The panel on Saturday’s edition of MSNBC's AM Joy seemed to agree with a recent assertion by a Virginia congressional candidate that President Trump represents the greatest threat to our democracy. According to MSNBC Counterterrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance, “Donald Trump believes in autocracy, he does not believe in Republican Democracy as it is represented or Parliamentary Democracy throughout Europe and the United States throughout its entire history.” His fellow panelist Sarah Kendzior agreed, claiming that President Trump has “the mindset of a dictator.”
Host Joy Reid began the segment by pointing out that President Trump has decided to impose tariffs on imports from Europe, Mexico, and Canada while working towards an upcoming summit with North Korea and looking at setting up a summit with Russia. As she introduced her panel, Reid asked “what would happen if the world’s sole economic and military superpower were to alienate Europe and Canada and Mexico and ally itself instead with China, Russia and North Korea?”
David Korn of Mother Jones attempted to answer Reid’s question about a “de facto realignment” by saying that “our allies seem to take it for granted that they can have a reasonable, adult relationship with the President of the United States.” He argued that our allies have figured out “that’s not the case,” adding “whether it’s Trudeau or Merkel, they’re all looking at the United States and saying we actually want to work with you, we actually share values with you, democracy, economic trade and all these other things and you are spurning us while going, you know towards strong men, autocrats like you want to be because they flatter you and they play you.” Playing amateur psychiatrist, Korn said that the President’s admiration for dictators results from his “personality disorder.”
Reid then took some shots at President Trump’s deal making skills, citing an article in Politico titled “He Pretty Much Gave In to Whatever They Asked For.” She asked Counterterrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance to weigh in on whether or not the President’s inept negotiating skills worry him. He said, “absolutely it worries me” before making his point that “Donald Trump believes in autocracy.” Nance said that President Trump’s disdain for democracy explains “why he doesn’t like the investigations” and why “he feels comfortable with dictators and autocrats.”
Nance used his appearance on AM Joy to make a plug for his book The Plot to Destroy Democracy, which recycles the tired talking point that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win because “Putin has worked very hard over the last 20 years to create an axis of autocracies and Donald Trump was one of those people that they saw as very favorable to this global oligarchy running democratic nations and destroying the Atlantic alliance, the globalist world and democracy as it’s been spread since the end of World War II.”
Reid asked for the perspective of Sarah Kendzior, who studies authoritarian states. According to Kendzior, “Trump is a person who, you know, hates scrutiny but likes attention. That’s basically the mindset of a dictator. He feels comfortable in situations where other dictators, and, you know in the U.S, often other criminals or kind of fixtures or mobsters are able to protect him in this way.” Kendzior described a new alliance of autocrats, which makes it easier “to carry off these kinds of kleptocratic practices that Trump and Putin and others have engaged in for the past 30 years.”
Only one panelist disagreed with the left-wing rants of her peers. Christine Ahn, the cofounder of the Korea Policy Institute, said that she feels that President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have a historic opportunity to end the Korean War. While Reid praised Moon Jae-in, she and her fellow Trump-hating panelists did everything they could to downplay President Trump’s role in the peace talks between North and South Korea; with Korn describing President Trump as “erratic” and “not up to the job” and Nance arguing that President Trump only cares about a photo op. Reid concluded the segment by saying “there’s not a lot of confidence necessarily from a lot of people among the American president but I definitely take Christine’s point that the leader of South Korea, someone we definitely all should be watching.”
Based on this segment on AM Joy, it looks like Trump Derangement Syndrome affects the on-air personalities at MSNBC 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more.
JOY REID: Good morning and welcome to “AM Joy.” Well, the on again, off again June 12th summit between Donald Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un is back on. And all it took was a big, fancy letter which Trump praised effusively without bothering to read it.
REPORTER: What was your response to the letter? Did you send anything back?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I didn’t. I haven’t seen the letter yet. I purposely didn’t open the letter. I haven’t opened it. I didn’t open it in front of the Director. I said “would you want me to open it?” He said “you can read it later.” I may be in for a big surprise, folks.
REID: Well, The White House says that Trump has now read that letter and while Trump was talking up his burgeoning relationship with North Korea and praising Chinese leader Xi Jinping for his help, the United States imposed massive trade tariffs on imports from Europe, Mexico and Canada; our largest trading partners and close allies, prompting outrage and threats of retaliation from our closest allies. Oh, and according to “The Wall Street Journal,” Trump is planning another summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. So just as a thought experiment, what would happen if the world’s sole economic and military superpower were to alienate Europe and Canada and Mexico and ally itself instead with China, Russia and North Korea? Joining me now is David Korn of Mother Jones, Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Contributor and Executive Director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project, Sarah Kendzior, journalist and scholar of authoritarian states, and Christine Ahn, founder of Women Across DMZ and cofounder of the Korea Policy Institute. Thank you all for being here. I want to go around the table and just sort of get you guys’s take on that question, David.
DAVID KORN: Yeah.
REID: On the question of whether or not we’re seeing a de facto realignment where the world is, you know, used to the United States sort of being a leader if not the de facto leader of the west but now Donald Trump has sort of had a large break with the west and seems to prefer or want or be eager with an alignment with, you know, China, we have some trade issues with, but he’s very positive toward North Korea, very positive toward Russia.
KORN: You know, it’s a very serious and important question. I still can’t help shaking my head at his…at the big envelope and that he seems to be so easily played, that if you treat him well, as Putin has done…
KORN: …And if you flatter him the way North Korea seems to be doing…
KORN: He’s on your side. You know, he doesn’t care if you’re…about giving a photo op to this repressive state of North Korea where they…
REID: There’s the picture right there on the screen.
KORN: …they use mass starvation. I mean, he just doesn’t care. It’s all about how they respond to him. And they seem to get this. Now, our allies seem to take it for granted that you can have a reasonable, adult relationship with the President of the United States
KORN: Well they’re learning that’s not the case.
KORN: So whether it’s Trudeau or Merkel, they’re all looking at the United States and saying we actually want to work with you, we actually share values with you, democracy, economic trade and all these other things and you are spurning us while going, you know towards strong men, autocrats like you want to be because they flatter you and they play you. It is a very serious matter, but I think it’s, it’s not a strategic intent on his part. I think it’s rooted in his personality disorder.
REID: Yeah. And Malcolm, you know, there’s a piece in Politico right now which I recommend everybody read which is called, headline: “He Pretty Much Gave In to Whatever They Asked For.” They talk about Donald Trump’s deal making over the years and all of the times he’s basically given away the store, the fact that he got very little for “The Apprentice” even because he asked for a million an episode, you know, he was told you can get $50,000. He’s like okay. You know, I just want that. And I’ll read a little piece of it. It says that Trump met in the Oval Office yesterday with Kim – I mean this is, the setup for this is that Trump did meet in the Oval Office yesterday with Kim Yong-chol who is the Vice Chairman of the Ruling Workers Party and former head of the North Korean Intelligence Services, the RGB. So, he also met with, you know, an interpreter, Mike Pompeo was in there, John Kelly was in there. He was escorted into the Oval Office by Andrew Kim, a CIA officer in charge of the office of the spy agency’s Korea Mission Center, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So you have, you have Donald Trump who is known to give away things when he feels flattered, when people, when he feels that people are nice to him. The you know, the Saudis, UAE, he’s known to like sort of a personality type like Duterte. And now that person has let the chief spy master from North Korea into the Oval Office, having done the same letting the Russian Foreign Minister into the Oval Office. Does this worry you?
MALCOLM NANCE: Oh, absolutely it worries me.
REID: It’s a rhetorical question.
NANCE: Yeah. Very rhetorical question. It should worry everyone. And it’s not just because Donald Trump has opened the door to North Korea. We have to make rapprochement with our strategic adversaries, even if it’s Russia, the way Nixon did to China. It’s the mechanism that it was done under and the philosophy that he believes that allows that to be opened. David and you made a very good summary. Donald Trump believes in autocracy, he does not believe in Republican Democracy as it is represented or Parliamentary Democracy throughout Europe and the United States over its entire history. He believes, and his biggest obstacle is democracy. That’s why he doesn’t like the investigations. That’s why he doesn’t like the way of governance in America. And he feels comfortable with dictators and autocrats. And you know, I just finished a new book on this, Plot to Destroy Democracy, which is, which shows that he is in complete alignment with Vladimir Putin because Putin has worked very hard over the last 20 years to create an axis of autocracies and Donald Trump was one of those people that they saw as very favorable to this global oligarchy running democratic nations and destroying the Atlantic alliance, the globalist world and democracy as it’s been spread since the end of the World War II.
REID: And you know, Sarah, to that very point, you know, there was a lot of criticism that came from Republicans about President Obama, you know, doing the Iran deal. There’s a lot of antipathy to it. Donald Trump of course has now junked that deal. But that deal was made in, you know, close conjunction with our western allies. It was a pan-western, you know, European and American deal. And so it was a group approach with Iran. In this case, Donald Trump really is going the opposite direction, right? That, you know, the people we traditionally see as our allies he is, you know, hitting with trade sanctions et cetera and there is, there does seem to be this cleaving toward autocratic governments, what does that mean? You study these kinds of states. What would that mean if you had a realignment of the world where the United States was not a de facto, you know, leader of the west but was more sort of free form?
SARAH KENDZIOR: Yeah. I mean, I think what everyone has said so far is exactly what we’re seeing. We’re seeing a global realignment that favors autocracies, that favors new alliances between autocrats and possibly the end of traditional alliances like NATO, like NAFTA and the end of our, the U.S. Relationship with our allies, which Trump is intentionally trying to sabotage. I think some of this is a personality thing. Trump is a person, you know, who hates scrutiny but likes attention. That’s basically the mindset of a dictator. He feels comfortable in situations where other dictators, and, you know in the U.S, often other criminals or kind of fixtures or mobsters are able to protect him in this way. In terms of his motivation behind this, though, I think you also need to follow the money. When you have an autocratic system, when you have an alliance of dictators, it is easier to carry off these kind of kleptocratic practices that Trump and Putin and others have been engaged in for 30 years. So again, you know, you have this alliance of politics, of business, of crime, that is, you know, underneath, that’s buffering this new alliance of autocrats. But I think if you kind of want to break it down, that’s the trail you should follow.
REID: Yeah and Christine, I want to come to you on this because specifically for this June 12 meeting on North Korea, on the one hand, there is a great, you know, every person of goodwill should want there to be some kind of a deal that ends this 70-year stalemate on the Korean peninsula and then hopefully, you know, improves the lives of the North Korean people, but I wonder what you make of the circumstances of that meeting. Donald Trump makes the meeting, then he pulls out of the meeting. He seems to be very, very eager for it and willing to give Kim Jong-un a lot of the status that he’s been seeking in the world, the big letter and the praise in exchange for the meeting. And it’s not clear just from his past that he, you know, will do the homework or be the great negotiator that he says he is. So given all that’s on the table, can you just give us some perspective on whether or not this realignment could, you know, in its own way, help the Korean people? What are we looking at here at this June 12 meeting?
CHRISTINE AHN: Thanks, Joy. I mean, I completely disagree with most of the other panelists. I, first of all, I mean, the Defense Department, the Pentagon, just issued a report about who are the new enemies of the United States last December. And it was China and Russia, far beyond ISIS. So, even though President Trump may be flip-flopping on who are our closest allies, let’s just remember that that has been the U.S. Military position and we know during the Obama Administration that the pivot to Asia meant that, you know, he would move 60 percent of U.S. Naval and Air force capacity from the Middle East and Europe towards the Asia Pacific as an effort to kind of encircle China. We know that China, obviously, is soon going to eclipse the U.S. in terms of being the largest economy, and so we know that there’s obviously an ongoing struggle between the U.S. and China over the South China Sea. But, you know, when we talk about allies of the United States, how could we completely dismiss South Korea, which perhaps could be the most democratic country in the world? Moon Jae-in was ushered into power from a candle light revolution, this potentially could be the only successful Arab Spring in recent and modern times, and so, you know, the greatest number of people voted in that election. He has had, you know, enormous support, 85 percent. And this is what South Korea, our ally, historic ally, has wanted. And I just don’t understand why peace would not be a good thing. I mean, the fact that Donald Trump said yesterday that we are discussing ending the, declaring an end to the Korean War. This is a 70-year war that has divided the Korean peninsula, it has maintained that 5,000 American families with P.O.W. and M.I.As, with you know, still remains in North Korea that are wanting to have closure. This is Korean-American families that want to see their families in North Korea. So, you know, let’s, let’s bring this back to what this means. And also think about how much we spend annually, $700 billion towards defense, “defense” when that should be reinvested into things that really improve our day to day security. We could really improve people’s access to health care, to food. I mean, one in three children go to bed hungry in this country. So let’s, let’s bring this back to what is important and what matters and, you know, for 80 million Koreans on the peninsula, this is a historic day. They are looking forward to the summit. They very much want a peace treaty. And so let’s, let’s see whether Trump and led by Mike Pompeo and the, and the Department of State can negotiate a deal with North Korea that, you know, achieves both aims; the North Koreans want a peace treaty, the U.S. wants complete denuclearization. I believe that it, you know, the great news was that he said it’s going to be a process and that that is a very pragmatic, diplomatic approach. But let’s just, let’s put it all into context about what this means, about ending a Cold War that really began on the Korean peninsula.
REID: I think it’s an important point and, you know, one of the questions I guess and I’ll go around the room very quickly, I’ll start with you, David. What you are seeing in this Trump era where his own sort of, you know, behavior aside, you’re seeing the emergence of other leaders who are stepping forward and becoming very important and prominent leaders in their own right. I agree that Moon Jae-in, you know, if anybody deserves to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize, it’s him. I mean, he has really made this happen. Is the sort of the back door benefit of Donald Trump’s disengagement that you will have other leaders like Moon Jae-in, who you’re seeing, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, now you’re seeing the Prime Minister of Canada, other people have to step forward.
KORN: I think that’s true. They have to step forward particularly when it comes to defending the, what you might call, western set of values and principles. I do think on the Korea issue and I take her points very seriously, I think one of the issues has been that Donald Trump seems to…you know, while the goal is peace on the peninsula and denuclearization, he’s been erratic. He’s, you know, he’s declared, you know, he’s threatened nuclear war against North Korea. He’s derided the North Korean as “Rocket Man” and invites in the spy chief who’s involved with, you know, the death camps. And so, it’s the erratic nature of this, which I don’t think is strategic, which leads me to believe that Trump isn’t serious and may not be up to the job. This is very difficult, of getting peace in the peninsula and some degree of denuclearization.
REID: And then what is the risk of failure, Malcolm? What would be the, you know, because I think Christine makes the most important point, which is the people in the Korean peninsula who are in the balance and who, it would be a great thing if this could work out. But if Trump can’t pull it off, then what?
NANCE: Well, then what people will do is what they’re probably going to do anyway which is ignore Donald Trump and it would actually be in their interest to do that. Trump wants a photo op. And he has already shown us that he is absolutely willing to do anything to get that photo op, I mean even going so far as offering, might pay the hotel bill in Singapore for the North Korean representatives. But what’s really at stake here is the matter of peace on the peninsula. And Kim Jong-un now, excuse me, he is the player who will make the determination of what that peace looks like. He will not give up his strategic nuclear forces. There is no way. That is what brought him to the table to be an equal to the President of the United States. He will probably lessen tensions with South Korea, reopen border, cross-border family visits, reopen the industry center that they had together for North Korea. But there are issues that took place with Japan like the hostages that they took from Japan that will never get resolved.
REID: Yeah. I think everyone will be paying attention to this June 12 meeting because the stakes are so high for so many people. You know, there’s not a lot of confidence necessarily from a lot of people among the American president but I definitely take Christine’s point that the leader of South Korea, someone we definitely all should be watching.