In a discussion about race relations in the United States, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd tried to claim that former President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder is exactly the same as President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Alfonso Aguilar of Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles began the panel by saying that Trump missed the opportunity to bring the country together around race, but then accused Obama of missing the same opportunity.
“I would agree with the president that you have people on both sides of the left and the right trying to use racial confrontation to mobilize their base,” Aguilar said, repeating Trump’s criticized “both sides” argument. “I don’t think clearly that Donald Trump did a good job in easing the tension, after the Charlottesville event, but I don’t think President Obama did either.”
He went on to cite Obama’s comments about the criminal justice system and how it did little to ease tensions. Obama is also often criticized for pardoning and commuting more sentences than any president because he was opposed to mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenders.
“I go back to something Eric Holder said, ‘We’ve never had this conversation. We talked about having this race conversation. We’d never actually have it,'” Todd said citing Holder.
“Do you know the conversation I would like to see the country have?” Todd asked the panel rhetorically. “I want see Eric Holder and Jeff Sessions have a discussion, lay it all out there. In some ways, I think it could be cathartic. Like if they would just do — in both — let it all out. But in some ways, the two of them would be emblematic of this polarization that is out there. Or this view that it is a polarized conversation.”
Former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn disagreed, saying that she takes issue with Aguilar’s assessment. According to her on criminal justice reform, “data doesn’t lie in terms of the adverse effects that certain communities in this country, most notably African-Americans have suffered, based on the way the criminal justice system was set up.”
She went on to look at the penalties for crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine in the previous crime bills.
“People who look at the actual effect over the years and this was a bipartisan effort that was launched under the Obama administration,” Dunn continued. “That the Koch brothers were very involved. I think President Obama would be the first to say that he wished he could have addressed the polarization. I don’t think I would go to criminal justice reform to illustrate the point.”
Watch the full panel below: