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Meet the Press - July 10, 2016

MEET THE PRESS - July 10, 2016

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a nation divided.

DIAMOND REYNOLDS:

Oh, my God, please don't tell me he's dead.

CHUCK TODD:

A week that began with the shooting of two African-American men by police officers.

DIAMOND REYNOLDS:

I wanted everybody in the world to see what the police do.

CHUCK TODD:

Ends this way, with the killing of five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.

DALLAS POLICE CHIEF DAVID BROWN:

The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.

CHUCK TODD:

And sparks protests across the country.

PROTESTORS:Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

CHUCK TODD:

From policing to politics, the country seems increasingly divided. This Sunday morning, I'll talk to the Head of Homeland Security, two top cops trying to change the way police do their job and two top senators, a Republican and a Democrat, each a former mayor.

Plus, a week of violence and the Presidential campaign. How can either of our divisive candidates heal this divided nation? And joining me for insight and analysis are Eugene Robinson, columnist for the Washington Post. Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University and an MSNBC contributor. Longtime Republican Strategist, Mary Matalin. And Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson. Welcome to Sunday and a special edition of Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. It's too early to start making comparisons to 1968, but surely we have just lived through one of those tumultuous weeks that will stand out in recent history. Headlines in the country's newspapers tell the story of a nation divided and at times, it feels as if we're at war with itself.

The shooting of two African-American men by police officers and the subsequent attack on police in Dallas sparked protests in cities across the country this weekend, most of them peaceful. But there were some tense confrontations. Last night in Saint Paul, Minnesota, protesters clashed with police, injuring two of them as marchers pushed past state troopers and ended up closing a freeway.

These exposed --all of it has exposed racial divisions in the U.S. And it comes at a time of growing political polarization overall, with Americans becoming more tribal, separated by region, by income, by culture and, of course, by race. And all of this, amid a campaign season featuring two candidates, who themselves are divisive and who may be uniquely unsuited to heal the country's wounds.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The images are burned into the consciousness of a nation already deeply polarized about race and policing.

Alton Sterling, killed by police officers while selling CDs outside a Baton Rouge convenience store. Philando Castile shot dead in his car by a police officer in Minnesota.

The aftermath, broadcast live to Facebook by his fiancée, her four-year-old daughter in the backseat. 12 police officers shot and five killed at a peaceful protest in Dallas, some shot in the back.

DALLAS POLICE CHIEF DAVID BROWN:

All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.

CHUCK TODD:

Not since the summers of the '60s and violence in Watts, Detroit, and Chicago has the nation felt so hopelessly divided. Searching for leadership and cynical about the answers its leaders can provide.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

As painful as this week has been, I firmly believe that America is not as divided as some have suggested.

CHUCK TODD:

Almost eight years after Barack Obama's election as the nation's first black President, more than four in ten African-Americans are doubtful that the country will ever achieve racial equality. While some political leaders call for unity.

REP. JOHN LEWIS:

We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not, we will perish as fools.

CHUCK TODD:

The blame game is also beginning.

LT. GOV DAN PATRICK::

Of all those protesters last night, they ran the other way, expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them. What hypocrites.

CHUCK TODD:

And at a time of widening political divisions, instead of presenting solutions to the national hopelessness, the Presidential campaign is intensifying it. The 2016 nominees both cancelled political events on Friday, struck quieter tones and called for change.

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

We know there is something wrong with our country. There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing.

DONALD TRUMP:

Our children deserve a better future than what we're making them live through today.

CHUCK TODD:

But can either of these candidates, among the least popular, least trusted and most divisive in history, somehow become the President that heals a nation desperately searching for unity?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now from New York City, Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson and New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Gentlemen, welcome back to Meet the Press to both of you.

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

Thanks for having us, Chuck, good to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

Secretary Johnson, let me start with you. And I want to start with a very broad question and that is the concern that many Americans have about just the state of race relations in this country. I want to put up some survey data. Essentially, starting in March of '14, 17 percent said there was a great deal of worry about race relations. Two years later in March of '16, the number has doubled. There's definitely, you can see, a Ferguson effect starting from there on this concern about race relations. Secretary Johnson, how concerned are you?

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

Well, I am concerned, Chuck. And I think at a time like this when tensions are high, in the wake of events in Dallas and Baton Rouge and Minnesota and elsewhere, it's important to remember that just as the shooter on Thursday night is not reflective of the broader movement to bring about change in police practices, that any police officer who engages in excessive force is not representative of the larger law enforcement community, which with increasing frequency, reflects the community at large.

And it's important to emphasize at a time like this, and this is why we're together this morning, that violence never solves anything. An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind and at this point, we need to stand with our law enforcement community, with our peace officers because they are there to serve and protect the community.

CHUCK TODD:

Commissioner Bratton, let me ask you to tackle this another way. A lot of blame game going around about Dallas. We had a Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke said while the President didn't cause this he believes he fueled the anger that was behind the shooting. And then, I want to play the this comment from the Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations, here it is, Commissioner.

(BEGIN TAPE)

WILLIAM JOHNSON:

It's a war on cops and the Obama Administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Commission Bratton, what do you say to that?

BILL BRATTON:

Well, the two individuals you just referenced have been very outspoken with this opinions on this issue, that as I look at it policing has always had issues of concern relative to officer safety. It's something that we spend a lot of time on, attempting to equip them, attempting to train them.

And also, attempting to develop collaboration with the community. Policing in America, policing in a democracy is a shared responsibility, where we have to see each other, hear each other and learn from each other. And moving forward, as we've attempted to do here in New York these last several years since the murder of our two officers back in December of 2014, is to try and increase that dialogue to bridge the gap, to close the gap. So everybody's opinion, everybody's voice needs to be heard. But having done that and doing that, we then need to try to find common ground.

.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

BILL BRATTON:

And the Secretary and I are committed at the national level and certainly here in America's largest city, trying to find common ground so we can all get onto the same set of issues and same understandings and move forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, do you agree, Secretary Johnson, with what Governor Dayton in Minnesota that if Philando Castile had been white, he'd be alive today?

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

I'm not in a position to comment on that. That matter is under investigation. Very often situations like this are pretty complicated. And so, I want to resist labels like that that may be premature. I think we ought to let the investigation play itself out. There ought to be something that's, that's fairly swift, transparent. And if necessary, accountability.

CHUCK TODD:

Commissioner Bratton, I want to play something for you that former mayor Rudy Giuliani said about the Black Lives Matter movement and get your reaction on the other side, here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

RUDY GIULIANI:

I think the reason that there's a target on police officers' backs is because of groups like Black Lives Matter that make it seem like all police are against blacks — they're not. They're the ones saving black lives. Black Lives Matter is not saving any black lives. It's the police officers who are doing it.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

I want you both to tackle this question. Rudy Giuliani is a well respected voice on the right, Black Lives Matter has become an important voice to many African Americans in this country, and is there any way of bridging that divide and that view? Obviously, Mayor Giuliani has a hardened view about this. Commissioner Bratton, you first and then Secretary Johnson.

BILL BRATTON:

Well, the reality of the Black Lives Matter movement is it is significantly focused, primarily focused on police and their efforts to portray police and the police profession in a very negative way, which is unfortunate. There are no denying within the police profession, 800,000 of us, that we have racists, we have brutal people, we have criminals, cops who shouldn't be here. But they do not represent the vast majority of American police, who every day, as exhibited in Dallas the other evening, put their lives on the line for blacks, for whites, for everybody. So in turn, some of the comments made by the mayor are appropriate in the sense of the intent and goal of Black Lives Matter; every life matters to American police and the issue of racial issues in this country. It's historic. It's the wound that has not yet healed. And hopefully, through all these challenges we're now facing, we will find ways to not only heal, but move forward.

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

Chuck, I know Rudy Giuliani well, he hired me as a federal prosecutor in 1988. I think it's time that we dial back the overheated rhetoric and we come together, which is why Commissioner Bratton and I are here this morning. We come together to mourn the loss of these police officers in Dallas, these brave heroes, to heal, to build bridges. And let's all dial back the overheated political rhetoric.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

And work on building and rebuilding our community and public safety.

CHUCK TODD:

And Commissioner Bratton, can you clear up this Donald Trump situation from Friday? He asked you to address the roll call. What was the actual request?

BILL BRATTON:

Very specifically, one of his security personnel -- former NYPD personnel -- reached out to our department about the potential for Mr. Trump to address a roll call. We turned down that request. We don't allow the department to be politicized, and inasmuch as he is engaged in a political campaign, that would be a politicizing of the department. I had a conversation with Mr. Trump as well as with Mrs. Clinton later in the day that day at their request -- both of them called me to discuss New York specifically as well as the Dallas situation. Very productive conversations, but it's been overplayed in some respects in the media. We don't allow the department to be used, if you will, as a backdrop to those types of campaigns.

CHUCK TODD:

Secretary Johnson, before I let you go, I know you have a son, have you ever had the talk that many African-American fathers say they have to have with their sons?

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

Yes, and I think I'll leave it there. Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough.

BILL BRATTON:

I don't have to leave it there. I've had conversations with my son, who's now 45, as a police officer, about the importance of compliance. A wonderful article today in New York Post by Yuseff Hamm who was the head of my Guardians Association, my black officers association, about the difficulty of being a black officer and a black father. And about the idea of compliance. Whether white or black, when a police officer confronts you, compliance is the best way to deal with that situation. The shared responsibility, the officer enforcing the law, the citizen responding to the officer in appropriate fashion.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Commissioner Bratton, Secretary Johnson, I'll leave it there. Tough week, thanks for coming on.

SEC. JEH JOHNSON:

Thanks, Chuck.

BILL BRATTON:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, in 2014, in the wake of Ferguson and the killing of Michael Brown, President Obama created a task force in community policing with the goal of improving how police interact with their communities. The co-chair of that task force is former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey, who joins me now. Chief Ramsey, welcome back to Meet the Press.

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the task force you are heading up. In the wake of what we saw in Baton Rouge and in St. Paul, a lot of people are wondering, "Have we made any progress?" Is this a case of two steps forward, one step back, or two steps back and no steps forward?

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, I mean, it just seems like sometimes it is two steps forward and one back, but we have to continue to move forward. Has there been progress? Yeah, absolutely. I think the report is a good road map for the future. But we cannot expect that there won't be some stumbling blocks along the way. We're going to have issues that are going to arise, but we have to keep pushing forward if we really want to see the kind of change that we need to bring these two sides together.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, statistically, the Washington Post did a big expose on sort of where we are this year when it comes to police and interactions and deaths caused by police officers and deaths of police officers. Essentially, more people have been shot and killed by police this year so far than last year at this same point in time and more police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year than last year at this point in time. So this feels a bit overwhelming I think to people.

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, yeah, but I think you have to keep everything in context. We do have some rising crime rates. And let's face it, we have on average about 13,000 murders in the United States every year. These are not shootings by police; these are people killing people.

There's a disproportionate amount of it going on in many of our more challenged communities. Who do you think goes after the people responsible for these crimes? It's the cops. And we encounter a lot of very dangerous people out there on the street. So we can look at numbers in a variety of ways, but I think we need to keep it in context that police officers have a very challenging and often dangerous job. Now that's not to say that we should not be mindful of the fact that we have some officers that use excessive force, that shoot people when it's not totally justified. We've got to really address that hold them accountable. But it is not a reflection of the department and policing at large.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Director Comey, James Comey of the F.B.I., who obviously was in the news for other reasons earlier this week, he has said a couple of times that he is concerned that there has been an impact on police officers, that they're somehow more hesitant. He is worried. He says he has no data to prove it, but he is worried that there is an impact, that the rise in the homicide rate this year is somehow related. Are you at all concerned about that?

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Yeah, I'm concerned about it. I mean, I don't know and there is no data right now, as the director said, to really show it. But police officers are human beings. And I mean, when you are being attacked like that or at least, you're perceived to being attacked, it does create some issues and some problems. But I think that we all need to recognize that there are some changes that need to be made. I mean, we can't look at it from a defensive posture. How do we move forward?

How do we create an environment where we're on the same page? There's only one issue, and that is creating safe neighborhoods; but also, those neighborhoods, with the people in it, have a sense and feeling of justice and fairness as the law is being applied. And I think that's really what people are asking for. So does it have an impact? Yeah, I think it does. But we've got to move forward from it.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there a different challenge here, by the way, between what we're seeing and the way big city police departments I think have been a little more proactive in making the changes necessary, but suburban police departments, where frankly, we've seen a lot of these negative interactions between police and African Americans have actually taken place in smaller, suburban departments. Is there a discrepancy between training? Is there a discrepancy between resources here, between smaller police departments and larger ones?

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, I mean, you raise a great issue. There are approximately 18,000 departments in the United States. In my opinion, far too many. And we need to look at a long-term goal. More regionalization, better training, more consistency in policy and procedures.

In your larger cities, where you have a lot of diversity, obviously you have officers that are very accustomed to dealing with a variety of people. We still have parts in our country where that's not the case. We need to bring people together, but we need more consistency in terms of the training that's provided, the selection and hiring of individuals. All those kinds of things need to happen. But in my opinion, we have too many police departments. I would try to cut the number in half, maybe by, in the next ten years or so. Because you are always going to have these kinds of issues as long as you have this many departments with different policies, procedures, training and the like.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, in an earlier interview this week you said the issue of the fact that all of this now that many people videotape these interactions, you called it a powder keg, that we're sitting on a powder keg. Explain.

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, we are sitting on a powder keg. I mean, you can call it a powder keg, you could say that we're handling nitroglycerin. But obviously, when you just look at what's going on, we're in a very, very critical point in the history of this country. And I think you've got two conventions coming up that are going to be very, very challenging to handle. And I don't think they are going to go without some incident taking place. It's unfortunate, but that's what I personally think. I hope that's not the case. But you've got too many people that are now with this extreme rhetoric and that is just not good for anybody.

We need to come together, we need thoughtful people to sit down and engage in dialogue, but actually come up with solutions, not just finger pointing and playing the blame game; that's not helpful to anybody at all. But it is a very, very volatile time that we're in right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Chief Ramsey, I appreciate you coming on, it's been a tough week.

CHARLES RAMSEY:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

So I appreciate you sharing your views. On Friday, President Obama ordered flags to be lowered to half staff to honor the victims in Dallas. This is the 67th time that President Obama has made such an order. It's more than any other President in history. We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

(BEGIN VIDEO)

PROTESTORS:

No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Our panel is here. Let me give the better introductions for Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, now Washington Post columnist. Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University and an MSNBC contributor. Longtime Republican strategist Mary Matalin, a former adviser to Vice President Cheney and the first President Bush, and Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post. All right, we got all your accolades out.

Michael, let me start with you, you perhaps wrote the most provocative piece of the week of everybody at this table. Not to say that everybody here isn't provocative in their own way.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

And yours was addressed to the white community as a whole about this week. Explain.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Well, my point is that, look, and I understand white brothers and sisters who wrote me back, "Hey, you can't characterize all of us." Look, it's a trope, it's an approach, it's an understanding. But imagine what we feel when we are addressed as "black America."

I was pleading, really, with white brothers and sisters to understand the difficulty, the circumstances that we confront, the extraordinary assault upon black life, the repudiation of any sense of civility when it comes to the interactions between police forces, which most African-American people regard with respect and authority, but whose authority has spilled over into terrorizing impulses and impacts upon African-American culture. And I wanted to talk about the vulnerability we feel. Even when you were interviewing Chief Bratton, a remarkable man to be sure, but he wanted to draw a false equivalence between talking to his son and Jeh Johnson speaking to his son.

Jeh Johnson, unfortunately, hesitant to weigh in and I understand. Chief Bratton, more than happy to do so. There's not an equivalence between Chief Bratton speaking to his son because his son is not most likely to be brutalized by police authority or the misapplication of the law to vulnerable populations. And I wanted to express myself to that very America that I teach every day at Georgetown University.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to throw something out here. This was on Red State, mind you Red State, a news and opinion site, Leon Wolf, and he writes this: "The most important safety valve to prevent violence like we saw in Dallas last night is the belief that when officers do go off the rails, the legal system will punish them accordingly. If minority communities and everyone else, for that matter, believe that than the resort to reprisal killings would be either non-existent or far less frequent."

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, I saw that piece on Red State and after my jaw came up off the floor, I was actually encouraged. I was encouraged by that. I was also encouraged by a somewhat lukewarm statement that came out from the National Rifle Association about the Minnesota shooting, which essentially questioned whether Philando Castile was killed for exercising his Second Amendment Right to keep and bear arms.

And it is encouraging if there are conservatives who are kind of getting it, who are understanding this idea of equal protection. But I have to say, as Michael said, this is personal. I am a father of two sons, right? They are often guilty - they are young black men, they are often guilty of driving while black, walking while black, standing while black. And so, this is a very personal concern.

CHUCK TODD:

Mary, you were--

MARY MATALIN:

You don't like to be lumped together, conservatives don't like to be lumped together. And a lot of conservatives do get, particularly conservatives that live in a minority/majority cities. And I'm all about Leon Wolf, he's my go-to guy, and he's consistent in saying if read the whole column --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

MARY MATALIN:

The problem here is coming to the truth. It's not --and the truth is not all cops are racist and the truth is not all cops are always right; the truth, as your former panelist said and the statistics show, is somewhere in between. That's what Leon is saying and that's what people of good faith believe. And if you live in New Orleans or any city like that, we have faced this and we have reformed and we have corrected it. But I want to go to your point, too.

It is true that -- I'm, what, 63, okay? So I am older than all you guys. I was raised to respect police officers. Black friends of mine whose parents were raised in the same era were taught to fear them because that was the legacy of police brutality and Jim Crow. So of course, we have to understand that. But then, in turn, and here's what we've done in New Orleans, black people, our African-American brothers and sisters and neighbors understand that their first line of protection in those neighborhoods are the police--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

No one understands that more. No one understands than more than people who live in poor communities.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Exactly. Look at Philando Castile. He's announcing, his girlfriend is announcing, "Look, I have a gun. Let me tell you exactly what I have," as far as we know.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

And this is the case, and he still, by obeying the law, Mary, lost his life. This is the very polarizing and brutalizing vulnerability that we feel that we are trying to express to white Americans who love and appreciate justice. Do you understand how difficult this is?

MARY MATALIN:

Do you, professor, do you think -- I understand the fear, I understand the legacy. But do you honestly believe out of the three million interactions of police, with people of all colors -- there's one cop for every 266 humans -- that every one of these instances that police go out and say, "I'm going to brutalize a black man"?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Of course not.

MARY MATALIN:

Okay, well, then--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

It's the consequence. And you're making my point for me even better.

MARY MATALIN:

Thank you.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

It is an unconscious, if you will, inclination to see that black person differently, through a different prism, to have greater fear. The police, the cop on the front line feels a kind of intensity that he does not feel. Let me give you an example.

On the Internet right now is a white guy, going ham, crazy, beating up, striking out with a machete. And the white police allow him to leave the door of the establishment and people say, "Bolt the doors." And these are two cops who could have killed him. Do you think that an African-American person wielding a machete would have been granted that kind of civility? No.

CHUCK TODD:

Michael, come in here.

MICHAEL GERSON:

Yeah, I think we're discovering more broadly that our biggest need at this moment is empathy across our deepest divisions.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

No doubt.

MICHAEL GERSON:

That's what allows a diverse country and multi-ethnic country to be peaceful and unified. And empathy is most powerful, most effective when you apply it to your own, when you apply it to your own community. So it's powerful when Black Lives Matter empathizes with the role of police officers. It's powerful when people in the white community understand that minorities experience our justice system different than we do and in ways that we would not tolerate.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL GERSON:

And so I think that, you know, that's the biggest need right now.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

The cruelest irony of what happened last week is that that sort of empathy was happening in Dallas, right?

CHUCK TODD:

Of all police departments --

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Of all police departments, David Brown has done a fabulous job in Dallas. Complaints of excessive violence on the part of officers are down by two-thirds since he took over in 2010.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Police shootings went down from 23 in 2012 to one. One this year. So it can be done. And you saw the ease with which the protesters, the Black Lives Matter protesters and the police coexisted until this lunatic--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

And they were defending the right of those African-American people. I spoke for the black police league down in Dallas with Cletus Judge and Willie Ford and Jackie Lee and those people are remarkable. But they understand. Let me tell you something you don't want to hear: As black police, they say, too, "When I'm out of uniform, I have fear; when I am not involved directly and people can't identify me as a cop, I too, have fear." Look at the young woman, is it Nikia Jones, the woman who made the Facebook posting? This is a real thing that we have to confront.

MARY MATALIN:

Professor, we got that point, I want to speak to Mike's point.And I know, I get it--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Empathy with justice. It's not just getting it, it's understanding it.

MARY MATALIN:

Empathy with justice, but starts with empathy. And justice is more frequently done than we're discussing. But let's talk about the aftermath of Baton Rouge. Both my daughters are there, James, my husband's entire family is there. That city came together, black and white, holding vigils, praying and singing and not erupting. That's where the rhetoric, the parts from the empathy that has lived on the ground.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, I want to pause the conversation. We'll continue it. We have more time to continue it, but let me pause here because I have to sneak in commercial break. When we come back, can a divided Washington heal a divided nation? I'm going to talk to two senators, both former mayors, who have firsthand experience in dealing with the issue of policing and race.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The country's divisions are reflected in where we live, whether or where we worship and how we vote. And those divisions are reflected right here in Washington, where Democrats and Republicans find it increasingly difficult to agree on just about anything.

Joining me now are two senators, both of whom were mayors. Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Mayor of Newark, and Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who was once the Mayor of Chattanooga. And I should point out that in a small sign of unity for what it's worth it's the first time in nearly two years that we here at Meet the Press have gotten a Democratic and Republican senator to agree to appear together. Senator Corker, Senator Booker, I am not surprised that you are the two to agree to do this. So thank you to both of you on that front and welcome back.

SENATOR BOB CORKER:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Corker, let me start with you. You tweeted this on Friday: "Our country has been shaken by senseless violence this week and I am horrified by the tragedy that unfolded overnight in Dallas." Obviously, a sentiment a lot of people share. How much outrage needs to be expressed before we start feeling as if we can do something about this?

SENATOR BOB CORKER:

Well, look, we are doing something about it. I mean, I thought the response in Dallas was the kind of response that needs to take place. This is mostly a local issue. And individual mayors and police chiefs and others responded in an appropriate way. As mayor, one of the things that I knew and I'm sure Cory knew the same thing that when the morale at a police department is low, when people don't feel supported in police departments, folks are being hurt unnecessarily.

So look, it's the number one responsibility that we have is to keep our citizens safe and secure, to make sure that they are professionalized. But the fact is that it's a breakdown in society when things like what happened in Dallas where there's moral depravity of this individual, took the lives of people who were protecting folks, who were demonstrating peacefully.

That is something that all of us should cry out about and to show support for these men and women in uniform that do what they do on a daily basis, mostly supported, but in so many cases, feeling like they're under assault by the general public. And again, when one of their officers, when someone acts out inappropriately, it hurts them, too. They want to make sure that the legal process works when that breaks down. But the fact is mostly, these are selfless people who are protecting our citizens, causing kids to be able to go to school and people will be able to go to work, and that's what we ought to be talking about today is their greatness. There are flaws that exist, but their greatness, what they do on our behalf.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Booker, you heard obviously Senator Corker there and he also said this is a local issue. Is there a federal government role here? When you were mayor, you had a very challenging police department that had a challenging history to it in Newark. What role did you want the federal government to play then and what role should the federal government be playing now?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

Well, first of all, we have 18,000 police departments in our country and many of them are significantly under resourced. There's few groups as I've ever seen in America that show the daily courage, especially urban police officers, where there's a lot of gun violence. We have officers dying every single year on duty. And we should be doing a lot more as a nation to support those officers.

And programs that have come from the federal government in the past have supported our local officers. And now at a time that we know that there's ways not only to protect our officers, that we need to be doing more of and affirming the fact that they are doing very dangerous jobs. That when officers leave their families, those families fear for their safety and pray for their return.

We also know that there is a challenge with America, where we have invested, unfortunately, is in a war on drugs, which has been profoundly painful to our nation with a 500 percent increase in incarceration in our country, disproportionately affecting poor and disproportionately affecting minorities. African-Americans have no difference than whites in using drugs or dealing drugs, but are about 3.7 times more likely to be arrested. We now know local police officers, with the right training, could address issues like de-escalation, can address issues like implicit racial bias.

That even people like the Head of the F.B.I., Director Comey, talk passionately about the need for this country to address implicit racial bias. So we need to invest in our local departments, do a lot of the things that some progressive departments are doing that are de-escalating situations, lowering police involved shootings and addressing the implicit racial bias that exists in this country.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go to the larger issue here, though, that I am concerned about, which is: Is this Presidential campaign and are these two presidential candidates suited to meet the moment that's necessary? Senator Corker, you know the rhetoric on the campaign trail has been heated and it's been divisive. The country believes both candidates are polarizing for various reasons and different reasons. I'm going to start with you. Senator Corker, how does Donald Trump make the case that he can unify this country and heal these wounds? And then, I'll ask Senator Booker to make the case on the other side.

SENATOR BOB CORKER:

Look, I think both of the candidates, their challenge over the coming weeks is to show that they can do that. I think there is going to be a sincere effort within the Trump campaign to do so. My guess is the same thing will be happening in the Clinton campaign.

There is no question, put this campaign aside, look, the conversation in America has been way divisional. It's not been appropriate, it's been that way for some time. And it adds to this. But let's get back to it again. You know, the mayor of a city is where most of this occurs. And I'm not in any way criticizing what happened in Dallas, but it's those local efforts that actually bring people together.

No doubt the discourse, no doubt the videos that people can see, no doubt those things affect things throughout our country, but look, I hope that both of these candidates candidly will rise to the occasion and on this particular issue, bring people together. Millennials, let's think about it, millennials in our country today probably are more embracing of diversity than any generation we've had.

And it's my hope, again, after this tremendous crisis that's occurred, this tragedy, that our country will focus more on unity and not division. And I hope both campaigns will take advantage of that.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Booker, let me ask it to you this way, though, about Hillary Clinton, can she be a president that helps with racial reconciliation in a better way than President Obama?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

So let me just say this, we have to all understand we have a country with deep reservoirs of love. We are good people. We are well intentioned people. And when called upon, we rise to an occasion. This is such an occasion. And I'm going to be very blunt. I've watched in pain when I see a presidential candidate, all of our words matter, whether you're a citizen of a presidential candidate, words matter.

And this is a time where we need courageous empathy, where we need undeterred love. And so, when I hear a presidential candidate like Donald Trump gratuitously demeaning women, demeaning Muslims, demeaning Latinos at a time where our country needs reconciliation, we need people that bind our wounds and build bridges across out cachesims. To see someone so callously stoking hate and fear and inflaming divide, this is not the person to be president of the United States, I believe ever, but definitely not at a time when we need a healer, a reconciler and somebody to remind us that as a nation, our differences matter.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

But our country matters more.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Booker, I understand you made the case against Mr. Trump, but how does Hillary Clinton, who is almost as polarizing and as divisive, how does she make the case that she's the candidate here for reconciliation?

SENATOR BOOKER:

I patently disagree with you on issues of race and religious diversity that she is in any way polarizing. If anything, I've watched her in black communities and white communities and even after this tragedy, put forth the spirit of America, which is an understanding that as our founders said in the Declaration of Independence, this is a time we need to mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. And she has manifested that on issues of race, of religion, of gender diversity. She is someone that can build our bridges and far more than the alternative.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

Someone who is injecting more divisiveness in this country through his rhetoric, through his affiliations.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

And actually, refusal to even denounce patent racists.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Corker, Senator Booker, I'm going to leave it there. I thank you both for coming on together. Hopefully, we can make this a habit again on Meet the Press. Appreciate it.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, how will this tumultuous week impact the Presidential race? And by the way, is this the week that we're going to learn who Donald Trump's running mate will be? We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We noted that Hillary Clinton had this to say on Friday to my colleague, Lester Holt, after a grim week of racially charged shootings.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

So here's what I believe, I believe we need a national conversation and we start showing respect toward one another. Seeing each other, walking in each other's shoes.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

We thought the call for a conversation about race sounded familiar, so we looked at some old video and discovered Democrats, in particular, have been talking about this idea for a long time. Let's look back, starting with President Obama after Ferguson.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

What we need is a sustained conversation in which in each region of the country, people are talking about this honestly and then can move forward in a constructive fashion.

PRES. BILL CLINTON:

Over the coming year, I want to lead the American people in a great and unprecedented conversation about race.

SEN. BILL BRADLEY

Ask yourself: When was the last time you had a conversation about race with someone of a different race?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And that was probably the most provocative of all of them and properly the most important way to say it. Clearly, there's been a lot of talk about talking, but a lot of us have been left to wonder why more hasn't been done. We're gonna get to that when we come back. And we'll talk about what all of this means for this 2016 campaign.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with the panel. I want to pivot the conversation, and Michael Gerson, I'm going to start with you because you had a very provocative column this week, too. But yours was on lamenting the fact, essentially, we're in this moment and we have two nominees that may be uniquely unfit to meet the moment.

MICHAEL GERSON:

Yeah, you'd think political parties would want to pick popular candidates. And in fact, they have chosen two deeply divisive candidates here. And there are elements in our politics, not these two people, necessarily, or maybe one, elements in our politics that want to feed just enough anger, just enough resentment, but not over into violence. And that is the most dangerous game that you can possibly play in politics. We have a Republican nominee who rose to prominence by criticizing the other, creating fear of the other. We have a conservative media in parts right now that has a white identity message, okay. And that, all of this is deeply destructive; it's not the kind of leadership we need.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

I think -- What he said about Trump, but also, you know, the situation, as you said, is that half the country just tunes out when Hillary Clinton speaks. You know, the other half --

CHUCK TODD:

And the other half tunes out when--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--tunes out when Donald Trump speaks, maybe more than half.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

And so, that's not conducive to a national conversation about race. Although, frankly, I have always maintained that this is how we have our national conversation about race. Not the way we're sitting at this table.

CHUCK TODD:

No.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But something happens, we yell and scream, we argue, we get scratchy-- But that's the way we do it.

(OVERTALK)

MARY MATALIN:

Stop, stop, stop. Everything isn't about race, or everything is about the economy, which affects every race, every gender, every orientation the same. Donald Trump did not come out of the head of Zeus, okay? The party created him by being unresponsive to the party's demands and the successive tsunami midterms, which wanted to have some sort of reform repeal of Obamacare, wanted to reduce the overreach of government, wanted a more robust economic recovery, wanted a cessation of the intrusion into their life by all these regulations. That's what's going on in every community out there. And Donald Trump is just riding that wave. And you're not wrong about -- their rhetoric, both of them, is detached. That's not how people live.

MICHAEL GERSON:

But the whole political strategy of getting out the white vote is morally problematic and very dangerous. And that's where our politics is headed.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Well, hold on. So it is about race. So when you say, "Hold on, hold on, it's not about race," of course it is, it's just not about blackness. It's also about whiteness. And we don't have a conversation in this country with race and whiteness. Whiteness is at stake; Donald Trump has, I think, in a beguiling way seduced many working-class white people into believing that he will be their defender when, indeed, he is not.

And on top of that, Hillary Clinton, when we get past the optics and cosmetics, has put forth consistently public policy recommendations that will speak to the vicious undercurrent of racism in this country, but also bring together various constituencies along the continuum of race in this country. I think that's what's important.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, but Gene, it goes back to-- and I think it's what Cory Booker was trying to get at, Senator Booker was trying to get at, which is, you know, he says, "Well, she's doing all of these things," but the country's going to tune her out.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

The whole point of unity is, can you get 10% of the other side to listen to you?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Yeah, well, you know, frankly, we'll have to see. I mean, elections are choices, right? And so, we're going to have presumably these two candidates, unless something crazy happens in Cleveland. We'll have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And people will then be making choices and they will choose who to listen to.

And there will be occasions when people basically don't have a choice. I mean, they turn off the TV, but the two will be standing there debating. I do believe that there's a very good chance that Hillary Clinton's message will, indeed, get through better than Donald Trump's.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, well, Michael Eric Dyson, President Obama said he's going to go to Dallas.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that the only place he should go this week?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

Not at all. I think the President is doing a remarkable and good thing by going to Dallas, but he's got to go to Louisiana and he's got to go to Minnesota, he doesn't have to--

CHUCK TODD:

You do all three stops?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

You got to do all three stops because all three people are aggrieved, hurt, pained and he is the President of everybody. He doesn't have to wait for a Delta flight, thank God, he's got Air Force One.

CHUCK TODD:

He's got his own plane.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

And I think he can do it. I think he's up to it and I think he will do it.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, we shall see. Back in 45 seconds. We're going to talk a little bit about what this week will end up being about, which is one candidate naming their running mate, we'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game. We are going to have a running mate pick this week. It appears to be for Donald Trump down to Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, maybe Chris Christie, maybe the General Michael Flynn, although I hear really Pence or Gingrich. Michael Gerson, do you have an opinion?

MICHAEL GERSON:

Well, I think it's an important choice for him. He could do someone who is like General Flynn, who is an outside and to reinforce his message that he is outside the boundaries of politics, or he could try to please Cruz voters, who are real in the Republican Party, that conservative side. So you know, that will determine the nature of his sprint down to the election.

MARY MATALIN:

As a Cruz voter, what would please us more is not a person, but a pronouncement and a conviction to Constitutional principles. I like the idea of Flynn, I like the whole outsider thing because the insiders are going to come inside because they want to stay inside. I think Newt would hate it, he would absolutely hate it. It's a gritty, hard, thankless job; that's not his scene.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MARY MATALIN:

And Pence may or may not speak to the Cruz voters, but it doesn't matter, the policies are not constitutional policies. Which so far, the Donald has not been showing the courage of his convictions on the Supreme Court and issues like that that drives those voters.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting on Newt this week, by the way, he did a Facebook Live with Van Jones and--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It was very sort of measured and thoughtful, responsible.

CHUCK TODD:

And not even that, he said something that you don't hear often from white politicians, which is "It's different to be black in America."

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It's different to be black in America. He's a, I mean, Newt Gingrich is a very smart guy.

CHUCK TODD:

It's important to say it.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

I tend to agree with Mary that he would be just be bored to tears as Vice Presidendy--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I don't think he'd be bored. That I don't think he'd be. Bored is not--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

He could do all the Civil War paraphernalia and all that in his own office, but--

MARY MATALIN:

No, he used to be HHS Secretary, he really does have a lot of ideas on healthcare, he understands bureaucracy--

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

You have to accentuate the fact that he said something very brave and something courageous in the midst of the heat of the battle.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

And I think he should be acknowledged for that, because it's an important point that only people who listen to Newt Gingrich will hear and I think was important for him to say that. That's a form of unity, as well, to acknowledge a particular kind of privilege, a particular sort of perspective and say, "The only way we can come together is to acknowledge all of that."

CHUCK TODD:

I only have a few seconds left, so I just want to thank you guys. It was spirited and it was, more importantly, friendly and that's a good moment. And I think we-- how about that! So that's all for today.

MARY MATALIN:

We love each other!

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON:

I can't kiss you but I--

(LAUGHTER)

CHUCK TODD:

Well a little unity and levity in a rough week like this is necessary. We'll be back next week, right from the Republican National Convention. A week from tomorrow, the Republican Convention begins in Cleveland. So if it's Sunday, and it's the convention, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *