tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 12, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
that's it. i'll see you tomorrow morning on "today." andrea mitchell reports starts right now. >> and right now on "andrea mitchell reports," demanding answers. the death of jeffrey epstein by apparent suicide in a federal jail creating a barrage of questions and conspiracy theories, some giving extra oxygen by the president of the united states. the attorney general promising the investigation is not over. >> i was appalled and, indeed, the whole department was. any co-conspiratorers should not
rest easy. the victims deserve justice and they will get it. >> united front. the 2020 democrats turn up the heat on the gun lobby. the president and congress with calls not only for background checks and to renew the assault weapons ban after the mass shootings in el paso and dayton. >> my party has to get out of the defensive crouch that has us thinking that we're in the minority in these issues. america is with us in demanding common sense gun safety. even as lawmakers want to know why i.c.e. arrested hundreds of undocumented workers. not a single food processing plant owner. businesses that are breaking the law. >> and we do have those employers in names we're targeting.
we're in the middle of the criminal investigation. this case will be pursued. >> chairman of the homeland security committee, congressman benny thompson joins us. good day, everyone. andrea mitchell in washington this morning in new orleans, attorney general william barr making his first public remarks after disgraced financier and alleged sex trafficker jeffrey epstein was found dead in his manhattan jail cell under federal custody. >> this sex trafficking case was very important to the department of justice and to me, personally. it was important to the dedicate ed prosecutors in the southern district of new york and investigators who were investigating the case and preparing it for trial. most importantly, this case was important to the victims who had
the courage to come forward and deserve the opportunity to confront the accused in the courtroom. i was appalled and, indeed, the whole department was. and, frankly, angry to learn of the mcc's failure to adequately secure this prisoner. >> sources tell nbc news that epstein's apparent suicide came 12 days after he was given a psychological evaluation in the jail and taken off suicide watch. that decision made less than a week after officers found epstein injured in his cell with marks on his neck. the immediate focus now is on the medical examiner still waiting more information before declaring an official cause of death. multiple officials briefed on the investigation say there was nothing to suggest foul play. joining me now was nbc justice correspondent pete williams and nbc's stephanie gosk in new york.
pete, first to you. it is unusual because the attorney general was speaking at a previously scheduled speech at the fraternal order of police convention in new orleans, as i understand it. but he thought this was important enough to the justice department, which runs the bureau of prisons to speak out. and he spoke out very forcefully. >> he put out a written statement in the weekend. he went further today and said this is -- he says we're now learning of serious irregularities at this facility, that he wants the justice department to investigate. so he has launched two investigations, one by the fbi. that will be a criminal investigation, looking at whether any laws were broken here. and, secondly, a justice department inspector general investigation, which will look more deeply at whether there were administrative failures and how this whole thing was carried out. now we know that epstein was supposed to be checked every 30 minutes, roughly, at this facility where he was held, the section of the prison where he was being held.
we're also told by officials that wasn't happening. we don't know how long the gap was between the checks. we don't know if it was a regular gap that was of a certain amount of time but we know that the protocols weren't followed. there was also supposed to be another prisoner in his cell that could have raised the alarm or could have done something. that didn't happen. so now this whole thing will be investigated. but the union has said that that facility is seriously understaffed and that many people were working overtime, many people were working as guards that were not qualified to do so. >> i just don't understand why there weren't cameras. there are cameras at the mcc. stephanie, you've been on this story from the very beginning. cameras, extra guards. there is no higher profile prisoner in the entire system now than this jeffrey epstein, and now he's dead. >> right. cameras actually in prison cells violate privacy. even inmates have some privacy
rights. so from what i know, there weren't any cameras within the cells. there certainly should have been cameras outside the cell. it remains unclear what was caught on video or what wasn't caught on video. to the people i've spoken to, andrea, former officials who work in the federal bureau system of prisons, to have an inmate like this, someone this high profile, that you would proceed as conservatively as possible when it comes to how that person is handled. and at some point, as we mentioned, around july 29th, it was decided that jeffrey epstein be taken off suicide watch. that's really the decision that people should focus on. how is that decision made? who determined, as they would have had to, that he was no longer a threat to himself? certainly a medical professional would have to be involved in that decision and you would imagine as well the people that run that facility would be involved in that final
determination. >> and talk to us about maxwell, the british socialite, former girlfriend, called her his best friend. she has been described by the victims as procurer, co-seducer, if you will, as going to massage parlors, to high schools, recruiting girls, bringing them in under false pretenses, paying everyone, running his multi-million dollar mansions here and abroad. >> with epstein's death, his criminal case obviously comes to a close and for accusers, this was going to be their opportunity to have their day in criminal court. their hope now to have that day in criminal court would be if one of his co-conspiratorers were charged with crimes and ghislaine maxwell's name is at the top because of documents released less than 24 hours before jeffrey epstein took his own life, a defamation brought
against her, settled in 2017. she is accused by virginia jufrey of recruiting girls for the purpose of sex. underage girls for sex. does she face charges? do other co-conspirators face charges? u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york said the same thing over the weekend and that would be the one chance for these victims to have a moment in criminal court. they are pursuing civil cases. they will be able to continue to pursue civil cases against jeffrey epstein's vast estate, valued at least at $569 million. >> and maxwell has never been charged with a crime in connection with epstein's alleged acts but, pete, there are a lot of questions over the fact that alleged conspirators were never part of the original plea deal or they were excused. in fact, they were part of the
plea deal they got a pass in that plea deal. >> they were specifically mentioned saying there would be no charges against them. u.s. attorney of new york has to investigate cases that have a tie to new york, but both he and the attorney general have said they will continue this. attorney general barr said any co-conspirators should not rest easy. >> one other thing. i think we'll be pursuing this later in the program but the president's retweeting of these completely baseless conspiracy theories against his political rivals certainly should be put to rest by his own attorney general today, so strongly coming out. >> yes. that, and the medical examiner, too, who will be able to say definitively what happened here. but the indications are that we've heard that there's no evidence of foul play. >> pete williams, as always, thank you. stephanie gosk, your work on this whole story has been amazing. we thank you. thank you for taking the time to be with us today. >> thank you. >> let's bring in msnbc legal
analyst mimi roka and maya wiley. how could this happen? >> first of all we don't know all the facts. we need to get them. it's extremely important we have both an investigation and inspector general investigation. that's the right move. the question here is did the -- you know, there's a whole protocol in the bureau of prisons about how you handle potential suicide and when and how someone is on suicide watch. so, did a psychiatrist say that there was no longer a risk for jeffrey epstein? if so, what were the grounds for that? we need to understand why they took him off suicide watch. i think a lot of people are wondering why. that's going to be a clear and important fact. other questions you raised around what was happening within
the functioning of the bureau of prisons. here in new york, in the federal facility, we've had significant issues just with the running of the facility, the brooklyn facility. so, is there also mismanagement coming from the bureau of prisons and how they're managing the facilities now? but at the end of the day, we have to allow the investigations to play out. we simply don't know what happened. and i think it's very dangerous to engage in too significant of a speculation until we get more facts. >> mimi roka, you worked in the southern district. you know that district well. a lot of questions about, did he have special alcohol's to his lawyers? he was paying his attorneys, apparently, to get out of his cell and spend days hours and hours every day to spend in the lawyer's room. did he pay to get off suicide watch, a holding facility where they have no bed covers, no
clothes really. just a smock. nothing that could be turned into a noose or some other ways of killing yourself. did he have some sort of special pleading? did he exert any undue influence? doesn't that have to be investigated? >> absolutely. having both of these investigations, looking at that. look, epstein is spending a lot of time with his lawyers in these rooms. first of all, maybe this goes without saying but i'll say it just in case. the prosecutors in the southern district of new york don't control that. that's controlled by the all you can do is recommend thi things to the bop. prosecutors and even the judges don't have control over it. this is the same b.o.p. that controls another facility in brooklyn, mdc. they had to be sued to turn the
lights on, and there was no heat during the coldest days of the winter. there are systematic problems here that maybe this will, hopefully one silver lining has caused people to look at. whether epstein had preferential treatment, we don't know. my question is, if he did, was there corruption involved? was someone being paid off at the mcc? was there just mismanagement? you know, was there negligence? we just don't know. all of those are possibilities. and they will have to be found out. i can tell you right now that the people who are most devastated by this, obviously, are the victims, because they're not going to be able to see justice in the way they wanted. and the other people who are devastated by this are the prosecutors and agents who were doing this case. i had people where this happened, on cases that i did. it's devastating on many different levels, no matter who the person is and what horrible things they did. >> we talk about the victims.
is there a way through the civil courts? are there other ways that they can get justice, or through action, criminal action against co-conspirators? >> both. the reality is, you know, one of the questions we had is where is ghislaine maxwell and why hasn't she been charged? one of the alleged victims also had a civil suit already, in which she directly implekted maxwell in threatening her, along with jeffrey epstein, if she did not have sex with them and with others and sex trafficking doesn't have a statute of limitations. these civil suits in and of themselves will make sure there's also a public accounting, because unlike criminal cases, that can't be under seal. >> mimi roka, maya wiley, thank you so much. awful story. later this hour, more on this. talking to police commissioner bill bratton. conspiracy theorists,
president trump using his powerful megaphone to spread unfounded conspiracy theories about his political rivals. stay with us. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" here on msnbc. one leso serve a community. i just don't want to let these people down. excedrin migraine. relief that works as hard as you do.
the president tweeting an unfounded theory that jeffrey epstein had information on bill clinton and now he is dead, including the #clintonbodycount, slamming both clintons. spokesperson for president clinton tweeting ridiculous and, of course, not true, and donald trump knows it. phil rubbinger, white house bureau chief and msnbc political contributor and kristen welker, msnbc reporter. you both cover the white house. you both have covered the white house for years. presidents of the united states don't retweet blatantly false conspiracy theories about their bread cessers or defeated campaign rivals. kristen, has this become normalized? what are we hearing here? >> reporter: it's remarkable,
andrea, no doubt about that, that he would retweet a conspiracy theory. what we do know is that candidate trump engaged in peddling conspiracy theories. the biggest one, arguably, the obama birtherism conspiracy theory, completely false. this is a tactic he has taken on before. the fact that he would do it now, andrea, is striking. it came hours after his own attorney general said he was launching an investigation that the fbi was going to investigate as well to really try to figure out exactly what happened. of course, we immediately reached out to the white house to try to get some type of reaction or explanation, and so far there hasn't been. i think that's largely because they're not exactly sure what to say about this. we should note that kellyanne conway was out over the weekend, defending president trump, saying bottom line he wants to get the answers but retweeting a conspiracy theory goes well beyond that, andrea.
and it also casts a cloud over what his attorney general said, we need to get to the bottom of what exactly happened. any investigator says you have to let this investigation play out before weighing in on what may or may not have happened. in this instance, really is striking that the president would take this tactic. he clearly has an eye on 2020. this is something that energizes his base and he's also here in bedminster on his summer vacation. clearly with some extra time on his hands as he watches cable tv, andrea. >> maybe a little too much. phil rubbinger, guess who jumped on this conspiracy theory the minute the president retweeted it, the russians, the russian bots. he's playing right into the enemy's hands. >> that's right, andrea. we've seen this so many times before from president trump. he doesn't seem to have -- it's sort of a filter in deciding whether he tweets facts or theories or things that he has heard. in this case, he seemed to be trying to draw attention to the
clintons. perhaps that was motivated by the fact that trump, himself, has also been linked to jeffrey epstein. the two go back decades, had partied together. although they had a falling out a number of years ago. regardless, as kristen was saying it's quite a remarkable move for the president of the united states. there seemed to be some independence between the president of the white house and activities of the justice department. this was an active criminal investigation, a case. jeffrey epstein was in prison and here we have the president weighing in, as he did. >> kristen, i want to ask you guys about the president's tweets about kim jong un on saturday, the beautiful letter, the missile launches, so-called apology for the launches. i mean, all of this is pretty extraordinary. i want to say something he said to you on friday. >> there have been no nuclear
missile tests. all short range, no ballistic missile tests, no long-range missiles. we got back and are getting back, as we speak, we're getting back a lot of our fallen heroes. you know that. they're coming back into and through hawaii. and we got back our hostages. >> first of all, there have been no remains we know of returned since the failed hanoi summit. second of all, does he know the difference between ballistic missiles and projectiles? everything launched has been a ballistic missile. just because it's short ranged doesn't mean it's not ballistic and it is a violation of u.n. resolutions and could reach u.s. troops and our allies in south korea, american bases, japan.
>> you hit on the critical point. this is something that his administration is well aware of, that clearly concerns them. president trump very eager for a deal as it relates to north korea. it's not only remarkable that he would but criticize the joint exercises so vigorously. that is certainly a break from what we heard from past presidents. so far we've had official summits, one obviously less formal or impromptu at the dmz. president trump signaling he sees another possibility. >> you wrote today about the one label that this expert at branding doesn't like. what does he like least to see? >> yeah, andrea. it's the word racist. last several weeks starting with those tweets that the president aimed at the squad, the four
congresswomen of color. he is angry about it. >> yours and ashley parker's great reporting in "the washington post" as always. >> thank you. >> kristen welker, thank you so much. >> thanks, andrea. crackdown. trump administration announces new rules to make it harder for low-income immigrants to stay in the u.s. benny thompson is joining me next. stay right here on andrea mitchell reports on msnbc. nd ar mitchell reports on msnbc. i don't keep track of regrets.
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the trump administration is taking stronger steps against immigration today, introducing a rule that would make it harder for low-income immigrants who receive tax-payer funded assistance to stay in the country legally after october. the rule would require immigrants applying for a change in immigration status like a green card to prove that they would not need public assistance. >> we certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet. and so if people are not able to be self sufficient, then this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a
decision about whether they'll be able to become a legal permanent resident and a poor person can be prepared to be self sufficient. many have been through the history of this country. >> all this, as the department is being roundly criticized for staging its largest ever state-wide raid against largely hispanic undocumented or mostly undocumented workers, presumably, on the same day that the president was supposed to be comforting terrorized hispanic community in el paso. joining me now is democratic congressman bennie thompson. mr. chairman, thank you very much. thank you for taking the time and want to first ask you about the i.c.e. raids and how -- what have you learned so far, if anything, about the status of the children who were left unattend unattend unattend unattended, the people
improperly arrested and the numbers still being attained? >> as best we can determine, 300 people are still detained. the children are being taken care of by friends and in some instances, relatives. the church community has stepped in. a number of people who care about the situation. the real tragedy is the most vulnerable people being picked on. the companies were the ones who employed the individuals but, as you know, those companies have basically been left alone. i weam going to a couple of communities after this session after you to comfort some of the
people. i've been getting calls. these are nontraditional people who are calling, elected officials, education officials, people who live in the community say they have melted into our community. we've accepted them. the children go to our school. we don't have a problem. why is the trump administration doing this at this time? i don't have answers other than it's indicative of their insensitivity to latinos in this country. the food stamp issue that you talked about earlier. again, you're picking on people who have come seeking a better way of life. and if food stamps is a bridge to that better way of life, why wouldn't you want to be part of helping people get to the
american dream? so it can be as heartless as you can imagine. >> another question that i had is why, they were not going to notify the schools, okay, they should have, i believe. but why didn't they notify the mississippi department of child services or child welfare, or hhs? some social welfare workers so these children were not as terrorized as they were? >> well, it just says that this administration wants to inflict as much pain as they can on some of the most vulnerable people in this country. we don't notify school districts it's a form of child separation when you don't notify human services. it's a form of child separation when some of the children are
yet to be put back in that family environment. again, family separation in this situation is bad. but, again, the notion that the companies are not being penalized at all. they did not collect any records, to my knowledge, from the companies. no one from any of the companies has had an opportunity to be charged with anything. these are hard-working people that are doing back-breaking jobs. we've limited those communities because now social service and the community will have to step in and take care of many of those families because the breadwinners are now in jail. >> and very briefly, with none
again, you had 600 highly paid, highly skilled individuals to arrest 680. that is a costly undertaking. and i think the timing of it could not have been worse. the two issues of the killings that we have just been exposed to. and now to pick on the mexican workers and others at the poultry processing plants, absolutely unconscionable. but again i'm not surprised with with this administration. they pride themselves on picking on some of the most vulnerable people in america. >> congressman bennie thompson from mississippi. thank you very much, sir. >> thank you. coming up next, taking a stand. democratic candidates in iowa
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laws. >> the second amendment says we can limit who can own a weapon. they can limit what kind of gun you can own. >> let's have that discussion. let's have that vote. do what the american people want. >> i want us to change how we think about gun safety in america. it's about reducing the deaths from gun violence. >> people say to me, did donald trump cause those folks to be killed? well, no, of course, he didn't pull the trigger. but he certainly has been tweeting out the ammunition. >> let's bring in nbc news political contributor jonathan capehart and a.b. stoddard at real clear politics. welcome all. david jolly, let me ask you. as a former member of congress, and republican, former republican -- >> right. >> -- is this time going to be different than newtown,
parkland, las vegas? >> not substantively. no. i say that with great disappointment, andrea. even if the republicans feel like they need to move a little and move toward the two bills that the house has sent over to them, you're still talking about incremental reform. the bill sitting in the senate that the house sent over would say which transactions are subject to background checks. it does not touch on high-capacity magazines. it does not touch on an assault weapons ban. it does not expand the information checked on a potential buyer. i think there should be urgency on both sides of the hill. the reason i have low expectations is just as we're not seeing it for mitch mcconnell over on the house side, congratulations to democrats. thank you for doing what you did. this is not a criticism of them but we're not seeing the urgency around the real substantive changes as well. best thing nancy pelosi could do in the house to help those democratic candidates who want
to make this an issue, get it through the house and get the assault weapons ban over to the senate to draw the contrast. >> and the big magazine. >> correct. >> had that not existed in dayton there's no way nine people would have been killed in less than 30 seconds. a.b., what does it take? the polling shows 89 to 90% of americans are in favor of background checks. there is a rural/urban divide. but that's becoming evened out. >> yeah. i do think the politics have changed. the democrats increasingly are taking over the suburbs republicans used to hold in those suburbs, in those areas and we saw this in the mid terms and data from that election, that this is a burgeoning issue of concern. they used to represent rural and southern small towns they don't anymore. they were afraid of what happened to them after the crime bill. this is no more. republicans are feeling a lot of pressure. this is going to come down to donald trump. he has an opportunity to stand
up to the nra. we saw him in 2018 say he was going to, and then he retreated. then you have rush limbaugh go on the air and say don't fall for this trap. don't separate yourself, mr. president, from the nra and your base. just like george herbert walker bush who said he wouldn't raise taxes, you're going to risk losing your election. he hears these voices and more often than not, he retreats to his original position. until and unless the president tells mitch mcconnell, i have sent you over. i will consider an assault weapons ban and i'm sending you over a universal background check that i'm standing behind consistently, we're not going to see the senate republicans move on this. they know that every time they put themselves out on a political branch, the president knocks it off. >> and, jonathan, there's so much energy behind renewing the assault weapon ban. that is a much more aggressive posture, as david jolly just said. >> right. >> nancy pelosi should pick that
up and run with it. meanwhile joe biden has once again raised the whole gaf issue. it's being talked about by the democrats in iowa, especially as elizabeth warren is doing so well and other candidates are being seen close-up. let me play what he said where he mistook parkland kids, which happened after he left office, for newtown, when he was in office. >> i watched what happened when those kids came up to see me when i was vice president, and some of you covered it. you watched what happened when they went up on the halls of congress. congressmen were basically cowering. >> now, kate benningfeld from his staff responded, campaign manager. wouldn't it be nice to have a president who consoles americans in their time of need so often that he sometimes mistakes the timing?
but even more so, wouldn't it be nice to have a president who fights to prevent these tragedies? is it making democratic activists nervous? >> everything makes democratic activists nervous, everything. what i'm telling people, particularly on twitter, is keep your eyes on the main prize. if you're going to go after vice president biden for gafs or mouth marbles, instead of focusing on -- i'm saying this bluntly, the racist in the white house with the white supremacist policy agenda, you're not keeping your eyes on the prize. if you want to go gaf for gaf, fine. vice president biden confused parkland and newtown. the president of the united states confused dayton for toledo. >> or a missile launch with a ballistic mitchell -- excuse me -- missile that is banned by
everybody. >> right. if you want to go toe for toe, gaf for gaf between president trump and former vice president biden, fine, but that's not what's important. >> we have to leave it there. we'll have six months to iowa to debate all this. >> great. >> a.b. stoddard, thank you so much, david capehart and, of course, david jolly. why was jeffrey epstein taken off suicide watch and left alone in a jail cell? bill bratton joins us next. own little world. especially these days. (dad) i think it's here. (mom vo) especially at this age. (big sister) where are we going? (mom vo) it's a big, beautiful world out there. (little sister) woah... (big sister) wow. see that? (mom vo) sometimes you just need a little help seeing it. (avo) the three-row subaru ascent. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. get zero percent during the subaru a lot to love event.
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jeffery epstein's death in federal custody is putting pressure on the department of justice. fbi and intern general is investigating how this could have happened. attorney general is demanding answers. commissioner, you know this jail well and you know the rules and the regulations. how could this have happened? >> the attorney general wanted to get to the bottom of this. he cited serious regulations and what the issues are out of there. those issues are many. i am for one don't believe this was a conspiracy, the theories that are out there, floating
around. i think it is a phenomenal bureaucratic incompetence. you have the most high-profile prison in custody and committed suicide. unbelievable. i think we'll find a series of inappropriate procedures and policies will end up being the source of him being allowed to take his own life. >> pete william is reporting now that according to his sources that hours between the checks and routine 30 minute checks. hours elapse when this man could clearly taken his own life. that's one big error. the other big thing we know is the situation that on 6:30 friday night, it was 6:30 a.m. when he was found. until 6:30 friday night according to people familiar
with this, his own lawyers apparently said that he was stable and mentally good shape. >> except for the fact the news they were conveying to him that day of 2,000 pages released that was extraordinary damaging for him in this case. the idea that he's being left alone after 6:30 at night and over night the protocol in that section was being held was the half hour inspections and that was not complied with. he should have had a second person in the cell with him. for some reason they opted not to do that. if he remained on suicide watch which was taken off earlier. he would be in a different type
of uniform procolluded for him to hang himself. the incompetence and oversight here is phenomenal. again, you have about obligation when you have a prisoner in custody to protect them. they not only feel to protect them, they created an extraordinary embarrassment for themselves and the administration. that's why the attorney general is on this like a fly on fly. the damage that this is causing for the administration. >> the take him off the suicide watch. clearly he wanted to be off the suicide watch and being under suicide watch is very uncomfortable. you are in a cell and you don't have clothes, you are in a small and nothing of comfort. what about the fact that someone approved of. >> that's a great point that has not been raised. he was an extraordinary
manipulator. he basically manipulated with the psychologists and psychiatrists whatever they had, the government bureaucrat, the idea that i am fine by showing i am fine. i am going to get better conditions. it is a great point. that's not yet been raised. >> bill britton. thank you so much commissioner. good to see you. >> coming up, daycare tragedy, five children killed in the early morning fire in pennsylvania. we'll have the latest invasion next right here on "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. tchec that's a win. but it's not the only reason i switched. geico's a company i can trust, with over 75 years of great savings and service. ♪ now that's a win-win. switch to geico.
an eerie pennsylvania community is devastated today five children killed in the daycare center after a fire. nbc's kathy park is outside of what is left. what did the fire chief tell you? >> reporter: he told us there should have been more smoke detectors in the daycare center. he told us there should have been eight given the size of this home. investigators are combing through the ash and the focus shifted to a possible electric
issue saying there are several course that is plugged. a large memorial is growing behind here as this community begins the mourning process. >> kathy park. such a tragedy. thank you. >> that's it for us today. stephanie ruhle from "velshi & ruhle." >> thank you, andrea. hello everyone. coming up, epstein is dead. what does his suicide mean for hisaccusers, can they get justice? plus, president trump tangled in a new public feud with his communication director scarramucci. we'll talk about their twitter war live with the