tv MSNBC Live With Velshi and Ruhle MSNBC August 29, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT
as we cover it all on this show, guys. tutus to politics. thanks for watching. right now ali velshi picks it all up. do you want to talk about fashion or politics, what do you think? >> i feel a little safe talking about fashion because stephanie ruhle is off. stephanie often has some comments on what i'm wearing on a given day, so i agree with you. i think she is mixing it up and i think that's great. >> i agree. >> we all worked late last night. i wouldn't say mixing it up all that much today, so i'm not in a position to say. >> you do you, man. >> thank you. talk to you later, hallie. have a good day. good morning, everybody, i'm ali velshi, stephanie ruhle is off. it is wednesday, august the 29th. we begin with a comment made by florida's republican for governor ron de santis in an already dramatic and consequential race. he's set to face off against andrew gillum, the first african-american to ever claim
that title in florida. here's what he just said about gillum on fox news. >> how do you plan to beat him? >> well, look, florida elections are always competitive. this is a guy who although he's much too liberal for florida, i think he's got huge problems with how he's governed tallahassee. he is an articulate spokesman for those far left views and he's a charismatic candidate. i watched those democrat debates. none of that was my cup of tea, but i mean he performed better than the other people there, so we've got to work hard to make sure that we continue florida going in a good direction. let's build off the success that we've had with governor scott. the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. that is not going to work, that's not going to be good for florida, so i'm going to fight for what i believe in because i think i'm the guy who can really lead florida in a good direction. >> did you hear that?
let's be clear. that was a white republican nominee for governor using the word "monkey" when talking about his black opponent for office, "monkey it up." let's listen one more time. >> the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda. >> okay. a spokesperson for de santis tells nbc news that his comment, quote, had nothing to do with race or anything like that and it's something that he says frequently to express something that was messed up or not done right. let's talk this through. joining me now is nbc news political reporter ali vitali who lives in orlando. also michael hopkins, and sirius xm host mark thompson. welcome to all of you. ali, there are lots of issues. we're trying to figure out what the driving force was that took andrew gillum from behind to the front. i talked to him several weeks ago when he was talking about his platform, which was very
progressive and possibly very appealing to people. there were gun -- anti-gun lobbyists or groups that were interested in his message. he had young voters. he had the support of bernie sanders. he had the support of tom steyer. he had the support of george soros. the fact is it is a big deal that an african-american nominee for governor is now going to be on the ticket in november. has there been any reaction so far to de santis' inelegant at best "monkey" comments? >> yeah, exactly. and the campaign did give me that response, this is something that he says, quote, frequently and that this had nothing to do with race. but the democratic side is saying that this is from the florida democratic party chairman says it's disgusting that ron de santis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles. i asked one of the spokespeople on the gillum campaign, what do you think about the de santis
campaign is saying this and they said bless his heart. this feels like what we've seen with the trump campaign over and over again. i say campaign in the broader sense that it's usually when the president is out on the campaign trail and in my experience in covering the campaign that there have been dog whistles like this before and the media does what we're doing. we break it down and then the candidate comes back and says the media is making all the hay about this. the de santis campaign seems to be saying the same thing. i said what do you think about people who will see this as a racial dog whistle. they said, well, people are going to make hay of it regardless but that's not what he was talking about. already we're seeing some of the tendencies that we've already seen coming out of pennsylvania avenue happening down here in florida and it's just going to be another point added in the race as we kind of keep going forward seeing how these candidates start shaping the general election, ali. >> michael, you work with andrew gillum. we spoke with andrew gillum several weeks ago. have you spoken to him about these comments yet? >> i haven't.
but what i can say is i've spoken with florida democrats all across the state. that wasn't just a dog whistle, that was a bull horn. that was a blatantly racist comment. if de santis wants to say that he uses that kind of language all the time, he should stop talking. what he's doing is not just denigrating the state, but denigrating the voters who are going out and trying to be good americans and work hard and don't want that racist language used in campaigns across the state. >> mark, what did you hear when you heard those comments? i want to be -- i want to give desantis the benefit of the doubt thinking he uses this term in non-racist ways otherwise. is there any possibility of that? >> no, there's no possibility of that whatsoever. >> you've never heard the term? >> no. i've never heard anybody say that. >> i've heard people say it in non-racist terms. >> in the environment in which i live as an african-american, that's not something that's normally said. i don't know -- i don't know
anybody who says that frankly. maybe i'm divorced from that. but look, it's not a dog whistle. when you say monkey in reference to an african-american, he might as just as well said the n-word. donald trump needs to condemn this. desantis needs to immediately apologize or drop out of the race. this is absolutely racist. if he gets away with it this time, he's going to continue to do it. they did it to do obamas, referring to them as primates and now he's going to do it to andrew gillum. the thing of it is, and this is really unfortunate, because history was made yesterday. yesterday is a sacred day in african-american history. august 28, 1955, emmitt till. 1963 the great war on washington. 2008, barack obama, the first african-american to accept the nomination for president. just yesterday, august 28th, the queen of soul lay in state. and finally for the first time in history, andrew gillum august 28th, 2018, is nominated to be
the governor of the state of florida. a great source of pride. he wasn't expected to win. so to come out less than 24 hours later and use the term "monkey" in reference to an african-american, i'm not fooled by this at all. i know exactly what desantis meant and every african-american does in florida and i'm sure many white voters know that. he ought to be condemned by the president and ought to apologize and maybe even step out of the race. >> michael, you said if that's what he said, if he says it all the time, he should stop saying it. do you accept the fact that he may not have meant this in a racist way? >> no, absolutely not. he knew where he was when he said it. he knew the audience he was talking to. just to build on the previous guest's point, i was at the victory party last night for shawn shaw, the first black attorney general nominee for the democratic party in florida's history. one of the things that i heard people talk about is how quickly this race was going to turn
racial because of donald trump and because of his rhetoric. it's not even 12 hours after the race was called that now we're hearing racist language being echoed by desantis. we're seeing trump attack gillum on twitter. this is just beneath the american spirit. this is not what we're about. i'm sick and tired of it honestly. i'm sick and tired of people using racist language and gas lighting us and telling us it's not racist. it's racist and he needs to be held accountable for it. >> ali, president trump has slammed gil up on twitter, calling him a failed socialist mayor who's allowed crime and many other problems to flourish in his city. crime in gillum's district is down by 15%. as i said, we've talked to him. he's got progressive views. i'm not quite sure -- the danger with progressive candidates is always that somebody calls them socialists. but the fact is florida is a state that is a swing state. desantis' best chance was going to be to appeal to a lot of
moderates. if he is going to this place in which his appeal is going to be to people who may have racist tendencies and may be fearful of a black candidate as governor, it does endanger him from getting those moderate candidates who don't really want to be associated with a racist. >> i think that's certainly true, but i guess i want to break down the general state of this race right now is that on both sides you have the candidate who was the furthest towards their political pole. so you have ron desantis who is more of the diehard trump base that's coming out here in florida. on the other side of things, you do have andrew gillum. when he won the nomination, he ran to the left of a very crowded field here in florida, so he is someone who certainly both will have to work to win moderates. comments like this definitely make it harder, but both of them are coming from a place where they have to work their way back in towards the middle, ali. >> michael, what do you think happens next? mark is talking about desantis
getting out of the race or apologizing and donald trump commenting on it. i think i've got as good a chance of that as growing hair. what do you think is actually likely to happen? >> i think there's going to be silence on the side of republicans and that's going to be an indictment. we're going to have to wait and see what desantis does, what the president does, what the party does. this is just disgusting. somebody has got to get held accountable for it. we cannot continue. kids are watching. they're taking their cues from our public leaders. what are we teaching? what are we teaching them about who we are, how we treat each other? because this isn't it. >> mark, what do you think? i hear what you're saying you think should happen, but given the likely environment, what do you think will happen? and what do you think people who find this offensive should do? >> they should vote for andrew gillum. they should mobilize, they should call out desantis wherever they are. if they're at the water cooler
at work, if they're in the pew in church, they should decry this and say how despicable it is. with all due respect, i would not say that andrew gillum is running so far to the left. his platform has been about education -- >> i think he's more progressive. >> well, he's progressive. but how progressive or how left is it to want young african-american men, whom i'm sure desantis would also call monkeys not to be killed under the stand your ground legislation. he was able to get the other democratic candidates to sign on to wanting to withdraw that legislation. we just had another recent killing, marcus mcglockton under that stand your ground foolishness. so i don't think it's radical at all. i think it's radical for that law to stand. it's as radical as desantis using the term monkey. it's radical for these young men's lives to be at risk on the
for there to be a double standard. >> i hear you, but your criticism is that they are calling him left and socialist. that's not what we're saying. we are saying this guy has what in america is described as progressive views and as i'm sure many times, i'm from canada, these things are not thought of as progressive views to want health care for everybody, things that andrew gillum wants. but i don't think -- i think we're going to get old waiting for the trump campaign to talk about this. >> well, i think it's inevitable now he's going to lose. if he doesn't apologize for this and he doubles down, if he repeats it, this might just help andrew win because i find it hard to believe that the majority of the voters in florida in 2018, and there was great turnout, a million and a half democrats, 1.6 million republicans, that's a lot of turnout. i find it hard to believe that the majority of those voters are going to abide desantis saying
something like that and continuing to be a viable candidate. >> mark, thank you for your time. michael, thank you for your time. michael hopkins is a consultant for andrew gillum. mark thompson is a sirius xm host and ali vitali is a reporter covering this race. president trump is taking credit for something he didn't actually do. why evangelicals are sticking by trump anyway. first, president trump tweeting this morning about anonymous sources. he says, quote, the fact is that many anonymous sources don't even exist, they're fiction made up by the fake news reporters, enemy of the people. when you see anonymous source, stop reading the story. it's fiction. just a reminder, president trump has cited anonymous sources himself and even posed as one on many occasions. here's one tape from a 1991 interview between "people" magazine and a man who tells the reporter his name is john miller. he can speak to her off the record about how many women are
after trump, including madonna. >> i don't think we ever reported about madonna. >> she called and wanted to go out with him, i can tell you. one of the other people that you're writing about -- by the way, i'm sort of new here. >> what is your position here? >> i'm handling pr because he gets so much of it. dear foremothers, your society was led by a woman, who governed thousands... commanded armies... yielded to no one. when i found you in my dna, i learned where my strength comes from. my name is courtney mckinney, and this is my ancestrydna story. now with 2 times more geographic detail than other dna tests. order your kit at ancestrydna.com
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door dinner with evangelical leaders that's been reviewed by nbc news, the president is heard claiming he got, quote, rid of the johnson amendment, long revialed by religious leaders. the comments came after the press had left monday's dinner. he's referring to an executive order he signed directing the treasury not to, quote, take any adverse action against religious organizations for speaking about a candidate or cause, something they weren't prohibited from in the first place. there's a clause typically included in these types of executive orders which says this order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law. in this case, consistent with the johnson amendment. according to constitutional law professors, the order does almost nothing. let's take a look at the johnson amendment and how the president didn't really get rid of it. let's turn the clock back to before 1954. back then nonprofits and churches could support or oppose candidates as they saw fit using their tax-exempt status to supplement a candidate or
party's electoral push. in 1954, then texas senator lyndon johnson was facing a blistering campaign with several nonprofits supporting his opponent. as a response, johnson wrote a provision into that year's tax code saying all section 501 c 3 organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office. effectively banning tax-exempt groups from jumping into the political arena to endorse candidates, but not restricting their right to free speech. churches were swept up into this ban despite not being involved in that particular fight with johnson. but "the times" also reports the provision was so noncontroversial that it was passed by a republican congress and signed into law by republican president dwight eisenhower. this law is rarely enforced.
according to pro-religious group alliance defending freedom more than 2,000 mainly evangelical christian leaders have made intentional violations in protest over the past ten years. only one has been audited by the irs and zero have lost their tax-exempt status. if the president did want to overturn the amendment he'd have to go through congress since they are the only body that can actually make or repeal laws. joining me now is nbc news investigative reporter ken dilanian. ken, i think this is a really interesting intellectual question, but there's actually something more about this, and that is a warning that the president at the same time gave to some of those evangelical leaders about what would happen if republicans lost the midterm elections. >> that's right, ali. he suggested there would be violence on the part of left-wing activists like antifa. really what he was communicating to these ardent supporters is that everything they hold dear
is at risk if the republicans lose this midterm election. i mean he talked about abortion rights, he talked about the first amendment, he even repeated his claim that we are now allowed to say merry christmas to one another because donald trump is president and that would be at risk if they lost the election. it was really sort of a red meat pitch to these evangelical leaders who applauded and cheered throughout and seemed to have no problem with donald trump's personal foibles as long as he is on the same way with them in a policy direction. >> ken, this does feel like a turning point, right? this feels like we are living in a global competition of culture and that people weaponize that culture for political purposes and that results in people getting into groupings and voting certain ways. but when you start speaking about the threat of violence, president trump did this a couple of times during his campaign, but when you start talking about this, i think it goes down a road that could be very dangerous. >> i agree. look, there's a long history,
unfortunately, in our politics of using this kind of ideological appeal. we remember that richard nixon famously campaigned on a law and order platform when people were very troubled by the sometimes violent demonstrations of the 1960s. and president trump has gone to this well a number of times. he's also repeatedly trafficking in untruths by saying that he repealed the johnson amendment. fact checkers have found that he has uttered more than 4,000 false or misleading claims. >> why does that not hurt him? because if i make a mistake, i get e-mails, texts, social media about things that wasn't correct. i think that's viewers trying to be helpful, but it makes me feel badly when i make a mistake like that. it just seems that it doesn't cost donald trump to lie generally, and it really doesn't cost him to lie to the evangelical community. >> i think part of the reason is that people don't believe these fact checkers. there's a certain group of
americans that don't believe what they see on our network and other places so they don't think donald trump is lying. and then there's also a kind of a grading him on a curve. you know, that as long as he is appointing the right supreme court nominees and he is with them on abortion rights and on things like this johnson amendment thing, they are fine with -- they are willing to let him slide on some of these other matters. >> ken, thanks very much for your reporting on these. coming up, we have breaking news. donald trump confirmed this morning that white house counsel, don mcgahn, will leave the white house this fall. what that could mean for the president and the mueller investigation. this comes as trump's former campaign manager, paul manafort, makes a last-ditch effort to move his second criminal trial and he's blaming the president for that. first, time for our monumental american. julius chambers was an african-american civil rights lawyer who argued several precedent-setting cases. in 1964 he founded a law firm in charlotte that became the first integrated law firm in north carolina. he took on dozens of
desegregated -- desegregation and discrimination cases and won a case before the supreme court that led to the use of buses to integrate schools. later chambers also served adds director-counsel of the naacp legal defense fund and was the founding executive director of the unc center for civil rights. chambers' work wasn't always welcome, by the way. his home, car and office were firebombed during his career, but he never stopped fighting. he passed away at the age of 76 in 2013. if you've got a monumental american, please tweet us @velshiruhle. e.
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welcome back. here are the top stories we're watching right now. more than 150 undocumented workers were detained by i.c.e. officials after a raid at a trailer manufacturer in texas. federal authorities say it's part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the company. the company says it will follow the law and cooperate with authorities. a former texas police officer, roy oliver, now faces what could be a life sentence after being found guilty of murder for shooting and killing a 15-year-old unarmed black teen named jordan edwards. oliver opened fire on a carful of teenagers leaving a house
party in 2017. edwards happened to be in the car. a texas firearms entrepreneur announced tuesday he's selling 3-d gun blueprints despite a court order that bans the distribution of that data online. cody wilson argues that the judge's order not to distribute blueprints was an authorization to sell them. amazon stock is up 65% this year and morgan stanley just raised its price target to a whopping $2,500 a share. that's up from where it is now, $1,850. at the new price amazon would have a market valuation of $1.2 trillion. the body of senator john mccain will lie in state at the arizona state capitol today. it's the first of four days of services for mccain who passed away on saturday. a memorial service will be held in phoenix on thursday and then mccain's body will be flown to d.c. breaking news, the president tweeted last hour that white house counsel don mcgahn will be leaving his position in the fall saying, quote, shortly after the
confirmation hopefully of judge brett kavanaugh to the united states supreme court, i have worked with don for a long time and truly appreciate his service. who will be his successor? axios is reporting that mcgahn is pulling for emmet flood. joining me now is msnbc contributor and former assistant special watergate prosecutor, jill wine-banks. jill, good to see you. we have been talking for a few days about mcgahn being on his way out and some have associated that with the idea that donald trump is very seriously considering a pardon for paul manafort and that mcgahn is not onboard with that and he has suggested that if mcgahn doesn't get onboard, he's replacing him. what do you make of this announcement? >> i think it's a good thing for mcgahn who has been a voice of reason, so it seems from the outside. he has said no to donald trump and seems to have had some impact, so i'm sorry to see him
going because we need someone in that position who is willing to tell truth to power and to say, no, you can't do that. no, you shouldn't do that. no, it's not good politically. no, it's illegal. and i hope -- i don't know emmet flood. i hope that he will have the same courage. i always thought during watergate if john dean had spoken up sooner rather than when he did, maybe we would have avoided the whole watergate scandal. so it just takes a very strong person. it's one of the biggest lessons of watergate. >> but at the same time the president, we have learned last night, has been talking about firing jeff sessions now as late as this month. that's not a big surprise to us because we've been talking about it for a long time. he's been tweeting about jeff sessions. strangely, jeff sessions seemed to grow a spine last week and talk about how the justice department under sessions will not be politicized. it seems like a few republican senators took him out to breakfast a little while ago and said fight on, stick around,
don't resign. on the other hand, senators like lindsey graham who were saying there would be holy hell to pay if sessions were fired is now saying maybe his time is up and it's time for someone else. how significant is the potential departure of sessions in this politicized environment? >> in a normal environment, it should be a dramatic problem, but i'm afraid that america has gotten almost inured and numbed to the corruption in the white house. firing the attorney general, which could easily be viewed as and properly so as obstructing the investigation of the russia interference in our election, will probably just be one more thing that donald trump gets away with. i hope that's not the case. i hope that america will rise in anger if he is fired. i don't think it's going to make a difference whether it is before the election or after,
although obviously they're trying to avoid interfering in the midterm elections. but the anger should be the same afterward because if it is interfering in the investigation that is going on in which donald trump is a subject, even if he's not a target, we're looking at his people, at his campaign and at his conduct, his relatives' conduct and that investigation has to go on and firing jeff sessions should not be tolerated. and if he is fired, the next one, whoever is appointed, must agree to not interfere in the investigation, to support mueller and to give him his independence. that's what was required after the firing of attorney general richardson by nixon. >> just last week on fox news the president said that -- had he known that sessions would recuse himself, he wouldn't have made him the attorney general. he wants loyalty. he said what kind of a man is that? so the point is donald trump simply won't want to appoint
someone who doesn't give him some sort of loyalty pledge. but you're saying that if he doesn't, if this person doesn't recuse themselves or doesn't say they'll let the investigation go on, that that prompts some sort of crisis? >> i'm not saying he has to recuse himself. the recusal of jeff sessions was absolutely mandatory under department of justice rules. he was involved in the campaign. he was involved in the very conduct that was under investigation. he could not oversee it any more than donald trump can oversee it, despite donald's claim that he can. but even if he doesn't recuse himself does not mean that he has to take away the independence of the special counsel. that has to be permitted. as i say, that's what happened as part of confirming the replacement for elliott richardson. there was a requirement that the investigation continue unimpeded
and without any interference from the attorney general. >> jill, good to talk to you, thank you very much. >> thank you, ali. all right, today marks the 13th anniversary of hurricane katrina, a storm once known as the most devastating the u.s. has experienced, but now we're learning that hurricane maria was even more deadly with thousands more americans killed than previously reported. we'll be live in puerto rico, a territory some say was abandoned. you're watching "velshi & ruhle" on msnbc. e" on msnbc it's so simple, i don't even have to think about it. so i think about mouthfeel. introducing chase ink business unlimited with unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
this just in on our top story. the campaign of florida nominee for governor ron desantis just released a statement about his controversial comment involving the democratic nominee, andrew gillum. again, here's the comment that desantis made on fox news. >> how do you plan to beat him? >> well, look, i mean florida elections are always competitive. you know, this is a guy who, although he's much too liberal for florida, i think he's got huge problems with how he's governed tallahassee. you know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far left views and he's a charismatic candidate. i watched those democrat debates and none of that is my cup of tea but he performed better than the other people there. so we've got to work hard to make sure that we continue florida going in a good direction. let's build off the success we've had on governor scott. the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and
bankrupting the state. that is not going to work. that's not going to be good for florida. so i'm going to fight for what i believe in because i think i'm the guy that can really lead florida in a good direction. >> the controversy there, of course, is that he said the last thing we need to do is monkey this up. his opposition is an african-american man. the campaign released ron desantis was talking about florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that andrew gillum espouses. to characterize it as anything else is absurd. the last thing we need is a far left democrat trying to stop our success. gillum is the first african-american to be a nominee for governor in florida. all right, 13 years after hurricane katrina, the united states is facing another major challenge. the realities hurricane maria left behind in puerto rico. here's what president trump just said -- listen to what he said when he visited san juan in october. >> if you look at a real
catastrophe like katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and what is your death count as of this moment, 17? >> 16, sir. >> 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands. you can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. 16 versus literally thousands of people. everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what's taken place in puerto rico. >> for facts sake, puerto rico was a real catastrophe. the u.s. government should not be proud of what happened before or after hurricane maria. here's shocking new data from a study commissioned boy puerto rican officials. the report found that hurricane maria killed 2,975 americans. every demographic was affected by this. but the deaths were especially higher in low-income areas and among the elderly.
the new total is more than 46 times the original estimate toll which after it was 16 was raised to 64. so just how powerful was hurricane maria? she made landfall as a massive category 4 storm. maria ripped through the island with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and it affected nearly 3.4 million people. the total population of puerto rico, leaving behind $90 billion in reported damage. the third costliest in u.s. history. overall, hurricane maria was the worst storm to hit the u.s. territory in more than 80 years, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in u.s. history. all right. joining me now from san juan is nbc's gabe gutierrez. gabe, let's first of all talk about the conditions in puerto rico now. how much improvement have we seen? >> reporter: hi there, ali. well, things have improved here in puerto rico quite a bit. power has finally been restored
to the entire island, although the last customer restored was just a few weeks ago. many people say that took much too long. if you go to san juan, the tourism industry is trying to flourish once again. the economy here needs visitors and the government is trying to lure people back here in order to pump up this area's economy again. but, ali, as you're mentioning this new report really seems to confirm what a lot of people here on this island have been telling us for months. nearly 3,000 people are estimated to have died following hurricane maria, making it the deadliest u.s. natural disaster in more than a century. think about that, 3,000 people. more than 1,000 than were killed in hurricane katrina. the magnitude of this is overwhelming. we should point out some other things that this report from george washington university also pointed out. it blamed puerto rican officials for a massive communications breakdown and for not having the proper protocols in place in terms of emergency response. now, the governor yesterday, he
said that the official death toll would be updated because of this report. he said that the buck stops with him and in hindsight things could have been done differently. but the white house still saying it is proud of the federal effort here, saying that more than 12,000 personnel had come to puerto rico. but that statement isn't sitting well with many people here on this island, including san juan's mayor, carmen cruz, who's been an outspoken critic of the federal government's response. watch what she had to say after the white house's statement. >> shame on the white house and shame on the president. all he had to say was i'm sorry that 2,975 of you died. that's all he had to say. but he's incapable of doing that. >> reporter: now, we are here in front of puerto rico's main -- months ago the government brought in refrigerated containers to hold the unclaimed bodies here. we've been speaking with so many
of the people here on the island and also in the u.s. mainland who said they lost close family members in the weeks and months after the storm. this wasn't a situation where there were so many deaths during the actual storm, structural collapses or drowning during the flooding. this was a slow-moving disaster because power was gone for so long. there was no access to medical care. that's where many of these deaths happened. as you mentioned, the biggest risk were those low-income communities and the elderly. so certainly devastating news here in puerto rico, but it's something that many people here expected. >> gabe, what's the way in which -- they used a series of months after the event to calculate deaths. what's the rationale there, that these are people who otherwise, 2,975 people who otherwise wouldn't have died if that hurricane hadn't been there? >> reporter: right. that's 2,975 excess deaths. so to put that in perspective, they looked at from september to february, about five, six months
or so, you know, around the time of the storm, and remember that hurricane irma also grazed puerto rico just before hurricane maria. during that time, this study looked at those deaths specifically and it did something different than other studies hadn't. it also factored in all the people that had left puerto rico. tens of thousands of people. so it took that into account and was able to come up with that number. beforehand you had that harvard study that had a wide-ranging estimate saying it could have been as many as 8,000 and zeroed in on 4, 600. this was a survey the puerto rican government had been hanging its hat on. it was highly anticipated for many months. they had refused to make that death toll higher. they kept it at 64 for so long and were waiting on this george washington university report. it was commissioned by the puerto rican government. it cost more than $300,000. that's why this is so significant. the george washington university is also asking for more resources to be able to look at
these numbers even closer, but the bottom line is the governor of puerto rico yesterday for the first time acknowledged nearly 3,000 people died as a result of this disaster. the deadliest u.s. natural disaster in more than 100 years, and more than 60% higher than hurricane katrina. >> unbelievable, gabe. look, you were there for a long time and you saw a situation on the ground that looked very different than what both the federal government and a lot of puerto rican officials were describing. i joined you there for a few days and saw the same thing. it was hard to believe at the time that the death toll was what both the puerto rican government and the u.s. government were saying. this is an interesting and disappointing outcome. thank you, gabe gutierrez for us. we're looking at midterms all over the country, the red wave versus the blue wave. who's doing better overall? steve kornacki breaks down results and makes some predictions of his own. first, a federal court ruled north carolina's congressional districts are gerrymandered to unfairly favor republicans and
the state might be required to implement new districts before the midterms and that could affect the makeup of the u.s. house. republicans are expected to appeal to the supreme court which traditionally does not approve of these types of actions so close to an election. you're watching "velshi & ruhle" live on msnbc. nbc. if your moderate to severe ulcerative colitis nbc. or crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough it may be time for a change. ask your doctor about entyvio®,
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welcome back. president trump did not make an endorsement in arizona's republican senate primary until this morning. the president tweeting, quote, martha mcsally is an extraordinary woman. she was very talented, a fighter jet pilot and is now a highly respected member of congress. she's strong on crime, the border, and our under siege second amendment. loves her military and our vets. has my total and complete endorsement. mcsally adopted last night's gop primary with 52% of the vote, extinguishing hopes for kelli ward and controversial candidate joe arpaio, who the president has pardoned, by the way. last night mcsally drew a stark contrast with her opponent by touting her military service. >> my opponent brags she owns over a hundred pair of shoes. i on the other hand have over a hundred combat missions serving our country.
>> on the democratic side, krirs t -- kirstin sinema defeated her opponent. >> we've got a race in our hands in arizona. you put the results on the board, and the tweet from trump is significant there. why? martha mcsally won over kelli ward and joe arpaio. she wants trump out there tweeting, supporting her, she wants to get them on board for the general election. the risk is we're talking about a swing state. trump won arizona in 2016 but his margin was only three points. mcsally also needs to try to get those swing voters, more
traditional middle of the road voters. she's got to get them on board in the fall but she needs turnout from the base as well. you mention as well the democrats nominating kyrsten sinema out there. the democrats haven't won a senate race for 30 years in arizona. in a poll, sinema was running four points ahead of mcsally. does mcsally alienate the middle and give sinema an opening? and if she runs too close to the middle, does she give the trump folks a reason to stay home? the backdrop, this is one of democrats' few chances to pick off a republican senate seat. >> i don't know if jeff flake would have done, but sinema said she respects jeff flake. says good strategy on her part. i haven't seen a poll on this in arizona but i bet you right now
jeff flake may be more popular with democratic voters, certainly independents, than he is with the republican base, he even said in an interview here just the other day that his endorsement wouldn't have done any good for any republican candidate out there. so if jeff flake, because of that friction with president trump, it gives him more reflect in t -- >> ron desantis referred to his opponent, gillum, as articulate, and said we don't need to monkey up the environment. is this a smart move for did desantis at the top? >> here is the desantis race. the story in these primaries, two things. one, desantis obviously ran
toward trump hard on the democratic side, gillum ran to the left hard. desantis sees extremely high turnout in this republican primary. there was high turnout in the democratic primary too. we had a presidential race in this country, 2004, when it really wasn't about swing voters, it was about the bases, i wonder if that's what florida will be this fall. >> steve, good to have you, thank you very much as all. next hour, new reaction to the breaking news, president trump announcing that white house counsel don mcgahn will be leaving this fall. we'll be right back. the line between work and life hasn't just blurred.
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thanks four watching this hour of "velshi & ruhle." i'm ali velshi. i'll see you back here at 3:00 p.m. eastern. check us out on social media and connect to our sho show @velshiruhle. now time to hand it over to "andrea mitchell reports." right now on "andrea mitchell reports," heading for the exits. president trump announcing white house counsel don mcgahn will be leaving after the vote on his new supreme court nominee. the announcement on twitter is the president is reportedly still eager to fire attorney general jeff sessions despite support for sessions among some top senate republicans. >> i have total confidence in the attorney general. i think he ought to stay exactly where he is. >> should jeff sessions be replaced? >> i don't think so. i think jeff sessions is a good man. he brings unquestioned integrity to this office. >> coming up here, dianne feinstein. the