tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC July 12, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago. the resignation came 48 hours after alex acosta took to the podium to defend his role in what critics call a very lenient plea deal for registered sex offender jeffrey epstein. the president appeared with the outgoing secretary this morning to make clear the president was not the one asking for the resignation. >> it would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's 12 years old rather than about the amazing economy we have right now. >> this was him, not me, because i'm with him. he was -- he's a tremendous talent. he's a hispanic man, he went to harvard. he's doing this not for himself, he's doing this for the administration. and, alex, i think you'll agree. i said you don't have to do this. he doesn't have to do this. >> which leaves the question why did he do it? an outside administration source
tells nbc that several friends and allies told the president that acosta was leaving on his own over concerns that congressional hearings and investigations along with jeffrey epstein's ongoing trial in the southern district of new york would keep his name in the headlines in the lead-up to the presidential election. the department will now be led by, you guessed it, an acting director, specifically the current deputy labor secretary which means acosta's resignation marks the fourth cabinet level agency to be led by an acting secretary. and just the latest in a long list of white house departures throughout trump's time in office. with that let's start with nbc's kelly o'donnell who's traveling with the president. also with us nbc justice correspondent pete williams. kelly, let's start with you on the developments today. >> reporter: well, ali, certainly the president has been trying to weigh the fallout with respect to his now former labor secretary alex acosta. he's got one more week before he officialed exits. and what i've been told through
my source reporting is that the president was asking friends and allies in the administration on the outside political voices that he trusts. how was this playing, how did the secretary do in his press conference which had really been at the instruction of the president, and he was trying to determine what the next course would be. and some of the advice the president got according to our reporting is that alex acould centsa had served the president loyally, had done the work of the labor department in the way the president wanted. and he should give him a little time because alex acosta would leave on his own. that was the guidance that the president received. and sure enough, if we go by the public statements of the president and now former secretary today, that is the decision that acosta made. why? well, alex acosta is a former u.s. attorney in the southern district of florida, had already beenput on notice by congress that key committees would want to bring him back. he's testified many times before. but to address these specific issues. what would that do?
create more of the political firestorm, attaching the administration to that. and in addition if he were to stay on the job and the epstein trial. again, remember, this is about jeffrey epstein, were to play out during the campaign year, that too would be a major distraction. so for his own reasons to leave with his head held high that he would not make it something the president would need to do. we've seen the president weigh these sort of issues before sometimes dismissing people very publicly. this stood out today in the very friendly way the president handled it. >> let's talk about the justice department, the office of professional responsibility is reviewing whether lawyers committed misconduct in the handling of the original case against epstein in florida. what does all that mean? >> well, this investigation was started in february. and of course the key to all of this, both the prosecution in new york and this opr investigation, they're all based on the "miami herald" story that
came out toward the end of last year, beginning of this year. and that's been the sort of facilitating thing that has launched all these things forward. several members of congress, notably senator ben sass, wrote to the justice department and said you should look into this. so in february the office of professional responsibility did say it was going to look into this. a few weeks later a federal judge ruled that acosta and his staff violated the law by not telling people the potential victims what was going on here that they were working on this deal with epstein. so there's already been some finding by a court of misconduct. but, of course, opr generally investigates people who work for the justice department. it's its own sort of what police departments would call internal affairs bureau. and he's no longer with the justice department. so there's not much it can do against him other than write a report that's critical. one of the interesting things he said in his news conference this week is that he hasn't even been interviewed yet by opr.
so we don't know how far along that investigation is. but presumably not nearing its final stages if five months later they haven't talked to him yet. >> but, pete, if this is true, if victims' rights were violated in not being kept informed about negotiations, having a secret deal come up, alex acosta gave a very strange response in his press conference where he said there were other avenues available for these victims to pursue. that's just not true. but is there not accountability for that? >> well, he said at his news conference that these kinds of nonprosecution agreements aren't subject to the rules that require victims to be notified. obviously, the federal judge didn't agree with that. there can be civil lawsuits against the government, and that's why -- that is precisely where this ruling came from. >> all right, pete, thank you very much. pete in washington and kelly o'donnell in cleveland. thanks to both of you. i want to bring in spencer,
he represents three victims in the original criminal case against jeffrey epstein in florida more than a decade ago. spencer, let's talk about this. what rights did your clients have that were violated? >> so, under the national crime victims rights act, they were required to be informed and kept updated on any plea negotiations, any potential deals that the federal government was going to enter into. and the federal government is required under that law to discuss those issues with them and their counsel, myself, at the time that those negotiations are happening. not after they're already entered into and not after the deal is sealed and done. >> is it possible that something happens, the defense calls up the lead attorney and says let's talk about something. does every move have to be reported to you? like, could acosta have engaged in some kind of discussion and then said, look, we're working on something i definitely am going to get back to you about it? >> of course.
ongoing discussions are allowed to be occurring. you're allowed to talk to people and have those conversations and negotiations with some of the players involved. but when the deal is finalized when, they're about to put pen to paper and sign those documents, they are required under the federal law to inform the victims. mr. acosta's office clearly violated that law prudent to what the federal judge said. >> do you buy his argument that if not for his office, if not for alex acosta's office, nothing would've happened, epstein wouldn't have maybe even been convicted of something because that would have been in acosta's words, a roll of the dice to go to trial? >> no, not at all. they had a mountain of evidence. the fbi had spoken with over 40 women back then in 2007 and 2008. a lot of which were willing to come forward and talk and testify and speak the truth about what occurred. in this day and age, we are blaming women for coming forward 20 and 30 years later.
these young, brave women, 14 and 15 years old, stepped up, days, weeks, months after it happened. and the federal government let them down. >> i'm not a lawyer. but i still struggle with what acosta said that they had other avenues that they could have pursued if this wasn't satisfactory. what other avenues do victims of sexual assault have? you know, i would assume that if i were a victim of sexual assault and i called the police or called the fbi or spoke to the appropriate prosecutor that my interests would then be handled by them. apparently that's not true. >> no. and i think it's availed insinuation to the fact that some of these women had retained civil attorneys like myself to assist them throughout this process and to advocate for them throughout this process. i think in a quiet and nefarious way, he was saying, well, you know, they have civil attorneys so they can go after mr. epstein's money and that should be good enough. >> but that's not really. >> no. >> wouldn't we agree in 2019
that whether or not there's a civil case that could result in monetary restitution, that's not instead of a criminal process? >> absolutely not. in fact, all of the girls that i represented wanted to see him put behind bars. that was the most important thing to them. and, you know, we have to also remember there was somebody over acosta that allowed this deal to happen. this investigation is much broader than just mr. acosta and his office. this had to be approved at the upper levels in d.c. so i would love to see this investigation continue at congress and find out exactly who approved this deal. >> spencer kuvin, thanks for joining me. he is an attorney representing three of jeffrey epstein's accusers. the house oversight and reform committee heard from republican and democratic lawmakers on alleged abuses caused to minors under the trump administration's immigration policies. >> i cannot understand why we would allow this problem to continue when we know what would help to fix it. close the asylum loopholes,
cartels use to exploit people, fix the flores settlement so that we can ensure families remain together. >> i encourage everyone to watch a video by border chief patrol agent roy villareal. and the video shows clearly that there are supplies in the detention centers. this whole issue about drinking out of the toilet is wrong. >> we've seen conditions that dehumanize migrants, stripping them of their dignity, sending good agents into states of despondency, giving cover to bad agent who's abuse their authority. >> we asked to enter one of the cells. we were allowed to speak to the women, and these are the women that we spoke to. it's their handwriting. and while we are being asked to speak only to officers, we are not getting the accounts of migrants, of their treatment, of what they are experiencing.
>> all right. following that was a second panel that included the acting inspector general of the department of homeland secretary, the assistant general for evaluations and inspections of the health and human services department, and a former acting immigration and customs enforcement director. they gave their own assessment of the administration's detention facilities with the dhs acting inspector general outlining the details from the report that was released earlier this month providing the public some of the first photographs inside border patrol facilities at the rio grand valley. >> our recent unannounced inspections revealed a situation far more grievous than those previously encountered by our inspectors. for instance, when our team arrived at the el paso del norte processing center, they found that the facility which has a maximum capacity of 125 detainees had more than 750 detainees on site. the following day, that number increased to 900.
we also observed serious overcrowding among unaccompanied alien children or uacs at all the border patrol facilities we visited in the rio grande valley. >> just before today's hearing the oversight committee hearing released, announcing that in april 2018, it led to the separation of at least 18 migrant infant and toddlers under the age of two from their parents at the border. with me now is democratic congressman from illinois who is a member of the oversight committee. congressman, good to see you again. this sort of just belies, there may be a lot of american who's don't know what the oversight committee does, but this would be the basics of oversight, right? the idea that our elected representatives should be able to get to the bottom of what's actually happening at detention centers. we now have members of congress saying what they've seen. we have reporters. we had advocates. we had word from detainees and we have the inspectors general
from hhs and dhs saying so. so the only people who seem to be on the other side of this thing are the administration. >> that's right. we have video, we have picture evidence. i think that was really striking about this hearing is just how many people on the other side still deny that the conditions in these facilities, especially at the customs and border patrol stations are unsafe and unsanitary. and, indeed, they are illegal under current law. >> in what way are they illegal and what can you do about it? >> well, there are two things we can do. but first they are illegal under current u.s. law. just take the flores decision which talks about the conditions under which children can temporarily be detained. they can be detained no more than 72 hours in these cvp stations. they have been detained far in excess of that time period. and the flores decision says
that they must be kept in safe and sanitary conditions and based on what we've seen and the eyewitness testimony, that is also untrue. people sleeping on mats, people not having access to showers or bathing facilities, not being able to even brush their teeth. what we're trying to do is two things. >> i'm sorry, congressman, i just want to underscore your point. the report said that at least 679 children were held from 46 to 75 days, more than 50 children were held six months to a year, and more than 25 children held for longer than a year. that's a court decision. we only know some of this because lawyers who under the flores decision are empowered to go into these facilities, went in and then came out and reported this thing. i just don't understand. have we gotten so far past the rule of law in this administration that a court decision does not have to be abided by?
>> it's cruel. not only city legal, it's cruel, but it looks to be purposefully cruel, ali. one of the things that we've learned is that the purpose in part of detaining these children away from their parents or family and potentially the purpose of keeping them in these types of conditions is to somehow deter other migrants from coming across the border. but as many of my colleagues and i have said even today is these children are children. you don't treat human beings like this. and you might say they are someone else's children, but in our custody, they are our children. and we cannot allow them to be treated that way. i came here as an immigrant as a three-month old baby boy, and i keep looking at them and i say there but for the grace of god go i. and this is not acceptable. so what we're telling dhs right now is you need to get your act together right now. i personally think that the
children within cvp's custody should be released to their family and relatives in the community around these detention centers. apparently many of them do have loved ones that are not far. and then secondly, the money that we appropriated to dhs as well as hhs has to be spent for the humanitarian purposes for which they were appropriated. namely, to provide long-term shelter through hhs and then in the meantime, to alleviate the conditions immediately in cbp at those temporary detention centers at well. >> congressman, good to see you. coming up, tropical storm barry bearing down on louisiana and could strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall tomorrow. we are going to take you there as residents brace for a potentially catastrophic flood. you're watching msnbc. alcy is r. we'd been working for days on a site in a storm devastated area. a family pulled up. it was a mom and her kids. everything they had had been washed away.
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the state of louisiana isbration itself for tropical storm barry approaching the coast and expected to make landfall possibly as a category one hurricane just after sunrise saturday morning. according to the latest report from the national hurricane center, the storm is still strengthening and expected to deliver high winds. ten to 20 inches of rain and a potentially devastating storm surge in southern louisiana and southwest mississippi. in new orleans, we've already seen extensive flooding. this is -- these are pictures from earlier. mandatory evacuations are underway in some communities.
as you can see on this map, the city of new orleans is already vulnerable being essentially locked between lake pontchartrain and the mississippi river. you can see the west lake levees that protect new orleans are close by, but the surrounding areas are not protected. and even for new orleans officials say that while the levess there are tall enough, just one or 2 feet of rainfall will still leave it in the wake of destruction. joining me is mariana atencio. mariana? >> reporter: ali, i'm in the west bank area precisely that you pointed out southeast of new orleans, an area in plaquemines parish that is not protected at all. it does not offer the levee protection. that is why you have the national guard here, all hands on deck before this storm hits sandbagging the area. now as you said the concern no longer so much the levees, but the historic rainfall that could
possibly come this way and the storm surge when you have an area like this that already floods in high tide and you're looking at three to 6 feet of storm surge, you can see why this area is under mandatory evacuation. i want to quickly speak to lieutenant roche here who is part of the national guard team here on site. can you tell me what is your concern for this area? you having lived in louisiana your whole life. >> our concern is the flooding and possible storm surge with the storm up and coming. >> reporter: can you tell me what the teams are doing here in the back? >> the teams are placing a small -- we are fortifying the levees over here with sandbags and super sacks. >> reporter: are people heeding the warnings? >> i believe they are. i think the storms have struck over and over and over in this area, and i believe people are heeding the warnings and getting out of harm's way. >> reporter: does it concern you that this is such a slow-moving storm? >> it does. the slow-moving storms are the worst, having lived here my whole life, the slow moving storms push the most water and
they dump the most water. it's hard for our levee system as well as our pumping station to keep up. so it definitely causes a problem. >> reporter: thank you so much, sir. i'm going to let you go back to work. thank you for joining us. ali, as you are seeing here, the storm expected to make landfall tomorrow morning. so it's still those very precious few hours left, and it's an all hands on deck situation here in louisiana. >> mariana thanks very much. we'll stay on top of this with you. mariana atencio in plaquemines parish in louisiana. coming up next, secretary alex acosta on his way out. new deputy secretary pat pizzella has a concern of his own. there are 6.5 million of them; they all need a forever home. it would mean the world to them, and they will love you forever.
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when labor secretary alex acosta steps down one week from today, he will be succeeded at lease least on a temporary basis by yet another man with a controversial past. deputy labor secretary patrick pizzella. civil rights groups are concerned about his past in the late 1990s and early 2000s. pizzella was never implicated in any of abramof's criminal
activity, but he worked with his team to keep the northern mariana islands in the pacific ocean exempt from federal labor and immigration laws, many of which he's going to be in charge of executing. pizzella was asked during his confirmation hearing if he and his colleagues lobbied against a bill that called for stronger labor laws. he told senators we might have. i don't actually remember if we lobbied against that legislation, but i assume we did. you think he'd be prepared if he's going to apply for a job. before he became the deputy labor secretary, he was a member of the federal relations authority which governs labor relations between the federal governments and its employees. he served as an assistant secretary during the george w. bush administration. tom perez is joining us who served as labor secretary during the obama administration. he is now chair of the democratic national committee. but we're not talking politics
today, tom. we are talking about the fact that the labor department has actual things that it has to do which people actually need to take seriously including under alex acosta dealing with sex trafficking, with human trafficking. that is a major and important crisis some would say in this country. and we just have an outgoing secretary who seemed to have given somebody a lenient sentence for doing just that. >> well, it's not only what happened to mr. epstein and -- there's no excuse for that. i was a former prosecutor, and there is no explaining that. that was a terrible outcome. in his attempts to ask -- blame it on other career people, that's just not right. and to make matters worse, the labor department has a really important mission in combating human trafficking. and if you look at budget proposals, they propose to cut funding for human trafficking. the late wage and hour division of the labor department has a really important function, ali, in processing what are called
tvs, which are visas that were put in place to help victims of human trafficking. and they have made it much harder for victims of human trafficking to get those visas. this is very ominous. and as you correctly point out the now soon to be acting secretary has a very, um, unimpressive history of enforcement. i was doing human trafficking work at the justice department in the '90s. and the commonwealth of the northern mariana islands was a hotbed of human trafficking and labor abuse activity. and what they wanted to do was to exempt the commonwealth from all the minimum wage laws so that they could slap a made in america tag on a product that was effectively produced with slave labor. that's not the type of leadership you want at the labor department. >> so let's talk about deregulation of agencies that actually have a role in regulation, right? we've seen it in the consumer financial protection bureau.
we've seen it at the environmental protection agency. donald trump associates the labor department, he was saying acosta's done a good job because unemployment is low and the economy's good. the labor department actually has a different role. it is actually upholding labor standards, administering federal labor laws, dealing with working conditions, protecting retirement and healthcare benefits, dealing with collective bargaining and tracking the changes in unemployment. i mean, i love the bureau of labor statistics' website with all that data. but it is a regulatory agency. it is meant to actually preserve laws that are on the books and make sure that companies live up to those laws. >> our basic mission at the labor department is to protect workers, to empower workers, to make sure that they have a fair shake and they have a seat at the table in the table of opportunity. and at every turn, unfortunately, in this administration, and it's not surprising, this administration has sided with corporate interests over workers'
interests. and i can give you so many examples. we implemented an overtime rule to ensure that if you work overtime you got paid overtime. it was to make up for 30 years where it had been falling behind, this administration undid that. we implemented a very important rule for people who were saving for retirement to make sure that when you go to your adviser, they have a legal obligation to look out for your best interest. they did away with that. this administration tried to implement a rule to give employers their right to take the tips from tipped workers. at every turn, they have sided with employers over workers. and that's not what the labor department is supposed to be about. and the real challenge, ali, and the reason i'm happy to be with you today is amidst the chaos of this administration, where every day it seems like there is one crisis, another crisis, at agency after agency across this federal government, terrible things are happening to people.
the mission is being diluted, whether it's the e.p.a., department of agriculture, the labor department, the justice department. and that is one of the remarkably terrible impacts of this administration. >> is there -- obviously when an administration changes, these departments are led by career people. so, you know, when -- who is it who was carrying on about how the unemployment numbers were fudged. and i think you and i discussed the fact that the people who calculate these numbers are career experts. they have zero interest in fudging numbers. when the top of the department deregulates agencies that are meant to be regulatory agencies, how far down does that filter? are there still people at the department of labor who will do the job that the mission of the labor department says that they are there to do? >> i have profound respect for the dedicated career professionals at the labor department. i was a career attorney at the justice department. i have profound respect for
folks there. those career lawyers at the justice department, they've got twisted into a vice by barr in connection with the census. that was unconscionable. and at the labor department, there are people who are trying to do great work. but folks at the top, the way they do it is they take power away from them. and basically businesses are -- they have cart blanche to write the rules. that's not how it's supposed to be. >> tom perez is the dnc chairman. but for the purposes of this conversation, he is a former labor secretary under president obama. coming up, new nbc news "wall street journal" polling shows srmt elizabeth warren is gaining popularity with democratic voters. we are going to look at what the numbers mean for the democratic nomination. you are watching msnbc. e watchic who used expedia to book the vacation rental that led to the ride ♪
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they should take comfort knowing in months to go before the first primaries, only 12% of democratic primary voters say they have made up their mind. joining me is mark murray. mark, you look at these polls much more than i do. but when i saw this poll, was the first poll i had seen possibly since the beginning of the campaign that looks to be giving shape to the field. it looks like something is emerging here. >> that's right, ali. and of course it's important to note the timing of our poll. this was the very first nbc "wall street journal" horse race poll it. >> came out after the debates. it does show some consolidation as you mentioned where you do have a definite top tier of looking at maybe a big four or a big five with joe biden, elizabeth warren, and then looking at kamala harris, bernie sanders, and then pete buttigieg. and then that second tier with the candidates at 2%. and then when you look at those who are at 1% in the poll, you weren't able to mention that,
but people like amy klobuchar, julian castro, and cory booker. and then tier four is almost everyone else. but i do think that after this first debate, this field, even though we have still some 20 candidates, it has narrowed down to really a top four or five right now. >> does anything -- and that one that we just showed was seven with andrew yang and beto o'rourke. but was there anything that was obvious to you in the poll that somebody who's not at 2% or higher has the ability to do something to get onto this page? there is a little blank spot for somebody else. >> as you mentioned earlier, just 12% have made up their minds. our poll also asked the question after the debates on what people do you want to pay more attention to, who do you want to hear from. and some of the top responses that we heard outside of the top tier were people like cory booker, amy klobuchar, julian castro and beto o'rourke.
that is a nice silver lining for some of those folks who aren't in that top tier. >> let's take a look at what the polling said about the single-payer support. i talk endlessly about health care is that i don't think people understand what the terms are. but among democrats 72% in the polls said they favor single-payer health care. only 21 oppose. but amongst all voters most of them are not in favor of a single-payer health care system. so how do the elizabeth warrens of the world navigate that? >> yeah. you're exactly right. there isn't a whole lot of cross-over appeal where you look at even independents. only 36% of independents support a medicare for all government-run type of program. just 14% of republicans. and, ali, to me the sweet spot for democrats in the trump era has been that they end up winning on issues where they are winning over not only their side but also the middle of the electorate, the moderates, the independents. as you see with these numbers on
single-payer, they are winning over their side but they're not winning over the middle just yet. that would be a potential challenge for them in a general election where we look to the two 2018 midterms, obamacare was popular. this at least is a negative for now. >> mark, we don't see you every day on tv, but your fingerprint and those of your team are all over our shows all the time. so i want to thank you for that and for your interpretation that you put out there every day. senior political editor. up next a candidate for governor in mississippi is facing criticism for telling a female journalist that she needed a male chaperone to ride along with his campaign. i'm not making this stuff up. along with support, chantix is proven to help you quit. with chantix you can keep smoking at first and ease into quitting. chantix reduces the urge so when the day arrives, you'll be more ready to kiss cigarettes goodbye.
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♪ bloom, there it is! this bloom-ified menu starts at $13.99. and if you want outback at home, order now. a mississippi gubernatorial candidate got some unwelcome attention when he told a female journalist that in order to follow him on the campaign trail, she needed to bring a male chaperone with her. republican state congressman robert foster denied access to mississippi today reporter larrison campbell when she didn't comply with his request. foster's team insisted his directive was rooted in not wanting to risk being in a situation in which people might think he was in an improper relationship. campbell has since responded by
slamming the request as sexist posting on twitter why you ask would this guy not see the absurd day of demanding i bring in the reenforcements he requires. probably at the end of the day he doesn't see me as someone who belongs there. he is using this in an email obtained by mississippi today. he wrote the liberal-leading washington post and hollywood are attacking me for my christian faith and choosing not to be alone with another woman. joining me now is that journalist from mississippi today, larrison campbell. it's a little medieval, the idea that a man's issue of being alone with a woman is that -- i don't even know what the issue is, but it's 2019. this is jackson, mississippi. what's going on? >> i think you're right here. this really is sort of an outdated view of women that we are talking about here. you have a candidate and what he's saying is, you know, this might -- he referenced the billy graham rule, which is this rule that he said he made with his wife that he wouldn't be alone, even in a work context with
another woman because it might look improper. this idea that it would look improper is sort of based in this kind of antiquated view of women as, you know, sexual objects first as a woman first would actually kind of sort of stretch the imagination to see a woman and a man together and realize that, no, she's actually a reporter there doing a job even in a work context. >> or could be your boss, could be your colleague. it does have the net effect of reducing opportunities for women if we were to observe that across the board. >> absolutely. you know, i was actually thinking about this today. and i've been working now for probably, you know, 15 years or so. and over that time, i mean, so many of, like, my mentors, my current editor, my bosses, so many of them have been men. and if even half of them had, say, subscribed to the billy fwram rule, i probably wouldn't be sitting here talking to you right now. i wouldn't have had the opportunities that would have gotten me here. >> he's mentioned the me too movement and the expressed
concern that he could be falsely approved. he said this billy graham rule you talk about is part of a vow he made to his wife. but as we often talk about other situations usually in other countries, these do tend to be per versions of nothing wrong to making a wow to your wife and staying true to your marriage and your relationship. there's no implication that you covering him on a campaign would be any compromise to that. >> absolutely not. that was kind of the thing here. when his campaign director initially came to me, the campaign director actually called it a, quote, weird request. my thing here if this is his weird request, like he should be the one to bring in the extra person. he shouldn't be asking me to sort of, you know, fix this thing that he feels strange about. and when you really break down the billy graham rule, like, what it is is, i mean, i see it to be just ultimately a sexist rule. you know, you have this idea these sort of old-fashioned notions of women. and rather than do the work, you know, you might need to do to dismantle them, men are just putting up barriers and saying,
well, this is how i'm going to feel better. they are not trying to change. >> it is a weird story. larrison campbell, thank you for the work you do as a journalist. larrison campbell is a reporter with "mississippi thanks, ali. coming up -- the debt crisis most people are not talking about and how it may affect you. . think all premium fuels are the same? new shell v-power nitro+ premium gasoline is engineered with four levels of defense against gunk, wear, corrosion and friction. that helps keep your engine running like new. so, maybe it's time to unthink what you think you think about premium fuel. shell v-power nitro+ premium gasoline... it's fuel for thought.
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leaving for its august recess in two weeks. in a letter to congressional leaders he warned the government could run out of money to pay its bills by early september before lawmakers return to washington. that's a serious matter. while the growing public debt is a problem, there may be another looming debt crisis, one that doesn't get a lot of attention and one that could cause huge problems for the economy. we're talking about private debt. now, that's all debt that's accumulated by individuals and private businesses. we're talking about mortgages, student loans, auto loans, credit cards, business loans, corporate bonds, debt that is not incurred by the government is private debt. according to the bank of international settlements, a group representing the world's central banks, that number you're looking at is the total private debt in the united states at the end of 2018. $31 trillion, which amounts for just over 1 1/2 times the nation's gross domestic product.
everything, 1 1/2 times the value of all goods and services produced in the united states we have in private debt. in his new book "a brief history of doom: 200 years of financial crises" former banker richard vague writes about how every financial crisis over the past 200 years was preceded by a growth in private debt. he's currently managing partner at gabriel investors and chairman of the foundation that focuses on culture and progressive goodness in politics. this is very important for my viewers to understand. i want to read a quote in your book in which you say, it's the special purview of regulators, economists and policymakers in power at the time of a financial crisis to later assert that the crisis cannot be predicted or prevented and when a crisis happens, we're in the grip of economic complexities we can
neither foresee nor prevent nor entirely understand. but this betrays the millions who did not cause the crisis but were badly damaged by it, and the government's political systems that were bradley disrupted. you're saying there are clues to when a financial crisis is coming and what causes it. >> absolutely. it is always private debt. we've looked at over 40 of these crises over 200 years in the 6 largest countries in the world. it's always irresponsible runaway private lending, just like the mortgage lending in the mid-2000s. it's irresponsible credit policy. therefore it becomes very predictable and we're looking at concerning situations around the world right now, especially china. >> we think the availability of money is the lubrication for the economy, in other words, if there's money available, people will use it, they'll spend it, earn it, they will expand.
how do you compare irresponsible growth of private debt to responsible growth or useful growth of private debt? >> well, you're absolutely right, private debt is a necessary and independenceabispt of the economy. when it grows too rapidly, you're creating overcapacity. when you have one high-rise tower in a downtown, that's great. if all of a sudden you get 10, 15 new ones, which happened in many cities in the 2000s, that's way too much capacity, that's not nearly enough tenants for that, the loans go bad and the banks fail. you have a crisis. >> whose job is it to monitor that, curtail it? is that on all of us, businesses, individuals, who take out too much loans or is this a number government should be looking at and doing something about? >> well, everyone has a part in it. i would think having been a
banker for over 30 years, it's the special purview of the regulators to look at aggravate trends and intervene when those trends become concerning or death growth is too rapid. >> what do you think -- what role do interest rates play in this? we're getting ready to see a possible lowering of interest rates in the united states. something a lot of economies disagree with but we lower interest rates to speed up the economy, you make more money available to make people spend more. is that a lever we should use when we think we're getting out of control growth in private debt? >> it's a clumsy lever. raising interest rates does have some dampening effect on credit growth but usually it's prof la i get departures from good credit policy. it was no down payments and not checking income and background of borrows of mortgages that was the problem, not the interest rate. so it's more intervening where credit policy has gone awry. >> you worry about china.
are you worried something will happen with private debt in china that will trigger a global recession? >> china's private death growth has been the greatest in world history. it's over $20 trillion and what is effectively private debt since about 2008. there's 50 million to 60 million empty homes in china. so at the very least in china, we're going to see a significant slowdown over the next few years. and china's been two-thirds of globe growth. if they slow down, the world is go to feel that slowing down. >> richard, always a pleasure to talk to you. thank you very much. richard vague is a managing partner at gabriel investments and author of "brief history of doom: 200 years of financial crises." that does it for me for now. i will see you at 10:00 p.m. eastern for "the last word" and monday and 1 and 3:00 eastern. you can also find me on twitter,
facebook, instagram, snapchat and linked in. thank you for watching. have a great weekend. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. breaking news, turns out the blast radius from an 11-year-old sex scandal can still prove lethal. if you're the labor secretary. alex acosta, who prior to serving in donald trump's cabin cabinet, served as the top prosecutor in miami out today over his role in negotiating a sweetheart deal for accused pedophile and sex trafficker jeffrey epstein. as this scandal dragged into its fifth day, donald trump bid acosta a farewell on the south lawn with a sorry/not sorry to see you go. >> alex, i think you'll agree, i said you don't have to do this. he doesn't have to do this. he made a deal people were happy with and 12 years later they're not happy with it. you'll have to figure all of