Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are accusing President Trump and Attorney General William Barr of endangering the lives of Trump opponents, including Scarborough himself.
On Friday's Morning Joe, Scarborough and Brzezinski expressed outrage that, by failing to charge Coast Guardsman Christopher Hasson with terrorism, they made him eligible for release on bail on the lesser charges of gun and drug possession.
Here was Scarborough:
"Barr will not charge this terrorist with acts of terrorism or a plot to actually kill people who run America's government, I guess because they don't support Donald Trump . . . I guess Barr doesn't think you're a terrorist if you try to kill people that don't support Donald Trump."
Whereas Scarborough singled out Barr, Mika pointed the finger directly at the President:
"I say this as the wife of someone who was on that list. So you may hear a little intensity in my voice. But I think Trump's doing this. How can I not do that math in my mind? That the Attorney General is making a clear decision here to make sure the lives of people who are being targeted are continuing to be in danger."
Despite the emotionally charged subject matter, the two lawyers commenting on the case, Palm Beach County Attorney Dave Aronberg, and MSNBC's Danny Cevallos, calmly explained that the prosecutors' hands were largely tied. They mentioned that there is no domestic terrorism statute. That prosecutors cannot charge a violent crime unless they're convinced that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas in this case there is a large "gray area" between evil thoughts and actual actions.
And moreover, although there is a specific statute criminalizing threats against the President, which would have kept Hasson in jail, there is no such law regarding threats against other members of the government.
Cevallos also pointed out that the government actually argued forcefully for Hasson to be detained, but that the judge in the case ruled against it because there was no underlying crime charged that prohibited bail
It is, of course, understandable that Joe and Mika would be very concerned and angry at the news that someone who put Scarborough's name on a kill list may soon be released on bail and not charged with a crime relating to the threat. But is another thing to accuse the President and the Attorney General of intentionally seeking to endanger the lives of Scarborough and the others that Hasson threatened.
Here's the transcript:
MSNBC's Morning Joe
April 25, 2019
6:15 a.m. Eastern
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The Coast Guard lieutenant, this is what I was talking about, accused of planning to murder politicians and journalists, will not face terrorism-related charges and could soon be released.
JOE SCARBOROUGH So of course, the judge in that, and we're going to be talking about that in a minute, but the judge still is very, very fearful that this man who was plotting to launch a terrorist attack and kill Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and most of the members of the Democratic caucus who are running for president, and, as well as media members, Barr will not charge them. The US Attorney will not charge this terrorist with acts of terrorism or a plot to actually kill people that run America's government, I guess because they don't support Donald Trump. It is shocking. We'll talk about that in just a little bit. But I guess Barr doesn't think that you're a terrorist if you try to kill people that don't support Donald Trump.
How does a judge, first of all, let him go, and secondly, how does Attorney General Barr sit on this case and not let his US Attorneys charge this guy with something else?
DAVE ARONBERG: Yeah, Joe, the reason why so many prosecutors have dark circles under there eyes is because we lose sleep over cases like this. Here you've got a self-professed white nationalist with a stockpile of weapons and ammunition, with his target list and his manifesto. And the judge himself said, he needs supervision, he's got grave concerns, he needs eyes and ears on him like nobody's business. But the law is what it is. And he's not being charged with international terrorism. He's not even being charged with violent crimes, which could keep him behind bars. And as far as whether he should be charged with domestic terrorism, there is no separate, federal statute on domestic terrorism, and that's something Congress, perhaps, should address.
BRZEZINSKI: But, but, but, but [gets choked up.] But I have to ask, why? How can this be? Danny Cevallos and then Dave Aronberg, these are the things -- things that you find after a massacre and you go, oh, these are the warning signs, we should have noticed them. So the warning signs are right there. And I say this as the wife of someone who was on that list, so you may hear a little intensity in my voice, but I think Trump's doing this. How can I not do that math in my mind, that the Attorney General is making a clear decision here to make sure the lives of people who are being targeted continue to be in danger.
SCARBOROUGH: If somebody threatens the President of the United States, they're thrown in jail. If this guy ha
DANNY CEVALLOS: That's right.
SCARBOROUGH: If this guy had put the President of the United States on his kill list instead of the Speaker of the House and the Senate minority leader, and Democratic presidential candidates, that person would be in jail, that person would stay in jail.
CEVALLOS: That's partially right, because threats against the President are a separate federal crime. What you have here and what the judge recognized is that unfortunately in our law, it is legal to have the most hateful, violent thoughts and even put them down on paper, but the Attorney General is required, not just if he has probable cause, he has to believe under DOJ policy that he has this beyond reasonable doubt. And in American law there is a huge gray area between perfectly legal, evil thoughts and actual acts. And in this case, at its core, you have unlawful possession of firearms by an addicted person, that's alleged, and then a simple possession of drugs. All of that other intent in the writings and the hateful speech, is really going to be a close call for a jury if he's charged with some kind of terrorism, and again, we don't have domestic terror charges in this country. So this has always been a challenging case from the prosecution.
BRZEZINSKI: The Attorney general has a lot of ability here to impact this, and he has chosen to to. Duh, I wonder why? Willie.
WILLIE GEIST: Danny, just to follow up on the detainment piece of this. The Assistant US Attorney said in this case, and said again this week that it's clear to him that this man poses a clear threat to the public. He poses a danger by being out of jail. Is there any method by which he can be detained, even if they don't bring charges?
CEVALLOS: No. Ultimately they have to bring charges in order to detain him. There must be pending charges. And you bring up a good point--
SCARBOROUGH: -- Danny, hold on a second. I'm sorry, let me interrupt. Who makes the decision to bring those charges?
CEVALLOS: The US Attorney in that district, and arguably you could say that AG Barr can make a decision on that.
SCARBOROUGH: The Justice Department, the Justice Department makes that decision.
BRZEZINSKI: You mean the President's lackey.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
CEVALLOS: So in this case, I'm glad Willie pointed out, the government is arguing strenuously for pretrial detention in this case. The judge recognizes that the bail reform act requires release, requires at least bail opportunity if there is not a crime of violence or some other certain conditions where there's a presumption of detention. And the idea behind that, unfortunately in this case, is that defendants generally are entitled to bail. And that doesn't mean, again, he's going to walk free. He's going to have restrictions.