Author Archives: Deconstructed

Crazy in Gov: Why Won’t the Media Discuss Trump’s Mental Instability?

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Donald Trump’s Rose Garden speech last week announcing his emergency declaration over the “crisis” at the southern border was rambling, incoherent, and unhinged: in short, everything we’ve come to expect from the 45th president of the United States. There has never been a president quite like Trump: the all-caps tweets; his obsession with election results and crowd sizes; his bragging, his boasting, his childish point-scoring. And yet journalists treat him like a normal politician instead of stating the obvious: Donald Trump is mentally unfit for the presidency. Almost half the country agrees, and plenty of republicans, including Sen. Bob Corker and Jeb Bush, have expressed concern about his mental stability. To discuss the situation and where we go from here, Mehdi Hasan is joined by Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, and by Trump’s biographer, David Cay Johnston.

Transcript coming soon.

The post Crazy in Gov: Why Won’t the Media Discuss Trump’s Mental Instability? appeared first on The Intercept.

The Truth About Islam and Democracy (With Anwar Ibrahim)

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Hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over live in democracies of some shape or form, from Indonesia to Malaysia to Pakistan to Lebanon to Tunisia to Turkey. Tens of millions of Muslims live in—and participate in—Western democratic societies. The country that is on course to have the biggest Muslim population in the world in the next couple of decades is India, which also happens to be the world’s biggest democracy. Yet a narrative persists, particularly in the West, that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Islam is often associated with dictatorship, totalitarianism, and a lack of freedom, and many analysts and pundits claim that Muslims are philosophically opposed to the idea of democracy. On this week’s show, Mehdi Hasan is joined by the man expected to become Malaysia’s next Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and by Dalia Mogahed, Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, to discuss Islam, Muslims, and democracy.

 

Transcript coming soon.

The post The Truth About Islam and Democracy (With Anwar Ibrahim) appeared first on The Intercept.

Who’s Really Afraid of Socialism?

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During his State of the Union address, President Trump expressed “alarm” at what he termed “new calls to adopt socialism in our country.” “Tonight,” he proclaimed, “we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” The line received a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats alike, yet recent polls show that socialism is growing in popularity in the U.S., with a net positive rating among Democrats. Newly-elected Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib are both members of the Democratic Socialists of America, and policy proposals identified with the socialist movement, such as debt-free college and universal health care, are gaining traction on the left. To discuss America’s long-held resistance to socialism and its current rise in popularity, Mehdi Hasan is joined by Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig.

Transcript coming soon.

The post Who’s Really Afraid of Socialism? appeared first on The Intercept.

Kamala Harris Wants to Be President. But What About Her Right-Wing Past?

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Since getting elected to the senate, Kamala Harris has become one of the most progressive voices in the chamber, coming out in favor of Medicare for All and debt-free college. Her forensic questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during last September’s Supreme Court nomination hearings boosted her national profile even further. However, her record as a district attorney and as an attorney general in California stand in stark contrast to the progressive ideals she now claims to hold. As attorney general, Harris opposed a bill requiring her office to investigate shootings involving police officers threatened to imprison the parents of truant children, who are disproportionately poor and non-white. Her office fought a proposed parole program that would release prisoners early if they served half their sentences, arguing that “prisons would lose an important labor pool.” When questioned about her record at a CNN Town Hall this week, Sen. Harris evaded the questions and argued instead that her record has been “consistent.” On this week’s Deconstructed podcast, Mehdi Hasan is joined by Jamilah King of Mother Jones and by Lara Bazelon, a professor of law at the University of San Francisco, to discuss Sen. Harris’s record and her prospects in the Democratic primaries.

Articles referenced in this podcast:

The Secret to Understanding Kamala Harris by Jamilah King, Mother Jones January 2018

Kamala Harris’ Presidential Run Will Force Democrats to Decide Where They Really Stand on Criminal Justice by Jamilah King, Mother Jones January 2019

Kamala Harris was Not a “Progressive Prosecutor” by Lara Bazelon, New York Times January 2019

 

Transcript coming soon.

The post Kamala Harris Wants to Be President. But What About Her Right-Wing Past? appeared first on The Intercept.

What You Can’t Say About Israel (with Marc Lamont Hill)

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There are signs that U.S. opinion might be shifting on Israel and its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. Democrats and younger U.S. voters, including young Jewish voters, are shifting to a more pro-Palestine position, according to recent polls. There are now two members of Congress — Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — who openly support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel. At the same time, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, under pressure from local pro-Israeli Jewish groups, recently rescinded a human rights award they’d bestowed on civil rights icon Angela Davis because of her support for BDS. In November, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN because he gave a speech at the UN calling for a free Palestine “from the river to the sea.” On this week’s Deconstructed podcast, Lamont Hill and Mehdi Hasan discuss the de facto censorship that surrounds discussions of Israel in the U.S. The two are joined by Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

Transcript coming soon.

The post What You Can’t Say About Israel (with Marc Lamont Hill) appeared first on The Intercept.

When Do We “Impeach the Motherfucker”? (With Rashida Tlaib)

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In the wake of the 2018 midterms, the Democratic Party in Congress is looking a lot more diverse—not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but in ideology as well. There are now actual leftists (a tiny minority, but still), with ambitious policy agendas and big social media platforms, making noise and taking no prisoners. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a self-declared democratic socialist, is among those newcomers. She wasn’t elected to Congress to manage the status quo; she was elected to overturn it. Rep. Tlaib kicks off season 3 of Deconstructed, joining Mehdi Hasan to discuss Palestine and the BDS movement, her plans for 2019, and the possible impeachment of Donald Trump.

Op-Ed referenced in this podcast: Now Is the Time to Begin Impeachment Proceedings Against President Trump, Detroit Free Press January 2019

Rashida Tlaib: We ran because being on the outside ring wasn’t going to be an option for us anymore, being silent wasn’t going to be an option anymore. People like us deserve a seat at the table and we’re at the table now.

Mehdi Hasan: Hello and a belated happy new year. I’m Mehdi Hasan, and welcome back to a new season of Deconstructed, for a new year. I hope you had a great break, if you had a break, and I hope you’re ready for an action-packed 2019. Is this the year President Trump finally—finally!— gets his comeuppance? Is this the year the Democrats finally grow a spine, and kick some ass? Some Congressional Democrats, new Congressional Democrats, are up for a fight.

RT: Look, it’s not a waste of time to hold the President United States accountable. We need to understand our duties as members of Congress and I believe looking at even Nixon’s impeachment, it was Republicans and Democrats coming together and putting country first.

MH: That’s my guest today, Representative Rashida Tlaib, who was sworn in on January the 3rd and grabbed the headlines instantly. So, on today’s Deconstructed, we’re taking a cue from the congresswoman and asking, among other things, when do we impeach the mother-[beep]?

2019 already looks like it’ll be as batshit crazy as 2018. I mean, where to begin? There was the big dinner at the White House this week for the Clemson Tigers national championship-winning football team. And when I say big dinner, I mean Big Macs, Quarter-pounders, Wendy’s Burgers, Domino’s pizzas. Yes, cold and shit fast food ordered by, and apparently paid for by, the President of the United States himself.

Donald J. Trump: We have pizzas. We have 300 hamburgers, many, many french fries, all of our favorite foods. I want to see what’s here when we leave.

MH: Sorry, which self-styled billionaire orders fast food for his guests and then brags about it on Twitter? Especially when that alleged billionaire owns a posh hotel down the road from the White House which serves gourmet steaks, but yeah, he’s too cheap to pay for that. Of course, the reason he had to get fast food in the first place was because of a lack of staff in the White House kitchen due to the government shutdown. A shutdown which is now the longest in U.S. history. Well done, Donald. What’s more, this is a shutdown which President Donald Trump told us was his shutdown. We all heard him say it to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office, on camera, just a month ago, a clip which the Democrats should be probably playing on a loop by the way.

DJT: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.

MH: But now — surprise! — he says it’s all the fault of the Democrats. That’s what he proclaimed in his live address to the nation from the Oval Office last week which the TV networks idiotically allowed him to give.

DJT: The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.

MH: Perhaps he has amnesia. Or dementia. Or maybe he’s delusional. I mean, this is also the same president who told Fox News last Saturday:

DJT: Well, I haven’t actually left the White House in months.

MH: For months? Are you kidding me? He was in Texas just two days before that interview. He was in Iraq two weeks before that. Is he demented? Is he delusional? Is he just a fabulist? But I guess that’s always been the basic message from this reality-star president: Reality doesn’t matter. And anyways, who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

But I don’t just want to talk about Donald Trump today. I don’t. Even though I suspect we’ll spend much of this coming year talking about Trump, just as we did last year, and the year before that and the year before that. He’s taken over my life, professionally and personally. I want to talk about the Democrats today because not only is this the year that the Democratic presidential race heats up, and we had Senator Kirsten Gillibrand telling Stephen Colbert on Tuesday that that she plans to run too. Elizabeth Warren’s looking at a bid. Tulsi Gabbard has declared. Joe Biden’s testing the waters. But not only is this the year the Democratic race kicks off, in earnest, but it’s also of course, the year the Democrats can hold this president to account for the first time.

The new Democratic majority in the House is already locked in a struggle over the shutdown. You have Democratic committee chairs threatening to get the President’s tax returns and dig into his foreign dealings and corruption and emoluments. And you have some of the newest Democrats in the House making some of the most noise.

Representative Rashida Tlaib, the first ever Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, turned up at her swearing in ceremony in a traditional Palestinian gown, a thobe, which immediately started trending. That evening, though, she really grabbed the headlines when she said this at a meeting of liberal activists.

RT: When your son looks at you and says: “Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.” And I said: “Baby, they don’t, because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.”

(cheers)

MH: Now whether or not you agree with the, uh, colorful language used there, are we supposed to be upset that a new Democratic member of Congress wants to impeach Trump, which is what a majority of Democratic voters want? By the way, Tlaib didn’t just give a speech and swear, she also co-authored an op-ed that day explaining why we don’t need to wait for Mueller or the Russia investigation to conclude. There’s already enough evidence in the public domain of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations, the imprisonment of children at the border to justify impeachment.

But that was all lost in the brouhaha over her use of the M-word. Republicans were outraged. Outraged, I tell you! Yeah, are we really supposed to believe that the same Republicans who helped elect to office a president accused of raping his wife and sexually assaulting more than a dozen women, who was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia, who referred to African countries as ‘shithole’ countries, and who just last weekend was accused of telling his own chief of staff that he had “fucked it all up,” we’re supposed to believe that those same Republicans were offended or shocked by Rashida Tlaib’s remark? If you believe that, I have a degree at Trump University to sell you.

By the way, Trump claimed to be offended by Tlaib’s “disgraceful” use of the M-word, he said, even though here’s Trump speaking back in 2011.

DJT: Listen, you motherfuckers, we’re gonna tax you 25 percent.

MH: But worst of all is that not only did the media and the Republicans and Trump pile in on Tlaib, but so did some conservative and centrist Democrats too. Well, pretend Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia who said this on — where else — Fox News.

Joe Manchin: Oh, so disgusting. It was horrible, Neil. No one should approve of that. And I hope she doesn’t talk to her son that way either. To act like that, just awful, and to speak like that is even more deplorable. I’m so sorry. I want to apologize to all Americans.

MH: Sorry, Joe Manchin voted to put Brett Kavanaugh, a man accused of sexual assault by three different women, on the Supreme Court. Joe Manchin says he might vote for Donald Trump in 2020. Does he really think anyone gives a damn what his views are on bad language? I mean, seriously?

The reality is that the ludicrous Joe Manchins of this world are, thankfully, the past, not the future of the Democrats. In fact, the Democratic Party in Congress now looks a lot more like the Democratic base. In fact, it looks a lot more like America itself. And, crucially, it’s not just diverse in terms of ethnic or gender diversity, welcome though that is, but it’s more diverse in terms of ideology.

We now have actual leftists, still a tiny minority yes, but actual leftists, with ambitious policy agendas and big social media platforms, making noise and taking no prisoners. Rashida Tlaib, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a self-declared Democratic Socialist. She didn’t just get elected to manage the status quo, she got elected to overturn it. So earlier, I went to her new office on Capitol Hill to talk to Congresswoman Tlaib about her plans for 2019, her comments about Trump and her position on Palestine.

[Music interlude.]

MH: Rashida Tlaib, congratulations on your election, on being here in Congress making history. One of the first two Muslim American women and the first Palestinian American woman to be elected to Congress. I want to start by asking a question that’s been asked of some of your new colleagues as well. Do you consider yourself to be a radical?

RT: You know, first of all, it depends on what you know, how you would define radical —

MH: You define it.

RT: Different. I am different. I’m different in how I serve not just because of my faith, not because I’m, you know, an Arab-American woman with this unique name and just kind of a unique approach to public service. But I’m different in a sense that I come from the third poorest congressional district in the country. The fact that you know half of my colleagues before I got here are millionaires. They’re an income bracket that is completely disconnected with the American people.

I’m different in that I, you know, I’m a mother. I am a person that is dealing with student debt and all of the challenges that I think many of my residents are facing today in being brown or Black in our country. I think for those that say well that’s radical, sometimes I feel like that’s a way to dismiss the fact that I do belong here just like anybody else that this kind of approach to public service to me is a new era of the social justice movement that we have in our country right now.

MH: This year, 2019, is going to be a very, very busy political year. Probably busier than 2018 even. God help us all. What do you think? What, in your view, should be the number one policy priority for the Democratic caucus in the house in 2019?

RT: You know, I think for my district specifically it has primarily been around addressing poverty in our country. I think that is probably the pathway to true equality. So, many things are so connected to the issue of poverty.

MH: How though, what particular policies do you want?

RT: Absolutely. So, one of the things that —

MH: Hit me.

RT: So, my first bill is Justice for All Civil Rights Act. A lot of folks don’t realize in 1964, we passed this historical, beautiful Civil Rights Act of ’64 and what happened there over the last 50 years is the courts got more, increasingly more conservative. So, they decided you know what if we’re going to look at civil rights violation, then we have to — this higher threshold of intent in putting the burden on us. No, the impact of the policy in itself should be enough to say there’s a civil rights violation.

MH: I just saw on my way here on Twitter that you’re going to be on the Financial Services Committee. Is that confirmed?

RT: Yeah, it’s going to hopefully be confirmed soon.

MH: You and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. Should the banks —

RT: And Maxine Waters.

MH: — Should the banks be afraid of you?

RT: They shouldn’t. They understand that, you know, it’s not personal. She knows — Maxine Waters is an unwavering advocate and she of anybody understands from being here longer than most of us on this committee, right, that she understands that there has been a lack of accountability and responsibility on Wall Street in what’s happened to our communities around economic injustices. And so much of it is tied with all the other issues that are in my district. I’m excited because having someone that is like you, that understands true public service has to be stemmed and connected, really rooted in what’s happening back home and she’s extremely rooted and understanding how painful poverty can be.

MH: There’s been some wins and some might say losses for your wing of the party, if I can call it that, since the new year. On the one hand, you had the Green New Deal rhetoric picking up. You had the new select committee on climate change that Speaker Pelosi signed off on which was seen as a victory for a lot of you guys pushing for that. On the other hand, some of my colleagues at The Intercept did a piece last week about how if you look at some of the key committee posts they’ve gone more to the “moderate centrist” than the members of the progressive caucus. How worried are you about how kind of “your wing of the party” shakes out over the course of this year with Nancy Pelosi and some of the more established Democrats still in charge at the top?

RT: I think Congresswoman Pressley said it beautifully to me is like, we’re here to be seen and heard. I don’t think we’re losing when we’re still here and we’re going to still be pushing back against this, you know, to me less courageous kind of approach to a lot of these very important policies. Even with the Select Committee, I’ve already convened over 35 advocates alone in Detroit and even those from Flint came. So many community advocates came together in saying what do we want a Green New Deal to encompass? Because even though we have this structure out there in saying that we need to move towards that, we also want to be able to make sure there’s co-ownership and oversight and all of those things. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to go and present to the Select Committee that this is the needs and the requirements and importance of the Green New Deal.

MH: But to having your voice heard, obviously, it helps if you’re on the key committees. It’s great you’re on Financial Services, if that’s confirmed, but for example, the Ways and Means Committee, the all-powerful committee that handles a lot of the finance stuff in this place. There’s not many progressives on it, you could argue.

RT: Yeah, I —

MH: Is that something that progressives back home in the wider public should be concerned about?

RT: I can already see us moving people more to the left, more to the issues that are important. You even hear them using some of the language that we use. I think people should be hopeful that we’re here. We’re not going anywhere and yes, we’re dealing just like we deal with the structures outside of the walls of the Capitol. We’re also dealing with some of the culture here, but the thing that the commonality that is so real and should be inspiring is that we’re pretty courageous and we haven’t backed down.

MH: So, you talk about putting pressure on the structures inside of here. You talk about moving people to the left. You talk about being courageous. How would you describe this movement, if I can call it that, by you and AOC and Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and others, some of the newbies coming in from the left? Is it fair to call it an insurgency?

RT: Not at all. I mean, I think a lot of us didn’t even know who each other were until we got here. I think we gravitated towards each other —

MH: Isn’t that how the best insurgencies begin?

RT: — But I think people need to understand it’s organic. It’s not something that was planned. Many of us, again, didn’t even know who each other were. We ran not to become first or anything. We really ran because being on the outside ring wasn’t going to be an option for us anymore, being silent was going to be an option anymore. So much much of our passion to run for office is that people like us deserve a seat at the table and I truly believe no matter what committee, we’re at the table now.

MH: And you, of course, hit the headlines. I can’t have this interview without talking about what you did a couple of weeks ago on the day you were sworn in —

RT: Of course not.

MH: — You had a great swearing-in. You wore the thobe. It trended.

RT: My kids dabbed.

MH: Your kids dabbed. It was historic in many ways. And then you told a crowd of activists that evening —

RT in front of crowd: We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.

MH: — Referring, of course, to Donald Trump. The media went crazy. Cable news rolled on it forever. I think there was a study shown that they covered your comments five times more than they covered Steve King’s racist remarks in defense of white supremacy, Republican Congressman Steve King. You even had some Democrats kind of saying, we’re not happy with this, disowning you. Conservative Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, for example said what you said was deplorable and disgusting. What is your response a couple of weeks later as it’s all calmed down to some of that brouhaha?

RT: You know, I continue to say I’m unapologetically me. I have every right like anybody else not to stop the tears and the pain and to be honest, the anger that I have right now in our country of feeling less like I belong, right? And I think being in that room the passion, my passion got the best of me, but I also am really that raw and that real. And some people embrace that but some people want to focus more on: “She shouldn’t be saying that,” but at the same time —

MH: The language police.

RT: — Yes, but at the same time, I think you know, I’m not part of a movement like King is of, you know, white supremacy doesn’t belong in our country. Everyone knows that. But a girl from Detroit that cursed all of a sudden becomes the headline where I really was targeting towards around impeachment like I’m really eager to move towards that. But I think it was unfortunately, a distraction and for me —

MH: Very much media-generated, GOP-generated.

RT: Absolutely.

MH: Because of course, the Republican party don’t like swearing. That’s why they elected Donald Trump to the presidency who never, never uses any bad language. It’s funny because I was on, I was on vacation on the 3rd of Jan. and I saw that on my phone. It popped up on Twitter and I saw that and I kind of chuckled to myself because I wasn’t that surprised because I’ve seen you swear in public events before and is it fair to say that’s kind of who you are? Cause I swear in public too and my wife gets real upset with me and try not to swear when I’m on live TV.

RT: Obviously, I wouldn’t do it in a setting like on the Congressional floor or in the six years that I served in the Michigan legislature, I never cursed on the floor. But one of the things that I, you know, was interviewed three months ago on another podcast and it was on Detroit public schools talking about, you know, women running for office and at the end of the interview they said is there anything that people don’t know about you and I said: “I curse like a trucker,” you know. And the guy laughed but they reached out and they said: “Oh now everybody knows.”

MH: Now they know for sure.

RT: But yeah, I have, you know, dropped the F-bomb. I have had these moments but at the same time, it’s like people are — it’s like this moment that I think people —

MH: But it’s also you’re a brown woman so you shouldn’t. I think there was a lot of that. And Trump weighed in with the nonsense about honor.

DJT: Her comments were disgraceful. This is a person that I don’t know. I assume she’s new. I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family.

MH: Which I don’t believe was accidental.

RT: He disgraces the office of the presidency every single day.

MH: On that note, talk substantively, you talk about it being a distraction from what you were actually talking about which was impeachment. And what a lot of people missed that day was you co-authored an op-ed in your local paper about making the case for impeachment and it’s a fantastic op-ed. I urge all of the listeners — and we’ll put up a link to it on the site — to go read it because what frustrates me and what frustrates me about the Democratic leadership and frustrates me about Schumer and Pelosi is if they’re asked about impeachment, they say let’s wait for Robert Mueller.

And what you so clearly lay out on that op-ed is you don’t need to wait for Robert Mueller. There’s enough stuff in the public domain. He does impeachable stuff on a weekly basis. So just for our listeners, briefly make the case for why you, what is the main case that you think is for impeachment? Putting Russia-gate to one side.

RT: Absolutely. The Constitution demands it and I want to reiterate to people to understand that this is beyond the collusion with Russia. This is beyond the Mueller investigation. Every single day that he’s President of United States that has not divested in all of his domestic and foreign corporations, he’s making decisions not in the best interest of the American people. He’s making it based on the profit lines. There is a slippery slope here. If we allow the president United States not to release his taxes and not to understand where his corporate interests are, then who’s next after him?

It causes a tremendous amount of fear, I think, for my residents back home and for myself and others that understand we now have a guy that still is sitting, in many ways, CEO of various interests foreign and domestic. And he’s making decisions, looking the other way, even on Saudi Arabia, looking the other way because of his investments.

MH: It’s open corruption.

RT: Absolutely, and that alone should be enough to start looking at impeaching this president.

MH: And do you believe that given what we know about the hush money payments by Michael Cohen, the obstruction of justice, the witness intimidation on Twitter, the misuse of pardon powers, all of which you mention in your piece, is it fair to call this president a criminal?

RT: You know, I am a person of — I’m a lawyer and I’m an attorney and I truly believe in the process. But I also believe, you know, if you’re given probable cause I mean, there’s already enough information out there to understand that a process needs to now —

MH: Of criminality.

RT: Absolutely, there’s been criminal acts currently, right now with him not divesting. That’s a direct violation of the Constitution not divesting into his corporate interests.

MH: And what was the backlash like to you from those comments? Not just to swearing but that you’re calling for impeachment being a new member of Congress. I was just sitting in your reception before this interview started and I heard your poor assistant on the phone fielding multiple calls in a 10-minute window from people hurling abuse, just ringing in to abuse you.

RT: Yeah, it’s not about the cursing. It’s about me impeaching this president.

MH: And being a brown Muslim woman who wants to impeach the president.

RT: You know, I don’t belong here. He’s the greatest president in the world, you know, in our history. Build the wall. You name it, it’s coming through.  And they’re very loud and very direct. I mean, he has obviously erupted this kind of, you know, white supremacy kind of movement and people are saying things that are not reflective of who we are as a country.

MH: Do you worry about your security because just this week a Republican official in Florida claimed that you might blow up Capitol Hill which is the kind of rhetoric which might lead some nutcases out there to say: “Well, we must protect Capitol Hill from Rashida Tlaib.”

RT: Before I even talked about impeachment as publicly as I have been, on the first day of my orientation, we got a death threat. They don’t stop. I am taken aback by how aggressive and more public they are about wanting to harm me.

MH: Do you hold this president’s rhetoric responsible, at least in part, for those threats?

RT: Absolutely, he is the leader of our country. He sets the tone and you, even in rallies and other instances, he’s even said if impeachment continued, we’re going to see violence. We’re going to see — I mean, it’s almost like he’s sending out some sort of signal.

MH: Just on impeachment, what do you say to those people, including on the left who say: “Look, of course, he should be impeached. Of course, he should be removed from office. But the Democrats don’t have a majority in the Senate. You can impeach him in the House. You can’t convict him in the Senate. So, why waste time talking about impeachment when we can get on with Medicare-for-all and fighting climate change? Why waste time on impeachment?”

RT: Look, it’s not a waste of time to hold the President of the United States accountable. No matter what we pass, he’s the administration that has to implement it. So, if it’s not in the corporate interest of his own, you know, profit line, then he’s not going to implement it on the best interest of the American people. We need to understand our duties as members of Congress and I believe looking at even Nixon’s impeachment, or his literally, his resignation, it was Republicans and Democrats coming together and putting country first, coming together and putting our values first.

You’re seeing it now more and more. Even now, they’re standing up to Steve King. They’re standing up against this kind of rhetoric. Even the shutdown has come of an awakening. I even see it with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle finally coming on our side and understanding, we’ve got to open up government. You can see the self-interest. You can start seeing what many of us already have felt across this country that you do have a President of the United States that is acting above the law.

MH: You mentioned shutdown. One of the first bills, in fact, the first bill that Republican senators have decided to consider in this new year, this new Congress is a bill to criminalize the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement. It’s an anti-BDS Bill. Marco Rubio of Florida, has been pushing it. You criticized him on Twitter saying he and other colleagues “forgot what country they represent.” What did you mean by that? Because some of your critics on the right say you’re an anti-Semite for saying that.

RT: Of course, and it’s come before that comment. I — just my mere existence as a Palestinian here of speaking up against, you know, people taking away our First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Do you know what we’ve done in this country with the right to boycott, what we’ve done in this country with the right to speak up and to protest and to say we disagree with this country and their doings? You look at Apartheid. You look at all the, you know, anti-blackness in our country and what we’ve been able to try to do to push back against that, you know, I don’t even call it an anti-B — I call it anti-First Amendment, anti-speech bill.

MH: But the dual loyalty trope is an anti-Semitic trope. You weren’t referring to that, presumably.

RT: It’s ridiculous for those to somehow, the desperation and trying to tie that somehow, that I’m somehow anti-Semitic. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And to me, it was very much trying to deter the fact that they know, even those that understand that BDS is very much a right in our country to be able to say we want to boycott someone a country based on their political beliefs or their policies.

MH: And just on BDS, you and Ilhan Omar have come out in favor of BDS. The first-ever members of Congress to ever do so, what does that actually mean in practice for a member of Congress to be pro-BDS? Does that mean you can’t vote for any military aid to Israel? You can’t vote for — What does that mean you can’t do in terms of — because you’re actually a law-making position. It’s one thing for a member of the public to come out. I’m just wondering how that works. Does that mean you’ll be opposing all U.S. aid to Israel?

RT: I can tell you what I’ve been very specific about is that I will not be supporting aid to any country that is not for equality or justice. I have to tell you my grandmother lives there. By me supporting any aid to a country that denies her human dignity, denies her equality, the fact that she has to go and, you know, through checkpoints to get to the hospital for health care, the fact that she is felt as if she’s less than in her own country, that is something I will not be supporting.

MH: So you won’t be voting for the current annual U.S. military aid package —?

RT: It has to be for leverage. We do it to states all the time where we say: “Look, if we —” and I can tell you, I mean, people know this. If we are going to tell states they have to support the Civil Rights Act, they have to support the, you know, same-sex marriage, anything that we believe in, we say: “Okay, you want this money, then you’re going to have to support these values. You’re going to have to support the federal law.” If we’re not doing that to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries, then we’re not doing our job as a country.

MH: Fair enough. One last question: A growing number of Democrats are now launching presidential bids, a record number of women too. Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand just this week. Do you have a favorite candidate yet?

RT: No, I’m really focused on the shutdown. I want you to know like even when I go to the, I came through the airport, it’s so, all of it right now, is not even in my purview. Like I look at this stuff and every time I see it, I just kind of pass through and I’m like —

MH: But it’s important. It’s not unimportant, obviously, who the candidate of your party to take on Trump.

RT: Of course it’s important but think about it, right now, there’s like more federal workers going to pawn shops to pawn off their goods because they’ve got to be able to make some sort of living. I don’t know. I’m so focused on that right now, and to be honest —

MH: But you were a Bernie supporter in 2016.

RT: Yes, but I —

MH: Would you encourage him to run this time? Even if you’re not coming out in favor of someone.

RT: I can tell you this is a man that has a tremendous amount of courage. He started talking about universal healthcare and supporting the right to boycott and the understanding that women deserve equal pay and all of those things and that’s something that I’m very passionate about. He has moved our country more and more towards these issues. That to me is real leadership and I support any of my colleagues who want to run but I hope they use that national stage, right now, at this moment, to get our government back up and running.

MH: Rashida Tlaib, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.

RT: Thank you.

MH: That was congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan speaking to me in her Capitol Hill office. Don’t you wish we had more plain-speaking politicians like that? And I’m not just referring to her swearing. I’m talking about the directness of the approach, the willingness to call things what they are.

And you know, I’m pretty cynical about politicians. I’m as cynical as they get. I’ve been covering politics on both sides of the Atlantic for nearly two decades now and you know, I know that politicians just say whatever they want to say to get elected or to get ahead. But with this new crop of Democrats, leftist Democrats in the House, I do have a little bit of hope. I am allowing myself to be hope-filled and I think you should too. By the way, who says voting never changes anything?

That’s our show. Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept, and is distributed by Panoply. Our producer is Zach Young. Dina Sayedahmed is our production assistant. The show was mixed by Bryan Pugh. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

And I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. Go to theintercept.com/deconstructed to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review. Go right now and review us! It helps people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Podcasts@theintercept.com. Thanks so much! It’s great to be back. I hope you think so too.

See you next week.

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