, has the right to tweet whatever he feels necessary to tweet. i don't understand this. i had been in the middle of these, similar tragecgedietrage. 2015, the flood. i know the pain on the ground and also what happens with elected officials when these things get convoluted and information and requests come from everywhere. i can't explain it. i'm not here to be a defender of -- >> not asking you to defend donald trump, but my question is, though, if any other president had a part of their base this hateful and reflexively hateful against people of color, can you imagine george w. bush taking the side of that part of the republican
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base? can you imagine any other republican president doing that? and why is donald trump doing that? i mean, i'm not asking you to speak for him, but is it healthy for a republican president to always side with the part of his base that has this reflexive an miss towards people of color? >> i don't think that the president's looking at it as part of his base. i take exception to hateful. i don't want to label a group of people as hateful. they have their opinions. >> they calmed this woman garbage. she's being called garbage, a murderer. she's a woman of color. you don't think it's hate? >> he isn't representing our base. he's representing himself. we can always find that, that's unfortunate and raw also. i think what i wish the politician would do is focus on the carnage and the pain happening. these things are very expensive. people are hurting. they need help. they're dying. we understand that. i mean, we've had three big tragedies of natural disasters
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for american citizens. let's move republicans and democrats off to the side and figure a way to get help to these people and i think the president will do that. i think they are doing that. these things get in the way of those conversations of how we help these people in puerto rico and houston, and florida. >> and do you think he's going to do that? >> no. the response is inadequate and consistent. look at the last two responses and compare with what the response has been for puerto rico, and it is woefully inadequate. meanwhile, trump is tweeting from the comforts of his golf course, and his luxury, you know -- she is literally on the ground. i was there with the mayor of san juan, she literally was going to communities knocking on doors to check on people and find out what their medical needs were. she is representing what -- she is doing is what she needs to do, and trump is misogyny aside, we know she's a misogynist and
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rapeist, it's something we spr to have leadership within the republican party. call it what it is. the response is not adequate. i want to see as of tomorrow immediately an additional 20,000 troops on the ground to get the supplies where they need to be, the hospitals up and running, make sure people with debilitating diseases are treated and getting the medicine they need. there is not enough personnel on the ground to get to the people, 135 miles on the mountains of this island. not enough personnel on the ground that needs to be acknowledged. and the first time a mistake is made and we can and must do better for the people of puerto rico. >> jason, there's a couple of things to unpack. and out there attacking donald trump back and making the point. he's on the a golf course, tweet from the 1st hole or -- and
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saying it's a lie. and is this implication that in order to get the help, in order to get what you need for your people you have to be nice to donald trump? right? you don't have all officials in puerto rico going out and speaking in the way the san juan mayor is. the question is, if you poke up your head, no the nice to him, don't praise him -- then you reap the whirlwind. what is that implication for governing? >> it's horrible. because it suggests everything is based on patronage as opposed to your obligation as the president of the united states. yes, you know, pit bull, daddy yankee and beyonce have been doing more in speaking more and done more for puerto rico than the president of the united states has done. the thing is, joy, the same thing we saw throughout the campaign. the same we saw with the nfl. donald trump believes that black and brown people in this country are beholden to him. and must -- must beg him and plead him and be kind to him and feel like they should be
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thankful to even have the opportunity to be in this presence. therefore, the mayor had the audacity to be born both a woman and brown. heaven forbid, and then do her job. those are things donald trump can't handle. all the hate, all the anger, all the animosity he showed towards hillary clinton he's directing towards this woman. it's not surprising. almost any state in the union that actually has a woman governor should be worried if they ever have a disaster. she said one thing donald trump doesn't like you probably won't get anything done. >> i late to throw this on you, kate, one person to speak for the republican party and conservative movement, isn't that a common attitude? black and brown people need to be grateful? they need to essentially always be in a pose of gratitude, or be attacked? that's sort of a common sort of base attitude. isn't it? >> absolutely not, in my opinion. i think people in general that watch this and watch all of this want better lives for their children, themselves. a country that's affordable.
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i think we all sort of want the same things. at times we just go in different directions. as for our party, the republican party is made up of a lot of different people from different places. to lump us all into one sum is a pretty tough chore to do. the democratic party is the same thing. i would take exception to the fact that you think that the party is prompti iprofiting off tragedies doing this. we have a president. we have mid-terms in 2018. where we'll find out what has happened at the ballot box. where it matters to me and right now the jury's out on that, because i haven't seen anything from the democrats but, no. i haven't seen any policies that have been forwarded. so -- i mean, i say stay tuned. i'm focusing on 2018. that's where we're going it find out where the rhetoric matters, where we find out what the american voters really care
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about. >> i will say the judge won the primary in alabama, roy moore. you're great but an indication the party is going in one direction. we appreciate you, always. thank you all for meaning. thank you. appreciate it. if you want to know how you can help those affected by hurricane maria, visit nbcnews.c nbcnews.com/puertorico. and up next, trump versus the nfl. who's winning that fight? ♪ i'm... i'm so in love with you. ♪ ♪ whatever you want to do... ♪ ...is alright with me. ♪ ooo baby let's... ♪ ...let's stay together...
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the nfl cannot disrespect our country. >> i saw this a year ago with kaepernick and i said, that's a terrible thing. >> the nfl's in a box. they have to do something about it. i think they're afraid of their
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players, if you want to know the truth and i think it's disgraceful. attacking the mayor when she begged for shep not the only thing from donald trump. peaceful dissent to be fired prompting widespread statements from nfl players and even some owners. americans are split on the anthem protests. 49% say the protesting players are doing the wrong thing, to express their political opinion, when they kneel during the national anthem. 43% say it is right. 60% agree trump was wrong to criticize those athletes for protesting. joining me, pam oliver, fox's nfl correspondent and the former coach ray sherman and back with me jason johnson and's cayton dawson. it's a treat to talk to you. i want to talk to you, for quite some time. to you first. >> thank you. >> a couple interesting things happened this week, obviously. the nfl was attacked, or the president pressuring the nfl to
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change its policy and require players to stand during the anthem. same time, you seem to have a coordinated effort by teams to shift the protest away from what colin kaepernick was doing and towards a performance of patriotism of all linking arms. in your reporting was that as coordinated as it looked? >> i think with some teams it was very coordinated. spent in some cases hours before the game trying to discuss what it is they would do. other teams just decided maybe the day of what they would do. i'm here in london where the new orleans saints will be playing the miami dolphins, and the saints have already decided that they will kneel, and then lock arms during the protest -- i mean, during the anthem. they're not anticipating they will actually be kneeling during the national anthem. the dolphins have not decided as of yet what they will do, but they will do something. we've got 12 regular season
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games after tomorrow. 12 regular season games coming up, and i predict that this movement of unity as they are calling it will last throughout the regular season, because these remarks were so egregious and got under the skin of so many people. i do not think that the owners are afraid of their players. i think they're in this together, and i think mr. trump is the one on the outside looking in. >> and pam, if not afraid of players, do they feel a sense of intimidation from the president of the united states? i say that -- >> no. >> they do not? not intimidated by him at all? >> not at all. there were supporters of mr. trump during his inauguration and a bunch of owners gave millions of dollars here and there, but they're not going to be brow beaten by the president. i don't think they look at this as, well, why should we be afraid of him? he's the president of the united states, who doesn't always act like the president of the united states. these are billionaire owners of
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the nfl teams, and i don't think they feel inferior, or afraid. they don't feel that this is somebody i need to be worried about, because ultimately how does this affect my bottom line? >> yeah. >> now, mr. trump asked people to boycott, but something, joy, i have to tell you. when i was in tennessee last week and neither team came out on the field. the seahawks didn't come out, nor did the tennessee titans come out. so there were boos from the fans, but the minute that ball was kicked off, they were just as rabid of fans you would expect. so it's like, how quickly they forget, when, you know, everybody's booing, but same time, when the games started they were going crazy as they always would. >> absolutely. ray sherman, you worked on several teams as an assistant coach, been on the line. how much do you think this political conversation affect the the players? a now polling from cnn shows 49%
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of those polled say that pro sports leagues should require athletes to stand during the national anthem. 47% say they should not. and 60% say the protests which are against police brutality. remember, not against the national anthem or flag, against police brutality, they're effective. how much does that impact players on the field seeing this controversy swirl and them, ray? >> i think the first amendment right, you have the right to free speech, freedom of press and the right to assemble in a peaceful manner. and for me, i think, and being in all of these various locker rooms, she's players, first of all, joy, you have a lot that you have to go through getting prepared for a ball game. there's a lot going through these young men's minds, and when you have to go through a situation like this, this really kind of throws things off age s little bit for them. when you have to go against an opponent you want to be in your right frame of mind to focus on doing your job, and for me, as
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far as the young man taking a knee, i think that's a sign of respect, because as a coach, as a player, as a team, i have the opportunity to coach in this league a long time, before a ball game you take a knee and pray before you go out on the field. after the game, both teams come toke, center of the field, players kneel and pray. you take a knee, as respect. if a player is down, or injured. you take a knee as a sign of respect, and then when you go into the locker room after the ball game, the head coach gives his speech to the team and then you take a knee and pray afterwards. to me, it's your right to do it as long as do you it in a peaceful manner and i don't see anything wrong with it. >> and wondering what you make of the fact that these protests were in fact shifted and seem to be coordinated to then do the kneeling before the anthem, but still stand up during it? what did you make of that? >> this whole thing, it's like every single nfl player now is
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learning about public relations, wrestling to get the narrative back to what it was supposed to be. saints, kneel before, i don't want simon says before the game. honest, i thought locking arms is ridiculous. i don't want unity. make it clear. no one's asking for unity. people are asking for accountability and asking for justice. unity is a wonderful panacea some of these nfl owners want to put over this conversation to avoid the fact you have a league that of primarily african-american men, many of whom victims even as players the kind of police brutality and discrimination people are talking about. i'll say this, it's interesting to see how different teams deal with the issue. i'm a seahawks fan. one of the few teams that actually talked about police brutality in their statement. denver broncos, john elway, a right wing conservative rb told his team, you do anything, you'll be fired. we'll see different responses from every team throughout the year. i don't think unified in how they react to this going forward.
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>> and a league primarily made up of black flplayers but ownership conservative and republican. donations, a little over $6 million to republican efforts. versus $189,000, $8 million, sorry, republican. $189,000, in the last president's race, go down look at those who donated specifically to donald trump. and the jacksonville jaguars, patriots owner, big friend of donald trump. and on and on and on. these are owners aligned with donald trump. how difficult do you think it has been for them to walk away? the league is touchy about talking about issues regarding the way they behave towards players. how touchy do you think about having donald trump on the other 150id of them? side of them? >> first of all, compliment coach sherman. agree 100%. people have the right to do what
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they had want to do. this is a multibillion dollar nfl business with multimillion dollarth leetes. th athletes. the best of the best. the only time i've seen one intimidated when his agent is dealing with legal counsels of these teams. they have a trite to do that and owners have a right to give money wherever they want just like hollywood has the right to give it to the other side. there's no confusion there, i don't think. owners love the players. there is an affection with them. they're teams. this a sport. i don't think donald trump when standing up for the flag and for the right to do this and trying to put his personal opinion in to the nfl is a smart political move. i hadn't seen that much damage from it in polling. i also, will always tell politicians i work for and with that if you try to compete with any type of sport, you will probably lose in that venue, because it is -- it is the
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national pastime of all americans. so again, another thing probably move past the players can do what they need to do and donald trump's going to continue to probe, i think, catch the high ground on this with poll numbers because he's standing up for the flag, for the first responders. at least we're having a conversation about what originally started this, racial profiling, police brutality and same time, i guarantee you these players are 1257standing up for of the above, too. >> that's the question. >> where are we? >> pam, last word. >> are we? i don't think that people are paying attention to the why. i think people took a minute, just to try to understand what the bottom line is for these players. i've seen maybe one or two white players just go over to the guy who's kneeling. not necessarily kneel themselves, but go over to the
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guy. i think people are trying to understand, but i think it's a very, very small percentage. this goes back to colin kaepernick and some of the police shootings that were going on around the country, and this guy can't get a job. now, i've seen with my own two eyes, quarterbacks who are far worse, that are bad quarterbacks, but they have jobs, and colin does not, because he did something that people felt was disrespectful, and without really trying to understand, well -- this guy risked everything, and he's lost his professional career. when somebody stands up and does the right thing, but this is definitely about race. no matter what the white house says. i just think it's to a point now, i just wish people would try to put themselves in the shoes of these players, because they're risking a lot with their endorsements, with public opinion. but it's obviously important enough for them to go ahead and proceed.
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>> yeah. indeed. i think that's an appropriate last word. thank you all. appreciate it. you know if it's "a.m. joy" we have to talk about the latest allegations in russia gate. we'll do that after the break. stay with us. look at geico... you know, geico can help you save money on your homeowners insurance too? great! geico can help insure our mountain chalet! how long have we been sawing this log? um, one hundred and fourteen years. man i thought my arm would be a lot more jacked by now. i'm not even sure this is real wood. there's no butter in this churn. do my tris look okay? take a closer look at geico. great savings. and a whole lot more.
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personally, i think the, the idea that, in a fake news, on facebook, of which, you know, it's a very small amount of -- of the content, influenced the election in anyway i think is a pretty crazy idea. >> well, a lot can change in a few, short months.
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investigators at facebook identified at least $150,000 with political ads linked to russia, some of which paid for in rubles. russia's operation wasn't just limited to facebook, however. on thursday twitter executives told congress it found 200 accounts with ties to the same russian linked profiles identified by facebook. twitter shared more information from russian outlets, wikileaks and fake news sites than actual news outlets and tweeter in swing states saw more misinformation than those in uncon tested states. author of "the plot to hack america" the book celebrating its one-year anniversary predicting all this and democratic congressman who sits on the house intelligence committee. and i say this to a lot. having the same conversation every week for a year and a half. >> since july 25th. >> of last year. started talking about all of these same characters. manafort, et cetera, et cetera. what do you know if anything now you didn't know when the book came out in september?
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>> simply, that we are geniuses! [ laughter ] >> well, that's without saying. >> first news organization to publicize this information and going on for a year. you know, i'm sure representative swalwell will clarify, this is the tip of the iceberg. as the next year goes by or next six months we'll see indictments. people actually having to pay for the things that they've done. and what did they do? that's the big question out there. was it just campaign financed crimes or treason? or is it something in between? a mix in between there. >> and congressman, one of the things we are learning now, the extent to which social media was inducted into the plot to influence the election. not just facebook but twitter, we have our share of twitter attacks, every time we're on the show and expect them to start after the segment. to what extent does congress need to pull in the executives
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of these social media firms and big into the role they unwittingly played? and ve >> in an important way i want to tell the puerto rico people congress must act. we are unified as house democrats to act and i know you've talked to the san juan mayor. that is so important right now, joy, that we speak with one voice. >> thank you. >> on the russia issue -- >> here here! >> we are seeing that they weaponized social media used our freedoms against us and i think we will find more, and the best thing we can do is cooperate with social media companies. shouldn't have to subpoena them. they should have an interest wanting to understand how their platform was used and doing everything we can to have a strengthen the shield going into the next election. we'll have an open hearing, look at vulnerabilities of
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executives, who was responsible. one other point. what's struck me in some ads leaked out is that they used idioms, american idioms, one #growaspinevotejillstein. that's not a translation lost from russian to english. raising the question, whether they had inside help. >> a question, how they were deciding where to target. that map that shows which states were targeted. the heat map, and put that up. the redder, more targeting. florida, bright red. north carolina orange. targeting specific states and you have reports there were war lists using twitter. this month the "new york times" reporting evidence that russian operators trade the hundreds of thousands of fake twitter accounts to flood the network with anti-clinton messages during the campaign. cyber security company fireeye identified accounts linked to russian intelligence spewing messages like war against democrats several times a
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minute. and tried to use black lives matter and impersonate in cases black lives matter, or attack black lives matter. could they have done that without american intel who to target and what to say? >> no. when i reached out to black lives matter, my estimate was the russian contribution to the plan as i calculate it, down to the individual watch there, would have been about 300 people. who would be 24/7, 365 watching u.s. media, but the level of what we call an intelligence targeteering, which is determining where you want to strike is exponentially greater than that. it is large. what has happened here is, there has to be a component of americans who have figured out not just they were american citizens who are easy to influence, but where you needed to deliver propaganda content. propaganda products we call it in psychological operations, to have the greatest impact. which twitter groups, which
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tweeter feeds? which facebook feeds? that takes, you know, intelligence analysis on a scale that, where only u.s. citizen koss have provided that. when that happens, you're going to find the bridge to what could arguably be called treason. because that took a large-scale data group that had that information and either handed it off or allowed it to fall off a truck in front of russian intelligence servers and from there russians created product and launched them back to attack democracy. >> congressman, we know jared kushner was in charge of the social media operation for the trump campaign. does he warrant special scrutiny talking about the fact social media was heavily used to target vulnerable americans? not just conservatives, obviously also liberal american whose would then be pushed towards jill stein, as you just mentioned? >> that's right. we know that he was a central figure in the data operation, and this is a guy you can't get a straight answer out of him if you asked him where does the sun set? you know, he's failed to
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disclose his past foreign contacts. now he has failed to disclose private e-mail addresses he's been using. what we have to do is just on our own, knowing they're not going to be forthcoming understand in every way possible what the relationships were with the russians. joy, we now have proved to the american people there was a willingness and eager news on the trump campaign and in the trump family to work with the russians. now we have to find out if it materialized into an actual working partnership. the president is going to continue to do everything he can to undermine our investigation with an arson agenda to try to burn, distract, create smoke but i'm determined and know my colleagues on the committee under ranking member schiff will find out of what happened and make people accountable. >> and going ar the nfl. donald trump is tweeting about nfl players, the russian bot attacks, chime along with him. >> obviously there's a strategic
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plan, and an organization whose sole function, support donald trump. back to the e-mail from michael cohen. russia is on our side. they'll deliver a presidency for you bep have the jared kushner -- sorry. donald trump jr. statement that the russian government is here to give this to you. you know, for all of this to happen, and it isn't happening in a vacuum. at some point, we are seeing the thread to conspiracy here, the federal law. >> right. >> that and campaign finance, to where someone at some point accepted all of this effort, and even today expects this effort to come out here, because it serves kremlin's interest. serves vladimir putin interests and it hurts america, and whatever happens in the trump white house also works in putin's interests and that also hurts america and the russians love that. >> congressman, is the white house acting quickly enough on terms of the sanctions passed?
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that donald trump sort of designed, have they designated the individuals for though sanctions and acted quickly enough? >> they're not, joy. the president's statement staut to undermine congressional sanctions. we're seeing that the russians have benefited greatly out of their interference campaign and most americans are asking, what have we gotten out of this? but speaking to the future elections that you mentioned earlier, that's what makes me most concerned. i believe when a commander in chief does not acknowledge the tacko k attack occurred he helps russians sharpen their towards and us lower our shields. we'll be more vulnerable to an attack if we have disunity in this country and the president, it starts there. he's doing his best to make the next election a bigger mess. >> do you agree puts the next election in jeopardy? >> all elections are in jeopardy. i don't know who controls the levers anymore. for a long time, over the last
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year, i wasn't a big advocate are them hacking the vote and voting tallies. from an intelligence community perspecti perspective, everybody i know says there's got to be a reason they wanted voter registration databasesto corrupt those or use them for targeteering to get, you know, get information about the specific voters, to create specific propaganda products for them, to get a specific electoral event. that can happen next year against the republicans. you know? i think it was marco rubio who said this could be used against us. don't believe for a minute that the republican martial committee hasn't been hacked. they just continue to know it. spend a billion rubles you go after both sides and manipulate left and right. so for the rest of us, we're just going to have to stand by and see how it unfolds. >> we don't seem to have an administration doing much to combat it. americans need to pay attention. >> lower our shields. >> and the voice warning us about this stuff including
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malcolm is the reason we didn't usewikileaks. be careful of the files. don't know if they're corrupt. he's the man. and the congressman lieding the effo leading the investigation. thank you. coming up next, the parthef not know about. hey grandpa. hey, kid. really good to see you. you too. you tell grandma you were going fishing again? maybe. (vo) the best things in life keep going. that's why i got a subaru, too. introducing the all-new crosstrek. love is out there. find it in a subaru crosstrek.
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♪ hungry eyes ♪ one look at you and i can't disguise ♪ ♪ i've got hungry eyes ♪ applebee's 2 for $20. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. it's me? alright emma, i know it's not your favorite but it's time for your medicine, okay? you ready? one, two, three.
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[ both ] ♪ emma, emma bo-bemma ♪ banana-fana-fo-femma ♪ fee-fi-fo-femma ♪ em-ma very good sweety, how do you feel? good. yeah? you did a really good job, okay? [ female announcer ] to nurses everywhere, thank you, from johnson & johnson. hugh hefner is gone. the debate of his legacy is here to stay. we'll tell you more when we come back.
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. >> you had a courage when no one was bringing in blacks and minorities, let you stand flat-footed in america and just talk. you brought me in. you came to a black nightclub in chicago and saw me, and the next thing someone said hef wants you
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to work at the playboy club. you gave me no instructions. i was there. >> in life and now after his death, at the age of 91, playboy founder hugh hefner is being remembered for far more than just the articles. his iconic magazine has been celebrated as a milestone of sexual liberation and criticized for objectifying women. there's another side to hefner's legacy. he gave dick gregory his big break and helped to elevate black artists and black women before mainstream outlets did, while advocating for free speech and civil rights. joining me now, steven watts, author of mr. playboy, hugh hefner and the american dream. thanks so much for being here. i learned some things about him that i didn't know this week. i knew he was a big pro-civil rights guy, but there was this story in "the daily beast" about him putting up $25,000 toward a reward that dick gregory later credited with helping to break one of the civil rights movements most notorious cases, the murder of those three civil
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rights leaders in mississippi. actually, he had wanted to put up $100,000 and he didn't get $100,000, but he got 25 grand from hugh hefner. was that something that was for hefner was a big part of his own legacy? >> well, i think it was very typical of hefner. he was a pioneering figure in the civil rights movement in his own line of work, and what he did, you just described, was indeed very typical from the early stage of the magazine, he made a point of doing profiles on black entertainers, african american sports figures, people in the civil rights movement and so on. so he was quite involved in it from the get-go. >> i mean, there was a sort of duality in his legacy when it comes to women. we have a post-up that talks about hugh hefner, an early proponent of lgbtq rights, that he was pro-same-sex marriage,
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and you have this statement by sarah kate ellis, the president of the national lgbtq glaad who said bluntly, hugh hefner was a misogynist who did damage to women's rights and our entire culture. who is more right? >> well, that is a kvery contentious topic and one kicked around the last few days upon. i think the accusations about hefner and the objectification of women have some validity to them in all honesty. i talked to hefner about that when i was doing my book. and what he said was this. he said, of course women and men are sexual objects to one another. and that physical allure is sort of what accounts for the reproduction of the species. so it's sort of silly to pretend that's not the case. the problem, he would say, is if you only look at women as sexual objects. and he vehemently sort of
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opposed that notion of what he was doing. he would say in the magazine, we go to great lengths to try to portray the personalities of the young women who are portrayed and in his own life, i must say, for all of his girlfriends and relationships, i think all of them, with one exception, remained very gdp frienood frie him. so i think it's a more complicated issue than we usually get into with the stereotypes. some truth on both sides to be argued there. >> and we should make the point that playboy was the big national magazine to advocate for abortion. i want to put up this picture of the first black playboy cover model back in 1971. and she is something named doreen stern. and she really made history when she posed nude on the cover of playboy. this is the october 1971 issue. they had featured black playmates before.
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jennifer jackson and jean bell, but she was the first model on the cover. in terms of the racial aspect of his legacy which does seem too loom larger now that he's gone, why did he make the decision to do that? >> well, i think hefner was just committed to civil rights, even back when the playboy clubs had opened in the 1960s, hefner made an explicit policy that they were to be integrated. and there were a number of hassles about that in the new orleans club, i recall. he got into a big fight with the city fathers about integrating that club. so it was really a kind of theme i think in his life and i think by the late '60s and early '70s, he was using the magazine to push along his belief system in that way. and i think the cover that you just mentioned was a manifestation of that. >> yeah, absolutely. that was before "vogue" put beverly johnson on the cover. so interesting and pioneering. >> absolutely. >> steven watts, thanks so much
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for your time. and helping us to understand this complicated figure. >> delighted to talk to you. before we go, the a.m. joy team wants to shout-out our executive producer james holm who is under the weather this week. get well soon holmy, we miss you, and you better not be watching tv. this will be on your dvr. join us tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. eastern for more a.m. joy. in the meantime, keep it right here on msnbc. what started as a passion... ...has grown into an enterprise. that's why i switched to the spark cash card
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