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tv   Alex Wagner Tonight  MSNBC  September 2, 2022 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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humorous, but of course for a long time, we are the republicans say, take this back to the states. >> yep. >> let the states decide. well, it's an art state. now the voters have clearly indicated that one is on the ballot. they want an opportunity to vote on it. and how the republicans are saying, well, we didn't really mean. at what we meant was that we did not want to do it all. i think that this ballot proposal will make the ballot. i think that when the supreme court evaluate this they will see that this is a ridiculous reason to keep it off. it will appear on the ballot in november and i think it will win with resounding numbers perhaps at a higher percentage that we have ever seen before for any ballot proposal. it is that popular. >> michigan, michigan attorney general dana nessel, thank you so much, this is all in, alex wagner tonight starts right, now good evening alex i owe you 22 seconds next week, i promise i will make it up. ds ni >> will get the back from, chris. 750,000 signatures on that michigan ballot and initiative. i cannot wait to see what happens. a lot of people want to exercise the most fundamental
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democratic right. happy labor day weekend, chris. -- >> happy holiday weekend, again -- there is no such thing as a summer friday anymore. so we are just want to jump right in. over 10,000 documents. that is the number of documents that the fbi retrieved from trump's beach club in august alone. today we got a clear picture for the first time of the sheer volume of documents that traveled nearly 1000 miles from the white house to trump's palm beach club, when a federal judge unsealed a previously unseen and detailed inventory of what the fbi retrieved during its search last month. as a reminder here, trump's team wanted this to come out. and the justice department did not oppose it. as we continue to await a decision from the judge as to whether or not she will grant trump's request for a third party independent review -- that special master -- they are two big headlines emerging from today's filing. the first, again, is over 10,000 documents were found at
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mar-a-lago. that is big early bigly -- mark classified. and 42 more empty folders marked return to staff secretary slash military aid. doing the math here, that is 90 folders that were empty and almost certainly had some important stuff in them. so, the first question here is, why were they empty? where are the documents that belong in those folders? does the justice department have them and we just don't know that yet? are they still sitting at trump's home? with a ripped up and flushed down the toilet? he does like to do that, you know. why were they separated from their folders in the first place? we are going to try to get answers in just a moment with our next guest,, as well as some expert advice about what this all means. but this is serious stuff here. and not, as trump's lawyers would have you think, a lot like an overdue library book, which is what they actually said in court. also, let's not forget that
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this detailed inventory lists the justice departments likely evidence. it is not some random list of items found in one of trump's closets that, whoops oh yeah, that did not belong there. these are items that a magistrate judge in florida authorized the doj to seize from trump's home, because they potentially reflected evidence of crimes, plural. remember this photo we got tuesday night? we learn from the inventory list today that the items marked to a in the picture we're actually part of a box that included 99 magazines and other press clippings, 43 empty folders with classified banners, 28 empty folders remarked return to staff secretary military aid, and seven documents with top secret classification marks. those are just some of the items recovered in that one single box in trump's office, box number two. investigators also found articles of clothing, gift items, magazines, trump
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passports, all jumbled together alongside top secret and confidential documents. that is not just, like a bad housekeeping. the fact that these items were all found together is meaningful. the fact that classified documents were intermingled with the presidents personal items ties their unauthorized position to mr. don't trump personally, which certainly doesn't look good. and neither does this. in a written brief a company accompanying the inventory today the justice department also just how this is an active criminal investigation. quote the investigative team will continue to use and evaluate this east materials as it takes further investigative steps such as through additional witness interviews and a grand jury practice. the justice department is anything but slowing down when it comes to this criminal investigation. and every day these document reveals, they keep ramping up the pressure on donald trump. honestly, if it feels bad, maybe it is because it is. but don't take my word for it.
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here is what trump's former attorney general, bill barr, as in the bill barr -- here is what he had to say about the whole mar-a-lago ordeal. >> i think that whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red hearing herring. even if they are subject to executive privilege they still belong to the government. >> he's there and the legitimate reason for those materials to be in the former presidents possession? >> no. i cannot think of a legitimate reason why they could be taken out of the government, away from the government, if they are classified. i personally think that for them to have taken things to the current point, they probably have pretty good evidence. the facts are starting to show that they were being jerked around. i think the driver on this from the beginning was that it was, loads of classified information sitting in mar-a-lago. people say this was on president. well, it's also unprecedented for a president who take all this classified information and put it in the country club. >> yao is oh!
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-- justice departments investigation into trump's mishandling investigation. nick, thanks for being here. let's just first start. when you lose people bar, and early in the week karl rove, do you think this gives trump's -- any strategy here? >> hasn't deterred them at all. bill barr is someone who is spoken with -- we saw marc short today, pence's former chief of staff, also creek speak critically of the way these documents have been handled. but trump is saying one thing and his lawyers are doing another thing in court. and i have not changed their course so far. >> indeed, they are still fundraising. i think there is a fund raising email from team trump at a time stamp 7:43 all caps, we gave them much, this is a witch hunt. i do wonder -- the document they got this morning from the justice department, the suggestion that they are still interviewing
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witnesses -- what does that tell you about all of this? and how the last month has maybe changed the scope of their work? >> we know for right now that this investigation is still very much in its early stages. justice department lawyers have said so much in court, not to mention that fact that we have elections coming. -- to try to make these big, potentially critically explosive movements in an investigation. and so we can expect further activity from the justice department in this investigation, as they taken more evidence and as they talked more witnesses who were involved. >> what have -- you i want to talk a little bit about the detailed inventory. we are going to get to the 43 or 48 empty,, classified folders. but those folders, the 42 empty folders marked returned to staff secretary slash military aid -- they didn't say see top secret why are these important? and what we know from the sort of white house protocol?
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from that, what do we know could be in that kind of folder? >> right now, there is still a whole lot we don't know about these folders. but it has brought a lot of focus on the staff secretary position. it is not necessarily a household name. but it is incredibly important position in a white house. this is the [inaudible] that handles the paper flow in and out of the oval office. and at the very end of the trump administration, we know that job was vacant. there are crimes left the trump administration in mid december 2020 leaving no one in that job for the final month of the trump administration. and i talked to a former white house staff secretary from the obama administration who told me that we don't necessarily know whether these documents were classified or not, that we're in these folders. but these are still incredibly important things. if they are important enough to make it to the desk of the president of the united states, that is something we should probably care about. >> a lot of things that make it to the desk of the president of the next eight hours maybe not super important to national security, but the fact that
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maybe it needed to be returned to the staff secretary would suggest that he was not just the piece of paper that could land with no incident, right? >> yeah, exactly, these are things that with policy could potentially be implemented -- even if it's not classify, this could potentially be something very important. >> then there is mar-a-lago itself. the more we learn about the porous nature of the beach club, the more it seems like, in the words of joel bran or, the former head of u.s. counterintelligence, i think mar-a-lago is a counterintelligence nightmare. the bulk of these documents were found in a storage area beneath the sort of main quarters. and it sounds like a lot of people were coming in and out of mar-a-lago, which is disconcerting, if we are talking about a housing of over 100 classified documents, 10,000 pages of material that has national security implications. what more do we know about the transit hub at that mar-a-lago was? >> i think it speaks to how trump nixed a lot of personal
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and professional parts of the presidency. his conducting presidential business out of mar-a-lago during his presidency and into the post presidency period as well. and this meant that you had lots of people come through. you had weddings going on at mar-a-lago -- >> but not trump weddings. other people's weddings. people who wanted to get married at mar-a-lago could for the correct price, get married at mar-a-lago. >> exactly you have a wedding on going on outside while you have the storage room with all these documents marked classified, all the sensitive stuff inside mar-a-lago. this is what raises concerns, both at nara and at doj. if -- >> we're talking about a place that employed a large proportion of foreign nationals as staff which -- it is not necessarily bad to have someone from another country working for you. but in terms of security purposes, people who could be agents for other foreign governments, it sounds like it would be relatively easy to plant someone inside mar-a-lago,
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if they we're of a nation that is not our own. >> that's certainly a concern. -- where former nationals were able to go through security or even just americans as well. this is very much a concern here. >> i wonder, nicholas wu, when we talk about trump in the material he was interested in keeping, it seems questionable about how much detail we are actually going to get in terms of anything beyond the classified designations or non classified as a patients. but the new york times has interesting reporting today, talking about trump's tastes in intelligence. the kinds of things he might have squirrel the way. we are talking about data intel on world leaders. their personal relationships personal relationships with them, extramarital affairs they may have been having -- affairs the the kind of there you would want in the most new york
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tablet since of the world. besides empower the new united's nuclear arsenal something he has been particularly fixated on in terms of what hasn't yet been found in the mar-a-lago search. military and intelligence briefings about iran certainly something you would want to keep undergrads, if you were storing classified information at your beach house. and the assassination of jfk, which -- i mean, listen, i have interest in as well as operations today got high value targets like al-baghdadi from isis. nick, is it dangerous to extrapolate trump's taste and intelligence as far as what may be in the storage of miles here in mar-a-lago? and what is your expectation about the security review that is being done at dni? >> we know that trump was never really someone who is all that keen on the details of all these -- classified information and all this intelligence that came through the oval office. and that is we're probably a lot of the interest in the
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somewhat more salacious details comes from. and we have got to remember that [inaudible] items listed among the receipt for the items seized at mar-a-lago, with this one item, information about the president of france. i asked the embassy of france about that. they declined to comment. we don't know what that that is at that point -- >> the french were worried, when this was first to disclose, that trump had president macron files -- >> we don't know which president of rents. but it's still something -- if certainly raise concern. but -- >> the point is, his tastes in intelligence and the little we do know about the files found in mar-a-lago, there is some cross pollination there. >> yes. >> we will see, i'm sure avril haines knows exactly where he's learning what is in their. and at some point we will learn maybe more probably at trump's behest. nicholas wu, always good to see you, congressional reporter at politico. thanks for coming on set.
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now i want to turn to mark zaid, an attorney who is pretty much an expert when it comes to cases involving national security and security clearances. mark, thank you for joining us. my first question is the folders. >> thanks, alex. >> my first question is the folders. and what we should sort of understand or presume about these missing documents or empty folders. perhaps the documents are not missing? when you heard that there were 48 empty folders with classified as of nations, do you assume that the justice department already has those in its possession? what is your thesis on those? >> yeah, substantively, honestly, i was not that concerned. because i have a vision in my mind as to how everything left the white house. and it is literally that someone took their arm and swept the entire desk off into boxes, no matter what was there. so i always say, if someone did that to my desk, there's an empty can of red bull and a stapler and maybe some
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attorney-client privilege documents and the like, i have the same -- some of the same -- file folder cover photos of classified records, with no classified info in them, of course. the government gave them to me. now, i don't keep 48 of them because i don't need 48 of them. but i kept one as a souvenir. so i think these could just be souvenirs that they kept or they just swept them up. what is more important to me with respect to these folders, these marked classification folders is that whoever would have looked in the box would have been under the impression of, oh, maybe there is something in these boxes that we should be looking for to make sure that there is no classified information in the cartons. that is where i would like to know more about. >> your compatriot, bradley moss, tweeted today effectively, that if there was an empty folder that was originally used properly store classified records, it will be documentation indicating who put the records in that folder,,
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why they were placed there and what the records were. so, i am reading that, thinking, we are actually going to know if the folders -- if the documents that were in the folders that are not actually in the justice departments possession. is that fair? >> i don't know if there is honestly any markings on them. i mean, just think about it, back in your office, you probably have empty, blank, manila folders. in my office sometimes i have manila folders that were from prior clients that i have emptied the contents, destroy them, and i have reuse the manila folders. but there is no other markings on them. and at least and when i've dealt with these cover sheets, there's generally nothing on the cover sheet other than a standard format indicate that the contents are classified, if there are in fact contents in them. so, we may or may not know. sowhat we do know is that those who were in the white house with him, people like john bolton have indicated that they
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tried not to give classified records to the president. because they were concerned of what might happen to them. but sometimes they acknowledged they failed. and they forgot to get the records back. and ostensibly, either that is what a lot of these records are, where someone specifically grabbed some of them, perhaps under orders of the president. that is something we are going to need to find out. i want to know more about the office of the director of the national intelligence's review of all the. because this is happening concurrent to all of this. >> right. >> when we talk about human intelligence services that may have been compromised, by the storage of this material down a trump speech club, is this -- what is the response at dni? does this have real world, real time implication in terms of ongoing cia operations? what is happening here, as if they discover that people or sources may have been compromised? >> all of that could be true.
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and the reality is we may -- and maybe even likely -- never know about that. because the more sensitive of the classified information will likely never come to light because it is so sensitive they won't prosecute anyone pertaining to those particular files. because, generally speaking, that means that information is going to have to be revealed in some shape or form in an unclassified summary under the unclassified information procedures act. or maybe even declassified. and, in fact, the jury would have access to the information even without a clearance, even though they would be instructed and not allowed to repeat it to anyone. but still, it might not be worth the risk of allowing anyone to know. there are so many classified marked records that have been recovered that the lower level classification documents could be the ones -- source for prosecution. >> that is so interesting.
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it is worth mentioning, though, this is happened before, right? back in 2017, the u.s. had to extract a top spy from inside russia, because of a meeting trump had in the oval office. isn't that right? i believe -- yes the decision to carry out the extraction of the russian inside the kremlin occurred soon after may 27th meeting in the oval office in which trump discussed highly classified intelligence with the russian foreign minister and then russian ambassador to the u.s.. it has happened before that trump's whims have really compromised high-level intelligence operations. we found out about it there. you are saying we might not find about it at present and that in fact the lower, less classified information may be what is used in the lawsuit that is building up. >> yeah, entirely. and truck chuck rosenberg, he spoke on the last program, former eastern district attorney for the eastern district of virginia. -- cia's backyard.
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and he was absolutely right that oftentimes you see a classified record and you sort of scratch your head trying to figure out well why is that significant? it says that putin has apple jacks for breakfast every morning. why would that be classified? that is not the classified information. it is the source that provided that information to one of our agencies. and that placement of that source. and if anyone who knows the information if the russians got ahold of that, they could know, well, there are only two people that know that putin gets applejacks for breakfast every morning. and that's what's would be burnt. hopefully, we will never find out something like that because, again, it's too sensitive. but the dni and other agencies will assess whether or not the damage, if, any has been caused by who has been present at mar-a-lago, who had access to the boxes based on the surveillance film that the fbi seized by a search warrant in late june.
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and a lot of that will be very telling. and we will know as time goes by, either what we actually will never know or, obviously, substantively, what will be revealed publicly. >> we know what we will never know. i like that version of the known unknowns. mark zaid and, attorney specializes in cases involving national security and security clearances. fascinating conversation mark. thank you for your time. >> thanks, alex. >> a justice department that is usually loathe to share details about its investigations merrick garland's doj has done an about face this week. up next, one of president obama's u.s. attorneys, who has challenged the department to be more forthcoming, weighs in on this latest disclosure. and the day after the president warned about the threat donald trump poses to democracy civil rights leaders go to the white house to ring the alarm about the danger just on the horizon. we will talk to one of those leaders. stay with us. with us - [narrator] the future. the way you see it is said to depend on where you sit.
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redacted -- enough transparency for doj here. >> i don't think there is. i think, ultimately, merrick garland's job here is to get buy in from the american public that the investigation is being conducted -- and ultimately the -- they need to know what the evidence did, to best the former president.
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-- dial the former president without telling the public why. >> that was the former u.s. attorney for the western district of virginia,, president obama,, making the case early this week that the justice department has not yet been transparent enough about the reason for the august 8th mar-a-lago search. he said the public had to know why. -- a few days why -- fbi's mar-a-lago search. in the four days since then we have been inundated with information from the doj that answers the question why. we have learned why the fbi went to trump speech club what trump had there, where he had it and what lies the justice department was apparently told. on tuesday, the doj submitted a 36-page filing, explaining that investigators quote, developed evidence, that government records were likely concealed and removed from the storage room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the governments miss investigation. this photo of some of the investigation documents is an illustration of some of the volume of top secret documents
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at statuette's florida home. despite his lawyers telling the doj both in person and on paper on june 3rd that they had turned over -- and trump's lawyers disputed the government's description of that june 3rd at a station and meeting. and trump's lawyers did nothing wrong. and on thursday, the judge overseeing this case said she would make public the justice department's detailed list of what the fbi took during its search last month. today that is exactly what we got. thanks to that inventory, we now know that in addition to the 100 plus classified records at the doj previously disclosed, fbi agents retreated over 10,000 government documents with no classification marked. he also found 48 for the smart classified -- and -- does donald trump have more classified government records? or worse? the someone else? starting that question aside for now, is this the kind of detailed evidence that can still want to believe still
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conducting which -- aren't joining us now is john fish wick. former discerning for the western district of virginia who was -- mr. fish wake, thank you so much for being here tonight. >> thank you, alex, for having me on your show. >> let's talk about, it's the end of the week -- justice department transparency. what would you gray them now? >> i would give them a very good grade. -- i would give them a very b plus. they were really were transparent as. week i think it is great with a court filing, they laid out to the american people, the basic case that they are investigating former president trump. and that case is he had a bunch of documents classified top secret document, -- and a good reason mar-a-lago. and when the government began the investigation, a number of folks in his orbit, had been dishonest and let -- obstruction of justice also potentially lying to.
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detail -- -- top secret classifications. i think that gave people a real sense of what the investigation is, so i think it's great that the doj filed that brief and -- public. ultimately the public is going to have to buy into what the doj is doing, if they see it, and if it's based on facts and law and not based on politics. and i think they took some big steps this week to show that their investigation is based on facts and law. >> i wonder if you think the groundwork has been laid and enough to support potential criminal indictment here. ? >> was alex, clearly the folks who have -- a number of folks in trump's orbit were dishonest with law enforcement. and those cases are locked in. whether the department of justice is going to bring those cases, time will tell. but those are locked out. i would disagree with some folks. they would have done a lot of
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interviews before they did that search warrant. because once that search warrant takes place a lot of folks -- not going to talk to him, those who had been talk to him we continuing. i think they have locked down some criminal activity and -- cross some t's and dot some eyes. obviously, they want to look at the final documents that they've collected. but i think they are pretty for a long as it relates to the investigation. >> interesting. i would love to get your thoughts on how trump's team has responded to all of this. they have hammered home very hard and repeatedly -- they keep invoking it. bill barr today -- pushed back on it, legal minds have pushed back on it. what do you think about the strength of that offense and what do you think about their continuing invocation of executive privilege? >> as of today, alex, that is a weak privilege. a former government official, ex president, has very few
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legal rights as it relates to asserting the privilege. it's been pretty clear, based on president nixon cases that the current president makes as decisions. if you think about, if that makes a lot of sense -- and a real mess and i think the trump strategy is going to appeal on this issue -- sympathetic folks in the united states supreme court. it's not going to block the investigation. it's kind of a sleepy thing this executive privilege. the viewers may get tired of hearing about it. it's maybe delay it i think it's important for merrick garland and his troops to be vigilant, to make sure that this doesn't make the whole thing up and stole it too long. i think it's going to drag on for a while. i think the court of appeals and the supreme court -- along in this area, but ultimately i would urge merrick garland to do it my father had to tell me, to keep your eye on the donut, keep your eye on what is important. what is important is the
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criminal investigation here. not the executive privilege. that is part of it. you've got to pay attention but you do need to keep your eye on the donut. >> that is very interesting. you think they could be trying to run this up with a flagpole to get to the supreme court to develop a new law around the executive privilege? >> and i think it's fairly easy to do that. because there are not many cases like it if you think about it express advance litigation i think it's just nixon. it's very scarce law which is opportunity for judges to create new law. again,, it is not going to stop the investigation. it may delay. it and i think that that is going to be important for doj to say, okay. we are going to fight it out over these documents. but we want it on expedited schedule. and i think that can be achieved. but i do expect it to be appealed no matter what happens with the judge now on the appointment of the special master and no matter how it is ruled on by the district court i do think that this is going to become a little bit of a sideshow as it relates to executive privilege.
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it is going to drag on for sometime. it is not going to stop the investigation. trump has found a lot of political utility in staging a sideshow when there are important investigations underway. so, it is not nothing that this could be a little carnival over in the distance. john fish wick former u.s. attorney for the western district of attorney. appointed by president obama in 2015. thank you so much for your time tonight. >> thanks so much for having me. still ahead here right-wing media goes berserk. reacting to president biden speech warning about things like the demonic lighting. i am not kidding. meanwhile civil rights leaders go to the white house with a stark warning that is nothing to do with lighting and everything to do with democracy. that is next. is next
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>> last night, president biden laid out his thesis about the crisis facing america, radicalized factions that both existential threats to our public, by undermining the democratic process, personal freedoms, and national security. and this is how the right-wing responded. >> biden really has crossed over into a very dangerous, and a very dangerous place. >> he was talking about how half of the country are basically domestic terrorists. >> president biden tonight gave
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a speech of a dictator, and the style of a dictator, and the visual of a dictator. >> the imagery there was almost synthetic, with that or what blood lighting, and the two marines behind him. yeah >>, there are threats, as the guy with the blood red and nazi background standing behind him. it's totally immoral. >> he spent an insignificant amount of time criticizing the speech about an existential crisis. it is possible you might be missing the point. with anyway, by contrast, this is how people who understand those stakes reacted. today, a group of prominent civil rights leaders met with president biden to talk about what's being called a national state of emergency for democracy and voting rights. and they made it very clear that the battle for the soul of the nation as part of a longer a war against the forces of white supremacy. >> i stand here today with my civil rights colleagues, and our call in amplifying the alarm that we've been sounding for a very long time, that our
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democracy is in peril, that we are facing an existential threat crisis that black people have known for a very long time. >> a white supremacy is undermining the very fabric of democracy for every single american. >> the impact of voters this november wilson a clear message that democracy is worth protecting, and white supremacist activity is a danger to our democracy. >> those civil rights leaders spoke with president biden about this year's midterms, specifically the threats to voting rights and to poll workers across the country. and there was plenty to discuss. since 2020, there has been a wave of voter suppression laws passed in republican-controlled states, laws that make it harder for black and brown communities to exercise their fundamental democratic rights, and laws of it state control of elections administration to partisan elected officials. recent report from the group states united for democracy found that 244 bills that would
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interfere with elections administration have been introduced in 33 states. and 24 of those bills have already become law. and then, there are the poll workers themselves. this month, it texas county saw all of his election officials resign. one official cited the death threats and stalking, that she has faced from election conspiracy theorists. to give you a sense of just the outer sheer terror these civil servants have experienced, the center for justice compelled testimonials from some poll workers in the aftermath of the 2020 election. >> they had assault rifles. >> by bomb. >> you're gonna get what's coming to you. >> you can go anywhere to assault police officers. >> we have officers on the roof of our ability. >> i never had people so engaged and enraged about what we were doing just to ensure that people should vote. >> we had go bats ready for my family and my children. >> we will demand the truth and you will bleep pay for your
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bleep, remarks you little liberal rhino. >> protecting the vote means a whole constellation of things, it means ensuring access to the vote itself. it means keeping poll workers safe, making sure that the elections officials, in charge of the vote, are actually responsible stewards of the democratic process. it's not simple. and it's not easy, especially right now, and it might not just get harder. we will talk with one of the leaders summit with the president to take on one of the most consequential and urgent issues facing the country. that interview is next. that interview is next look professional. ♪♪ even if you don't feel it. meta portal. the smart video calling device... - right on time! - of course. that makes work from home work for you. so, shall we get started? lily! welcome to our third bark-ery. oh, i can tell business is going through the “woof”. but seriously we need a reliable way to help keep everyone connected from wherever we go. well at at&t we'll help you find
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(fisher investments) in this market, you'll find fisher investments is different than other money managers. it's time to love food back. (other money manager) different how? aren't we all just looking for the hottest stocks? (fisher investments) nope. we use diversified strategies to position our client's portfolios for their long-term goals. (other money manager) but you still sell investments that generate high commissions for you, right? (fisher investments) no, we don't sell commission products. we're a fiduciary, obligated to act in our client's best interest. (other money manager) so when do you make more money, only when your clients make more money? (fisher investments) yep. we do better when our clients do better. at fisher investments, we're clearly different. >> you can hear in the
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presidents speech last night, you can hear it as well today, there's a line about protecting democracy. we know that black americans are among the hardest working, most patriotic people in this country. in a democracy that works for black america, and works for all of america. we need a democracy that does not condone, allow, or facilitate attacks on its own people, whether that be through voter suppression, whether that would be through the january 6th insurrection. would that be through police or state violence, or through white supremacy, which drives a lot of what we're seeing. so alarming with the president is there, what we need to do is use political muscle in the civil rights community, and also, among elected officials, to push this agenda forward. >> that's what civil rights attorney damon hewitt, who along with leaders of seven
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other black-led civil rights organizations declared a state of emergency for democracy earlier this week. those leaders met with president biden today on the heels of the presidents own stark warning last night, about the growing threat to democracy from authoritarian and white supremacist voices in the republican party. joining us now is a damon hewitt, the president and executive director of the lawyers committee for civil rights under law. mr. hewitt, thank you for being here tonight. >> thanks for having me, alex. >> so, i want to get your thoughts on this sort of very careful needle the president was trying to thread in yesterday's speech. he said repeatedly there is a difference between republicans and the maga republicans. and then, you look at polling on one of the sort of most basic things in our democracy, the right to vote. and what happened in the 2020 election. i think it's something like 70% of republicans say they don't think joe biden is the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. do you think people of color
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see a difference between republicans and maga republicans? >> well, look, i think that people of color, we can make fine distinctions, and see differences. we know who is for us, who is against us, number one. and that does not always stay with within the ranks of a certain civil party. it's really about who uses their leverage, equity, their capital towards the interest of black america, and in this case, towards the interest of democracy. and so, i think there's a pretty crude distinction about who does and who does not. >> do you, i mean, what did you think, who did you think was the intended audience of the presidents remarks last night? on one hand, you would think it's one of those middle of the road republicans, and yet, their response almost uniformly from the republican party and from conservatives has been one of unrelenting criticism. they say that president biden has in some ways galvanized, i think, the right wing to, you know, organize against him. where is the change supposed to happen? go ahead. >> those are desperate pleas.
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i heard the president speaking to multiple audiences. he was speaking to his base to let them know the two understands and sees what's happening. and he is not willing just to play nice and sit by and allow it to happen. he was speaking to what is left of the movable middle, to say, if you actually care about this country, then you should actually listen to what i have to say. you should follow the policies, plus the direction that i'm taking. and he was also speaking to, you may recall the never trumpers, out there, i'm sure. there is a big question mark out there as to whether these people would swing his way. again, is also speaking to us in the civil rights and advocacy community, because we are in multiple fights on multiple fronts. we need to see this president standing up and calling it like it is, and that's exactly what we saw with such an eloquent way last night. >> and then, you had some time with the president today, right? i mean, this is a meeting that is in many ways following up on what the president talked about,
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but also, it tells details what the work you guys were doing as a coalition. what is the plan to save democracy, because we all want to know? >> right, this is part of a series of meetings with the civil rights committee that's been planned since the president and vice presidents took office. so, it's not a, you know, surprised the tour meeting. we'll be there again. we will talk about it again. but today, messages coalesced around a broad sense of what it takes to protect democracy, and the very fact that democracy is under threat. the committee, we talked a lot about the promises of democracy. it's about economic opportunity and the notion of not just having to live, living wage, but having a chance of prosperity. it's a simple fact to be able to cast a ballot, half of that vote count, and have the election actually be seated. and that should not be novel. so, we talked about today, the broad notion of what democracy needs, what it takes to protect
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it, and there are some areas of concepts in terms of what the best pressure points should be, and what is the right policy should be. but overall, there were strong alignment that bringing to america, bringing black america, leading to black brown america, to america overall, the message about the importance of preserving democracy's of utmost importance right now. >> i mean, the conversation is occurring. but in terms of an action plan, is there anything that can be executed before the midterms, because i think a lot of people are terrified about what happens in november? >> that's right. look, legislative proposals did not move too, and the electoral reforms and what have you. but the president did issue an executive order on voting, on elections. and that executive order among other things allows federal agencies, or enlist federal agencies in the mission of getting voters registered. we need to see more uptick from federal agencies.
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from my understanding, as of late spring, early summer, only two federal agencies have signed up to make sure that all officers around the country were voter registration sites. we need to change that. we need to mobilize and do what's impossible, and in election monitoring, there are some severe limitations on the doj now, after the decision of 2013. but still some state 80s are now in power to do things, favorable laws, in virginia, new york, of course those are, states in the deep south, -- but there are buttons that can be pushed, and, also we are mobilizing in the civil society. at the lowest-committee, we can be at the national protection coalition. our election protection hotline, it is operating every single day, as we approach election day. we have to move and shake in many ways. there is no easy button, alex. there's no one federal prescription at this point, especially with that legislation. i will say this, however.
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president biden expressed a significant openness and eagerness even today, to try again on federal voting rights legislation. they will protect the right to vote. of course, that's not what's gonna happen in this congress, and the fact that the election this fall, a lot tank in the balance in terms of the results. but each president opens and eagerness to make it really good. >> a lot doesn't get the balance. and that is an understatement. damon hewitt, the president and executive director of the lawyers committee for civil rights under law, keep fighting the good fight, please, mister he would. thank you for joining us tonight. >> every day, alex. thank you so much. >> we'll be right back. we'll be right back - common percy! - yeah let's go! on a trip. book with priceline. you save more, so you can “woooo” more.
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have an excellent labor day this week. and we will see you again on tuesday. and now it is time for the last word. ali velshi is in for lawrence tonight. good evening, ali. >> alex, thank. you have yourself a great labor day. we'll see you next tuesday. >> thank you, my friend. >> we are learning more tonight about the contents of what the fbi seized from donald trump's florida home. the inventory that judge aileen cannon unsealed today paints a staggering picture of the sheer amount of documents that investigators found at mar-a-lago. in one box alone, 43 folders with classification markings, empty. another 28 folders with instructions to return the contents to trump's staff secretary and milita


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