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Trump’s Tulsa rally had smaller crowds, no mention of BLM

After a standoff with U.S. Attorney William Barr, top NYC prosecutor U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, agreed to step down. Meanwhile, President Trump’s Tulsa rally -- his first since March -- had hundreds of empty seats partly because TikTok teens and K-pop fans reserved seats and did not show. NewsHour Weekend Jeff Greenfield joins Hari Sreenivasan for the political roundup.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more on the many issues, controversies, and what's ahead in national politics, NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins us now from Santa Barbara.

    Jeff, let's start with what turned out to be a very strange match up, which was Attorney General Barr versus USA Berman. We had trouble following this yesterday on all the different contours that they were taking. But what's the impact here?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Well just to review the bidding on Friday night, late Attorney General Barr says U.S. Attorney Berman is going to step down. I'm going to replace it with a guy who is a very loyal ally of Trump. Two hours later, Berman says, I didn't resign. So the next day Barr says ok I talked to the president he says, you're fired. Then the president tells the press, I had nothing to do with this. And by the end of the this bizarre 24 hours, Berman is stepping down to be replaced by his deputy, who is not a political ally of Trump just a prosecutor. And the impact is a lot of what the US attorney's office in New York was doing was not pleasing to the president. Either investigating his inaugural committee for the misuse of funds, Deutsche Bank, which was a big creditor of Trump's, Giuliani and his law firm. So that's part of why this got eyebrows raised. But then there's the part about John Bolton. Friday night, ABC News released the transcript clip of the interview with Bolton the former national security advisor had written a very critical book of Trump, said the President told the President of Turkey he was going to intervene the U.S. attorney's office to protect the State Bank of Turkey. That's why this has raised so many eyebrows over the last 48 hours.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Let's talk about the rally in Tulsa yesterday. There was a lot of concern that during a pandemic, this wasn't the best idea. The end result?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Well, to put it in a technical political science term, not good. Dr. Fauci, the public health officials in Tulsa, were all saying the worst thing you can do is pack people into a crowded room where they're making a lot of noise because that will spread the particles. But what basically happened was that the Trump campaign was telling us this was going to be a huge event. They had gotten a million requests for tickets. And when the time came for the rally, it turned out that nobody showed up for that overflow crowd. And the hall was perhaps half full. What makes this really intriguing is there is a group of people who participate on social media apps like Tik-Tok and kapok the Korean music, organize some kind of guerilla operation to ask for an enormous number of tickets. The point being to inflate the estimates and to deluge the Trump campaign with useless data. The whole point about getting these rallies is to get voter data. And you have to remember that this president particularly obsesses with the size of his crowds. Remember back in the inaugural how angry he got when Obama had more. So the pictures of the half empty hall and the stories sputtering event is exactly what you don't want to kick off the campaign, even though crowd sizes don't tell you much about votes. I mean, Bernie Sanders got huge crowds. Joe Biden, couldn't fill a telephone booth. But it's really important for, as they say, the optics, because the press put so much attention on. This was not the way you want to start a campaign.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And you watched the entire speech. Was there any inkling of a strategy of how this campaign is going to play out?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Yes, it's very clear, and it has been for a while that the president is not pursuing any kind of unity or reconciliation message. There was no mention of Juneteenth Black Emancipation Day. There was no mention of George Floyd. It was all about how the radicals and Antifa are going to burn your cities down. They're going to abolish the police. Joe Biden is a pawn of the radicals. So it's pretty clear that they are pursuing a base strategy to gin up his core supporters in enough numbers that they can out do the laws he has in places like the suburbs.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Looking back at the week, which seems so long ago now, there were some big Supreme Court decisions that were not in favor of the administration. But you point out that decisions are decisions and they can go work against you in the future.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Yeah. There were two celebrations on the part of what we will broadly called liberals. One- the VII the civil rights law protects not just sex but sexual orientation. You can't fire somebody because they're gay. And also that the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, the court said that Trump could not end it the way he did. But if you're going to read VII literally, the way Justice Gorsuch the key vote, you could also see that he would be very skeptical about affirmative action. They can't hire somebody just because they're black, because you want to increase numbers. If he reads the statute that literally that's trouble. And as far as DACA goes what the court said was was yeah, the president can abolish it by executive order. He just didn't do it the right way. So I think those who are celebrating these decisions may want to take a deep breath and see what the long term consequences might be.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Jeff Greenfield, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Pleasure.

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