Tent Falls on MSNBC Reporter Live After He Urges Prosecution of Trump and Underlings

On Thursday, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff was presenting clips of his interview with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about Trump immigration policy separating illegal immigrant parents and children when his report was apparently so full of hot air that the tent his production team was using blew over on live television, forcing him to catch it with his hands.

The live TV blooper occurred after a clip was shown of Soboroff badgering Mayorkas about the “potential criminality of the Trump administration.”

After running a clip of the Mayorkas interview, Soboroff was seen live on air at 11:03 a.m.. Before he could say anything, his tent fell on him, leading him to catch it and comment on the goof-up and again talk up prosecution of Trump officials:

SOBOROFF: Craig, happens sometimes in a breezy — at a breezy border location. I want to say, what I think was the most important thing you heard there was that he said — Secretary of Department of Homeland Security said, “I have not excluded anything. I have not excluded anything” when it comes to holding the attorney general — excuse me, holding the Trump administration accountable for potential criminality when it comes to the family separation policy.

As is typical, it was not divulged that the reason these immigrant families were separated was because they had illegally crossed the border without permission, but the MSNBC reporter repeatedly asked about the issue of criminal prosecution of Trump officials for daring to enforce immigration law.

At 11:00 a.m. Eastern, setting up his colleague’s presentation, host Craig Melvin posed: “Talk to us a little bit about what you just learned from Secretary Mayorkas about specifically the work to reunite those families that our government separated at the border.”

Soboroff, appearing live from Otay Mesa, California, near the border, repeated claims he’s made before that the Trump administration “tortured” illegal immigrant children:

It was a wide-ranging interview, but, you know of utmost importance to me and, I think, to a lot of people who are watching the actions of the administration — what the Trump, excuse me, what the Biden administration intends to do about reuniting those families that were separated, “tortured,” in the words of Physicians for Human Rights, by the Trump administration under that family separation program.

Even though the Trump administration was attempting to stringently enforce the law by holding adult non-citizens who illegally crossed the border so they could more easily be deported, the MSNBC correspondent talked up the criminal prosecution of Trump-era officials, since “You’ll remember that President Biden in the debate with our very own Kristin Welker called the policy ‘criminal,’ and he promised a thorough investigation of the policy by his Department of Justice.”  

Soboroff pressed Mayorkas: “The attorney general is a member of the task force as well, or, when he is confirmed, will be a member of the task force. Would his role be to look into potential criminality of members of the Trump administration?”

After Mayorkas suggested the illegal immigrants were the first priority — “I think we are focused right now, Jacob, on reuniting the families and restoring them to the best of our abilities” — Soboroff followed up: “How is it possible that the task force can issue a report so that it never happens again if there is not a holistic investigation into potential criminality of the Trump administration?”

Soboroff also raised the possibility of “financial restitution” for illegal immigrant families who were separated as he followed up: “And that includes financial restitution and mental health services to the families?” Mayorkas answered with an old bit of MSNBC slogan, that they would “look at all the options and lean forward.”

This episode of MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin was sponsored in part by Verizon. Their contact information is linked.

Transcript follows:

MSNBC Live

March 4, 2021

11:00 a.m. Eastern

CRAIG MELVIN: Start with the interview. Talk to us a little bit about what you just learned from Secretary Mayorkas about specifically the work to reunite those families that our government separated at the border.

JACOB SOBOROFF: Craig, it was a wide-ranging interview, but, you know of utmost importance to me and, I think, to a lot of people who are watching the actions of the administration — what the Trump, excuse me, what the Biden administration intends to do about reuniting those families that were separated, “tortured,” in the words of Physicians for Human Rights, by the Trump administration under that family separation program. 

I specifically asked Secretary Mayorkas about accountability for members of the Trump administration. You’ll remember that President Biden in the debate with our very own Kristin Welker called the policy “criminal,” and he promised a thorough investigation of the policy by his Department of Justice. This is the part of the conversation with Secretary Mayorkas when I asked him about that exact thing.

SOBOROFF (speaking with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pre-recorded): The attorney general is a member of the task force as well, or, when he is confirmed, will be a member of the task force. Would his role be to look into potential criminality of members of the Trump administration?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think we are focused right now, Jacob, on reuniting the families and restoring them to the best of our abilities. This will be an all of government effort. It’s not just the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. It’s also the Department of State working with our international partners — the Department of Health and Human Services — to bring whatever health relief we can to the families. And we’re going to work, as I mentioned, with international organizations — our international partners and the private sector also. This is all of America effort.

SOBOROFF: How is it possible that the task force can issue a report so that it never happens again if there is not a holistic investigation into potential criminality of the Trump administration?

MAYORKAS: Well, I haven’t excluded anything. What I’m focused on right now is reuniting the families. And, in terms of it not happening again, our intention also in the task force, after the reunification of the families, after restoration of the families to the best of our abilities and as fully as the law permits, is to build institutional safeguards to make sure it does not happen again.

SOBOROFF: And that includes financial restitution and mental health services to the families?

MAYORKAS: We are taking a look at all opportunities to restore these families — to bring stability and health to them. As I said earlier this week, we’re going to look at all the options and lean forward.

(Soboroff is shown live again, but before he can speak, his tent falls on him, forcing him to catch it with his hands.)

SOBOROFF: Craig, happens sometimes in a breezy — at a breezy border location. I want to say, what I think was the most important thing you heard there was that he said — Secretary of Department of Homeland Security said, “I have not excluded anything. I have not excluded anything” when it comes to holding the attorney general — excuse me, holding the Trump administration accountable for potential criminality when it comes to the family separation policy.

(…)

MELVIN: I also — to hear the Secretary talk about the possibility of compensation for families who were separated under the previous administration and access to mental health services — for folks who have not been following the story as closely as you, explain why those two things would be so important?

SOBOROFF: Well, the restitution is important because of the trauma that these families went through but also because it was blocked by the Trump administration, Stephen Miller — as Julia Ainsley and I have reported — members of the White House blocked an agreement at the eleventh hour that would have provided millions of dollars in mental health care to families who were separated by the Trump administration to help them cope with that trauma that they will have for a lifetime.

It was only implemented ultimately because a judge ordered that it be implemented in a settlement agreement over the wishes of the White House. And now you’re hearing from the White House itself that they are going to be looking at issues of restitution — of financial compensation — of mental health care for these families, which is a very, very significant step for making amends for what the government did and what the President himself called “criminal.”

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