tv MSNBC Live With Ayman Mohyeldin MSNBC October 8, 2020 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
good afternoon. i'm ayman mohyeldin in new york. we're coming on the air a hair earlier than normal. any moment we expect to hear from governor gretchen whitmer. she's speaking now. let's go right to her. >> good afternoon. earlier today attorney general dana nestle was joined by officials from justice and the fbi to announce state and federal charges against 13 members of two militia groups who were preparing to kidnap and possibly kill me. when i took the oath of office 22 months ago, i knew the job
would be hard. i'll be honest, i never could have imagined anything like this. i want to say thank you to our law enforcement. thank you to the fearless fbi agents and thank you to the brave michigan state police troopers who participating in this, acting under the leader of joe casper. i want to thank the u.s. attorneys and their teams for pursuing criminal charges that will hopefully lead to convictions. as a mom with two teenage daughters and three stepsons, my husband and i are eternally grateful to everyone who put themselves in harm's way to keep our family safe. 2020 has been a hard year for all of us. hard for our doctors and nurses and truck drivers, grocery store workers. it's been hard for the teachers
and students and parents. hard for those who have had to stay isolated to stay safe. it's not over yet. here's what i know, we're michigan. we have grit, heart and we're tough as hell. we made it through the great recession. we made it through auto bankruptcies. none of us have faced a challenge like covid. we are not one another's enemy. this virus is our enemy. this enemy is relentless. it doesn't care if you're a republican or democrat, young or old, rich or poor. it doesn't care if we're tired of it. it threatens us all, our lives, our families, our jobs, our businesses, our economy. it preys on our elderly and
medically vulnerable residents. it has exposed deep inequities in our society. this should be a moment for national unity where we all pull together as americans to meet this challenge head on with the same might and muscle that put a man on the moon. seeing the humanity in one another and doing our part to help our country get through this. instead our head of state has spent the past seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust and giving kfrcomfort those who spread fear and hatred. the president of the united states stood before the american people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two militia
groups. stand back and stand by he told them. stand back and stand by. hate groups heard the president's words as a rallying cry, as a call to action. when our leaders speak, their words matter. they carry weight. when our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions and they were complicit. when they contribute to hate speech, they're complicit. in 1981 president ronald reagan spoke to the naacp's annual convention. his comments stand in stark contrast to what we've seen on the national and state level from his own beloved party in 2020. he said a few isolated groups in
the back water of american life still hold perverted notions of what america is all about. recently in some places in the nation there's been a disturbing recurrence of bigotry and violence. then reagan sent a direct message to those who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice. you are the ones who are out of step with our society he said. you are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is america. this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct. let me say this loud and clear. hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of michigan. if you break the law or conspire to commit heinous acts of violence against anyone, we will find you. we will hold you accountable and we will bring you to justice.
for the past seven months i've made tough choices to keep our state safe. these have been gut-wrenching decisions no governor has ever had to make. i get it. life has been hard for us all. when i get out of bed every morning i think about the high school seniors like my daughter who missed graduation ceremonies. those who have missed weddings and funerals. i think about all the moms working from home, making breakfast, logging their kids on to zoom and doing laundry. i think about the small business owners who spent a lifetime building something great who are now hanging on by their finger nails just to keep the lights on. the disruption this virus has caused is immeasurable. it's already taken the lives of more than 210,000 americans, including over 6,800 right here in michigan.
as painful as these losses are, our hard work and sacrifices have saved thousands of lives. we have one of the strongest economic recoveries in the nation. make no mistake, there will be more hard days ahead. i want the people of michigan to know this, as your governor, i will never stop doing everything in my power to keep you and your family safe. you don't have to agree with me. i do ask one thing. never forget that we are all in this together. let's show a little kindness and a lot more empathy. let's give one another a little grace and let's take care of each other. wear your mask. stay six feet aye papart. watch your hands frequently. look out for your neighbors. we are michigan. we can get through this. let's get through it together.
thank you. >> you were listening to michigan governor gretchen whitmer speaking for about ten minutes thanking law enforcement after quite the news this morning that federal and state officials will be charging two militia groups with 13 different charges of plotting to kidnap and possibly kill her and overthrow the government in michigan. you saw the governor there make a pivot towards the president, talk about him and his divisive rhetoric, taking strong aim at the position the president has taken particularly when it comes to condemning or reducing to condemn white supremacist groups including that infamous phrase he used during the presidential debate when he told the proud boys to stand back and stand by. she called for unity and also urged all of those in the state of michigan to come together and abide by some of the health
guidelines that have been put out there. lots to dissect in the comments there by the governor of michigan as well as the news we heard earlier today. i'm joined by correspondent tom winter and heidi prizbella and peter baker. tom, we went straight to the news conference. let's set the stage with what we learned about this investigation so far and the details as to how authorities stopped this plot. >> reporter: there's two distinct prongs. a 16-page criminal complaint unsealed this morning. the suspects taken into country. five from michigan, one from delaware and state charges against seven other individuals associated with the militia group. those individuals were involved in some of the protests at the
michigan state capitol, the second amendment protests. you saw people heavily armed with assault rifles. some of those seven were part of those groups as well. as far as the federal investigation, ayman, as far as how this was disrupted, according to the documents, confidential human sources, informants, as well as undercover fbi agents were involved in this. they were able to engage with a person in a militia group that was a group that the fbi was monitoring after social media posts caught their attention earlier this year. one of those people agreed to actually wear what is commonly referred to as a wire or recording device to listen in and record the conversations of these groups as they conducted field training exercises and conducted reconnaissance missions. one of the people charged today, it's alleged he spoke with an
undercover fbi agent and asked where they should place a bomb under a bridge near whitmer's vacation home as a means of diverting law enforcement's attention. by the very nature of the undercover fbi agents being involved, this group was closely monitored monitored. was there any imminent threat to the governor? that doesn't appear to be the case. if the allegations are proven true, this group wanted to do something to her. it's clear they broke up a group with both the u.s. attorney in that part of michigan as well as the michigan attorney general who said these were extremist groups and violent. >> to that point, malcolm, the level in which these groups plotted this potential attack including scouting bridges and
surveilling her vacation house in western michigan, it's quite remarkable because it shows a level of sophistication. these were not just a bunch of guys hanging out talking about doing something. they actually began and set in motion certain events. >> you're absolutely right, ayman. what you're looking at in the indictment document is the specific details of the plan and the intercepts of the wire taps that the fbi had where they were monitoring the individuals that were plotting to carry out this attack. you have to understand something. just two normal people can get together and create what could seemingly be considered a sophisticated terrorist attack. this wasn't a militia itself carrying this out.
these were individuals, some of whom were associated with militias across multiple states that were getting together, who were opposed to the governor for
the crime they think she committed which was to force people to wear masks. they started plotting that she was a tyrant and something had to be done. they seem to have been radicalized over a period of time from the internet, from militia meetings. these people organized themselves into a domestic terrorist cell. that cell started coordinating with each other, started using the best knowledge from each individual in that cell and formulated a sophisticated plan which would not only divert law enforcement, would kill law enforcement and then would abduct a governor and then take her to wisconsin and put her on trial and execute her there. this is not a game. it's straight up terrorism. >> we've gleaned a little insight more into the nature of
these individuals from michigan's attorney general who spoke to katy tur about the education, the background, the identity of these individuals. heidi, what have you learned from sources close to the governor's office? >> reporter: i've been in touch with the governor's office for many weeks. i know looking at the governor speak there this is not something that just happened overnight. she has been living with this anxiety and this knowledge that these men who want to hurt her have been out there for at least weeks, if not dating back to april when you saw all the demonstrations at the state house. now, when she says that words matter and she had no hesitance to draw a direct line back to president trump calling his rhetoric a rallying cry and complicity and stoking hate speech, she's speaking about this timeline of events in addition to all these other
groups that she believes he may be indirectly encouraging like the proud boys. in april, april 16th, there were 3,000 protesters who descended on the capitol, some of them armed. they were chanting with their rifles lock her up. it was a day later, ayman, when president trump tweeted his liberate michigan tweet. it's impossible not to draw a connection between those two events. on april 30th is when armed men came into the state capitol and were standing over state law makers were their rifles and some law makers were so scared they were wearing bullet proof vests. a day after that trump made his tweet these are very good people, but
they're angry. they want their lives back again. see them. talk to them. make a deal. how can there be so much vitriol
over this governor trying to help save lives by closing gyms and people were losing themselves over the fact they couldn't buy garden seeds? it was the michigan militia that was connected to the bombing of the oklahoma city federal building in 1995. president clinton used my commencement speech in part as a platform to ball them out. these men have not gone away. this culture has not gone away. it's just lived in the shadows since that time, ayman. it's this moment in the story of our nation that they feel emboldened to organize like this. something so elaborate and so deadly like this. >> peter baker, let me pick up on some of the points heidi raised that involve the white house. before i do, i want to play for you and our viewers what the
president said about the governor of michigan earlier this morning. >> i won michigan. we should win it again because i brought so much business there because she's the lock-up queen. what she's done to that place is horrible. she's locked it up. she's got people living in prison. >> you have the president there. this is not the first time he's called her out and attacked her. as heidi laid out, there was all of the statements and tweets over the past couple months with everything that played out in the state of michelle. you heard the governor take strong aim at the president and his rhetoric, particularly when it comes to white supremacy. how does the white house respond to what the governor just said? >> well, first of all, it was striking to have the president say that on the morning these arrests were going to be announced. in a normal white house, a plot involving kidnapping of an
american governor would be briefed to the president of the united states and he would know that. >> that's a very valid point. absolutely. >> either he knew it and called her the lock-up queen anyway -- >> seems we lost peter baker. malcolm nance, let me take this to you. in a situation like this when you have a plot to overthrow a sitting governor orch kidnap he you would expect this to make its way to the president and he would be briefed on the operation in motion to stop it. even on the day these announcements are being made, the president did not hold back his political attack on the target of that plot. >> i think the president lives in a bubble in which information that would come from a u.s. attorney to the department of justice, unless it's brought to him specifically by bill barr, it doesn't function in there. it doesn't flow up to him
because he doesn't care about it. he sees gretchen whitmer as a character in a state he much win. for law enforcement brief him that there was a plot to kidnap her, perhaps he wasn't away, but this has been taking place for mo months. you would think this would be a national security crisis inside the oval office. this is unprecedented. we use that phrase all the time. no one has had a viable plot to do this on the scale we're looking at simply because they didn't want to carry out covid procedures. this is a new manifestation of these domestic terrorists now organizing themselves into cells, again, some have no affiliation. others have affiliation with that militia and then planning to execute it and kill americans. we don't know if there are other
cells out there or there are other people now organizing themselves to liberate their states almost in an isis like fashion. >> peter baker is back with us. you were saying in a normal presidency an operation of this magnitude would have been briefed to the president. >> right. apologies for the wifi. it would be briefed to the president and either he knew about this when he made those comments about her this morning, comments that are incendiary, or he wasn't briefed on it and that's striking as well. tells us how his administration is functioning right now. either one is a remarkable scenario. this is a president who just recently rejected his own fbi director chris wray's assessment about the threat of white supremacists in this country being one of the top threats to domestic security.
he has brushed it off at the debate last week. he has made clear he sees the only threat being antifa or left wing violence. he's unwilling to address any kind of violence on the right. >> as the governor of michigan said, the words of the president matter. they are being interpreted as a call to action by many of these groups. peter, malcolm, heidi, tom, thank you for your reporting on this. much more on this breaking news on the plot to kidnap michigan's governor gretchen whitmer. you're watching msnbc. re watchi. from the hospital shifting to remote patient care in just 48 hours... to the university moving hundreds of apps quickly to the cloud... or the city government going digital to keep critical services running. you are creating the future-- on the fly. and we are helping you do it.
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>> i call them cures. i don't call them therapeutics. the regeneron i view it as a cure because i took it. >> joining me now is infectious disease specialist dr. eileen marty. thank you for joining us. as you heard there the president insists on calling therapeutics cures. i want to clear this up for the audience. have people who have taken therapeutics died from this virus? >> well, there's a whole bunch of different kind of therapeutics. some individuals, despite us giving them the best available therapeutics, have not survived. that's not necessarily relevant to this particular drug or this particular situation. >> i wanted to clarify when the president says cures, there are people who have taken therapeutics and died. it's not as simple as saying
it's a cure when people are taking it and dying. is it possible, doctor, to know whether or not it was the drug that helped him or some other factor has contributed to his ongoing recovery? >> this particular medication, this cocktail he took, is based on very sound science. let me start with that. >> right. >> the way it was put together is, again, sound science. it's still early in its trial phase. they began to do their trial on or about june 10th. they're still recruiting individuals. they have over 2,000 people they've recruited. not everyone has received it. you know, they divided the people up into placebo group and the dose group. the president got the higher dose. it seems the high dose was as safe as the low dose. they gave him the best possible
shot they could. there's at this time -- that particular trial isn't set to complete until january 25, 2021. there's a lot to be done to know what its role is or is not in assisting the president in feeling better at this time. he's not out of the woods yet. even though it's quite likely this particular blend of two very potent, very neutralizing antibodies against two important parts of the protein probably helped him. how long that protection will be of value to him, whether his body is going to be able to move forward or whether -- he can still do very poorly in the next few days. we have to wait and see. >> let me play you another sound bite from his interview this morning. watch this, doctor. >> you say you feel great. the media is saying you're
contagious. do you feel you are? >> no i don't think i'm contagious. >> you said you're ready to go to a rally. >> i don't think i'm contagious at all. >> the president announced he tested positive less than one week ago. he's saying he feels great. can you feel great and still be contagious? >> absolutely. think about all the people who are asymptomatic or p presymptomat presymptomatic. they still feel great before they have symptoms or people who never have symptoms and are extremely contagious. how you feel doesn't reflect whether or not you're contagious? more over, he's been given steroids, dexamethasone, which gives you a sense of euphoria and wellness that doesn't reflect the reality of what may be happening within your body. moreover the studies on the cocktail he took seem to
decrease the viral load in patients who took it, varying depending on where they were to begin with. that doesn't mean he's not contagious. in fact, he quite likely still is contagious. >> doctor, thank you for giving us the facts. appreciate your time, doctor. >> pleasure. we continue to follow breaking news. authorities foiling a plot to kidnap the governor of michigan. moments ago we heard from the governor. she rebuked president trump, partially blaming him for stoking anger in this country. >> when our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. >> joining us now kimberly atkins and jake sherman. great to have both of you with us. jake, let me begin with you. what's the reaction, if any, on
capitol hill to the news of the plot and perhaps more recently any reaction from the claim that was just made by the governor that the president is legitimizing what we're seeing in this country? >> well, ayman, congress is surprisingly or not surprisingly home this week. not very active. i will say this governor whitmer has been a foil to president trump. president trump loves enemies and loves to pit himself against other people so, you can imagine based on watching the president, he's not going to express any turn around here for governor whitmer. i imagine he was somewhat aware of what was going on in michigan. i can't imagine there will be a turn about. i've seen clips of some trump campaign spokes people and advisers and allies on other networks already kind of saying that governor whitmer hates
president trump and things of that nature. i don't expect this is going to be a big turn about for the trump world. >> does it put any pressure on republicans who in the past like a senator tim scott or mitch mcconnell when the president came out and said stand back and stand by about the proud boys, does this type of plot when investigating and prosecuted put more pressure on republicans to actually condemn the rhetoric we hear? >> you know, tim scott has spoken out against some of the president's racist comments. mitch mcconnell has picked his spots so to speak when the president says something outlandish. what we've seen is the republican party isn't interested in being a referee for the president's behavior. that's not an excuse. that's how they see it. they don't see themselves as having to weigh in on all the president's statements and
things of that nature. doesn't make it right, that's just what they believe. >> kimberly, let me play what michigan's attorney general said earlier to katy tur on msnbc. >> things have escalated exponentially recently with the combination of a few things. first of all, having a president that seems to condone these types of actions, certainly i would say more than dog whistles out there. very good people on both sides. as you indicated before, tweets to liberate michigan. what does that mean? >> of course we all remember not just the michigan militia that stormed the capitol. where else do you feel donald trump's rhetoric has emboldened these militia's, kimberly? >> we know this administration endeavored to try to downplay the fact that the greatest
domestic terror threat to americans, the most lethal threat, comes from white supremacist groups and right wing groups. from documents from with inside the department of homeland security, those terror threats were attempted to be downplayed, even though they were included in the terror assessment that the homeland security department released. one of the reasons is it went against president trump's campaign message and was out of step with that. we've seen as both the governor, governor whitmer, and general nestle lays out there's a through way between when the terrorists charged the capitol.
this has been going on for four months. i'm from michigan. they're known to be dangerous. if idea that the president is unaware of this, he's the president of the united states and he was not specifically briefed about the threat these groups present, is just laughable. he clearly has made the political calculation that it's better to embrace these groups rather than to decry them or tell them to stand down like he was given the opportunity to at the debate and reject it. >> i was going to say i can't help but think about what happens with these types of groups after the election, especially if it's a contested election, especially if the president comes out and tries to cast doubt as he has about the integrity and outcome of the election. this was just about the michigan decision -- the governor's decision in michigan to restrict or combat the coronavirus by restricting the openness of bars and wearing masks and social
distancing. this is the end result of that. what happens after the election with these types of groups? >> that's a very important question, ayman. we saw from the prosecutors in michigan say these groups organize and are radicalized online. although this was focussed on michigan, there were people from other states involved, not just in this plot and it's only logical that we'll see people continue, particularly if they are ginned up by the rhetoric that the election is going to be rigged and they should go to polling stations as donald trump suggested. there's no reason to believe the unrest and terrible things might happen at the end of this election if federal officials are not able to stop them. luckily in this case they were and if we don't see explicit change in the rhetoric coming
from the white house, but based on what we've seen in the past several years since charlottesville it seems that is unlikely to come. >> jake, quickly, i like to do the quick check on covid relief. any chance we see a covid relief bill? we heard nancy pelosi say there's going to be no piecemeal bill without a bigger bill. >> that's right. the speaker expressed a small airline relief bill for workers laid off, but we don't expect anything at this time. nancy pelosi and steven mnuchin say they're at the table to negotiate, but it's october 8th. these talks have been going on since july. nancy pelosi said they've been going on since may. it does not look like covid relief will be done before the election. there's probably 10 or 12 more
turns between now and november 3rd, but doesn't look likely. >> thank you both for joining us this hour. let's turn to the presidential race. former vice president joe biden and senator kamala harris making their first joint campaign appearance since the convention in arizona. they're meeting with tribal leaders this hour and then making stops in phoenix and tempe, arizona. vice president will be in peoria tonight as the trump campaign trails the democratic ticket in that state. joining me is msnbc reporter vonn hilliard. vonn, the state has become so pivotal to both these campaigns. they're all campaigning in that state now. >> reporter: we can't call arizona a swing state yet. that would take a situation in which the state has swung
before. this has been a red state, yet it's one that both the trump campaign and vice president mike pence need to hold on to. joe biden and kamala harris are on the ground heading to their first stop where they'll be meeting with tribal leaders in phoenix. this is for the trump campaign tough territory. i was talking with a former aid to jan brewer. the way he put it to me is this is for biden to lose here. there are all indications from 2018 to now that democrats have the opportunity to pick up arizona, to turn out voters in high numbers and win over independents. right now polling show that the biden campaign is attracting a 25% edge among independents here. that is big because they make up a third of the electorate.
four years ago donald trump won independents in the state. that's why it's critical to be here in maricopa county. it's the second day of early voting here. they need to turn it around right now. >> thank you so much, my friend. switching gears, he's being attacked by a crowd. journalist jacob cornblah joining me next after this break. since pioneering the suv in 1935, the chevy suburban has carried many things. nothing more important than family. introducing the most versatile and advanced chevy suburban and tahoe ever. ♪ i feel good
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hitler. it comes after governor cuomo's new order. gentlem he joins me now. jacob, how are you? >> i'm feeling physically okay. thank you for your concern. last night i was on the scene observing the protests. hundreds of people gathered there to protest the lockdown measures. i didn't draw any attention until this organizer noticed me, approached me without a mask, standing in close proximity, almost spitting into my face. called upon the crowd to shout me down a snitch which is a dog whistle for action against anybody who serves as an informer against a community. they pinned me to the wall. they didn't let me go. with the help of a few community members, i was able to walk
through the crowd and attempt to walk home. across the way for two blocks they were chasing me, hitting me, pulling me, throwing objects at my head and yelling at me terms like nazi, hitler. you deserve to die and so on. >> according to our affiliate at wnbc the man there is accusing you of crying wolf and you weren't assaulted. what do you say to that? >> the evidence is clear. you can see him approaching me. you can see him pinning me to the wall. you can hear the calls for my assault. in the morning he tweeted a video in front of a cemetery, basically accusing me for the killing of a few hundred members of our community who died of coronavirus and wished me the same. i mean, you can't go further
than that as a call for violence and leading a crowd to pin on me and to gang assault me. >> you've been living in this brooklyn neighborhood for 18 years, correct me if i'm wrong. when you saw violence erupt like that in your community, what went through your mind? what can you tell us about the people that were there, the community that was there, if you will, that was attacking you? >> i mean, first of all i was concerned for my health. i've been have protective about my health since the pandemic outbreak. i've been wearing a mask and keeping socially distanced. suddenly a few dozen members of my own community are pinning me to the wall and standing in close proximity without masks, almost spitting into my face. i felt not only compromised of my health and safety, but also i didn't know where it goes from here when you use that term
snitch and that's followed by calls -- snitches deserve stitches. that's a call for violence. these are the calls from members of my own community. i walk the streets every day. this is my neighborhood. these are members of my community. >> can you -- i was saying this because we're looking at the video. not sure if you can see it. we're seeing trump flags and trump masks. was this political? can you tell us what the protests were about? >> the protest was against governor cuomo's lockdown measures. in our community where there's a large support for trump, people try to hijack the message and use it as a political stunt against cuomo. there was a message going around within the community please bring trump gear because cuomo is the one responsible for the deaths of so many in this state.
clearly people were trying to hijack it. there was no clear agenda to this protest other than clear their grievances against cuomo. this individual who led the protest, this individual who approached me, he was the leader of that protest. he incited for violence. without him nothing would have got out of control. >> we want to note today more than 400 rabbis and other religious signed a letter stating they support the measures for battling the coronavirus. thank you so much, jacob. the dangerous waters president trump is wading into with his norms of maintaining an apolitical justice department. we'll talk more about that on msnbc. msnbc. just vacuum, spray mop, and toss.
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commercial to go straight to phoenix, arizona where joe biden and kamala harris are. let's listen. >> it's despicable. it's so beneath the office of the presidency. the american people are sick and tired of it. they know who this man is. it's got to stop. this is one of the finest persons i've ever dealt with. this is a person who is ready on day one to be president of the united states of america. she has more integrity in her little finger than most in their whole body. it's obvious he has great difficulty dealing with strong women. great difficulty. she did a great job. by the way, just like he said that the vice president won last night, just like he won his debate. they're both winners.
[inaudible question] >> he's delusional. [inaudible question] >> it's not surprising. i mean, i'll ask a rhetorical question none of you can answer. were any of you surprised? i mean, who knows? we agreed to three debates back in the summer. this has been going on since the early '90s. first debate person to person. second debate town hall format. third debate person to person. we set the dates. i'm sticking with the dates. i'll show up. if he shows up, fine. if he doesn't, fine. [inaudible question]
>> absolutely positively we will commit. [inaudible question] >> no, neither of them answer you. think about it. never win of them answered it. i watched last night watching the debate, hard to take my eye off the fly, but watching the debate -- i shouldn't be so sarcastic. what i found was i found that i don't know whether he was afraid to take a position that he knew he should take because it would be contrary to the president's or whether he really believes it too. what was it? stand down, stand by, whatever. come on, this is just wrong to the rest of the world. some of you have covered international politics before. the rest of the world is looking at us. it's an embarrassment. pure embarrass.
[inaudible question] look, i know it's a great question. i don't blame you for asking it. the moment i answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers will be about that. other than focusing on what's happening now. the election has begun. there's never been a court appointment once an election has begun. 4 million people have already vot voted. they're denying the american people the one shot they have under constitutional law to have their input. that's picking the person who could name -- >> so we lost the signal there. joe biden talking in that final moment about the supreme court, as well as sarcastically taking aim at the president, putting
praise if you will on kamala harris for her performance last night at that debate with mike pence. he also had strong words for the president after the rhetoric that's emerged with his criticism of michigan's governor gretchen whitmer following the news today that the federal government has broken up a plot to kidnap her and overthrow the government in michigan. i want to bring in michael schmidt from "the new york times." michael, great a turn of events with the news we heard in michigan and the reaction from the former vice president. i want to actually play this. four years ago president trump made this claim in a presidential debate. watch. >> if i win, i am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. >> today obviously the president openly said he wants his attorney general to bring indictments related to the
russia investigation. watch. >> unless bill barr indicts these people for crimes, the greatest political crime in the history of our country, then we'll get little satisfaction unless i will and we'll have to go. i won't forget it. i said, bill, we got plenty. you don't need anymore. >> all this to ask you how big of a departure is it from previous administrations to see what president trump has done with the department of justice? >> it's not just a departure from previous administrations. it's also a departure from the advice the president has received from his own lawyers. in reporting for a book that i just put out called "donald trump versus the united states" i report on these memos written by the white house counsel in 2018. they basically told the president if you even appear to be meddling in the justice
department's work you could face immense consequences. you could be impeached. you could be thrown out of office. this is something you are not supposed to do. you're not supposed to have any appearance of meddling in the justice department's work. despite that, the president has continued to call for the prosecution of hit rivals. >> to that point there's also the notion, your latest "times" piece the justice department is lifting a prohibition on this. what does this do? >> it enables the justice department to move more aggressively in investigations into voting. under the previous policies the justice department was supposed to shy away from this type of action. now they can do more.
the problem is, democrats would say, what this does is raises the question about whether the president and his attorney general bill barr will be using the justice department, the levers of investigative agencies to help push the president's narrative that voting by mail and other types of voting is rife with fraud. as experts say, there's no examples of that. the question is why is it that the justice department is moving so aggressively in this area? is it to help the president's narrati narrative? is there truly a problem? the experts say no. >> to this point, michael, how significant is this abrupt change in long-standing policy as we approach an election day, where unfortunately the results will likely not be known for days or more, according to officials involved in it? >> look, the involvement of law
enforcement, the matching of politics in law enforcement is something that in the post watergate era -- the justice department has tried to keep out of politics as much as possible, almost some people would say to a fault. they have tried to make it appear for the sake of justice that investigations are conducted by the facts and that prosecutors make decisions based on the evidence that they have. what this rhetoric does is raises questions about it and whether the justice department is being used to help the president politically? >> michael schmidt from the "new york times," the book is "donald trump versus the united states." michael cohen will be a guess on "the beat" right here on msnbc.
that wraps up this hour for me. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi there, everyone. it's 4:00 in the east. president trump finds himself boxed in by his own reckless disregard for public health and safety. what's described by dr. anthony fauci today is a preventable failure to stop the virus now spreading through trump's white house and his own campaign. a presumably still infectious president grumbling about the news a second debate will now be virtual. of course impeachment will t wi. one of the participants has coronavirus. while we hope president trump is on his way to a swift recovery, his d