tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC July 23, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
substitute another race for a mascot and let me know if that's appropriate. i will not give an example because it would be appropriate. for those who don't understand, ask the question why are we the only racial ethnic population worthy of this honor. >> thank you for making time tonight. enjoyed that. >> thank you. that is "all in" for this week. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> thank you. much appreciated. u thank you for joining us this hour. "the new york times" called it the largest criminal action against a wall street figure ever. "the washington post" called it the culmination of, quote, the most spectacular securities fraud investigation in history. this was 1989. i remember when this happened. i was in high school at the time. federal prosecutors in new york, in manhattan, indicted one of the richest and best-known wall
street figures in america. his name was michael milken. he was famous for figuring out a new and ingenuous, and it turns out illegal way for wall street traders to get even more fantastically rich used something called junk bonds to stage corporate takeovers. you don't need to understand the financial intricacies of the junk bond scam to know the kind of character michael milken was. do you remember the movie "wall street," michael douglas, the lead kericer in "wall street," greed is good? that was based on michael milken. milken, a wharton school graduate who lives in clark gable's former home in encino, california, and is driven to work in a mercedes bends, has been praised by some as a brilliant visionary and assailed by others for triggering a
massive hostile takeover that piled up corporate debt while generating huge fees for drexel's young and aggressive traders. >> michael milken was charged for fraud and racketeering. charged with him was his brother and a former trader for drexel. >> the grand jury charged that the defendants must pay the united states approximately $1.8 billion, constituting the proceeds of their unlawful schemes and their interest in the racketeering enterprise charged. >> the indictment of michael milken follows one of the longest and most highly publicized investigations ever in a crime on wall street. it is an astonishing turn of events for a man who was acclaimed a financial wizard. he was called america's junk bond king. operating out of this office in beverly hills, milken made hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and his co-workers. he put together takeover deals,
financed them and profited from them. today's indictment linked milken with convicted stock swindler ivan volski. it said milk in effect hid securities with boesky, put them in his account while he maintained control. that's illegal. >> that's illegal. again, you don't have to understand the financial intricacies of how this all worked, but there was just an astonishing amount of money involved. you heard there in that report that prosecutors wanted michael milken to fork over $1.8 billion dollars, billion with a "b". $1.8 billion is what they alleged he personally made off these illegal schemes. but with numbers that big, right off the bat prosecutors have a dilemma, right? once you indict one of the richest people on the planet, how do you make sure that he doesn't run away to avoid prosecution? i mean this guy in one year, in 1987, earned more than mcdonald's. not michael milken's company.
not michael milken's firm. michael milken personally outearned mcdonald's that year. so if you are somebody with infinite resources but you are also staring down a 98-count felony indictment, how do prosecutors make it worth your while to not flee, to not, you know, run off to some other place on the earth where you would be out of the reach of american courts? when prosecutors got michael milken before a judge, they asked the judge for serious bail, unheard of bail. they asked for record-setting bail. they asked michael milken's bail to be set at a quarter billion dollars, $250 million. far and away the highest bail request anybody in america had ever faced, but he is one of the richest people in the world, right? even $250 million was kind of couch cushion money to him. maybe, just maybe it would be enough to make him think twice about making a break for it? if fleeing would cost him $250
million? maybe. in the end, the judge did not grant that record-setting bail and michael milken did not skip town. he ultimately pled guilty to multiple felonies. he did pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and he was sentenced to ten years in prison. he served two years of that ten. but that $250 million bail request from prosecutors, again, they didn't get it but that was the highest bail prosecutors had ever asked for in history up until that point. in the years that followed, i can tell you that, you know, because everything is bigger in texas, a couple of texas judges tried setting bail for a couple of murder suspects in the billions of dollars. texas judges tried it, but those numbers were lowered or overturned by other courts. the record for the highest bail that actually stuck, that record was set exactly two decades after michael milken's
indictment in the case of a hedge fund insider. his name was rajaratnam, and he posted $100 million bail after he was indicted in 2009. that wasn't what prosecutors, just what they asked for. that's actually what he had to put up. $100 million. it was the highest bail amount ever in american history. you are going to have to forgive me here but indulge me for a seconds because it is friday. i need to give you a side note here. do you remember the name john dowd? john dowd was one of the lawyers who then-president trump hired to defend him during the mueller investigation. a few years before joining the donald trump legal team, john dowd was the defense lawyer for rajaratnam and it did not go well. i mean he was convicted on 14 felony counts. he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, the longest prison term ever for an insider trading case. he had to put up $100 million
bond. but on the day he was convicted, a cnbc camera crew caught up with his lawyer, with john dowd. >> cnbc caught up with mr. dowd just a short time ago. >> i was looking -- >> [ bleep ] out of here. okay. that's what i got for cnbc. >> wow. >> wow. okay. that's what i got for cnbc. i never get tired of that tape. i never get tired of that up take. that guy lost that case so spectacularly and then he got hired by donald trump. but that guy, that's what i got for cnbc. anyway, so that billionaire hedge fund manager with the hugin sider -- huge insider trading case and he got the
highest bail ever set in american history and that record stood until today when the chairman of donald trump's inaugural committee was released from custody after posting a $250 million bond. prosecutors asked for that but couldn't get it from michael milken in 1989, but today they actually got it for tom barrack, $250 million he had to put up. again, why did he have to put up so much money? because they think you have that big of an incentive to flee to a place where the u.s. courts can't get you. in tom barrack's case it is not just his vast wealth, his basically unlimited resources name him a flight risk, he is charged with being an agent of a foreign power working to influence the trump campaign and trump administration and u.s. government policy on behalf of the government of united arab emirates while united arab emirates and saudi arabia were pumping a billion and a half dollars into tom barrack's company. prosecutors actually didn't want
any bond arrangement for tom barrack. they pointed out that barrack has these connections to very senior leaders in both the united arab emirates and saudi arabia and that neither emirates nor saudi arabia have extradition treaties with the united states. so there's the potential that if barrack was able to get himself to one of those countries via, say, his private aircraft, those countries leaders could take him in and protect him and he would never face the music. so prosecutors wanted no bond. that said, tom barrack did get released from custody today on a $250 million bond that he posted, which is the highest bond ever posted in u.s. history as far as we can tell. that was a bit of a compromise. he also had to give up his passports. he is wearing a gps monitoring bracelet. he will be back in court for arraignment in brooklyn on monday. this bail hearing today was in california. this means that he can get to new york on his own steam rather than getting flown there on con air by u.s. marshals.
cnn reports that tom barrack's legal team really, really wanted to get him out of custody before he has the monday court date in new york. according to people familiar with the matter, quote, in discussions in the days following barrack's arrest and detention, his legal team phoning used on trying to keep their 74-year-old billionaire client off con air, the marshal service plane used for transporting defendants in u.s. government custody. yes, he doesn't have to take con air. he won't be shackled in a marshal's plane. now he can take one of his private planes from california where he has been in custody to the new york court appearance on monday. they think because he had to put up $250 million and because he has a bracelet on and because, you know, everybody in his life has guaranteed he will be there, they think he won't find a way to united arab emirates. you know, he won't find a way to riyadh or abu dhabi in the meantime so as to avoid the reach of the u.s. courts. but as we await that monday court hearing in his case, here
is something else to watch for when it comes to this prosecution of president trump's inaugural chairman. you may remember that the day after barrack was arrested, cnn reported that the federal prosecutors who brought the seven felony charges against barrack for some reason according to cnn, prosecutors sat on those charges for a very long time before this week's indictment finally went ahead. according to cnn's reporting, the prosecutors had enough evidence to bring charges against tom barrack last year but they held off until trump was out of office and a new administration was in place. quote, two sources tell cnn the u.s. attorney in brooklyn at the time, richard donahue, expressioned misgivings about the case. it is unclear if he delayed the case outright or if prosecutors chose not to move forward knowing the u.s. attorney, mr. donahue, would not support it. he was then subsequently appointed by then-attorney general bill barr to a top job
at the u.s. department. job well done. how do we reward this guy? only after trump was going and these appointees were out of leadership roles, only then could the case against tom barrack go ahead. what is that all about? i mean it is interesting about the prosecution of tom barrack but it is worrying about the u.s. justice department. i mean was that a favor to the former president? was that a political favor to the former president being done by law enforcement officials? if the justice department has been used in that way, doesn't that have to be fixed or at least ferreted out? shouldn't there be some accountability for that? two democratic members of congress are asking exactly that question today, and i think this is provocative and interesting. democratic congressman ted lieu of california and congresswoman kathleen rice of new york. the two of them have just written to the inspector general at the u.s. justice department asking for an investigation. they say, quote, as former prosecutors we're concerned about reporting that suggests federal prosecutors had enough evidence to indict mr. barrack well before 2021 but were
discouraged from doing so. as members of congress, we request that you conduct an investigation into whether barrack or any other friends of the former president were given special treatment by the u.s. justice department during the last administration and whether barrack's case was inappropriately suppressed. i mean it is one thing to have this actually quite scandalous reporting about the barrack case, right? there's serious national security implications of foreign agent prosecution being delayed for more than a year. this is a serious case about another country having high-placed agents inside and adjacent to the u.s. government in a way that is affecting u.s. policy in a sure repetitious way, right? it is a serious national security matter to delay the prosecution and allow that scheme to continue for a year while you try not to offend anybody by bringing the case, by bringing the case, like that's a serious thing. but these members of congress i think are right to look beyond just this one case.
i mean there is a pattern here. it kind of keeps me up at night if i'm honest. in "the new york times" reported earlier this year trump's justice department blocked federal prosecutors in new york from moving ahead with an investigation of trump lawyer rudy giuliani. trump's justice department overruled the line prosecutors in their own department to recommend a much lighter sentence for trump friend roger stone, who was convicted of obstructing congress and witness tampering. trump's justice department dropped its case against trump national security advisor mike flynn despite flynn having pled guilty twice to lying to the fbi. and, you know, don't forget we're just talking about this just this week, not one, not two, three, but five different cabinet secretaries were referred for criminal prosecution while trump was in office, and in all five cases, in the case of all five of the cabinet secretaries trump's justice department says, nah,
seems fine, we'll past. that's just off the top of my head, just a handful of the cases where the trump justice department appeared to intervene in and shut down cases involving trump's friends and allies. those are just the ones that -- it is not even all of the ones we know about, it is literally the ones can riff on. how many cases were slow walked or delayed or quashed, right? are we going to learn about those? how many cases were shut down and not prosecuted at all? how many were slowed down like barrack's? are we ever going to learn about those? you know what? to be honest though there is one silver lining to the as-yet unexplained delay in actually bringing the charges against tom barrack, and it is actually illustrated by the final chapter in the junk bond king michael milken story. michael milken pled guilty, he paid all of the money, he served time in federal prison but last year in 2020 he got a presidential pardon from donald
trump. trump pardoned michael milken for the massive financial crimes decades ago. the white house put out a list all of the rich people and trump donors who advocated for milken's pardon including, wouldn't you know, tom barrack? on his way out the door trump pretty much pardoned all friends, allies and supporters charged with anyone during his presidency. he pardoned mike flynn, steve bannon, paul manafort, right down to papadopolous in the russian investigation. the list goes on and on, but he only pardoned people charged and convicted while he was president. tom barrack's case was delayed so he is out of luck. no presidential pardon coming for him. his indictment came after trump was out of office, which itself is probably a scandal if the indictment couldn't be brought while trump was in office because trump appointees wouldn't let it happen. but the fact that it was delayed means he doesn't get out of jail free with a pardon card from
trump. one of the open questions of the trump presidency and its corruption is how many legal cases didn't go forward to charges, just were not brought because they were squashed or delayed by trump appointees of the justice department. i don't know if we will ever get an answer to that. kathleen rice and ted lieu are trying to make sure that the justice department at least investigates it. but the one silver lining in terms of accountability for any and all cases that were delayed and yet still could be brought now is that, well, now trump isn't around to pardon those folks. so today tom barrack put up that much money, a record, previously unprecedented $250 million bond just in order to stay free until he is on trial. joining us now is our friend joyce vance, former u.s. attorney for the northern district of alabama, professor at the university of alabama school of law. joyce, great to see you here on a friday night. thank you so much for being here. >> good to be with you, rachel.
>> i have gotten very shy about the word "unprecedented" but i was surprised when we started poking around and realized that this might be the largest bond ever put up in a u.s. criminal case ever. what do you make of the size of that bond and the fact that barrack, in fact, was released? >> i was surprised that barrack was released. as a prosecutor i think i would have gone to the mat to try to keep him in custody just because he is such a flight risk, and that's one of the two bases federal prosecutors have for keeping a defendant in custody until trial, either that they're a flight risk on a danger to the community. barrack is pretty much the poster child for a flight risk, dual citizenship, access to a lot of money and private travel. so he's really someone that it is difficult to believe that even a large sum of money could be sufficient to secure his presence. he's 74. he undoubtedly doesn't want to spend the up to ten years in
prison that this statute, 18usc 951 he is indicted under could ultimately result in. probably the sentence would be a lot smaller, but nonetheless the risk is considerable for him. >> now, in terms of the potential delay of his case, i mean we have not matched cnn's reporting that prosecutors and edny had this case a year ago and basically sat on it because trump appointees they believed wouldn't allow it to go forward. but it is very interesting reporting from cnn. the prospect of that is disturbing on lots of levels. what do you make of representatives ted lieu and kathleen rice now asking the justice department inspector general to investigate that public reporting and to investigate whether it is part of a pardon. there's obviously a lot of public-facing actions by the trump facing justice department that seemed to, you know, intervene or otherwise make
things, make bad things go away for people connected to the former president. do you think an inspector general investigation is warranted here? do you think there will be one? >> doj can only be successful if the public has confidence that it is conducting its work with integrity. we have lived there -- i'm sorry, but i'm going to use the word you don't like and say we've lived through an unprecedented four years for the justice department and people have a lot of concerns. there are good reasons if you are merrick garland and attorney general that you would support an investigation because it could do a lot to investigate and expose the truth about the past four years. we can't really tell from this case. it is possible it was slowed down because prosecutors didn't want to run the risk that if they indicted there would be a pardon by the former president on the way out the door. it is equally possible this reporting from cnn, that there was discouragement to bring the
case from folks who were running the offices, maybe even folks in washington. and it is also possible this case had a lot of moving pieces, a lot of evidence perhaps involving some foreign evidence that had to be obtained. that can be difficult and time consuming. so we don't know what went on here, and that's a problem for doj. doj works best when people can have confidence in its work. so anything that promotes transparency plays well for this current justice department. >> is it just the inspector general's own decision as to whether or not that investigation happens or can the attorney general direct the inspector general to do it? >> well, the inspector general has the ability to go ahead and open the investigation on his own. there is consultation. he's not entirely independent of working with the attorney general who typically sees and has the ability to review his reports before they're released. but, rachel, it is interesting.
there are a couple of different mechanisms here for accountability. doj also has the office of professional responsibility which reviews whether prosecutors and career employees have done anything that might violate their ethical obligations. so it is possible that if anyone inside of doj or outside for that matter has information that something happened here to tamp down on these cases that was improper, they could report that to opr, which would then conduct an investigation. there are a lot of routes with or without the attorney general's blessing that could lead to disclosure of what actually happened here. >> that is a very, very important point and one that is often overlooked. joyce vance, former u.s. attorney for the northern district of alabama, currently a professor at the alabama school of law. thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you. we have a lot of news to get to this friday night. stay with us. ith us mer themed music playing]
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yesterday the u.s. justice department announced the indictment of nine people for illegally acting as agents of a foreign power in the united states. now, the pleasant surprise here is that none of them appear to have been high-ranking members of the trump administration, which is a nice change. what these nine were indicted for yesterday though was truly ugly. this is a note written in chinese obviously that was stuck to the front door of a house in new jersey after two of the defendants in this case reportedly or allegedly tried and failed to force the door open. they banged on the door, tried to force it open and failed, but then they slapped this note up on the door. i can't read chinese, but the indictment spells out that it says, quote, if you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend ten years in prison, your wife and children will be all right. that's the end of this matter. again, that's the translation from the indictment. the threat there is all but explicit, right? if you agree to go back to
china, your wife and kids will be okay. but if you don't agree, you get the point. prosecutors say that before the threatening note on the door, this same guy in new jersey was targeted with an even more ominous threat. the victim here is described in the indictment as john doe. the indictment says, quote, a center piece of this criminal scheme was an april 2017 effort, directed by chinese officials, to transport the elderly father of john doe from china to the united states in order to convey a threat to john doe that his family in china would be harmed if he didn't return to china. it is like that scene in "the godfather" where the guy is about to testify on organized crime and they bring in his brother from the old country to sit there and look at him. all right. so the threat is visible and clear. you do what we want or your family back home gets it. all right. in this case the guy in new jersey, they brought his elderly
dad from china to new jersey to let him know that this guy's family in china was going to get it, including his elderly relatives, unless the guy in new jersey did what they wanted, which is that they wanted him to go back to china so china could get their paws on him. this indictment was unsealed yesterday in the eastern district of new york. tacting u.s. attorney there said, quote, as alleged, the defendants, acting as agents of china carried out an illegal and clan destin campaign to harass and threaten targeted u.s. residents in order to force them to return to china. unridge esthered roving agents of a foreign power are not permitted to engage in secret surveillance on american soil and their illegal conduct will be met with the full force of the u.s. law. we will see what happens here. it appears of the nine people charged in this indictment yesterday, eight of them i think are chinese. one of them is an american ex-nypd detective sergeant who prosecutors say was working as a private investigator helping
these chinese agents track down u.s. residents in the united states, people who the chinese government wanted to menace and threaten and tried to force to go back to china. the ex-nypd cop's lawyer said he had no idea he was actually working for the chinese government. the lawyer says that the cop thought he was working for a construction company. okay. we will see. who among us don't expect random construction companies to try to knock down people's doors and demand they go back to china. that's a normal thing for a construction company to do. the ex-nypd detective is under arrest tonight as are some of the other defendants, some of the others are still at large. but if you want to get to the really weird stuff on this same front, consider not something happening in u.s. law enforcement but something happening over there. consider these images specifically from the associated press yesterday. this is a hong kong police press conference where they are showing off the evidence that
they've got in a sedition case. sedition is like a serious thing, right? sedition is trying to overthrow the government. what is the evidence they're showing off for that? what were those things they were showing off at the press conference? those look like kids' books. yes, they're kids' books. again, i don't speak or read chinese, but i know enough from kids' books to know these are children's books that appear to be about sheep. yesterday hong kong police arrested five members of the general association of hong kong speech therapists because of the sheep books. quote, the association published three children's books that a senior superintendent in the national security department of the hong kong police said have seditious intent, meaning the children's books are seditious. the books feature stories that revolve around a village of sheep that has to deal with wolves from a different village. the senior superintendent in the national security department of the hong kong police
specifically at this press conference singled out one sub plot in one of the sheep books that seemed particularly seditious to him. quote, li said there was a story about wolves who are cruel and try to occupy the area where the sheep live and try to kill them. yes, children's stories about wolves and sheep are often about the wolves wanting to eat the sheep. the same with adult stories about wolves and sheep. the same with nature documentaries about wolves and sheep, right? i mean the wolves want to eat the sheep. that's the point about wolves and sheep. but in hong kong yesterday the fact that the wolves wanted to kill the sheep in the children's book, that was sign of a seditious plot to overthrow the government. so in hong kong yesterday, which not that -- until not that long ago was a free city, not only are the sheep-related kids' books by the speech therapists the cause for sedition charges
against five hong kong speech therapists -- look, they marched this suspect handcuffed and in a hood into the speech therapists' office to go seize more evidence. they seized what appear to be just more kids' books with the help of the hooded, handcuffed suspect who they perp walked in front of the building. the ap reports police also froze the assets of these speech therapists' association, again because of the books about sheep. at the same time they were showing off their contraband-seized kids' books about sheep and wolves, literally walking people through the plot of the sheep books to show that there was sedition against the government, at the same time they were doing that yesterday a hong kong court was denying bail for a number of prominent hong kong journalists. now, this is a story we covered last among here on the show. we had a huge response from our viewers when we did it. you might remember these pictures from that coverage. these are pictures from the final night that hong kong had
one last independent pro-democracy newspaper. it was called apple dale aye. they had their offices raided by hundreds of hong kong police officers. the police officers took their computers and their hard drives and their documents. the newspaper then had their assets frozen so they could no longer pay for any operations or pay any of their employees. after all of that as their executives and journalists started getting arrested one by one, they shut themselves down. as the staff of apple daily prepared the last edition of that newspaper last month, hong kong residents gathered outside in the rain. they turned on the flashlights on their cellphones so the journalists inside the offices would see they were out there, would know they were there for support. the journalists turned on the flashlights on their phones, too, to signal back to the readers in the rain outside. on a normal day apple daily's print run was about 80,000. for that final issue they printed 1 million copies.
people lined up for hours to get one. they were sold out entirely by 8:00 a.m. that was last month. that was the last day. apple daily doesn't exist anymore. president biden put out a statement in support when they were shut down. it said in part, quote, independent media play an invaluable role in resilient and prosperous societies. journalists are truth-tellers who hold leaders accountable and keep information flowing freely. that is needed now more than ever in hong kong and in all places around the world where democracy is under threat. he said, quote, beijing must stop targeting the independent press and release the journalists and media executives who have been detained. the act of journalism, he said, is not a crime. that was last month from president biden when the last independent newspaper in hong kong, "apple daily," was shut down. i want to show you one thing from some of the pictures we just showed from the night where they were preparing their final edition of that last free
newspaper. there's a guy in a striped shirt, black and white striped shirt in the photo, seemed he was in the center of the actions that were taken that day. that's because he was the editor-in-chief of "apple daily." these photos show him leading his staff and finaling the edit on the last print edition that night. again, that was last month when they published their last edition. this week he was arrested. even though the last remaining independent newspaper in hong kong is shut down and has been so for a month, they're still arresting the journalists who worked there. while they were showing off the kids' book about -- kids' books about sheep and charging the speech therapists with sedition, a hong kong court simultaneously yesterday was refusing bail for the editor-in-chief of the now-defunct "apple daily." he and another editor around two others were put in jail the day before, the court refused their
bail and then the court adjourned until at least september 30th. the four journalists are looking at at least two-plus months in jail before their cases even get heard, all for the crime of being journalists. the u.s. state department put out a statement in response saying, quote, we strongly condemn the arrest of "apple daily's" former editor-in-chief and others and call for their immediate release. the u.s. is deeply concerned by hong kong's authorities' selective use to target media organizations. the charges of conspiring to collude with foreign forces to endanger national security appear to be politically motivated. the u.s. is concerned by increased efforts by beijing and hong kong authorities to wield that national security law as a tool to suppress independent media, to stifle press. we call on the authorities to stop targeting the independent press. efforts to stifle media freedom
and free flow of information not only undermine hong kong's democratic institutions but also hurt hong kong's viability as an international business hub. that international business hub point sticks out but it is important in terms of the way the biden administration is approaching this. last week the administration put out a warning to u.s. companies advising american companies if they're doing business in hong kong, the political climate is changing there to make it basically unsafe for commerce and also sort of unsafe period. that warning went out from the biden administration to u.s. businesses last week. china retaliated against that warning today by putting sanctions, chinese sanctions on individual americans. specifically, they sanctioned -- wait, what? they sanctioned wilbur ross? i think maybe they don't know that wilbur ross isn't commerce secretary anymore. he was commerce secretary under trump but he's gone since trump -- you know, maybe hong
kong authorities can't get good news anymore. they can't get any quality journalism anymore so they don't know that wilbur ross has been gone since january. sure though. why not target your sanctions at him? with statements like we've seen from president biden and secretary of state tony blinken, the u.s. government is obviously no longer calling the press the enemy of the people, which is a nice change. the u.s. government is now trying to both insist on the rights of journalists around the world and to a certain extent they're trying to model that behavior within the u.s. government itself. the justice department this week putting out new rules that limit the ability of u.s. law enforcement to go after journalists in their communications and their sources. that new rule put out by attorney general merrick garland this week is welcome. if we are once again trying to lead the world in standing up for these kinds of freedoms, it is not working. what else can we do?
hong kong democracy activists are now asking for the united states to once again offer them asylum in the united states, to offer hong kong democracy activists asylum in the united states, which is not an unprecedented thing. the u.s. did that after the massacre in 1990 under president george h.w. bush. now as the press and civil society is being hunted and picked off in hong kong one by one, could the u.s. offer asylum the way we have in the past? who would be against that here, right? if we are going to lead here, and the biden administration seems like they want to and they're not afraid to, what else can they do? what else should they do? what kind of fight should they expect to have over those measures? i've got more ahead. stay with us.
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rhodes. he was deputy national security adviser to president obama. he's also the author most recently of "after the fall, being american in the world we've made." it is a close look at the world tilting away from democracy and the people around the world who are fighting against that and the haunting question of what the u.s. can do not only to try to save our own democracy here at home but to help shore it up everywhere it is in danger. ben, it is nice of you to be here on a friday night. thanks for making time. >> thanks, rachel, for covering this hong kong story. it is so important. >> well, i'm a little haunted by your book. you might remember when we talked about it when it first came out, i sort of emoted to you i was troubled by the dynamics you talked about. following this hong kong story, i'm so moved by the efforts of the prepress there and the efforts of civil society there and the efforts of the democracy activists to try to stand up against what really feels like a line of tanks. it really feels like a bulldozer
that is going through them without any help. i just wanted to get your take on how bad things seem right now in hong kong and what the biden administration is trying to do to help. >> it is the worst case scenario, rachel. for the book i talked to a lot of young people, including people involved in the protest. they described this kind of whole society approach you alluded to in your reporting in which the chinese communist party has taken over the media. they've taken over the curriculum in schools. they created incentives in society where if you want a good job, if you want to get ahead you know you have to be silent about certain political matters. the protest movement was a reaction against that. a lot of the young people used to tell me things like the only independent source of information we have is "apple daily." what they've done since the national security laws were passed is they've extinguished the embers of democracy in hong kong. they shut down any remaining free media. they jailed the political opposition. frankly, a lot of the young people i have talked to have left the country and now are in the uk. i think for the biden
administration, obviously you can provide asylum and we should to anybody from hong kong who has a legitimate fear of persecution, which is a lot of people unfortunately. you can sanction chinese officials. you can review hong kong's status. hong kong has different rules in terms of financial transactions than mainland china that was carved out. the key thing i say in my book is we have to acknowledge as americans we have not prioritized human rights in our relationship with china. we prioritized profit and open market for the last 30 years. the chinese party has taken that signal. when i say "we," i don't just mean the u.s. government. i mean u.s. companies that have swallowed some pretty difficult things in order to be in the chinese market. i mean the u.s. entertainment industry. you had john cena apologizing to the chinese government to keep himself on the movie screens there because he said something about taiwan.
we have to decide as americans whether our top priority in our relationship with china across the born, informing our dip ploem assie, our economic policy, will be our values. if we are honest, we have gone to the mat with china about how many soybeans they buy from the united states more than on issues like you reported on tonight. >> ben, if the biden administration wanted to be brave and bold on this issue, if they wanted to back up the kind of, i think, far-sighted and eloquent statements they put out in response to some of the repression we have seen recently, domestically do you think we would have a fight on our hands? do you think it would become a partisan split or one of these impasses in washington, or is this the sort of thing where, for example, if they wanted to offer hong kong dissidents asylum in this country if they have a credible feel of prosecution, do you think that
the congress could actually do it? >> well, look, you know, being tough on china, standing up to china, whatever you want to call it, is the one bipartisan issue in our politics. i think it is a good test of the republican party's rhetoric on that. if you put in things like political asylum, which they're usually against in every case, i think importantly, rachel, there's a difference between a militarized cold war with china and a values-based competition with what you described is happening in hong kong. because the most important thing we have to do in the united states is get our democratic example in line. you know, that's what i heard from a lot of people in hong kong and around the world. america setting a better example for what democracy is and what it means to value a free press, it is harder for us to have the credibility to sustain an effort in which we are defending the values abroad in a plies like hong kong. i think the biden team needs to connect what it is trying to do in the united states to extend voting rights, to clean up our
democracy with what they're doing abroad. it is not just the united states, but it is all like-minded democracies speaking out against this. one of the things i found in the book, rachel, and i described being awakened in my hotel room in shanghai who i was traveling with as former president should not meet with the dalai lama. that is something the chinese have been doing, the chinese commune party, not the chinese people, for decades, relentless advocacy for their view of how the rest of the world should stay out of their affairs. the point is that in the united states through our democratic example and open door and asylum policy for hong kong refugees, through our multi lateral diplomacy in raising this issue in multi lateral forums and the united nations and through our policies we need to be similarly relentless in our defense of democracy not for one year or two years, not just when the camera is on these issues, but
for the long haul. because what we're seeing in hong kong is a free society. two years ago you could feel the characteristics of a free society. you would not feel that today. it is not appropriate for people to express themselves there today. young people told me there is such control with the surveillance, not only are they trying to control what you can say but what you can think. this is the kind of future we have to push back on. it has to be a multifaceted effort across government working with allies and has to be sustained for years to come. >> ben rhodes former national security adviser to president obama. thank you. you are exactly who i wanted to talk to about this. thanks so much. we'll be right back. stay with us. to nurtec. the most common side effects were nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion. ask your doctor about nurtec today! front desk. yes, hello... i'm so...
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amount of up to $100 million from the u.s. emergency refugee and migration assistance fund for unexpected, urgent refugee and migration needs including for applicants for special immigrant visas. that sounds like a lot of governmentees but in plain english what it means is president biden tonight just authorized a whopping $100 million to go toward evacuating afghan translators who helped u.s. troops during our 20-year war there along with their families. we expect that 2500 of them will be evacuated to a u.s. military base in virginia next week. last night "the wall street journal" reported that as many as 35,000 will be housed at u.s. military bases in kuwait and qatar. those preparations are under way now. as the preparations are under way today the administration announced that secretary of state blinken will travel to kuwait next week to deal with that matter among other things. again, none of the evacuation flights have left yet but it does seem like things are finally starting to fall into
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i forgot to note this time last night that it was friday eve so i hope it hasn't taken you by surprise. happy friday. that's it for us for now. i'll see you again monday night. now it's time for "the last word" with the great lawrence o'donnell who has made his triumphant return. great to see you. >> good evening rachel. there is nothing i would like better than a good, long friday