tv Deadline White House MSNBC May 10, 2022 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT
underscore how our income is now in uncharted territory as it grapples with the anti-democratic impulses unleashed by donald trump and everything he ushered in under the umbrella of trumpism. donald trump's former defense secretary mark esper whose new book contains a litany of newly public examples of the ex-president taking a wrecking ball to our institutions and norms appeared on fox news and when asked if his former boss was a threat to democracy, this was his response. >> i think that given the events of january 6th, given how he has undermined the election results, he increted people to come to d.c., stirred them up that morning and failed to call them off, to me that threatens our democracy. >> and in an appearance on "morning joe" this morning former secretary esper said that donald trump lacked the very basic qualities needed to be the president of the united states. >> any elected official needs to
meet some basic criteria. they need to be able to put country over self. they need to have a certain level of integrity and principle. they need to be able to reach across the aisle and bring people together and unite the country. donald trump doesn't meet those marks for me. with the investigation into january 6th bringing to light the lengths to which the ex-president is and his allies went to try to overturn an election, a campaign that january 6th committee member jamie has raskin has referred to as a marriage between a coup with street thugs and hooligans, former attorney general eric holder is taking the rather incredible step of calling for the ex-president to be indicted if that's where the investigation leads into the capitol insurrection. watch this. >> i'm an institutionalist, and it is hard to -- one administration looking back on another one and holding the head of that other administration responsible. that's inconsistent with the way in which we've conducted the
transfer of power. that's something that happens in other countries, and yet, as the evidence has come out about what the former president did, those around him did, including mark meadows, there is the need for some degree of accountability. to let the administration simply off the hook given all that they've done, given all that we're going to hear they did, i think that's something that's very dangerous for our nation. that's kind of what's pushed me towards the notion of doing something in the past i would have thought would be unthinkable and that is to potentially indict a former president. >> those comments from the former secretary of defense and the former attorney general would be alarming enough if it weren't for the fact that donald trump is ascendant. he looms large over our politics today. this hour. as the head of a clearly authoritarian movement that's hoping to sweep into political office at every single level in the 2022 midterms. the congressional primary today in west virginia between two republican candidates, alex
mooney and david mckinley is a snapshot of how trump and his allies are hoping to purge the republican party of anyone and everyone who shows the slightest bit of adherence or loyalty to the truth and disloyalty to him. with alex mooney earning trump's endorsement because, as "politico" reports, mckinley committed two cardinal sins in trump's view, voting for the bipartisan infrastructure deal and voting for an independent commission to get to the bottom of the worst attack on the united states capitol in centuries. donald trump is a threat to democracy is where we start with former secretary of defense mark esper, the author of a new book "a sacred oath, memoirs of a secretary of defense during extraordinary times" that's not how it usually goes, but thank you for not pointing out that it wasn't normal. what's a treat is to talk to someone who was on the inside to try to answer some of our
questions from the outside, and you know, in your own words, what was donald trump? >> donald trump as best i can assess is a person driven by self-interest, and in the case of politics, it's his re-election, and as i note in there, he seemed to be willing to sacrifice anything to get there, whether it was a policy objective or people or our institutions. and i'm an institutional person, if you will, whether it gets to dod and our national security apparatus. that's how i kind of size it up right there on the spot. >> when did you know? what's your first interaction with him where you know he's neither informed, nor an institutionalist, nor faithful to the office that he held? >> well, it's hard to pick a moment in time. you know, as i write in my book, the first realization i had that this job would be really different than what i expected was when we were at bedminster in august of 2019 discussing the
afghan withdrawal peace plan, and the president goes on this sound track as i call it, of wanting to withdraw from nato and bad mouthing angela merkel and next it's pulling all americans out of africa. we moved to south korea and withdrawing troops. so you have this litany of things that go on there, and i try to push back on these at times with chairman joe dunford at my side, but clearly this is an eye opener for me that he is focused on these things. and again, outside the bounds of what conventional wisdom would be in traditional -- my view, traditional republican foreign policy. >> when you leave an interaction with someone like donald trump and whether it's the things you write about, wanting to shoot protesters, whether it's the extreme ignorance that led to numerous reports of some senior military officials calling him an idiot, rex tillerson was aghast at his lack of understanding of our alliances and adversaries and why each fell into the other category.
what was the conversation amongst yourselves about whether the country could survive four years? >> well, you know, we never had conversations like that, if you will? >> you never talked about whether the country -- >> not in terms of surf vooichl. survival. to be fair, donald trump put forward a number of traditional republican policies, lower taxes, less regulation, border security. those are things i support, most republicans support as well, and he made progress on many of them. the challenge was in so many cases he would go too far, right? i believe nato allies should pay their share of defense, but i wouldn't threaten to withdraw from the license to get there. i don't support shooting missiles into mexico to do that, there was just this instinctive thing where you knew he was going too far. i saw my role, my oath of office being number one, but to support him was to kind of offer up better solutions, more viable ones that would get to where he wanted to go consistent with
the things i outlined to get to a better outcome. >> tell the story of how he wanted to punish admiral mccraven and stanley mcchrystal. >> yeah, you know, i should have reviewed that before we came on. this came up because i think it was early 2020 or so when one of the two gentlemen wrote something in the paper. or it was attributed to him, and the president reacted really badly. it was something about supporting democrats, and it led to a series of things where general milley and i were called into the oval office and asked about recalling, i think it was mccraven to active duty, and once we got there, mcchrystal's name was thrown into the fray as well. these are two great warriors, gentlemen, folks i respect and know and you know, to call them back on active duty to consider court martialing them for expressing their views was just out of bounds, and milley and i pushed back on this, and mark milley saved the day here and kind of proposed -- he would go
talk to these gentlemen and walk them back, and that was just enough to get us out of that spot and out of the office and move on to something else. >> trump's loyalists tried to recall retired four star officers to court martial them for kritd sizing the president. in early may 2020 stories appeared in outlets like breitbart saying that alleged retired arny general stan mcchrystal was advising democrats on ways to use ai to track down trump supporters on social media. the next thing i knew mark milley and i were sitting in front of the president trying to talk him out of recalling mcchrystal to active duty. by the time we arrived to the white house, the commander who organized the raid to kill osama bin laden onto the bonfire. the president told milley and me he wanted to call them, mcchrystal and mccraven back to active duty and court martial them for what they said, quote, so disloyal he would say. the discussion went back and forth in the oval. milley figured out a way to get
the president to back down. sody disloyal to whom. i guess i'm trying to understand who he thought they were supposed to be loyal to? >> to him, the president and commander in chief. former retired officers he thought they had an obligation to be loyal in terms of what they said publicly or wrote publicly to the president. >> did he ever understand the military is loyal to the constitution and the country. did he ever and does he today? >> i don't know. again, you can only look at behavior and speech and assess that that's not the case. >> let's look at some speech because- and i think this is a big book. it's an important book. you're speaking out and your response not just for the historical record but for the future. let me show you how he spoke about his generals, which is what he called them. >> i see my generals, generals are going to keep us so safe. if i'm doing a movie, i pick
you, general. >> everybody knows exactly what happened, so and what i do is i authorize my military. >> i have generals that are great generals. my generals and my military, they have decision-making ability. >> again, as the most virulent carrier of this sort of antidemocratic virus in america, that man right there, how do you think he views the military today? >> well, it's hard to say today because, first of all, you're right. he considered them his generals, which was a terrible spot to put these officers into, and i describe another incident that happened may 9th, i think 2020. just weeks before june 1st where we all gather in the cabinet room to brief him on china, and he comes in, he's already upset about something else, and it escalates into, again, a 20 minute or so tirade complaining about the military, complaining about the generals that we can't win in afghanistan, we can't beat the chinese.
he gave us $2.5 trillion, and we're not the great military that we think we are. i just thought it was a terrible display by the commander in chief. >> who was in there? >> myself, chairman milley, i think mike pompeo and the national security adviser robert o'brien was there and several of the joint chiefs. i think a couple were missing. the vice chairman was there, the chief of staff of the army was there. for the most part the joint chiefs and the language was directed at them, and it really bothered me and as much as i and milley tried to interject or stop it or push back here or there, we just could not arrest the conversation, and finally it ended and we were breaking up to go to dinner that night, and the chairman -- the joint chiefs were being excused and i had to pull milley aside and said you need to go talk to them. you need to calm them down and tell them we got this under control because they were clearly, in my view, clearly rattled by what had happened and taken aback, and milley understood and did that and
talked to them. >> but why not go talk to trump? they didn't do anything wrong? >> well, look, we would have these conversations at times about, you know, engagement with the military. i had this conversation i had with him privately within the oval about comments he made about traumatic brain injury in our troops in iraq and i talk about it in the book and i had to pull him aside mr. president, what you're saying is not going over well with the troops. you've got to change your language. you can't write this off as headaches. these soldiers and airmen were wounded in these missile strikes. >> secretary austin has testified and they've taken aggressive action to deal with extremism in the military. do you see any tie between donald trump's world view and what secretary austin is dealing with now? >> i don't know. i personally don't think so. >> he's the commander in chief, right? they reported to him, so they had to be calmed down after he was the one that was
inappropriate. i mean, there's reverence for the chain of command in the military that people outside the military can't wrap their head around. >> more importantly there's a strong professional ethos. there are values that are instructed and engrained into folks. i went into west point at age 18 and duty, honor, country was drilled into me for four years and after that in active duty. there's a strong professional ethos. they understand not just the chain of command, but they understand much as i do, the title of my book, that your number one oath is to the constitution, not to the president, not to the party, and look, at times you have to be able to make those tough calls if you're getting an illegal or immoral order. >> so can you go through the immoral orders that you got? >> well, you know, as i comment, i didn't get my orders from president trump. the one that i always refer to is the written order i got to deploy -- or i'm sorry, to withdraw 10,000 troops from germany, but otherwise he didn't give orders. he would muse, he would suggest, he would rant, but never given that order, and that gave me a
lot of freedom, right to do what i thought was best or to push back here and there, and so in that sense i never really faced an order. i faced considerations, things like that that i thought were, you know, immoral such as shooting americans in the streets of our capital, but look, we being attorney general barr, myself, and general milley were successful there in terms of pushing back and saying, no, no, we can't do that mr. president. that's not the right thing to do. bill barr puts in 5,000 law enforcement, i offer up national guard and we take the issue of deploying active troops into the streets of d.c. off the table. >> donald trump after he lost the election engaged -- and i know you were gone. what was the date you left? >> november 9th. >> it was election day. >> november 2nd was election day. my goal was always to make it to the election and if i could an additional week and surprisingly we did, i did. >> and after you left, you joined ten secretaries of defense in this letter.
>> "washington post" op-ed. >> that says in part former -- former vice president cheney's on the list and leon panetta is on the list and you're on the list. it says in part this, american elections zpt peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy with one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more americans than all our other wars combined, the united states has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789 including in times of partisan strife, wars, epidemics and economic depression. this year should be no exception. appropriate challenges have been addressed by courts. governors have certified the results and the electoral college has voted. the time for questioning the results has passed. the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes as prescribed in the constitution in statute has arrived. to say he didn't listen to you is an understatement. we know now he was using the levers of the executive brarchl of government to try to seize
voting machines. mike flynn who was charged with felonies and pardoned by donald trump had an audience of one inside the oval office. john eastman was trying to concoct a coup plot and ensnare mike pence in overturning the will of the voters. what was the alarm that you saw that brought all of you to write that letter, and what do you think the response was to it? >> importantly it was signed i think january 3rd, something like that. it's in my book. i include a copy because i was proud to not just sign it but to make edits to improve it because i felt so strongly. i don't know what everybody else was seeing but clearly i was seeing these news reports come out about mike flynn in the white house. >> the pillow guy. >> and i thought it important, the message was really written to dod and the people at dod to honor their oath and to respect our norms and conventions and the institutions of government, and to caution them not to do anything. i mean, this was my concern. i came in on day one saying we had to be an apolitical military and institution. i said it throughout my tenure.
i said it when i wrote that letter to all of dod on june 2nd, the day after the lafayette park, and it was something that's very important to our country. we are unique in the sense that we have an apolitical military that is run by civilians and knows its proper role in society, and i was always very concerned about us a crossing that line. >> you don't think it was crossed under donald trump? i mean, he got involved in the justice system, that is the tradition of the military. he got involved in wanting secretary -- or general milley at lafayette square and looking like he was in fallujah. you don't think that line was crossed over and over again? >> i think he tried. >> do you think he failed? >> yes. because i think dod, the military is an enduring institution. it has great resilience. you're not going to -- one person is not going to change 240 years of tradition for the united states military, and despite anybody's efforts, and -- >> did he weaken it by turning it into fodder for tucker carlson to attack and mock the pentagon and pentagon
leadership? >> that probably is not the first time that's happened in our history. i've been around d.c. long enough to see these things come and go. clearly the institution has to endure, not just dod, it could be doj, you pick it. they are very important to our republic, to democracy, and one of my concerns about president trump is he didn't respect our institutions or our norms and that's why it's so important that we preserve them, and more importantly, it's critical that good people go into government and they serve and they stay, even when times get tough, democrat or republican, doesn't matter. we need good people because at the end of the day, these institutions have their cultures but they're only as strong as the people that are in them. i try to acknowledge all the great people at dod, civilians, officers, you name it, people who make the institution what it is and why it's so critical to our republic. >> i want to talk about the future. you said that donald trump is not democratic. or was a danger to our democracy. what is the specific threat he
represents to american democracy? >> well, i just kind of spoke to that. this is a cautionary tale in that regard, right? we've got to elect people whether it's certainly the president of the united states, but members of congress who have to do a few things. you have to put country before self. >> trump doesn't do that. >> i don't -- no. number two, you have to have integrity, and a core set of principles that guide you. >> and i don't even think people close to him think he has that. >> and you have to be able to reach across the aisle. you have to be willing to work with people from the other party, and you have to bring the country together. i said i'm a reagan republican. that's what ronald reagan did. >> if you need all that, if he's the nominee of the republican party in 2024 will you vote for him? >> no. >> will you make sure he's not elected if he is the nominee of the republican party? will you speak at the other -- >> i have one voice. i have one voice, one story, i'm offering it up today. i will continue to speak to this. i think it's important for republicans -- again, i'm a republican -- to understand that you can get those core republican policies. again, lower taxes, less regulation, strong military,
border security. you can get them without the divisiveness, without the coarseness, and everything else. by other republican leaders who are emerging and will emerge after the -- >> who? >> i'm not going to start naming names. >> but i guess they're not emerging. it's the trump people who are emerging. >> i said this on another channel, they have to show distance, in my view, they have to show distance between them and donald trump. >> is it important to show strength? i want to show you something colonel vindman said on this program yesterday. >> the reason i ended up leaving is because i just found myself to by b a pariah. radioactive at no point did secretary esper or mccarthy, the secretary of the army at the time or senior leadership say, hey, you're fine. just hold on. you'll make it through. i had no idea about any support that may have resided with the senior leaders. >> did he get what he deserved?
did he deserved to be treated better? do you have any response to that? >> he did not deserve to be dismissed from the whitehouse the way he was. he was doing the right thing. he spoke up. he testified under subpoena. he didn't really have a choice, and he did the right thing. now, i write about this in the book. >> tell me what you write. >> well, those same things, and i describe the conversations between the president and mark meadows and others wanting to kind of find things to go after vindman, make sure he wasn't going to be promoted. >> like dig up dirt on -- >> dig up dirt and i said i'm not going to dig up dirt, you show me what you have. it became not just about alexander vindman but about our promotion system and assignments and the integrity of that whole personnel process and it came down to a shouting match between me and mark meadows. i've already put him on the promotion list, it is going forward and we had this loud shouting match that went back and forth. i'm sorry alexander vindman, my
understanding because i would talk to secretary mccarthy constantly about this, he did have a general officer assigned to him checking in on him. everybody was tell me he was doing fine, he was looking forward to going to the war college. he was going to get promoted. we were taking care of him as i was told as i saw it, and i thought it was ununfortunate that he resigned. he did so for his own personal reasons, but he became an unfortunate casualty of this whole affair and it's a shame. i feel for him and his family. but it shows the extent to which we were trying to defend the institution and our norms. >> but you know, i guess what i'm trying to get at is he was looking for a lifeline. he was looking for who to defend him publicly or privately and didn't get that. we're looking -- >> i did. i did defend him publicly. >> and privately? he said he didn't hear from you. >> look, secretaries of defense don't reach down to lieutenant colonels and meetings in the pentagon. >> not even when the president's firing them for no cause. >> i was sitting with secretary mccarthy and the chief of the
staff of the army who were telling me he had a general officer assigned to him, checking in on him frequently and making sure he was doing okay and the reports i was getting were that he was doing okay. and i said publicly, i think it was february of that year, i think later that day he was walked out of the nfc, i said look, we're going o'welcome back our people and we're going to treat them well. there will be no retribution. >> i guess there were a lot of colonel vindman, jim comey was fired for having the audacity to defend the integrity of an fbi investigation. colonel vindman. >> i was fired, don't forget that. >> you were fired. what is it that breaks the cycle if we don't have any by of purging the republican party from its fealty and affection for her. doubling down in his support of him, what's your view with all of your years of intimate knowledge of the republican party and what it stands for and what it believes in especially on national security matters,
what's your advice for how to break the addiction to donald trump? >> too many elected officials are responding to the base, right? to the american people, to republicans who support the president, and my message to them would be you can get all the policies that president trump was promoting and better with a different candidate because you can get a candidate, i believe, that's out there that will not just advance those core republican policies that trump to his credit made some progress on, but will do it in a way that will grow the base. you can't win elections with 32% of the republican party, or 32% of the american public voting for you. you have to get above 50%, and i think there are candidates out there, but they have to make that break, and you have to reach out. it's important for republicans to reach out to the base, to republican voters and independents, right, who can make that choice and help get that separation. >> would you like to see someone like a liz cheney run for president and bring along people like you who won't vote for donald trump but believe in republican stuff. >> i'm not going to anoint anyone here.
liz is an old friend. >> i mean, would you like -- >> i've got a lot of respect for liz cheney and she's speaking out. she shares the same views i do on this, the importance of your oath to the constitution. i wish everybody did, and look, we have people in both parties who put self before country, and i think we need more people focused on that oath. >> we only have one party that sent their supporters to storm the united states capitol. you're not suggesting that the threat to democracy is on -- >> no, no, no, i'm just saying, look, it's a known fact -- >> perfect isn't on the menu. >> it's a known fact that politicians put their re-election above many other things. i'm just saying we need more people serving for the right reasons, right, whether it's this issue, whether it's policies or reaching across the aisle. there are so many problems that face our country, to me the most important one is the extreme political partisanship in our nation. it's ending up in dysfunction on capitol hill, in congress, and until we fix that, we're not going to be able to solve the problem of china as a strategic adversary. we're not going to be able to solve the debt and we're not going to be able to solve
immigration. right? why isn't it we don't have a new immigration law? i remember when i was working for the senate majority leader in 2005, 2006, you and i were talking earlier about senator john mccain who was part of the team working on this, trying to advance it. it's now, what, 16 years later and we still don't have an updated law? >> one of the problems is that president joe biden inherited a country in which 30% don't believe he's the duly elected president because donald trump told them that there was fraud -- >> i agree, that's a problem. >> the foundation of the problems that we face as a country and the challenges joe biden has is the party you and i once served, so -- >> i'm still republican. >> i'm not. i left. but -- >> we need to go back to reagan. >> it is a big book, if there's one thing you want people to take from it who may not be open to you, there are a lolt of detractors to people who leave the trump administration and save their juiciest stories for a book, what do you say to them. >> not everybody who served in the trump administration was a bad person, and it goes back to there were a lot of good people serving, not because they were
there to serve donald trump or the republican party. they were there to serve the country, and they shouldn't be beat up for doing it, or they shouldn't be beat up for staying if you will. these things go in cycles. at some point there may be a democrat president in the same position. we need good people to serve because, look, if good people don't serve, who are you left with? you're left with the bad people. >> jared kushner. i hope you don't feel beat up here. we welcome you coing and it it is valuable to get a glimpse into what was going on. >> thanks, nicolle. >> sacred oath is out now, it is a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one of the most important government agencies, the pentagon and department of defense. thank you so much for spending some time with us. this is how it's supposed to work. the words on the teleprompter move, with revelation about the ex-president from our last guest, should congress try to follow up on any of these and do something? the washington post is posting
they just might. and our friends at "politico" report rg there are tapes. the committee doesn't just have testimony and documents and mark meadows texts, it also has videotape, and it may plan to use it during those prime time hearings. later in the show, how politics poisoned the evangelical church turning spiritual believers into full blown partisans, in some cases radical ones. all those stories and more when "deadline white house" continues after a quick break. don't go anywhere. eak. don't go anywhere. conquer it with mavyret. cure it. with mavyret. mavyret cures all types of hep c. in only 8 weeks. the virus multiplies daily and can damage the liver over time. mavyret stops hep c and cures it. if you've had hepatitis b, it may flare up... ...and cause serious liver problems during and after treatment. tell your doctor if you've had hep b, a liver or kidney transplant, other liver problems... ...hiv, other medical conditions... ...and all your medicines.
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the ex-president add voeed shooting u.s. citizens simply exercising their first amendment rights in the leg. paul waldman and greg sergeant in the washington post asked this question, isn't this something democrats in congress might want to investigate, writing that given that the country deserves to know whether the former president suggested something so depraved and sociopathically autocratic, especially since he'ses a the current leader of the gop and will likely run for president again, this would seem to be something the house armed services committee might want to probe, end quote. the post has already spoken to one member of congress who says it does deserve an investigation. joining our coverage, carol lenning, national investigative reporter with "the washington post." carol and her colleagues just won the pulitzer prize for their reporting on january 6th and we congratulate you.
she has a brand new scoop that broke just before we came on the air, baa sil michaels, democratic strategist, and our friend tim miller is here, writer at large for the bulwark and msnbc contributor. his new book on trumpism, quote, why we did it: a travel log from the republican road to hell." i've read big chunks of it. it is super duper and out next month. carol leonnig, a big congratulations. we marinate in all of your scoop's and all of betsy's scoops and. >> you know it was a big team effort, but it focuses on the topic you have plumed probably the deepest and that's january 6th. >> you know, to talk to the human beings who made up the highest levels of the trump administration is this tricky thing of trying to do our jobs and get whatever information there is left to sort of pull
his fellow scleegs, bill barr, the attorney general, his joint chief, chairman of the joint chiefs, they were all jaws on the floor, it seems about what trump was willing to do, and the powers of the presidency, he was willing to use not to protect national security, but to protect his image, to protect him and make him look like a tough guy, which was really the image he most wanted to curate. >> tim, i asked -- i asked secretary esper what jonathan
swan asked mitch mcconnell and got a different answer, if donald trump is the nominee of the republican party in 2024, mark esper will not vote for him. he stopped short of saying that he would campaign for his opponent, said he has one voice and he's used it on this book. it's a step, but it suggests to me that you always try to give voice to that there are these sort of political orphans that, you know, i think it's a choice, and i think if you want to continue to live in a democracy, you vote for the only party that still cares about our democratic ideals and you vote for democrats. it is a choice that long-time republicans still struggle with. >> this is the frustrating thing with that interview, it was a great interview, nicolle. you want this anger from him. you want him to be able to spur to action and speak to the disaffected republicans that are out there because there still are. there are not maybe tens of millions, but there are enough to make a difference in these
elections, and i'm happy he went on fox, you know, i'm happy he is trying to speak to some of those voters. i was encouraged by the answer to that question about 2024. the problem to me listening to him is you get to this question of threat assessment, and when i look at donald trump i see an existential threat to the country, and it seems to me when mark esper from being on the inside looked at donald trump, he saw all of these absolutely insane things happening and kind of determined that like the threat wasn't that great and there may be some bad people on both sides and i just. that's the part that just doesn't click for me. when he's listing the topics to you, he asked me to dig up dirt on alexander vindman, he wanted me to court martial former generals, he wanted me shoot black lives matter protesters. all of that stuff is madness. if i'm hearing a president say that, my response would be i'm going to do everything in my
power to make sure this man isn't in power one more day. he didn't do that. he wanted to stay through the election. i understand the mind-set of i want to nudge this guy the right direction and thank goodness we had mark esper there or kash patel or the pillow guy or whoever his replacement would have been, but still, you know, we had a very close election, a very, very close election, and i would have liked to have heard some of this before that very close election, if the threat is as great as it seems like it is based on the facts that he's testifying to. >> and i guess just to sort of put a button on this, to consider it newsworthy that someone who looked a president in the eye, who was so disdainful of his own sort of uniform military leaders, someone who wanted protesters shot in the leg, someone who saw the generals as his generals, the fact that it's news that
someone won't vote for them again only because mitch mcconnell will is the tragic commentary piece that i think you're getting at, right, tim? >> it is. but it's needed. these are the voices that are getting through, right? unfortunately. we live in these polarized times. people get these information bubbles and people like esper are needed. so i don't want to just -- it's sad that it's news. it shouldn't be news. it's obvious to us. >> right. >> but somebody needs to say it. he has more credibility than i do or, you know a democrat would these days. >> right. >> but it's just i wish there was a little more fervent, given how serious the facts are of what he's reporting out in his book. >> right by his own telling. >> everyone sticks around there, is breaking news on the january 6th front from our own panelist here, the january 6th committee has conducted a thousand depositions and interviews, and we are learning from betsy's
reporting that a lot of that is on videotape. betsy will take us through her new scoop on how the committee may decide to use those recordings next, don't go anywhere. recordings next, don't go anywhere adding this. an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan from unitedhealthcare. medicare supplement plans help by paying some of what medicare doesn't... and let you see any doctor. any specialist. anywhere in the u.s. who accepts medicare patients. so if you have this... consider adding this. call unitedhealthcare today for your free decision guide. ♪
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upcoming public hearings, some of which will take place in prime time. excerpts from tapes and after nearly a thousand interviews, "politico" is reporting that the january 6th committee has videotaped witness depositions and "politico" is also reporting that even though the committee's plans for the tapes are not clear, they do have them. according to one person familiar with the investigation, quote, you'd have to be woefully naive if you don't think they're going to use some of the videos at the hearings. betsy, this is your reporting. take us through it. >> yeah, that's right. what we know is that the select committee over the course of this probe has collected countless hours of videotaped depositions from a host of witnesses who participated in their probe. they have people on camera describing what happened before, during, and after the january 6th attack on the capitol. i can't at this point report which specific individuals are on tape, but i can tell you it's a lot of people and it's important people, so that creates a moment of real
discomfort for some of these witnesses who know right now they're kind of in a waiting game to figure out exactly what clips or portions of the testimony, of the deposition testimony that they provided to the select committee will become public, when those portions will become public, and in what way. the select committee has been pretty quiet about the fact that they are going to have a multimedia component to their report, although that has been reported earlier this year, that there will be something multimedia, it won't just be hearings, people sitting behind desks as well as a written report. remember, a top priority for the select committee is making this report interesting and engaging. congressman raskin has said he -- the opposite of the mueller report. what can be more interesting or engaging of people who have firsthand knowledge of what happened that day talking about the events on video. we don't know what the select committee is going to do with
all these tapes, but they're sitting on some pretty good content. >> it is so amazing, basil that it is the failed attempts to hold donald trump accountable for conduct that by the end wasn't in dispute by anybody. nobody disputed that donald trump did the things don mcgahn said he did or that were footnoted and sourced back to all of donald trump's own staff, either on the campaign or in the west wing. but we have from that lesson which failed so spectacularly to rein him in or curb his conduct, the day after molar testifies he calls zelenskyy and asks for the dirt on the biden family. what are your thoughts about the good news, bad news aspects of lessons learned perhaps benefitting the 1/6 committee? >> well, the lessons learned are really important, and i said this the last time i was on the program that, you know, this isn't just a big lie. it's a big conspiracy. there's no way that all of this activity could occur without
videotape, without taped conversations. the fact that you have interference with elections, an insurrection at the capitol, and the recruitment of candidates and provided messaging to go out there and -- these to donald trump in these elections. this is all connected and it's important that this committee really bring all of this to light, and i say that because we just went to an event with hunter college alum, the warrior poet, audrey lord celebrating her life, and there's a quote from her that i think is so apropos here, which is your silence will not protect you. and for all of the folks who are coming out, albeit perhaps late talking about what happened in the administration and giving us the opportunity to hold folks accountable, it's incredibly important at this point in time, but i want to make this last point that it's not just about what donald trump did in the white house and said to his
generals because i believe even to some extent there's going to be some kind of guardrail there. what concerns me is how that -- his words metastasize and seep into our political ground water such that a kyle rittenhouse does go out and kill protesters. and so it's all of this -- it's all that we're trying to consider here, not just what comes out of the president's mouth, but who he's inspired, all of that, that entire sort of infrastructure needs to be held accountable. so that's why i'm so glad that, you know, so much is coming out and being -- and being put on the table. >> yeah, i mean, look, and this is the whole point, carol leonnig. it's not about what mark esper told us about the last time, it's about what donald trump and his allies have put in place to make it so much easier to overturn the result of an election should he lose next time. he won't even necessarily need
the pentagon next time. he's wiring secretary of state's offices. he's purging state legislatures not just of democrats but of republicans who can tell the truth about anything but especially the 2020 election. what do you sense, carol leonnig, the focus of this committee is as it's sort of rounding third base and getting ready to show its work to the public on this national security threat of donald trump's antidemocratic seeding all over the country? >> well, the first thing you, you know, brought up on a buffet for everyone to see in very tasty plates and that is let's make this story clear. let's see per betsy's reporting that the tapes that narrate in powerful form what really happened on the days and months leading up to january 6th, the way a current president tried to
use the lever of power to stay in power and block the actual result of the american people's choice. next, i think it is the most important thing for this committee is making recommendations that gird our o democracy, that shield it. i'm not saying this is what i am recommending. this is what i am hearing from inside the committee, what they view as the most important thing is the recommendations so we saran wrap democracy so that a president isn't able to push those levers in this dramatic way. think if mark esper, mark milley, and bill barr, i know you're shocked when i give you that list. think about the choices they could have made differently. >> i just need a drink. >> think about the choiced they could have made differently, where we would be today. think about the choice that vice president pence made that had he not been so furious, we would not have seen the certification
of that election. so, i think you're going to see -- and this is tying together the two segments, and a point that basil and also tim made earlier, which is, okay, this democracy was stress tested to the nth, nth degree. the 25th amendment -- mark esper could have been part of a group that said, wait a minute, this is bonkers, and we need to all get together at the burger king tomorrow night and vote on the 25th amendment with or without the vice president. and one of those recommendations i'm hearing is going to be about exactly that. when do you say, i've had enough of hearing the president say we're going to shoot people. i need all of you to gather with me to discuss whether he is appropriate to lead this country, whether he's a danger to the country. >> wow. so, you're hearing, carol leonnig, that they will specifically address the 25th amendment, and we now have in public view a lot of the failed
efforts. we've got kevin mccarthy talking about it on tape. they're going to address some of the hurdles to the 25th amendment as it's currently constituted? >> that is what i have heard that they have discussed quite vociferously, and we'll see what form it takes, but it speaks exactly to the subject that you have had on for the last two segments. when is it time for an esper, a, you know, a costa, a -- name a cabinet secretary, a bill barr to join together and say, we've got to stop this? >> right. and there isn't a cabinet secretary who's left, and i mean, they've all come out and written books about how, you thought what you saw was bad, what i saw was a million times worse. one more story to get to. i want to ask all of you to stick around through one more break. elon musk doing the most unsurprising thing of all, talk of saran wrap on our democracy, it might need something stronger. he's going to lift the ban on donald trump to return to twitter. that's next. donald trump to ret twitter. that'sex nt.
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news today that the world's richest man, that would be elon musk, announcing that he would allow the world's crassest man back on twitter if he successfully buys twitter. musk saying it was a mistake, it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in donald trump not having a voice. i think it was a morally bad decision to be clear and foolish in the extreme. trump's account was banned after the january 6th insurrection, twitter said at the time because he risked inciting violence from his supporters. tim, this is where i feel like i'm down -- down the looking glass, like, trump sent his supporters to the capitol. he still is peddling the law. he's cited by federal court judge after federal judge as someone who is an ongoing threat in terms of radicalizing his supporters. you know, other than a marketing ploy, what is this? >> well, look, elon's trying to
appeal -- he's bought this company. he wants to appeal to right-wing conservative users of twitter. they all left for truth social and getter and all these other -- >> i didn't notice. did they really leave? >> what? >> did they really leave? >> yeah. you can stop logging in. you can shut down your account. look, when elon bought it, my husband shut down his account so now he's lost some folks on the other side. you know what i mean? i don't know. here's the reality. it's bad for our discourse for trump to be on twitter for sure. the only silver lining here is there is some karmaic retribution for those people doing racist, bigoted alt-twitters because those are all going down and i think the republicans should be nervous about this. it's not great for trump to come back to the center of the discussion. i think they want to focus on their critiques of the biden administration so i think this could hurt republicans. bad for us, bad for the country, bad for republicans. there it is. >> carol leonnig, betsy woodruff
swan, tim miller, thank you so much. switching gears for us, russia has made some significant gains in its war against ukraine. the u.s. is warning now of a long fight remaining in that war. up next, a live report from kyiv. stay with us. sfloechl rom kyiv stay with us sfloechl 115 pounds. i just took my time losing 5 pounds and then another 5 pounds. ww helped me break down my goals into smaller goals. get your first 3 months free today. offer ends may 16th.
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the next month or two of fighting will be significant, as the russians attempt to reinvigorate their efforts but even if they are successful, we are not confident that the fight in the donbas will effectively end the war. we assess president putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in ukraine, during which he
still intends to achieve goals beyond the donbas. >> hi again, everyone, it's 5:00 in new york. more than two months into russia's war against ukraine and there are no indications it will end any time soon. that was a warning from the director of national intelligence, avril haines, who appeared speaking to the u.s. assessments of vladimir putin's ambitions. here's a little bit more. >> we assess that putin's strategic goals are probably not changed, suggesting he regards the decision in late march to refocus russian forces on the donbas as only a temporary shift to regain the initiative after the russian military's failure to capture kyiv. >> now, we saw an example of putin's broad aims as the ukrainian city of odesa was hit by russian missiles last night. the port city is critical to ukraine's export economy. president zelenskyy warning that a blockade of it and others like it threaten the world's food supply. "new york times" reports this.
"if russia can hold on to or expand the territory it occupies in the south and the east and maintain its dominance at sea, it could further undermine ukraine's already battered economy, improve its leverage in any future negotiated settlement, and potentially expand its capacity to stage broader assaults." in a briefing earlier today, a u.n. official said that the latest count of ukrainian civilians who have been killed or injured in the war has reached over 7,000, although they caution that all these numbers are likely higher because the atrocities in areas like mariupol are ones they don't have access to or visibility into yet. but the ukrainian people's spirit and resilience has proven an extremely valuable weapon in their side so far. in an interview with the financial times, ukrainian foreign minister kuleba showed that resolve is still quite strong. he said, "the picture of victory is an evolving concept."
he went on to explain, "in the first months of the war, the victory for us looked like withdrawal of russian forces to the positions they occupied before february 24th and payment for inflicted damage. now, if we are strong enough on the military front and we win the battle for donbas, which will be crucial for the following dynamics of the war, of course a victory for us in this war will be the liberation of the rest of our territories." meanwhile, in washington, the house tonight will vote on an emergency $39.8 billion package of military and humanitarian aid for ukraine. it follows president joe biden's signing of a modern day lend-lease act yesterday. what that does is expedite this process for sending aid. it's where we start this hour with nbc news correspondent cal perry live for us on the ground in kyiv. cal perry, our friend, igor nobikov, was here yesterday. there is a sense that they're in this in a way no one predicted at least publicly that they would be two months in, but the
fact that it's going to go on for a long time and the fact that everything from military assistance to now economic assistance and obviously the humanitarian calamities that you report on so powerfully every day has almost become a new normal for them. what's sort of the feeling there? >> reporter: yeah, and i think a new normal for a war that they're worried a lot of people are going to turn their attention to. for obvious reasons, the united states, nato nations, feeling under threat. the capital here of kyiv, you know, was under immediate threat from russian troops. there are still burned-out tanks, armored personnel carriers in the suburbs here where we're finding those atrocities. this is some drone footage of areas in and around kyiv. but the daily slog of this war, the daily toll that it's taking, i think people are losing sight of. in luhansk today, for example, we had 13 villages that were shelled, 12 civilians killed, another 7 wounded. there was a village near luhansk where they discovered 44 bodies
in an apartment building that had been shelled weeks earlier. we had in odesa the president saying in the last hour, 25 rocket strikes in just two days in odesa, the fear is that odesa is going to become the next mariupol. this video that we took in a suburb here in kyiv just a few days ago, we understand they're making grizzly discoveries today. they're going to try to search tomorrow for the bodies, not just of civilians but of russian soldiers who have died here, and we should remind our viewers, it's possible that there are thousands of russian dead soldiers here in morgues across ukraine. it's not clear that russia wants those bodies back. so this war is still continuing in the east. i think the problem that ukrainian officials have in drawing attention to it is that it's been taking place since 2014. you have had fighting -- fierce fighting since 2014. it's only in the last two months that we have seen fighting in and around the capital. what remains of these black seaport cities, i think, is going to be key to ukraine's future. you talked about the economic impact. we're looking at a third of gdp
loss right now without odesa being touched and it seems to be under constant shelling so you have this broader picture of concern. it's where you and i started this conversation nine weeks ago. if vladimir putin can make this country unlivable without even invading it, it's a serious threat to the government here. >> and the global considerations, you know,your reporting reveals it's not even under the surface, this constant anxiety and president zelenskyy speaks to it, igor speaks to it on this show, of the west looking away. but the next front seems to be this threat to the global food supply, which i didn't understand this ten weeks ago, but there's a whole lot of wheat grown in that part of the world. i mean, talk about zelenskyy's efforts to sort of help people understand that we all have a stake in how this goes and how long it goes on. >> reporter: and he's been trying to flag that this is going to be a global food crisis. it's going to impact the horn of africa. there's already famine happening in the horn of africa, which
relies on ukraine, the quote, unquote bread basket of europe. take lebanon, for example. that explosion at the port that took out the grain silos this lebanon, this is a country that's counting on importing grain from this part of the world that could see famine in this country is not a place that we're used to talking about it. so the knock-on effects are going to be real and the aid that's coming in here, the united states has shown unwavering support when it comes to military aid. the humanitarian aid, which the president uncoupled from covid relief in the united states, that's a big deal for ukrainian officials here, the fact that that's going to pass through probably tonight and not get hung up in sort of american bureaucracy is huge here because again, the suburbs of kyiv still have bodies buried in residential gardens. apartment buildings completely destroyed. we're talking about hundreds of apartment buildings, 18 hospitals we found out tonight from the u.s. state department, in the greater kyiv region, all of these things need to be rebuilt and as is the case with
so many wars internationally, you know, you have international aid drying up once the fighting stops. the fighting hasn't even come close to stopping here and there's a concern that that aid could dry up. >> cal, can you explain these two things that, from here, seem discordant? you've got reports all over european capitals of either plans in place or under way or having already taken place to go back to kyiv and reopen their embassies there, and you've got what you report, which is that there's no safe space, that there can be strikes in any part of ukraine. explain how those two things are true. >> reporter: the mayor talked about it today. two-thirds of the residents here have returned to the capital, but the mayor was saying, we cannot guarantee your safety. you need to pay attention, number one, to air raid sirens. there's a lot of damage in and around the city, so buildings are still literally falling apart. they're restricting travel to the suburban areas, partly because of so many unexploded pieces of ordinance, mines,
grenades, there's been reports recently of, again, dead russian soldiers being rigged with explosives, including ukrainian civilians being rigged with explosives so people coming across these graves, rolling something over and then it blows up. so you have all of these things that are killing people that are not the immediate war. but are the remnants, the detritus of this invasion and this pullback that happened so quickly. so when people return to these places, it's not just the infrastructure, the power, the water, which is a problem in a lot of places. it's, there's no hospitals. it's the doctor hasn't returned yet or was killed. it's the men have gone to the front and aren't here. and again, you have these scenes that all of these morgues where families are coming back from being abroad, be it poland, hungary, moldova, and looking for loved ones that they heard were killed and basing it on a piece of information so it's a country that's trying to get back but is still very much at war, nicole. >> it's amazing. it's such a vivid picture that you paint for us. you are a gift. thank you, cal perry, live for us in ukraine. stay safe. joining our conversation, matt
miller, the recently served as white house special advisor on communications to the national security council, happened to coincide with a very important moment in history. we can't wait to ask him about that. and katty kay, u.s. special correspondent for bbc studios, both msnbc contributors. katty, i want to start with you on this global picture, this sort of duality of, you know, the message from ukraine is that kyiv is safe. you know, consider yourself warned but come back, and this erratic nature to everything and anything putin pledges, that the fighting is ongoing in the donbas, but there are strikes all over the country. what is sort of the assessment or the bet that people are making in going back to kyiv? >> i think the bet they're making is that they are ukrainians, and we've seen this extraordinary outpouring of ukrainian spirit, right, over the last two months, that has taken everybody, including the white house, i'm sure, matt would say, by some surprise. this will to fight, as it's been
described to me. and the ukrainians who left, when they left, and those huge numbers early on in the conflict, made it very clear that they weren't like refugees who have come from some other places to europe. these were yet refugees who wanted to go home, and they wanted to go home as soon as possible. so, they weren't intending to stay in poland or moldova for a long time and if they see a window where they think the fighting is diminished, not that it's safe, as cal was rightly pointing out, but that it's diminished, they're going to take that window and try and go back to the cities that they can go back to. but we heard pretty chilling testimony, i thought, today up on capitol hill from the director of national intelligence, avril haines, as you pointed out, saying this is going to go on for a long time. this war is not over. the west, you're right, nicole, may be losing some attention and it's something that the ukrainians really fear, but we were reminded today the war is not over and ukrainians know that, but they still want to be in ukraine, and they want to be part of the struggle.
>> let me play some more of avril haines' testimony for you, matt miller. >> the uncertain nature of the battle which is developing into a war of attrition combined with the reality that putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions russia's current military capabilities likely means the next few months could see us moving along an escalatory trajectory. president putin will turn to more drastic means, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production, or potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on or if he perceives russia is losing in ukraine. >> so, matt miller, the war has been going ton for, i think, 76 days. avril haines is testifying to month more. was there any sense in the white house that sort of weekend before the state of the union
address or the day that speech was delivered that the ukrainians would be in the fight for this long? >> so, i think we always thought that the ukrainians would fight very hard for their country, and we thought they had a professional military and we were committed to arming them and of course you see the president still committed to arming them. i think, if anything, we like most people in the world and certainly like president putin maybe overestimated the capabilities of the russian military, and if there has been any surprise here, it's not been the fight that the ukrainians have shown. it's the inability to take territory and the inability to kind of perform as you would expect a modern military to be able to do on the part of the russians. that has been a bit of surprise. and i think in that clip you just played from the director of national intelligence, she really hit on what is kind of the odd paradox of western policy right now in that the more successful we are in the short-term, the more successful we are in arming the ukrainians so they can defend themselves
and they can repel the russians from their territory, the more successful we are in degrading russia's economy, in degrading russia's military, in limiting its ability to project power abroad, the more dangerous russia is in the short-term. and so, we have to be prepared for that. and that doesn't mean you abandon the policy, because abandoning the policy would be a moral outrage and abandoning the ukrainians and it would make russia more dangerous in the long-term, but it means you face these different threats in the short-term, the threat that putin, as avril haines referred to, could mobilize his entire economy, could call up further russian soldiers, could institute a draft or that he could choose other asymmetric means to wage this fight. it's a dangerous place that we're in right now in facing a russia that, as she said, has ambitions that outstrip its current capabilities. >> president biden, matt, has described it as a genocide. speaker pelosi has called it
a -- describes russia as a state sponsor of terror. is president biden considering a designation for russia? >> well, i don't speak for the white house anymore, so i won't speak for -- >> it's been 15 minutes. were they before you left? >> they have said that that's on the table, but i will say, one of the things that you get used to when you're in the white house is that people will always seize on policies that, if the white house just provided, say, this arms capability to the ukrainians, that would be the kind of magic weapon that would solve this conflict or if they just imposed this sanction, that would be the thing that would change the conflict dramatically. and when we impose those things, the world moves on to the next shiny object that they call on the white house to do. i think if you look at the effect of a state sponsor of terrorism designation, in fact, the u.s. government has already imposed sanctions that exceed what would be required and the
other -- you know, the countries of the eu have imposed sanctions that exceed what would be required so i suspect the government will consider it but there's a downside in imposing that kind of designation as well, which is, once you impose it, it's very hard to lift. not that we would lift it in the short-term but you can see a place down the road where president zelenskyy might be negotiating a peace agreement with president putin, and might want western sanctions to be lifted, and a state sponsor of terrorism designation would make that very difficult to accomplish. >> i am certainly familiar with and sympathetic to people on the outside wanting the white house to do something and then moving on once they do. but it is undeniable that the conduct that's described by zelenskyy and what is being uncovered in mariupol, we don't even have a real eyes on the ground yet, but in bucha, is -- i mean, would you describe it as terrorism? is vladimir putin terrorizing ukraine? >> he absolutely is terrorizing
ukraine. he's committing mass atrocities. it's clear he's committing war crimes, and he needs to be held accountable for them. and the u.s. is holding him accountable for them. there's, of course, cooperating and investigations that could ultimately lead to prosecution for those involved but the more important way that the u.s. is holding vladimir putin accountable and holding the russian military accountable is getting arms into ukraine that they're using to take out russian military capabilities. that's the most important thing you can do in the short-term to stop these war crimes from happening is to help the ukrainians defend themselves. so, i do think it's appropriate to continue -- i was being a little bit flip about the world moving on once the white house does something. >> that's okay. >> it is a -- it is appropriate for the white house to consider those steps and other steps. i just don't know that a state sponsor of terrorism designation is going to impose any more additional consequences than the united states has already imposed. >> katty kay, how do you see this? you have such sort of a nuanced understanding of the double
edges of the sanctions policy in europe. >> look, i think europe is getting closer to doing what it can over sanctions on energy. there are hold-ups. they have to have uniform agreement, all 27 members, and at the moment. hungary is saying it's not going to impose an energy sanctions on russia. germany's also had its problems with it. but i think the big wake-up call for europe has been that they cannot be held hostage to russian energy anymore. it may not happen immediately. and we don't -- the state of the russian economy is clearly suffering. the big question over the russian economy is, you know, at what point do they find that it's not possible for them to keep resupplying their military if this really is going to drag on as avril haines said today, months more, they're going to have to restock their military supplies and things like the semiconductor export ban are going to make that increasingly difficult. at the moment, president putin is managing to ride this out, the sanctions as well. he's getting enough money from
those energy exports but at some point, it's going to be difficult for him to rebuild his military and that's where the sanctions will have an impact, perhaps more directly on the war. >> and just katty, really quickly, you cannot talk to someone reporting from ukraine who doesn't report on what cal just talked about, this deep anxiety that we're going to look away. you know, it's closer to european capitals geographically. is it still -- they still starting the 5:00 hour with coverage of the war? is it still front and center? >> it is. the closer you get to ukraine, the more it dominates the news. countries that have, like poland, 4 million refugees, every family i speak to in poland is either helping the refugee effort or has a refugee living with them. that makes it very real. i was in the uk this weekend for a few days. people are still talking about it a lot. more, perhaps, than they are here. perhaps they were always. but every european diplomat,
every u.s. official i speak to here, probably ranks their order of concerns, nuclear weapons, god forbid that that was ever going to happen, and the second, quite quickly after that, is losing attention and that's what zelenskyy would say too. >> i'm grateful to the two of you for starting us off this hour. katty kay, thank you. matt miller, we're happy you're out of the government and back to msnbc service. it's great to see you. when we come back, we will switch gears and cover some incredible new reporting from our friend, tim alberta, about how church goers are being radicalized with right-wing lies and disinformation. our friend, tim alberta, whose sprawling new piece of reporting is titled "how politics poisoned the evangelical church," he's our next guest. the conservative news network forced to admit something the rest of us have known for a long, long, long time. there was no widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. how they finally copped to the truth ahead in the hour for us. "deadline white house" continues
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or visit your xfinity store and talk to our switch squad today. when our next guest disappears from our air waves for a while, it's because he's doing some deep and important reporting and that's exactly what has happened. tim alberta reports out what's happening right now and describes it as a war for the soul of the american church. a deep and worsening fissure among evangelicals, a split that at least in part has to do with the role that politics plays in their faith today. it's the basic premise of this extensive piece of reporting, published in "the atlantic,"
titled, "how politics poisoned the church." "hard data are difficult to come by. churches are not required to disclose attendance figures, but a year's worth of conversations with pastors, denominational leaders, evangelical scholars and everyday christians tells a story. substantial numbers of evangelicals are fleeing their churches, and most of them are moving to ones further to the right." the author of that piece, tim alberta, joins us now. eddie glaude is here as well. tim, take me through what you're reporting and there's some of it that is so alarming, i really want to drill down on it, but first, take me through what you found. >> sure, nicole. you know, i just spent a lot of time on this subject. i grew up in the evangelical church. i'm a pastor's kid. it's something that i have spent a lot of my life grappling with, trying to make sense of the
church's role in america's intensifying polarization, and really, over the last four or five years, how the church had gone from just another institution in american life that was becoming polarized to really an active catalyst in the polarization, and so, what i really set out to do here over the last year was not just focus on the franklin grahams of the world and the people who tend to get the headlines but really spend a lot of time in small churches, medium-size churches across the country and talk with pastors, talk with everyday congregants and try and understand what's going on, what's driving this turmoil inside the church. and really, what is at the root of this sort of existential urgency that seems to be animating so many churches now, because everything i grew up believing and reading and studying in the scriptures,
nicole, always emphasized that this world, this thing right here in front of us, is fleeting and ultimately insignificant and not where we're supposed to be focused, and yet the american church of today seems to be entirely fixated on the here and now and on this country and on these culture wars, and it seems to be tearing the church apart from everything that i have seen. >> i want to understand your reporting on the two countries talk within the evangelical church. can you explain that to me? >> yeah. you know, it's hard to appreciate just how central to the american evangelical church at my lifetime this talk of a sort of zero sum conflict for the soul of the country, and it always revolved around this idea
that you had the, on one side, the good, god-fearing, bible-believing christians who were fighting to preserve the christian character of the nation and that they were pitted against the sort of wicked, godless secularist who wanted to expunge the almighty from public life, and that narrative, i think, really helped to explain much of the sort of creeping fanaticism in a lot of evangelical congregations over the past couple of decades and especially this sense that with every election, every four years, sometimes even every two years, you saw this up close, nicole, this sense of sort of imminent armageddon, that one more defeat could spell the end of christian america. and what's been so interesting to observe here over just the last four or five years is how that symmetrical war between the evangelical church and secular
america has really sort of devolved into something different, which is a war inside the church itself. and of course, you have donald trump playing a starring role in that conflict, massive divisions within the church over the idea of whether christians should be voting for trump, and if they do, how vocal should they be and how loyal should they be to that? but even removed from that, you have issues of obviously, you know, racial reconciliation and lack thereof. you have me too and sex scandals rocking the church left and right. you have the killing of george floyd. and you really see it all come to a head in 2020, not just because it's an election year, but because covid hits, and churches start closing down, and suddenly, all of this sort of apocalyptic rhetoric about the godless culture targeting the church, it seems to manifest itself for a lot of these evangelicals who have been hearing for years that big
government and secular culture is going to look for a way to shut down the american church. well, here you have it. they're going to use this pandemic to keep you out of your house of worship and to try and break apart the evangelical church. so, it's -- all of this has sort of been swirling in different ways but it has suddenly come into alignment in a very real and a very dangerous way, i would say, over the last several years. >> i want to press on the danger, and i want to read this excerpt from your reporting. "honestly, i'm more concerned that it was a year ago and that's saying something" that's russell moore. "there is a serious effort to turn this two countries talk into something real. there are christians taking all the populist passions and adding a transcendent authority to it. moore is not exaggerating. more than a few times, i have heard casual talk of civil war inside places that purport to worship the prince of peace, and far from feeling misplaced,
these conversations draw legitimacy from a sense of divine justice. the church is not a victim of america's civil strife. instead, it is one of the principal catalysts." that was, for me, this paragraph, i've come back and read over and over. first, explain who russell moore is, and just expand on this idea of civil war and america's strife. >> yeah, so, up until about a year ago, russell moore had been the leader of the southern baptist convention's policy arm, which is a very prominent role within america's largest protestant denomination, and russell moore rather famously took a stand against donald trump after the weekend of "access hollywood," not necessariesly a partisan political stand, but he sort of observed this well coordinated campaign among evangelical christian leaders that weekend in defending and ultimately sort
of justifying donald trump's behavior. and russell moore sort of threw up his hands and said, what are we doing here? this is not the church. this is terrible for the witness of christ in our culture. and ultimately, that sort of lit the fuse, and several years later, because of a whole host of things, including his advocacy for investigating sexual misconduct in the church and arguing more forcefully for real efforts at racial reconciliation in the church, russell moore found himself on the outs and really found himself, as he described it to me, as a victim of sort of a sustained campaign of psychological warfare, people in the church really doing and saying things to him that you wouldn't see in the ugliest corners of our society, much less inside the church. and yet, here he was. so, russell moore left the southern baptist convention, and now he is sort of out on his own, spending a lot of time meeting with pastors around the country, trying to counsel them
on how to navigate this incredibly tumultuous period in the church and what russell has told me over the past year, as he's been doing his thing, and i have been doing my thing reporting, we keep comparing notes, and every time we've talked, he just keeps telling me, boy, this is worse and worse, like, i really had a hope that we had hit rock bottom and that this -- and that all of this might be bouncing back, but in fact, as he said in that quote, you do have christians, and you do have christian leaders who are taking some of the most extreme fringe political positions that we hear in the discourse today about secession or about civil war, about imminent armed conflict between our own citizens, and they're adding these religious undertones to it and lending it that sort of spiritual legitimacy. there's another part in the piece where i talk with a man at a church who basically says that he is no longer willing to separate the political from the
spiritual and that, in fact, he believes that the election was stolen from donald trump because it was a demonic plot against america, and it's just important to, i think, underscore here, nicole, that if you are willing to believe that, if you are willing to believe that there is a war against you and against your god and against your country, all in one, then i think quite naturally, you'd be ready to take up arms or at least entertain the idea that conflict is near. >> so, eddie, tim's reporting is, i think, this evidence-packed proof point to something that we've talked around for a long time now. and that is this intersection -- or maybe we should just call them adjacent at this point. what is adjacent is the radicalization of the gop. civil war feels like it happened, maybe, a couple years ahead of the -- what tim reports is the civil war within the evangelical church.
but you have two important sort of facets of american life, and they make up about -- a huge chunk of the most important and powerful, most reliable voters on the right, that are both described as radicalized. republican party has been radicalized. kevin mccarthy calling for trump's departure through any vehicle, it's now, i think, yesterday described him as the greatest president of all times in a tweet from maggie haberman, as she's reporting and you have in the evangelical church what tim just described, people willing to take up arms to protect what they view as an assault on their country, their church and their president. >> well, nicole, this is one of the few times when i'm on msnbc where, you know, the work i do in my scholarship, i'm the former president of the american academy of religion, and my commentary on american politics kind of converge. i want to stay that i have really appreciate what tim has done, i mean, he's telling us
what's happening in churches from michigan to tennessee. and i think you're absolutely right that these are adjacent, but they have been in lockstep for about 50 to 60 years. and let's be very clear. american christiandom has always been vexed and fraught. there was a civil war in american christendom before one canon was fired at fort sumter. part of what we're seeing here is something we need to be careful about and there was some slippage in tim's commentary, and i know he doesn't do this in the piece, but he kept describing it as the church. american church. and what we know is that this is white evangelicalism. because we see the difference between white evangelical support for donald trump and hispanic and black evangelical support for donald trump. even though there was some. so, there's something that's not necessarily rooted in evangelicalism but rooted in the adjective, white, that it's
doing more work here with the noun than we might acknowledge. so, part of what we have to do is tell a thicker story about the history of american christendom, of white christian evangelicalism or white evangelical christianity and how it has been radicalized as the nation has lurched toward a more multiracial democracy. and that's a complicated story, and behind tim's narrative, of course, is the work of sara posner, anthea butler, there's so much to tell but we need to be careful here. this is not american christendom. this is white evangelical christianity. and we need to understand that the adjectives are more important than the noun. >> okay, we're not going to rush this, because i think you're right. it's thick, and it's important. i'm going to give you a chance to respond to that, tim, but i have to sneak in a quick break. i also want to show you, and i want to put on both of you the mission of helping everyone understand whether donald trump was accelerant or donald trump
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carol: quality public schools... kiyoko: make a better california... our students, they're our top priority. and students are job one for our superintendent of public instruction, tony thurmond. recruiting 15,000 new teachers, helping ensure all students can read by third grade. the same tony thurmond committed to hiring 10,000 new mental health counselors. as a respected former social worker, thurmond knows how important those mental health counselors are for our students today. vote for democrat tony thurmond. he's making our public schools work for all of us. i'm wondering what one or two of your most favorite bible verses are. >> i wouldn't want to get into it because to me that's very personal. when i talk about the bible, it's very personal, so i don't want to get into -- >> there's no verse that means a lot to you that you think about or cite. >> the bible means a lot to me but i don't want to get into
specifics. >> even to cite a verse that you like. >> are you old testament or new testament guy? >> probably equal. i think it's just an incredible -- the whole bible is incredible. i joke very much so, they always hold up "the art of the deal," i always say, my second favorite book of all time but i think the bible is something very special. >> he literally took a dementia test on tv to everybody that would ask but the bible, too personal. how did he become a icon, a cause, a purpose, a hill to die on for american evangelicals? tim tries to explain it to us. quote, the trump conversion experience, having once been certain of his darkness, suddenly awakening to see his light is not to be underestimated, especially when it touches people whose lives revolve around notions of transformation. and yet it reflects a phenomenon greater than trump himself, modern evangelicalism is defined
by a certain fatalism about the nation's character. the result is not merely a willingness to act with desperation and embrace what is wrong. it can be a belief bordering on a certainty that what is wrong is actually right." we're back with tim and eddie. the whole thing is just profound and important, but that, perhaps, among its most important revelations for people who really didn't understand or grasp how trump reached in and seized this very important part of the country. as part of his own sort of subservient base. explain. >> yeah, i mean, nicole, there is -- there's so much to unpack here, and first, let me just say, you know, eddie's points are both well taken. first, there is, as the bible says, nothing new under the sun. these fights within american christendom have raged for generations, many generations, going back even predating the civil war, obviously. and also, as far as the church
is concerned, i had this conversation with a catholic friend recently where he said, you keep saying "the church," and he said the church means something different to you than it means to me, doesn't it? he's from boston. and i said, yeah, i grew up in the white evangelical church so when i say the church, especially in the context of this reporting, that's what i mean. and i do go out of my way in the piece to talk about white evangelicals. when you look at eddie's point again, the 2016 election, in the exit polling, white evangelicals gave donald trump 81% of their votes, whereas white mainline protestants, much less black self-identified evangelicals or hispanic self-identified evangelicals, the numbers were 50% to 80% lower so there is an enormous self-identification gap here as far as where these different religious blocks align politically and specifically with this president. i do think, nicole, that there is something unique about
trumpism and its marriage to white evangelicalism in the culture today. there's a passage in the book where i'm talking with a pastor, and he's telling about how near the end of the obama presidency, there was this sort of hopelessness and this fear taking root inside the church. he talks about how many of his congregants were listening to rush limbaugh for three hours a day every day and coming into his church on sunday mornings and he's feely totally outgunned and overwhelmed by the doom and the gloom and the fear that's just sort of written all over his congregants' faces and he said when donald trump came along and said that he could make america great again, he said, it meant something very specific to them that it didn't mean to sort of mainline protestants or your average white voter, much less many
other voters, but to the white evangelical in america, donald trump represented something very specific, and it was not until he was elected that i think we really began to grapple with the degree to which trump's transactional genius, which was promising these people the world, and in exchange, demanding their unflinching loyalty, how it would shape not only his presidency but sort of the fault lines emerging in american life today, whether it's over roe v. wade or transgender bathrooms or anything happening around critical race theory being taught in schools or not taught in schools. all of this, in some way, can be traced back to this original transactionalism between trump and white evangelicals. i think this is something we're going to be studying for a very long time to come. this is really just the beginning. >> and eddie, the piece, if there's something instructive, if there's something good to
come from this, with all due respect, unholy alliance, it is to find those emotional, unbreakable bonds for democrats with big parts of their base, because what -- when you hear about this bond and this commitment and this compact, really, which is what tim is describing, a compact between white evangelical american voters and donald trump, where do you see that tight of a bond, that reliable of a -- or where is the opportunity to grow some -- that's a more holy alliance, frankly, between what are values only championed by one of the two major political parties, a belief in the importance of our democracy and the commitment to protect it? >> i think that's the million dollar question. we see it among workers who have seen their quality of life deteriorate. we know that there is -- there
are opportunities among young people who are coming of age in a world that's broken. we know there are opportunities among black and latino voters for the democratic party to begin to put forward a vision. but i think it's really important to really just flesh out, just for a moment, a quick moment, what tim is suggesting. not only is there transactionalism vis-a-vis donald trump and white evangelical community but there's a kind of transactionalism from the white evangelical community toward donald trump. they needed a strong man to implement their vision of the world. and they've been fighting and organizing for 50 and 60 years for this. we can go back to paul and others, robert billings and others, debates around brown v. board, debates about schools, debates about the irs clamping down on christian schools. we can go down the line about the reaction to the women's movement, the reaction to the gay liberation movement. but it seems to me that the democratic party, nicole, has been pushed by struggles in the street, have been pushed by movements in the street, but i
don't know what's its agenda -- what its agenda is, apart from those movements. so, what is the passion? as i said last time, i'm not sure. i'm still struggling to figure it out. but maybe it has to be from ordinary people in the streets demanding a different kind of world than what white christian evangelicals are arguing and fighting for. >> i feel like if we had two more hours, the three of us could figure out the answer to anything, including that. this is such an important piece of reporting, sort of especially if you haven't -- from my time on campaigns, i understand its importance in republican politics, but it's a really -- it's a really modern and fresh and urgent piece of reporting about something anybody in the political space should understand. i'm grateful to both of you for bringing it out and bringing it to life. thank you so much, tim alberta and eddie glaude. when we come back, how oan
disgraced ex-president's favorite news source by the end of his presidency, was finally forced to admit that the big lie about election fraud was just that, a big fat lie. we'll explain and show it to you after a quick break. we'll explain and show it to you after a icquk break. your mission: stand up to moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. and take. it. on... ...with rinvoq. rinvoq a once-daily pill can dramatically improve symptoms... rinvoq helps tame pain, stiffness, swelling. and for some...rinvoq can even significantly reduce ra fatigue. that's rinvoq relief.
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there was no widespread voter fraud by georgia election officials during the 2020 presidential election. now, thanks to a defamation lawsuit from a mother and a daughter who were election officials in fulton county, georgia, oan was forced to put the statement on it network after reaching a settlement in that case. normally we would never in a gazillion years show you anything on oan buck we think it's worth seeing how the apology went down. >> georgia officials concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the state farm arena in november 2020. the results of this investigation indicate that ruby freeman and wandria shea moss did not participate in fraud or misconduct while working at state farm arena on wednesday night. a legal matter with in network
and the two election workers has been resolved to a mutual satisfaction with the parties there through a fair and reasonable settlement. >> assistant director for counterintelligence at the fbi and host of "the bureau" podcast is here. it's a big deal. explain. >> yeah, it's a big deal, but let's put it in context -- and it's a small victory in the battle against disinformation because the good guys won. the truth won, meaning that a cable network was forced to acknowledge the findings of an investigation in the state of georgia that said there's no election fraud. we were wrong about what we had been reporting. it took about exactly 30 seconds, so that's all good news, but let's understand what it is and wasn't. it's an acknowledgement of the investigative findings in georgia. it is not an apology, it is not, we're not going do this again. it is not, we're sorry we misled our viewers.
it's a victory for civil court battles. you and i have talked about this. everybody was focused on the criminal proceedings and when are certain people going to get indicted and convicted. that's great, but there's a beautiful thing happening in civil trials for slander and defamation, and i like that as a tool. but let's understand something about oan. as we speak right now they are pushing a documentary called "2,000 mules" by a nut case called dinner desouza who claims he's got evidence, true the vote as technical evidence that there was widespread fraud at drop boxes in the 2020 election. i've looked at the evidence. it's not there, but this same network, oan, is pushing this nonsense after a pretend apology about their statements for georgia election fraud. it's supposed to stand for one america network. what they do every day, nicole,
is nothing about moving america toward one america. it's continuing to divide us. >> i need to you come back tomorrow. it your idea is a profound one. it's a drop in the bucket for people whose minds have been totally polluted. which isn't just about going, it's revitalized with fresh content. let's stick a pin in there and pick it up tomorrow. thank you so much for spending time with us today. quick break for us. we'll be right back. this is art inspired by real stories of bipolar depression. i just couldn't find my way out of it. the lows of bipolar depression can take you to a dark place. latuda could make a real difference in your symptoms. latuda was proven to significantly reduce bipolar depression symptoms and in clinical studies, had no substantial impact on weight. this is where i want to be. call your doctor about sudden behavior changes or suicidal thoughts. antidepressants can increase these in children and young adults. elderly dementia patients have increased risk of death or stroke. report fever, confusion, stiff or uncontrollable muscle movements,
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thank you so much for letting us into your homes this tuesday. we are grateful. "the beat" with jason johnson in for ari melber starts right now. >> welcome to "the beat." i'm jason johnson in for ari melber. we start a political development that could turn midterms into chaos, rattle republican candidates and put new heat on the maga movement. elon musk saying when his purchase of twitter is