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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  August 16, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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first president in generations to defend white nationalists. setting off shock waves at home and abroad. >> i couldn't have made it isser attive becau-- assertive becaus don't know all of the facts. you had a group on one side that was bad and a group on the other side that was very violent. i'll say it right now. this week it is robert e. leie. i notice stone wall jackson is coming down. you have to ask yourself where does it stop? you had some very bad people in that group. but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. >> on both sides. on the sidelines, trump's new chief of staff retired marine general john kelly wincing as he watched and listened. and now a growing list of military and political leaders all condemning the president's
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words. >> pathetic, isn't it, just pathetic listening to this. there is no moral equivalency between the kkk, the neo-nazis and anybody else. >> the worst reaction of all, validation from david duke. as the former klan leader and political candidate praises president trump for his, quote, honesty and courage to tell the truth. today cities around the nation are removing confederate statues and charlottesville is paying tribute as you saw to heather heyer, the 32-year-old woman, run down by the proprotester, accused of second degree murder. her mother spoke moments ago. >> anybody who knew heather said, yes, this is the way she had to go, big and large. had to have the world involved, because that's my child. she's just that way. always has been and she will continue to be. because here's the message, although heather was a caring and compassionate person, so were a lot of you. a lot of you go that extra mile.
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and i think the reason that what happened to heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did is achievable. we don't all have to die. we don't all have to sacrifice our lives. they tried to kill my child to shut her up. well, guess what, you just magnified her. >> and good day, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. as the after shocks continue to reverberate from what the new york times today called the president's wild street corner shouting match with reporters. >> i think there is blame on both sides. you look at -- you look at both sides, i think there is blame on both sides. and i have no doubt about it. and you don't have any doubt about it either. >> joining me now is nbc's kelly o'donnell outside trump tower
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where that took place and gabe gutierrez in charlottesville. gabe, let's talk about the memorial we just have been experiencing, but also wanted you to take me through the fact checking about what the president claimed was fought on both sides, because that's not at all what you and your reporting has been indicating. >> hi, andrea, good afternoon. yes. let's start with this memorial that we just heard from susan, the mother of heather heyer, an emotional speech that she just gave talking about her daughter, you heard from her. something that she just said live a few moments ago, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. and she also said if i got to give her up, we're going to make it count. that was from her mother, just a few moments ago. her grandfather and her father have also spoken. and have gotten applause. her father choked up when he said that no father should have to do this, just a very emotional service that we're hearing right now that started
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just over an hour ago. moving on to the fact checking, andrea, yes, donald trump has said and he said yesterday doubling down on his comments from saturday that this was a -- that this rally, there was violence on both sides. here's what we can tell you, andrea. the charlottesville police chief, he did say that there were people -- there were parts of both sides that did come prepared for a fight. but when he was asked if he thought that one side was more responsible than the other, if one side initiated this, he said this was an alt-right rally, he also said that it was the organizers of this rally, the white nationalists, that had failed to go against an agreed upon plan in order to get into this park, that they were supposed to come from the rear, the police chief said, they didn't do that. the white nationalists have come back and said, look, the police didn't do their jobs, didn't pay -- they didn't prevent this violence, but you're looking at the pictures right now and looking at the report, some of the video, captured by vice news, these were people that were holding torches, marching,
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yelling loudly, anti-semitic remarks, racist remarks and these were white supremacists and neo-nazis. we should be clear, andrea, we have also spoken with some -- with at least one group that supports keeping confederate monuments up, supports keeping the robert e. lee statue this particular group decided not to come to this rally because they felt it would be too political. this group, the virginia flaggers, they say we denounce racism, denounce kkk, denounce neo-nazis. president trump yesterday, what has many people outraged here, is that he had what many are calling false equivalency between what the neo-nazis and white supremacists did and what they were yelling during that friday rally and also during the -- before their planned rally on saturday, they are just -- many people here feel it is a false equivalency that the president has equivocated what the two sides were doing, and that he is backing up white supremacists and white nationalists in a way that we
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have never seen before in this country, andrea. >> and, gabe, you just referenced it, some of the things that happened friday night, i wanted to play a little bit of that vice news coverage which shows them actually shouting anti-semitic epithets. >> jews will not replace us. >> their chant is jews will not replace us. kelly o'donnell, what about some of the others, we saw elaine ch chao, the transportation secretary, whose husband has been vilified by the president, mitch mcconnell, standing and smiling behind him. we have heard from other cabinet secretaries. i know secretary tillerson is meeting with the canadian foreign minister this afternoon. what about the white house
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staff? we had your reporting and others of your colleagues saying that they were surprised and shocked by the president's comments, he was supposed to speak, doing an infrastructure event, that got drowned out. if they're shocked, what are they doing about it? >> well, andrea, when the president doesn't follow the plan as he did not yesterday, that does put the staff in a position of having to figure out how to react and respond to it. today we had very little from the white house except behind the scenes people talk ing about the discomfort they feel, and the -- the difficulty in dealing with these issues, which are so volatile and charged and heated. at the same time, we have not heard from the president on this today. he did tweet about heather heyer, calling her a beautiful and an incredible person and she will be remembered by all. so he sort of reached out about the memorial. but we expect in the next couple of hours the president will be leaving here at trump tower, i can tell you there were a couple of protesters who managed it get
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into the lobby. they were a silent type protesters, not disruptive in any way, but that gives you a sense of how they were able to get in and sort of make their statement. and from those in the orbit of president trump like his former personal lawyer and often spokesman michael coen, he talked about his belief that the president is not racist and by association he was saying that he too speaking of himself getting a lot of negative feedback says he is not racist. so having to defend themselves in that way is some of what we're seeing in the damage control of the day after. andrea? >> of course, those very uncomfortable pictures of the new chief of staff, john kelly, a week and a half, two weeks on the job, and dealing with this as well. thank you very much, gabe gutierrez and kelly o'donnell at trump tower. join meg ing me now is madelein albright, the former u.s. ambassador to the united nations, now chair of the albright stone bridge group.
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i should say also, madam secretary, a refugee from the holocaust. >> yes. we came -- we were refugees twice. once as a result of hitler and spent the war in england and then came to the united states because of the communists and i am so grateful to be in america and i'm so saddened at everything that i've been listening to in the last three days. >> my colleague chuck todd said he was shell shocked in the immediate aftermath of what the president said. other people using the phrase this is irredeemable, that nothing that the president now says can try to bring him back to what apparently was a teleprompter, scripted, recalibration on monday that he then blew up with his -- his impromptu news conference, if you can call it that, on tuesday. how do we get back? how does he retrieve any kind of moral high ground here? >> well, i don't know about him.
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i do know the following thing, that i have grown up in the united states, and i respect the presidency, and presidents, and some i've disagreed with. and i think some of us have tried to understand this election. and then the word is kind of normalizing president trump. what he's doing, he is not normal. and what happened is his reaction to this is not normal. it is not american. and i think that what is done is obviously damaged himself, but made people wonder about this moral equivalency, which i just find so stunning, given what we know about appeasing fascists and right wingers is the way to disaster. >> angela merkel was one of first to speak out about all of this. and speak out very, very strongly and slamming it as disgusting. and speaking of the role of white supremacists. i know that in the uk, also in germany, they have laws against
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hate speech. and we can't can our first amendment. so we have a different burden, constitutionally and privilege here in order to speak openly and to tolerate that kind of speech. angela merkel speaking out and march scheduled within this hour in berlin, their time, against naziism, against fascism. what does that tell us about our standing around the world? >> i'm very glad she made the statement and prime minister may has made a very strong statement. and i have to say, and you heard me say this, i was so proud to sit behind a sign that says the united states because of our values, because of our respect for diversity, and the openness, and i think that what we have to do, those of us that have had office and those of us that have not speak out about the fact that this is not the america that we know, that what we have to do is to understand that people have the right to speak, to free speech, but racism, white supremacists, calling out
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various groups, this is not an american way to behave and i think we all have to make our voices heard, and i think whatever party or wherever we come from, america will have to stand tall again for values, and not this kind of disgusting discussion. >> we have seen statements now from the army, the air force chief of staff, the army chief of staff, the navy, the chief of operations, so in numbers of the joint chiefs, military, how does this affect as well as the president's language and rhetoric against kim jong-un and the questions about the inappropriateness of that, adding to the escalating crisis with north korea, how does this affect national security professionals. you still talk to some of your former colleagues. >> i think everybody wants to be proud when they represent this country and i think it makes it complicated to explain it. one of the hard parts, frankly, as a former diplomat, when you
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travel abroad, you should not criticize your country, but i think unless we really come out very clearly that this is not the way we see our country, that this country has been built on diversity and respect for each other, and so i've been troubled generally, frankly, about the way that president trump never talks about democracy, that kind of the values of our foreign policy have in the been mentioned and now we have sunk to this new low in terms of giving a moral equivalency to hatred. >> the fiery rhetoric, the fire and threats, counterthreats, acknowledging that against north korea, led a lot of people to be very concerned about the way that the crisis is being handled with north korea. how do you see this crisis now? how do we step back from the brink with north korea? >> well, i think the relations with north korea have always been complicated.
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and we're in the middle of the story. i think many of us were concerned about some accidental thing due to statements that didn't make any sense. i think what we need to do now is de-escalate, and then coordinate, by the way, not only with our friends and allies, but within the administration, and then negotiate. we have to talk. there is nothing weak about talking and so i hope that the administration can get its act together enough to do that because that is very dangerous. >> now, kim jong-un has said in the last 48 hours, as he looked at maps, which clearly show a trajectory of missiles that would be fired toward guam, he said that he will pause this if the u.s. holds back its firepower and he's basically saying if the u.s. cancels the scheduled annual joint exercises with south korea that are set to start sunday and monday and also the suggestion is pulling back on the thaad missile deployment, should we hold back on any of that? >> i think that part of policy
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is always deterrence and those exercises have been now held for a long time. the south koreans have allies as are the japanese and we need to continue. and we can't be bullied into something like this. i do think that one of the things, andrea, i teach, and my course is about the national security toolbox and we have to put all the tools, all the tools on the table, be able to coordinate, whole of government. by the way, if president trump were to even think about taking my course, i can guarantee that he with fail it because he doesn't understand how foreign policy is done. >> and to that point, i haven't spoken to you since we have seen such an exodus from the state department, retirements, failure to appoint, blame going back and forth between the white house personnel office and the secretary of states, small group. but the fact is that you only have two of 24 assisted secretaries, both holdovers, only have one of five
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undersecretaries. you ram that staran that state department. what do you think about what is going on under secretary tillerson? >> i was proud to have the job. the question is whether he like his job. there is the question really about respecting all those that do it on a daily basis and have represented our country and many of them died in service, and so i think we need to appoint -- the people you can't do diplomacy alone, you need to be represented, you need to have a full team at the state department. they need to work with the defense department and the white house. and so this is where it is not kind of normal decision-making. we have no idea what the strategy is anymore. so it is passing strange, a very weird time, i think, to try to explain what we're doing. >> i should note that we always follow your pins and you have
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your statue of liberty pin. >> absolutely. for me that's what america is about, that we do want to welcome people and that people that come to this country want to be able to enjoy the liberties and then to really contribute to them. and not to be told by a bunch of people carrying torches to get out. and not to replace them. it is anti-american in every way. so i thought the statue of liberty is a good symbol. >> it was a privilege to fly around the world with you when you were secretary of state. thank you very much. you always took the press with you. >> thank you. that was the thing to do. and you always covered everything fairly and didn't make up facts. >> thank you. madam secretary. coming up, senator bernie sanders here with his reaction to the president's comments. stay with us. right mao in charlottesville, virginia, governor terry mcauliffe and tsenator tim kain are speaking. let's join them. >> grieving for this community, inspired by heather and her
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family. there is a beautiful spiritual that says i've come a long way, lord, a mighty long way, i've come a long way, lord, a mighty long way. i've born my burdens in the heat of the day, but the lord has made a way. we know this in virginia. virginia is a place of scar tissue, folks. we have experienced hatred, we have experienced division, we have experienced racism. that is a sad but undeniable part of our history, but we have come a long way. we have come a long way, under enlightened leadership. we have come a long way, fighting back the divisions and bigotries of past eras. we have become that state for lovers. we have become that commonwealth, that community in recent years, not that we're perfect in anything, but we put away -- we have put away the evils and wrongs of the past, and we're moving ahead. and there are people who want to bring us back to it. many of them who are not even
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from the commonwealth, but they want to haul us backward, but what heather's life shows, what this community shows, what virginia shows, is we're not going back. we will not go back to days of hatred and bigotry and division. we're not going back. and no matter who tries to take us back, no matter who emboldens those who try to take us back, we are not going backwards. this community of charlottesville and this commonwealth of virginia, we're facing forward, to be loving, to be open, to be welcoming, to be tolerant. that's what heather's life means. and we will honor her if we continue and even accelerate that progress here in the commonwealth. thank you for being with us today. >> thank you. >> and vermont independent senator bernie sanders joins us. as we just heard from virginia senator tim kaine, the running mate in the campaign. thank you very much, senator. this is a hard time for america.
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frankly it is a hard time for journalists, i'm sure for senators, for those in elected office. your reactions to what we have witnessed in the last 24, 48 hours. >> well, andrea, it is a hard time. it is a hard time for a number of reasons. number one, it is extraordinarily painful for me, for the american people to see neo-nazis and white supremacists march on a town. and i think now of the millions of families in this country who have love ones fighting in world war ii against hitler, against naziism, looking around and seeing that. that's painful. what is even more painful is that we have a president of the united states, who has not stood up and condemned in no ambiguous terms the horrors of naziism and what these people stand for. this is a ideology that is counter to everything that this
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country is supposed to be about. and it is not asking very much to have a president who sees this, to say this is disgusting. this is ugly and i condemn it. absolutely. and i think that has been very painful for the american people. you know, on this issue, you know as well as anybody, andrea, we have a divided congress. very great divisions on health care, on climate change, a big fight over tax reform, and tax breaks, billionaires and all that stuff. but i am happy to see that we have republican leaders, conservatives, joining virtually all democrats, all progressives, in saying racism and white supremacy in neo-naziism is not something we tolerate for one second. very strong statements coming out from mitch mcconnell, paul ryan, that's the right thing to do. and i would hope, by the way, we could have a bipartisan resolution passed in the senate, in the house, condemning neo naziism and it is a real tragedy that maybe the only major figure
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in government today, who doesn't understand that, is the president of the united states. >> speaking of your republican colleagues, this is what the president had to say about john mccain yesterday, i want to play that for you. >> senator mccain said the alt-right is behind these attacks and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in charlottesville. >> well, don't know, i can't tell you. i'm sure senator mccain must know what he's talking about. but when you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. you define it, go ahead. >> as -- >> no, define it for me. let's go. >> senator mccain defined them as the same group -- >> what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? do they have any semblance of guilt? >> so that's the way he responded to it and then later disparaged john mccain of all people right now. what is the alt-left?
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i never heard -- i guess i'm not following the media -- the social media as closely as the president is, but alt-left? >> well, i honestly don't know what he's talking about. we do know what the so-called alt-right is. and that's white supremacy, and right wing extremist ideologues. that's what that is about. the idea that there is some equivalence, some shared blame when you have people marching under racist banners, under neo-nazi banners and not have a president who condemns that forth rightly, that is, i think, a very sad moment in american history. i cannot think that there is any president, any president, conservative, republican, george w. bush, anybody, who at a second's notice, in fact, bush's father, of course, fought in world war ii, that there is no republican leader who would not condemn neo-naziism, except
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perhaps for the president of the united states. >> and, senator, what should the cabinet members, white house staff, that we are told were shocked by the president's comments but that he had -- they heard him say these things privately, so what standard should white house staff and cabinet members follow when these things are expressed? >> look, i think that if there is any silver lining in all of the ugliness that we have seen for the last few days, it is the understanding that in this moment, in american history, we have got to come together and condemn racism, white supremacy and neo-naziism. and i think, you're beginning to see this, andrea, i think it is absolutely imperative for republicans and we're beginning to see this in the congress, and i think we need to see it in the administration as well, for members of the administration to go public and say i disagree with the president on this issue, and by the way, i think again we probably should have a
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resolution passed in congress, which i hope can pass unanimously, condemning neo-naziism and white racism. i would hope that members of the -- of the president's administration will have the courage to speak out and go public on this. >> senator bernie sanders from vermont, thank you so much, sir. thank you for being with us today. >> thank you. >> and coming up, editorial boards across the country condemning the president's remarks, nbc's tom brokaw and presidential historian john meacham joining me next. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. your brain is an amazing thing. but as you get older, it naturally begins to change, causing a lack of sharpness, or even trouble with recall. thankfully, the breakthrough in prevagen helps your brain
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monuments including a statue to chief justice roger taney who wrote the dread scott decision that found that slaves were not citizens and therefore were not protected under the constitution. joining me to talk about all of this is nbc news correspondent senior correspondent tom brokaw and john meacham, also an msnbc contributor in nashville, tennessee. tom, to you in montana, been wanting to hear from you and to hear your thought s about what we're going through here in america. >> well, andrea, my 50 years as a reporter, more than 50 years, race has been a prominent part of all of that. when i was a younger man, i thought we would have resolved those issues by now. this past weekend was another great demonstration, extraordinarily unsettling, about how in many ways we have gone retro, we have gone back to a more divided country in some
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ways. when you have groups like the kkk and the various hate organizations that can organize themselves and get as many people as they did to march in charlottesville, and to utter loudly anti-semitic remarks as well as anti-black remarks, that's a terrible commentary on where we are. but at the same time, you also have to say that as i indicated earlier, the people who protested against that should learn the lessons of the civil rights movement. when dr. king invoked the philosophy of nonviolence, and that moved the country, by now we're so divided by race that we have all black graduating classes and don't want white classmates to be there, all black dorms, we are dividing ourselves by race in a way that is totally destructive to the american ideal. i think the leaders, not just the political leaders of the country, but the faith leaders as well, and the community
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leaders of all races have to find a way to get together, and address this from the bottom up because it is not going adressed from the top down. >> and to that point, john meacham, we have never heard an american president in our generation speaking this way, being v being validated by david duke. bob dole memorably, republicans and democrats, speaking out against these kinds of nazi and white supremacist thoughts. so how do we get back to any kind of norm when we don't see the leadership from the oval office and there is a real risk that he will empower and incite more people to feel empowered and to be segregationist and violent? >> well, i think tom is exactly right. what wear goiwe're going throug going through a constitutional stress test in the age of trump.
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what we're now going through is a moral citizenship test. a republic is only as good as the sum of its parts. that's the nature of a republic. and i'm going to throw some saint agustin at you, which i know you want at midday, saint agustin once defind a nation as a multitude of united by the common objects of their love. united by the common objects of their love. that's when a nation is. we have to decide what we love in common and act accordingly. and we're not going to get it from what franklin roosevelt called the presidency being a preeminently a place of moral leadership. we have to do it. and hope that culturally it defines this expression politically. >> and, tom, i was really struck in the very first hours of this controversy after charlottesville by orrin hatch, one of the first to tweet that his brother died fighting the nazis and he never expected these ideas to go unchallenged
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here at home. what about the greatest generation, those who fought and lost loved ones, fighting fascism in europe. >> must remember that world war ii is not just a territorial war, it was also a political and cultural war that you could not let adolf hitler decide for the world how we would live our lives. and hundreds of thousands of young americans gave their lives in that war. i often say when they're in the battlefield and they got their call from a commander or from a colleague, they didn't turn and say, are you a republican? are you a democrat? are you a tea party member? i'm not sure i can fight beside you if you're one of those. they just said, let's win this damn war. african-americans in that war were so unrecognized that it took many years for so many of them to get the medal of honor among other things.
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they not only served honorablho but served against great discrimination on the battlefield itself. so they passed that test. they knew what they were fighting for. they were fighting for their freedom as well as for the freedom in this country. and now i know that that generation looks back, and shakes its head. this is not where we should be. we're always going to have differences, no question about that. not just in the sports teams we pick, but also how we think the economy ought to be organized, the place of the welfare state. but when it comes to be an american, a citizen, we should all be able to link arms and not look to the side or the other side and say i don't want to be part of that. >> and, john meacham, you said earlier today on "morning joe," that donald trump rode this nationalism, this populism into the white house. a statement just now from two presidents whom you know so well, and one whom you wrote so movingly about. george h.w. bush, of course, and
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george w. bush jointly saying, america must always reject racial bigotry, anti-semitism and hatred in all forms as we pray for charlottesville, we're reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city's most prominent citizen in the declaration of independence. we're all created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights, we know these truthz to be ever lasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country. so, john, for the president to compare george washington and thomas jefferson and their statues and their monuments to monuments to robert e. lee, talk to us about the difference between what these confederate monuments mostly built between 1899 and 1920 and empowered by one president, woodrow wilson, what is the difference? >> the difference is, and the other thing about the confederate battle imagery which is so prevalent, both in charlottesville and around the country in these precincts is
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those -- that battle flag came back as a result of the dixiecrat campaign of strom thurmond in 1948 and defiance to the school integration decisions in the '50s. so you always have to judge what was behind the adoption of a symbol. and that's what happened with those monuments. the washington, jefferson versus lee, stonewall jackson question i think is clear, actually. washington and jefferson were flawed human beings. but they were nation builders. they were attempting to start something new in human affairs. they wanted to break the grip of hereditary authority, both in terms of monarchy and in terms of the life of the spirit, the popes and priests of the old war that they saw controlling people's belief systems as opposed to people making up their own minds. in many ways the american revolution of which they were critical, in which they were
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critical figures was a shift from the world being organized vertically from the top down to being one organized horizontally. we did not finish that journey with washington and jefferson. but we began it. what lee and jackson and the confederate generals are trying to do is break up that experiment. and that's the experiment we have to rededicate ourselves to today. >> and, tom, you're out there in montana, glorious country, and red state, obviously, and i loved injure repolove ed your reporting from wyoming, does it matter? if we take polls in the next couple of days and see that most republicans or most trump supporters agree with the president on this, and disagree with his critics, does that matter or do we have to rededicate ourselves as john was saying to some fundamental values and make this a learning experience, a teaching moment if you will. >> i don't think this is going to be a kumbaya moment, we all link arms around the campfire. that's not the way the american political system works.
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but there are areas that we can agree on, and find our way. there are some nascent movements now, andrea, as you're well aware of, a movement called no labels, financed by big money on wall street, saying we're going to back candidates not whether republican or democrat, but whether they have shared values. there is also a movement in the house itself to try to get a republican and a democrat to work on some legislation, maybe at the tesh airy level so they can prove they can get things done together. and i think we have to kind of reinvent american democracy and this is a place to begin. we have so many strengths and there have been so many gains by all parties in this country, including the african-americans in terms of education and economic power. but at the same time, you have that band out there of distorted minds saying this is a white nation, we elected this president, he now owes us, and if we don't respond to that, it will be a terrible commentary on
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the earliest days of the 21st century. >> tom brokaw, my friend, thank you so much. two of my great friends and colleagues, john meacham, i appreciate you being with us today. thank you. >> thanks, andrea. and up next, south carolina congressman james clyburn, a hero of the civil rights movement, the third ranking democrat in the house joining me. stay here. during our made to move 2017 clearance event, you can do endless online research. or, you can take advantage of our best offer ever on an xt5. don't wait. our 2017 models will be moving fast. you can drive a car... or you can drive a cadillac. come in now before the end of our made to move 2017 clearance event and leave with the perfect cadillac xt5 for your next adventure. choose a low mileage lease on this xt5 for around $339 per month. could be preventedrrent with the right steps. and take it from me, every step counts. a bayer aspirin regimen is one of those steps
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breaking news, another business leader has stepped down from president trump's manufacturing council, this time the head of 3m. stephanie ruhle joins me. this seems to be a growing wave. >> it is a growing wave. quit the council hash tag is all over the internet. this company was under a lot of pressure. to make it clear, they put out a statement, the ceo put out a statement talk ing about a commitment to diversity and inclusion and wanting to focus on work. there is no one from the ceo community trying to say that the president is any sort of white supremacist sympathizer. this is more ceos saying we came to do work in terms of the greater good and work with the white house but given the white house's position on what happened in charlottesville and the overall chaos, they don't want to be part of it anymore. in terms of risk management, it is a risk to continue to sit on this council, when really andrea nothing is getting done. >> that is a message, a message to this president and seems to
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me that this was, stephanie, one of the reasons why he seemed so upset yesterday as i think this gets to the core of his identity. he's the business man candidate and he's being rejected by the people who have validated him -- or he thinks have validated him all along. thank you for all that breaking news. and we will continue to watch and track your show as well. thanks, stephanie. and meanwhile, president obama's powerful rendition of amazing grace at the funeral of the pastor who was killed at the mother emanuel church massacre in charleston two years ago, that was remarkable moment of unity in the face of hatred led by an american president. ♪ amazing grace how sweet the sound ♪ ♪ that saved
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a wretch like me ♪ >> in the wake of that mass shooting by a white supremacist, then republican governor nikki haley signed a bill to remove the confederate flag from its perch on the state house grounds. joining me now is south carolina congressman jim clyburn, the third ranking democrat in the house. and, of course, an activist in the civil rights movement, one of the heroes of that movement. congressman, thank you very much for being with us. your reaction to the president's comments yesterday. >> well, thank you very much for having me. you know, andrea, on yesterday i think the president brought this country to the brink of a similar moment. i really believe that if we are a government made up of three equal branches of government, i think it is time for the congress to step up and into the
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gap, so to speak, the president has created a social gap in this country. we are having some economic gaps widening in this country. it is time for the united states congress to step into that. i think that speaker ryan and leader pelosi, i think senators mcconnell and schumer need to assemble their leadership teams right away and let's begin to develop some bipartisan approaches to solving some of these problems. there are four things we need to do right away. number one, we ought to raise the debt limit. we have got to do that. the full, faith and credit of the united states of america is at stake. we ought to do that. don't think it has to be a clean bill. it should be bipartisan. and it should not be controversial. so let's do that. and then let's work together in a bipartisan way to create three
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big pieces of legislation. number one, let's do what is necessary to fix the affordable care act. there is a problem with the affordable care act, we all know that. so let's work together in a bipartisan way and fix it. solve it. number two, we ought to work together to reform our tax code. not necessarily pro business or anti-labor, but the tax code that will be progrowth, pro-american. and third, let's do something about our infrastructure and do it in a bipartisan way to help create jobs in america. infrastructure is more than roads and bridges. it ought to be about water and sewage, it ought to be about broadband development. and let's do this in a way that congress will improve itself to be representative of the people. when there is a failure and we do have a failure in the executive branch of the government, it is time for the
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other two branches to step up. and congress needs to step up and our judiciary needs to step up and let's do what is necessary to restore people's faith and confidence in this great country of ours. it is at the brink of disaster. and we ought to step back from the brink. >> you're basically saying, congressman, let's ignore the white house, because it is not rising to the level of leadership here, to the contrary, in fact, we're told that the president had no real planning on infrastructure, that there is nothing legislatively coming through the white house to the hill. >> that's exactly what i'm saying. we have three co-equal branchs of government and everybody can see on yesterday that there is a total disaster in the executive branch. but the congress is representative of the people, the house of representatives, we call ourselves all the time, the people's house.
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it is time for us to step up and demonstrate that we are in fact the people's house. i know speaker ryan. i like him a whole lot. we have worked together. he has put our10, 20, 30, into 14 pieces of the republicans' appropriations bill. that's a way of getting funding into low-income communities, and that's the kind of thing we've got to do. we can have an infrastructure bill that put this in place so low-income communities can be a part of this significant recovery that's doing well for wall street. let's do something about infrastructure. let's do something about -- what i like to call a fair tax bill. not a tax bill that's going to give unusually high breaks to upper income people, but a tax code that would be fair to everybody that would be pro
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growth for business and pro growth for america's families. we can do that! it's been done before. and so let's just work together in a bipartisan way and get that done. because this president has marginalized himself in such a way that i don't think there is any comeback for him. there is no way that he is going to be able to revive himself and be of any real good going forward. >> congressman james clyburn with a call to action by congress. thank you so much. thank you very much for being with us, sir. >> thank you so much for having me. and as we continue to look at what happened in charlottesville, a se self-proclaimed white nationalist spoke with jacob soboroff yesterday, praising president trump's yesterday. >> you had a group that's bad on one side, and another group on the other side that was also very bad. >> that's exactly true. >> i wonder, is it george washington next week? >> wow, that is the most --
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insightful comment i've heard. that's exactly true. no politician would ever say that. but it's true. >> reporter: and do you believe that donald trump saying things like that will ultimately bring america closer to your goal of a white whitethno state? >> i think america needs to take a different direction. >> joining me now is mia wylie, senior vice president for social justice in new york, and peter vincent, former senior counterterrorism official at the department of justice and homeland security. welcome both. >> thank you. jacob, watching that trump statement, president's statement at trump tower, with a white nationalist and the praise coming from david duke. others, richard spencer. >> i think that what we have seen is that trump has become the race-baiter-in-chief and he has demonstrated he will support
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white supremacy and actually only stoke and fan the flames of the neo-nazi movement. and unfortunately, it's been one that's been growing in this country. it got an exponential boost when donald trump ran for president. and retweeted messages that were actually tweeted out by white supremacists, including lies like 80% of white murders are committed by people who are black. and that mexicans are rapists. so i don't think we should be surprised by this. i think we should be deeply disturbed. >> and peter, you're an expert at what the government does to try to track these white supremacists groups. but i do believe that funding was just cut for one of these major programs. >> right, andrea. i spent the vast majority of my career at the department of justice and the department of homeland securities, doing everything i could to combat threats to the homeland. most recently at the department of homeland security, i worked on counterterrorism efforts, specifically. so i was deeply disturbed to see that the white house, shortly after taking power, decided to
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stop focusing countering violent extremism efforts and funding on all sorts of extremism, and to focus it solely and exclusively on radical islamic terrorism, as the president points out. >> and what signal does that send? does that send a signal of empowerment to the david dukes of the world? >> absolutely. and i think we've seen that the white supremacists and neo-nazi movements have seen themselves as supported by the president, particularly after his comments of yesterday. and we have to remember that the domestic terrorism threats that we face in this nation since 2002 has been disproportionately from white supremacists, neo-nazi and other racist groups. and that's something we have to take seriously as a country, if we want to counter domestic terrorism. >> and finally, peter, at this point, what do people very concerned about the rise of white nationalism and possible violence, what do they do in their communities? >> well, the department of homeland security and the fbi
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have warned on the rise of white nationalism. in fact, we need to remind ourselves, andrea, with respect to killings associated domestically in the united states, associated to terrorism, 70% of those have been committed by white supremacists, so-called white nationalists. and so i think communities need to have a very strong dialogue on what we are doing wrong in our own country that is radicalizing people that are born and raised here. >> peter vincent, mia wily, thank you both so much for your insights. and you're watching "andrea mitchell reports," only on msnbc. we'll be right back. whoooo.
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. and finally today, we were reminded of the words of nelson mandela when former president obama tweeted them out in what became the most-liked tweet ever. so we would like to close today with these words from mandela as a reminder of universal values of freedom and hope. >> there is no easy road to freedom. we know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. we must therefore act together as a united people for national reconciliation, for nation-building, for the birth of a new world. let there be justice for all. let there be peace for all. >> a universal message of resilience.
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thank you for being with us all, as he we reflect. craig melvin is next. >> thank you so much. good afternoon to you. craig melvin here at msnbc headquarters in new york. divider-in-chief? it feels different this time. president trump doubles down on his initial comments on charlottesville, throwing his political and moral authority into question. the young woman run over by hate is laid to rest. how does the president, how does his party, and how does our country move forward now? also, monumental anger. cities and towns around america are grappling with what to do with their confederate statues. how are local officials handling this potential powder keg? and the alt-right reacts. we go one-on-one with a white nationalist who reacts to the president's stunning comments yesterday. why the so-called alt-right now feels empowered. with you but we start with y of heather heyer. a short t

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