MSNBC Panel: Trump and His Base 'Are in a Closed Universe,' 'Scared of' Non-Whites

December 18th, 2018 6:37 PM

During Sunday’s AM Joy, host Joy Reid and her panel took shots at White House adviser Stephen Miller, President Trump and the Trump base for their “radical” views on immigration. The panel ultimately concluded that “Trump and his base are in a closed universe” and that “his base is scared of anyone who is not visibly white.”

The segment began with host Joy Reid playing a clip of Miller promising to “do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration,” including shutting down the government.

Guest Michelle Bernard then unloaded about the administration’s response to the death of a seven-year-old girl in border patrol custody: “They sanctioned cruelty and they have absolutely no empathy for...people who are going to leave their countries...because they are trying to get away from the most horrible situations anyone could ever imagine.” Bernard argued that “there is a continual decision to try to do things to...basically tear apart our democracy.”

According to faux conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, “these people are in the business of cruelty.” She also argued that it “did result in a tragic death of the girl.” Rubin added: The big takeaway from this year is that Trump and his base are in a closed universe. They are a significant segment, unfortunately, of the country.”



When Reid brought up how the caravan has supposedly “disappeared from the radar screen of Republican talking points,” Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne argued that “as these investigations close in on him, he will turn more and more to the base as his last line of defense against the Congress and so we may be seeing more....statements just like we saw today from Stephen Miller.”

Before Reid had a chance to respond to Dionne’s theory, Bernard jumped back in with this line about Trump supporters: “His base is scared of anyone who is not visibly white.” Bernard also slammed the “Trump Republican Party” and “state sanctioned TV over at Fox News” for gearing up “the fears of their base talking about this caravan.”



After Bernard’s mini-monologue, Reid seemed to concur with Dionne’s analysis, arguing that the focus on illegal immigration “will help Trump to survive whatever is coming from a legal point of view.” As for Rubin, she also mocked Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the Trump team: “These people are constitutionally incapable of telling the truth.”

Reid and her panel’s smearing of President Trump’s base as racist, bigoted, and closed-minded came less than an hour after Reid implored the Democrats not to run “two white guys” at the top of their Presidential ticket in 2020. For all of the talk about how “radical” Stephen Miller is, it seems like Reid might be a little bit “radical” herself.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of AM Joy is below. Click “expand” to read more.



11:35 a.m.

STEPHEN MILLER: We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that means a shutdown?

MILLER: This is a very…if it comes to it, absolutely.

JOY REID: Well, the White House trotted Stephen Miller back onto the Sunday shows this morning to deliver an ominous message that the administration is willing to shut down the government this week if Donald Trump doesn’t get his border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. Joining me now, Washington Post Opinion Writer Jennifer Rubin, and back with me, E.J. Dionne and Michelle Bernard. Jennifer, I’m going to start with you first. Stephen Miller, and I think it’s fair to say he’s probably the most radical member of the administration that’s left there, especially on immigration. Back out on the Sunday shows to defend those policies and to say they’ll shut down the wall if the American people don’t pay for the border wall. Your thoughts?

JENNIFER RUBIN: Well, first of all, they should have had Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on set to explain to him why that is politically disastrous and built on a mountain of lies. Trump is just backing the Republicans, who still do control the Senate and the House, into a terrible corner because they are trapped. None of them, even the ones who are leaving, don’t want to shut down the government. The one who shuts down the government is always the loser. It’s an axiom of American politics. They will eventually have to reopen it and they’re not getting their $5 billion. So all he is doing is painting Trump into a corner and saying things that raise expectations on the part of the base. So I don’t know how they’re going to get themselves out of it, but Democrats at this point can wash their hands and say, you guys figure it out. You’re in charge.

REID:  Yeah, and you know, E.J. Dionne, at one point Chuck Schumer and some Senate Democrats were willing to compromise and give some money for what they were calling border security, which Trump could have used to build his border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for and that surprisingly now, the American people are supposed to pay for. He could have done it. But now even Chuck Schumer, who tends to be a compromiser, is saying, no. You get nothing. So I wonder where this goes. If Republicans can’t do it themselves while they’re still in charge, as Jennifer said, then what’s the point of all of this?

EJ DIONNE: Well, Democrats I think are still have on the table 1 billion, 1.3 billion for border security that just doesn’t happen to be labeled the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for, but the Republicans…Politico had a very interesting story this week that Republicans in the House really don’t want to deal with this. They are proposing a two-week extension, a continuing resolution, something like that, and they want to throw the hot potato at the new Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and they’re trying to persuade Trump that’s a great way to start the year. You can have a big fight with Pelosi. They just don’t want to deal with this and I think that’s the missing part of the story. Republicans, a lot of Republicans, don’t really have any interest in this wall either.

REID: Yeah. You know, I think the surprise they would get though, E.J., is Nancy Pelosi ain’t Paul Ryan, okay?

DIONNE: Correct.

REID: She is a very effective Speaker. She knows what she’s doing. She just doesn’t wear cute coats. She actually knows what she’s doing.

DIONNE: Well, he showed it in that meeting at the White House. I mean, that meeting showed why Democrats want to elect, re-elect her or bring her back as Speaker.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, Michelle, I…it puzzles me but I guess it shouldn’t, the idea that of all of the voices and faces that the administration would want to put out on television to talk about immigration, picking Stephen Miller is an interesting choice. You know, Adam Serwer had a column in which he said the cruelty is the point, that a lot of what you see being done by the Trump administration is about cruelty…


REID: …it’s about demonstrating cruelty and showing it so that people can see it and note it. He is sort of the author of that, right? And here he…let me let you play one more piece again because let’s keep in mind again for the audience a 7-year-old girl died this week of dehydration while in the custody of U.S. Border Patrol. Here is Stephen Miller talking immigration a little bit more.

MILLER: It’s time that both parties had the appropriate level of outrage over the fact that these organizations continue to take advantage…

BRENNAN: The Border Patrol, though, says it wasn’t adequately equipped to deal with the record number of families coming across. Why aren’t they?

MILLER: One of the great tragedies that is going on in our country today is the loopholes in our immigration laws and the deficiencies in our immigration laws and the left-wing activist judicial rulings that incentive advise the most vulnerable populations to come to our country.

REID: What are your thoughts on having that be the message coming out of the Trump administration the same week a little girl died?

BERNARD: Well, you know, what’s absolutely horrifying about this is that Stephen Miller, by speaking about that issue the way he did on behalf of the administration, because you’ve got to know there is no way the administration sent him out to join Face the Nation this morning without having an idea about what he was going to say. So they sanctioned cruelty and they have absolutely no empathy for the fact that people who are going to leave their countries to come to a country where they know no one, where they don’t know the lifestyle but they know that they have to leave because they are trying to get away from the most horrible situations anyone could ever imagine tells us that the country is really in so much trouble. There is no empathy. There is a continual decision to try to do things to, you know, basically tear apart our democracy. I would note that there are people who are also that…reporting, for example, that there is a possible move by this administration to make people who came here escaping the Vietnam War as refugees…

REID: Yes.

BERNARD: …you know, eligible to be deported and, again, the belief is Stephen Miller is the face of that.

REID: Yeah, I mean, Jennifer Rubin, on that point, right, you have people from the Vietnam War, people who helped American troops, Vietnamese people who are in this country who are now being scheduled, eligible for deportation cruelty. This week, we saw video of people who are still on the Mexico side of the border, families, including children, having numbers written in magic marker on their arms to designate them as a number that are looking to have asylum in this country. We saw Border Patrol dumping water that was meant for desperate migrants being dumped out on the ground. This just sort of extravagant cruelty is unusual for any administration. But for this administration, they seem to think it’s effective for their base.

RUBIN: Exactly. A couple things. First of all, you would never know from listening to Stephen Miller that they have been in charge for two years. Why…if there are so many loopholes, why haven’t they been closed by a Republican Congress, a Republican President? That’s nonsense. Listen, these people are in the business of cruelty. That’s how they whip up the base, that’s what the caravan was about. We’re tough. We’re both under siege but we’re going to get back because we have the border security people so we can treat these people miserably. It is, I think in large part, a reason why they lost the House. This is the kind of stuff that has turned formerly Republican women against them. It’s not just Hispanics, not just people of color but people who have a modicum of compassion, particularly women, men, too, but particularly women who see this. It’s needless cruelty. It did result in a tragic death of the girl. And you know what these people did? They blamed the parents. They take no responsibility once they put these people in custody and then they turn around and they blame the victims. So I think the big takeaway from this year is that Trump and his base are in a closed universe. They are a significant segment, unfortunately, of the country. They dominate the Republican Party but they convince no one outside of it and they are beginning to, I think, bleed support within it. So as infuriating as it is for us to sit here and listen to that, there is some solace in knowing that no one believes what he is saying who is otherwise, you know, not a Trumpy and in the future, I think they’re going to have to pay a price once again in 2020 for this kind of behavior.

REID: Well, you know, E.J. Dionne, what happened to the caravan? Remember the caravan was the most existential threat to American life and it was a thousand miles away? Presumably, now, weeks later, it’s closer than a thousand miles away and it has disappeared from the radar screen of the Republican talking points.

DIONNE: Right. Well, this is all…a lot of this is a show for Trump and he believes passionately that the issue he can always fall back on to mobilize his own people is immigration and cruelty can work. But I think as a political matter, not as a moral matter, but I think Jenn made the central point. In this election, there is real evidence that this hard, cruel line hurt the Republicans in an awful lot of suburban Congressional districts. And I think unfortunately for the country as Trump gets into more and more trouble as these investigations close in on him, he will turn more and more to the base as his last line of defense against the Congress and so we may be seeing more of this because he’s not going to be trying to persuade middle of the road voters, he’s just going to try to hang on to enough Republicans to survive, perhaps survive impeachment.

REID: Yeah.

DIONNE: And so I think there’s going to be more statements just like we saw today from Stephen Miller.

REID: Well, I…and to that…

BERNARD: Hey, Joy…

REID: Go on.

BERNARD: Can I…I just wanted to add. I mean, just imagine though what it says about what the…Donald Trump thinks about his base. So we see that what he believes, and unfortunately maybe the facts will bear this out. His base is scared of anyone who is not visibly white. So and again, we also see that the Trump administration and the Republican Party that has become the Trump Republican Party will do absolutely anything to win. So they gear up… they, you know, they sort of gear up the fears of their base talking about this caravan. They have, you know, state sanctioned TV over at Fox News doing the same thing and then the day after the midterm elections, we hear nothing about it from the President and we hear nothing about the caravan again from Fox News. It is a very, very disgusting view of the American public and unfortunately it appears too often to win.

REID: Yeah. Absolutely. And to the point that they…the reason to do it, Jennifer, is that they do believe that this will help Trump to survive whatever is coming from a legal point of view. I want to play a little bit of Rudy Giuliani this morning talking about the fact that they are, it doesn’t appear that he will, that Donald Trump will submit to an interview with Robert Mueller if asked. That seems to be where this train is going. Take a listen.

CHRIS WALLACE: Is the Special Counsel, does he want to interview the President?

RUDY GIULIANI: Yeah, good luck. Good luck. After what they did to Flynn, the way they trapped him into perjury and no sentence for him? 14 days for Papadopoulos? I did better on traffic violations than they did with Papadopoulos.

WALLACE: So when you say good luck, you’re saying no way, no interview?

GIULIANI: They are a joke. They are a joke. Over my dead body but, you know, I could be dead.

REID: Your thoughts, Jennifer?

RUBIN: Oh, my. What a sad descent of a human being for a moment. This is what this man is going to be known for, Rudy, I’m referring to. Listen, trapped into perjury, I suppose in the Trump administration is having FBI agents come to your office and ask you questions. That’s the trap that he is speaking of. But of course, these people are constitutionally incapable of telling the truth so any questioning I suppose in that sense is a trap. At this point, I don’t know whether Robert Mueller needs to talk to Trump or wants to talk to Trump. If he wants to push this, I think ultimately he could prevail even with this Supreme Court, but I don’t think that’s necessarily at this stage what he wants. He has Trump’s written answers. He has him locked in and I would bet the farm that he has people in evidence that are going to contradict those answers that Trump put in writing to him. He’s got mounds of other evidence, so at this point whether he sits for an interview, whether he doesn’t sit for an interview, it’s somewhat immaterial. But I would say, for a guy who really wanted to talk to Mueller and thought he could tell the truth, Donald Trump now looks like a chicken.

DIONNE: Memo to Rudy, you can’t be trapped into perjury if you simply tell the truth.