The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/7/17 NYT: Mueller demands Flynn docs from White House
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 7, 2017
Guest: Jane Mayer, Issie Lapowsky, Eugene O`Donnell, Phillip Atiba Goff,
Gay Talese, Sabrina Siddiqui
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAIL 2 Y”: They say they cover the driver, so
that the real-world reactions can be recorded. Well, mission accomplished.
But as fish would say, this isn`t who it would be if it wasn`t who it is.
That`s all for tonight. Thank you so much for indulging me, everybody. I
promise I`ll stop now. We`ll be back tomorrow with more “MTP Daily.”
THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. Hi there, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Hi, Katy. I think I know what my
Halloween costume will be next year.
TUR: Oh, I cannot wait, my friend.
MELBER: Driverless car seat dressed up as a researcher.
TUR: And just a pair of shorts, I guess, on the bottom.
MELBER: I don`t know. TBD. Nice to see you, Katy.
TUR: Bye, Air.
MELBER: Congress has begun its August recess. President Trump on
vacation. But at least one man is still hard at work in Washington.
The White House knows Bob Mueller is not taking much vacation this August
because, late Friday night, word leaked he is demanding White House
documents about Mike Flynn.
And while Trump claims the whole inquiry is a hoax, his own DOJ appointee,
Rod Rosenstein, backed up Mueller in a new interview. “Fox News” asking
Rosenstein about several of Trump`s recent claims from attacking the Russia
case to touting another investigation of Hillary Clinton.
And Rosenstein flipped the script on his boss saying Trump`s claims were
basically fake news. The deputy attorney general made it clear the Russia
probe is no fishing expedition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, UNITED STATES DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: - Department of
Justice and we don`t engage in fishing expeditions.
CHRIS WALLACE, “FOX NEWS” ANCHOR: In the course of his investigation of
the issues that he is looking at, if he finds evidence of a crime, can he
look at that?
ROSENSTEIN: Well, Chris, if he finds evidence of a crime that`s within the
scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope
of this investigation, then he can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That scope, we know now, in Mueller`s view includes following the
money trail to Mike Flynn, with the report over the weekend Mueller asking
the White House for documents on Flynn and asking witnesses whether Flynn
was secretly paid by the Turkish government, while advising this domestic
American presidential campaign.
Now, obviously, the most transparent way to respond to these requests is to
simply pledge cooperation and move on.
But to be fair to the White House, some presidents also try to
counterattack the prosecutors. But let`s be clear, today, Donald Trump
went much further, suggesting this entire investigation is politically
useful for him to rally his “Trump base.”
We will show you the tweet there. You can see it for yourself.
I want to get right to our guest. Joining me is North Dakota Senator,
Democrat, Byron Dorgan and “New York Magazine`s” Olivia Nuzzi.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Senator, even if the president is
correct that his base is united, is this an appropriate response to the
inquiry into how Russia tried to attack US democracy?
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, I don`t think so at all. I
mean, I wish the present would say, let me level with you. But after all
that he`s done and said, there just isn`t any leveling.
He`s become more and more hysterical about the Russian investigation. But
17 intelligence organizations have said the Russians attempted to interfere
with this election. There are clearly ties back to the Trump campaign.
Clearly, the first place you`d go look would be Mr. Flynn, among others.
So, this is real, and it`s going to have an end result because Mr. Mueller
is going to look into it and make recommendations. So, the thing for
Donald Trump, the president to do at this point is embrace the
investigation, tell them find what you find and report, but that`s not what
He is claiming fake news and claiming that it`s a fraud and so on.
MELBER: Exactly. And, Olivia, as you know from covering the rallies, he
is back to playing, I guess, the greatest hits, bringing back up the idea
that there should be some sort of Hillary Clinton investigation.
I do want to show the record here before we go any further. Right after
the election, the first thing Donald Trump did was claim that he was over
all of this on “60 Minutes”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY STAHL, CBS HOST, “60 MINUTES”: You called her “crooked Hillary,”
said you wanted to get her jailed, your people in your audiences kept
saying, “Lock em` up.”
TRUMP: Yeah. She did -
STAHL: Do you -
TRUMP: She did some bad things. I mean, she did some bad things.
STAHL: I know, but a special prosecutor? You think you might -
TRUMP: I don`t want to hurt them. I don`t want to hurt them. They`re
good people. I don`t want to hurt them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, Olivia, there is the idea of whether you want to hurt your
political opponents. Then there`s the idea of whether you as president
have unitary authority over who gets investigated. You don`t. So, it`s
just as wrong to say I don`t want to investigate and hurt them as is to say
I do because either way that`s not his job.
That`s something that Rod Rosenstein had to correct here in this brand-new
interview, basically saying, that`s not how it works. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: When the president - because he can order the Justice Department
to do things, when he says, here`s what prosecutors should be doing, they
should be looking at Hillary Clinton. Do you view that as an order?
ROSENSTEIN: No, Chris. I view what the president says publicly as
something he said publicly. If a president wants to give orders to us in
the department, he does that privately. And then if we have any feedback,
we provide it to him.
WALLACE: Will you tell whether or not he`s given you an order or not?
ROSENSTEIN: I won`t, Chris. But I can tell you the president has not
directed us to investigate particular people. That wouldn`t be right.
That`s not the way we operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, to be clear, Olivia, and I want to get your analysis of all
this, Rod Rosenstein saying that wouldn`t be right, which is what the
president has suggested publicly he can do.
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, “NEW YORK MAGAZINE”: Right.
Repeatedly, we have seen that Donald Trump does not quite understand what
the Justice Department is for.
Recall this is somebody who would hire investigators, when he was working
in Atlantic City, to go and threaten people who were giving him a hard
time. He seems to think that Washington operates on that level as well and
that the White House operates that way, but, obviously, it does not.
But I think what we`re seeing from him is just classic Donald Trump today
with these tweets. He often says he likes to hit back harder. And it`s
not the most politically intelligent thing to do. I think the thing for
him to do would be to kind of keep his head down and, as the senator said
before, just say find what you find, go about your business, he could
continue introducing the things that he wants to introduce on a policy
level and trying to drive the conversation his own way by ignoring the
But is not doing that. He`s incapable of, I think, letting anything go and
he needs to have an enemy. He is most comfortable when he is fighting
against somebody and I think that`s what we`re seeing with these tweets.
It`s against the media. It`s against his perceived enemies in the media
and it`s also against this investigation more broadly. He cannot just let
MELBER: Senator, when you look at that and you look at the DOJ being moved
to correct the record or defy him, where do we go from here? It`s sort of
fascinating that the attorney general and his deputy now both had to go out
in public to disagree with the president.
DORGAN: I mean, I don`t know where it goes. The American people expect
more and deserve better from this president. I know that he`s playing to a
smaller and a diminished base of support. And it doesn`t serve the
country`s interest. This is not in America`s interest to have all of this
And by the way, he`s got to stop this tweet storm nonsense. It continues
to get him in trouble. He doesn`t understand what he says, ties him and
us. But it`s time for him to start understanding that and I hope that Gen.
Kelly can perhaps put an end to these tweets.
Let`s have this president get back to real governance and stop accusing
fake news and stop diminishing or denigrating the evaluation of what the
Russians have tried to do to interfere with this country`s elections.
MELBER: Right. I think you make a fair point, although we are seeing the
vacation test applied to John Kelly and the discipline question.
NUZZI: It`s not a vacation, Ari.
MELBER: Go ahead, Olivia.
NUZZI: It`s not a vacation. The president has been very clear that he is
taking calls and meetings. It`s not a vacation.
DORGAN: Well, he is working and tweeting apparently.
MELBER: And he`s tweeting. The Twitter test.
NUZZI: But to that point, I mean, there`s been all this talk about whether
or not John Kelly will be able to bring order to this White House, if he`ll
be able to discipline the people working in the White House as well as the
president when it comes to his tweets, I think the past several days have
proven that that`s just not possible.
MELBER: Right. And the idea that could you go a few days without
tweeting, just as a thought experiment. I want to thank you, senator and
We`re going to turn now to a Russia debate between some legal heavy
hitters. I will be speaking with both Alan Dershowitz and Congresswoman
Eleanor Holmes Norton in just a moment.
Here`s the context. Trump allies now finding a new target. Some attacking
the entire process of the grand jury system. Here is Newt Gingrich, for
example, tweeting the grand jury would be biased because it`s in DC, which
didn`t vote for Trump.
And while that politicians, in a new op-ed today, Harvard law professor
Alan Dershowitz basically says the DC jurors could be tilted because of
voter registration, saying the District of Columbia jury pool
overwhelmingly Democratic. And those prosecutors would prefer to have a
trial in DC.
He argues they also might be more hospitable to Mueller because “a
predominantly white jury can be a different institution than a
predominantly black jury.” There`s no one-to-one association.
Predominantly black juries convict black defendants and acquit white
defendants all the time and predominantly white juries acquit black
defendants and convict white defendants as well.
But, Dershowitz writes, to say that race doesn`t matter at all blinks
reality or at least that`s what most experienced prosecutors and defense
attorneys will tell you.
In a moment, I will hear from the representative for Washington, but now I
am joined by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.
Professor, isn`t the important question here whether there`s evidence of
crimes, not all of these geographic issues that you`re writing about.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Well, you need process too in
order to determine whether there is enough evidence. You need a fair
And all I said is that the prosecutor`s decision to convene a second grand
jury - he already had a grand jury in Virginia - had the effect, maybe not
the intent, had the effect of giving him a tactical advantage if there ever
is going to be a trial.
Any prosecutor would rather try Trump associates in the District of
Columbia than in Virginia. And any defense attorney would rather defend
his client in Virginia than in the District of Columbia.
That`s just the reality. There isn`t an experienced prosecutor,
experienced defense attorney who is honest who would deny that.
MELBER: Well, professor, when you say that, though, you make it sound as
if - you say that effect, but you make it sound as if that is part of some
sort of bug in the system. If the individuals and the possible incidents
or alleged crimes occurred in Washington, why wouldn`t that be the natural
place to move forward?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, because we already have a grand jury in Virginia. And
if these crimes occurred, the occurred all over the world. The District of
Columbia, which doesn`t really vote in presidential elections, is certainly
not the only place to have a trial.
But if I were a prosecutor, I would certainly want to bring the case in the
District of Columbia. And if I were defense attorney, I would try to bring
That`s not to say that you can`t get a fair trial in the District of
Columbia. Of course, you can. I`m a member of the District of Columbia
bar. I`ve practiced there. It`s a very fair place. And it doesn`t mean
you can`t get a fair trial in Virginia.
But any defense attorney will tell you and any prosecutor will tell you
that demography matters, that where you try a case matters. And
prosecutors will tell you sometimes you better plead guilty because we have
a terrific jury pool that won`t be sympathetic to you. And that`s an
actual argument that prosecutors make.
MELBER: Well, you bring up the jury pool. Let me go to that because,
obviously, this is another piece of this debate. Number one, we are
nowhere near an actual traditional jury pool because we are nowhere near
I know. I understand, professor. Let me get the question out. Let me get
the question out and then you get to answer. So, we are nowhere near
But with regard to the grand jury, you are bringing up the potential, you
said, demography or, in other comments, you said race.
MELBER: You`re missing my point. You are deliberately distorting my
MELBER: I`m not deliberately distorting your point, professor. I`m trying
to present a question, which I haven`t even asked yet because of the
accusations you`re making. So, please hold for a second. When I finish
the question, you`ll get to respond.
My question to you is, if the - we both understand the jury system. If the
ultimate jury for a potential indictment has not been selected yet and the
grand jury is secret and nobody knows that the race of either of those
potential groups, how is race relevant? Your turn.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, first of all, the grand jury is irrelevant. The grand
jury are 23 puppets seated on furniture who are told what to do by the
grand puppeteer, who is the prosecutor. A grand jury will indict a ham
sandwich if the prosecutor tells them to do so.
So, the only thing that`s relevant is the petit jury pool. And the petit
jury District of Columbia consists of many more Democrats than it would be
in Virginia. That`s why a prosecutor would want to try the case. And if
he`s going to want to try the case in front of a petit jury in Washington,
he has to now convene a grand jury in Washington because where you get the
indictment is where you try the case.
I`m not making a controversial point. You`re trying to make it
controversial. It is not controversial.
MELBER: Professor, with all due respect, you have no idea why I`m trying
to ask you a question or not. You`re sidetracking by suggesting my
question is in pursuit of controversy. I`m asking you questions because
you`re an expert who is speaking out on these issues.
DERSHOWITZ: What is the question? Do you actually think that a prosecutor
doesn`t have a better chance of getting a conviction of Trump associates in
the District of Columbia than in Virginia? Is that your position?
MELBER: I appreciate you asking me questions to handicap the future
My next question to you, though, is does any of this apply to the Ken Starr
DERSHOWITZ: I don`t understand your question. What does it -?
MELBER: Well, Ken Starr, obviously, was pursuing a Democratic president,
but in Washington.
DERSHOWITZ: Right. Of course, because he was pursuing in Washington, he
was also pursuing them in Virginia. They were grand juries - if I`m not
mistaken, this is a long time ago - I don`t understand what that has to do
We`re talking now about the possible effect of moving the grand jury from
Virginia to the District of Columbia. I`m stating an absolutely
uncontroversial factual position that every experienced and honest lawyer
will agree with, and that is a prosecutor is better off bringing the case
against Trump associates in a district that is overwhelmingly Democrat than
in a district in a swing state.
That is an uncontroversial point. You`re trying to turn it into something
else and you`re not succeeding. I`m sorry.
MELBER: I appreciate that you think you`re clairvoyant about what I`m
trying to do. These are straightforward questions.
DERSHOWITZ: It`s so obvious.
MELBER: While I have you, the other question I want to ask was about the
potential federal laws implicated. I`m going to put some up on the screen.
There`s been a lot of debate over what the actual issue would be here.
There is the campaign laws, as you know. There`s this Foreign Agents
Registration Act, which is a felony, but is rarely prosecuted. Corruption
laws. The Logan Act. Anti-money laundering. And then, of course, the
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which seems like a strong hook for the
What do you think, from your expertise, are the key federal statutes that
Mueller would be looking at?
DERSHOWITZ: When I was a law professor, I used to give my students an
exam. I would ask them to identify every conceivable statute under which a
person could be indicted. And the students would give a great list, just
like the list you put up.
The second part of the question would be to exercise your judgment and to
tell me what realistically you think they could be prosecuted under, and
that`s what distinguished the great, great students from the very good
So, when Joseph Stalin spoke to Lavrentiy Beria and Beria said to him, show
me the man, then I`ll find you the crime, obviously, you can find crimes by
anybody who`s engaged in complicated behavior.
You have to look at precedent. Take the Logan amendment. Of course, there
are violations of the Logan amendment. Every day, there are violations of
Logan amendment, but it hasn`t been prosecuted since 1803.
When President Reagan spoke to the Iranians and told them that he would
like to keep the American hostages for an extra month, so that he gets
credit for their release, that was a violation of the Logan amendment.
Obviously, nobody was prosecuted for that.
When President Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger, that closed the
investigation and the special prosecutor said that that was a coverup, but
nobody was prosecuted.
The question is not what conceivable statutes could be touched, but what
realistically there are precedents for prosecuting.
MELBER: And with the time running out, my last question for you, sir, is
have you provided any formal counsel to Donald Trump or his aides or
accepted any money or would you consider providing a counsel to him?
DERSHOWITZ: What an insulting question? I mean, have I accepted money?
I`m a liberal Democrat. I supported Hillary Clinton. I campaigned for
Hillary Clinton. I wanted to see Hillary Clinton president.
My comments are public comments because I believe in them. And please
don`t try to insult my integrity by suggesting that somehow I`m in
MELBER: Prof, I just thought - this is not about integrity. I`m asking
you a straightforward question. I take it that`s a no.
DERSHOWITZ: If Hillary Clinton had been elected president and they were
saying lock them up, I would be saying the same thing. I am condemning
Donald Trump for calling for an investigation of Hillary Clinton. That
would be a terrible, terrible thing to do.
MELBER: But you`re a very celebrated attorney who has taken on a lot of
different cases. Is that a no that this is not a case you would consider
at this time?
DERSHOWITZ: Look, I`m writing a book about this case. It`s called Trump
Up: How the Criminalization of Politics Endangers Democracy.
That`s my point. I`m a civil libertarian. I approached this case from the
civil liberties point of view. Sometimes my statements help Democrats,
sometimes it helps the Republicans. That`s not the criteria by which I
I make these statements because I want to protect the civil liberties of
all Americans. I want to keep the criminal law narrow. I want to make
sure we don`t have accordion-like criminal statutes that can be applied to
anybody, whether it be Democrat or Republican, if you`re their enemy.
That`s an issue that should concern all Americans.
MELBER: Professor Dershowitz, appreciate your time today. Thanks for
coming on THE BEAT.
Now, we turn to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressman who represents
Washington DC, a graduate of Yale Law School and a former federal district
Congresswoman, you represent the district. Your response?
REP. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, my good friend
- and he is a good friend - Alan Dershowitz has managed to insult both the
special counsel Mr. Mueller and jurors and grand jurors in the District of
So, let`s be clear first. You can`t bring a grand jury anywhere you want
to. You can`t say, well, you know, why don`t we do this in West Virginia,
let`s say, which is a Trump state or in Alabama, then maybe we`ll get what
You to bring it close to where you think the crime may or the offense may
have taken place. So, Mueller has two grand juries going. He`s got one in
Northern Virginia and he`s got one in the District of Columbia. He could
And let me make this point that there is not a dime`s worth of difference -
or perhaps it is a dime`s worth of difference between Northern Virginia and
the District of Columbia.
The entire region, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia -
Northern Virginia all went for Hillary Clinton. So, are we to believe that
there is no grand jury, there are no jurors who can sit in any of these
jurisdictions. That`s not the way our system works. And I certainly don`t
think that the special counsel deserves to have his motives impugned that
way, much less my constituents and the constituents of this region.
MELBER: What did you think of Professor Dershowitz`s strenuously pressed
claim that nothing he`s saying is at all controversial.
I think the issue that`s worth questioning is why all of a sudden there are
people who are questioning the entire grand jury system.
It is certainly true - I think you and I both know, particularly in the
context of criminal justice reform, that there have been questions that he
referred to, about whether these grand jurors just sign off on any
But do you sense any sort of politically convenient obsession with that on
behalf of Donald Trump at this moment?
NORTON: I really think not. And I don`t think most people focus on the
grand jury. They know that anything that the prosecutor tells, the grand
jury is going to do. Even Mr. Dershowitz said that.
They may focus on the jury itself, but let me say there are many
controversial figures who have been tried by jurors here, and I don`t
recall anyone saying I don`t want my jury to take place - I don`t want my
trial to take place in the District of Columbia because there are too many
black people there, because there are too many Democrats there.
And you don`t have a lot of choices. The prosecutor can`t just go floating
around the country for friendly jurisdiction.
MELBER: Right. And so, finally, on that question of him bringing up the
racial composition of Washington, your thoughts?
NORTON: Well, I`m sure Alan would say that`s not what he meant to do. And
I know him so well that I don`t think that`s what he meant to do. But
that`s the clear impression he`s left.
This is a jurisdiction that is seen as more progressive than others. That
has as much to do, I must inform you, with my white constituents as is with
my African-American constituents. It`s no longer a majority black
jurisdiction. It`s black and Hispanic and increasingly white.
But he`s going off of an old stereotype of the District of Columbia, which
simply does not apply to a grand jury. I don`t think anyone in this region
believes it would apply to a trial jury either.
MELBER: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you. And I appreciate
having your friend, as you put it, Alan Dershowitz on as well.
NORTON: Thank you.
MELBER: Thank you.
Now, coming up, Trump`s data firm back in the news. We have some new
reporting on what they told THE BEAT about their alleged links to Mike
Plus, if Mike Pence isn`t pushing hard to replace Trump someday, then he
must be the most chilled-out vice president in history. We cut through the
hype on the politics about the latest Trump team jockeying.
And our first response to a viewer of THE BEAT from my inbox. In today`s
show, we`ve got one of your questions. Is it really right to chalk up
Trump`s stubbornness to his age? The legendary Gay Talese is here.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: The Trump campaign had many colorful characters from Bannon to
Lewandowski to Scaramucci, but there are reports of one of the most
influential characters was not even a person. It was a corporation.
You may not have heard of Cambridge Analytica, but it has probably heard of
you. It`s a political data mining company that vacuums up everything they
can about voters, where you live, what you like to do, what might move you
and they deploy that intel for their clients, including the Trump and Cruz
We don`t know exactly why, but Cambridge has now popped up in Mike Flynn`s
controversial financial disclosures. Flynn says he consulted for
Cambridge`s parent company at the end of the 2016 campaign, November to be
Now, this is a new and somewhat interesting revision because Flynn
previously acknowledged an incomplete financial filing of possible felony.
And it comes amidst that blockbuster “New York Times” report that the very
first request the White House has gotten for documents in the Russia probe
is about Mike Flynn.
Cambridge not only worked for then-candidate Trump, but also features key
Trump advisors - Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer in its leadership. And
Mercer`s daughter famously pressed Trump to bring on Bannon to save his
And let`s be clear, there is nothing illegal about using big data to win a
campaign. That`s common.
Congressional investigators say they do want to know if Russia had local
experts to guide its election meddling.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: One of the things
that seems curious was would the Russians on their own have that level of
sophisticated knowledge about the American political system if they didn`t
at least get some advice from someone in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And that`s not all. Cambridge`s parent company has financial
associations with Mikhail Fridman and Dmitry Firtash. These are financers
linked to the Putin regime, which leaves many questions for investigators.
And we had a few of our own. Cambridge`s parent company responded to THE
BEAT today, saying that they did sign a work agreement on November 2, 2016
with Flynn. That`s six days before the election, but “no work was
undertaken and no payment was made to Flynn.”
They also say the parent company staff had no business dealings with
Russian companies or contact with the Russian government or its agents.
That`s new to THE BEAT.
Joining me now, Jane Mayer, staff writer at “The New Yorker” who back in
March reported on some of the key players using data analytics to pave the
way for Trump`s, and Issie Lapowsky, who has covered Cambridge and the
Trump data issues for “WIRED” magazine.
Issie, you look at the situation and now investigators are looking at it.
What is concerning and what are the unanswered questions about Cambridge?
ISSIE LAPOWSKY, STAFF WRITER, “WIRED”: I think people have a lot of
questions about data science in the political field overall. And you hear
Sen. Warner often asking this question, how would Russians know where to
target this fake news.
And what a lot of technologists will tell you is that, in fact, it isn`t so
hard to figure out who to target these days. Companies like Facebook are
also mining our data and splicing it up and selling it to anybody who wants
to buy it.
So, certainly, there could have been conversations between Trump`s data
team, but I think the really troubling thing for a lot of people is the
fact that you wouldn`t even need a mole along the ground to feed anybody
information. People could just buy that on their own.
MELBER: Well, Jane, one of the things Sen. Mark Warner pointed out is that
these were insights targeting some of these blue states that many other
political professionals seem to lack. So, the idea that a hacker or a
foreigner based operation would be that good is unlikely.
How does that square with your reporting and your knowledge of what this
JANE MAYER, STAFF WRITER, “THE NEW YORKER”: Well, I mean, it`s hard to
know exactly because the firm itself boasted that it had 4,000 or 5,000
points of data on every adult American, 230 million people or so.
So, it claimed it used this kind of sophisticated psychological profiling
to manipulate people. And the parent firm that you`ve been talking about,
SCL has a long history of political disinformation in elections, in
So, there`s sort of a background to this that gives it a sort of a shady
cast. But whether it was really used is hard to know. I mean, what we do
know is that in Florida, there was an effort by the Trump campaign, for
instance, to get black voters not to vote, particularly black Haitian
voters not to vote, by putting out dirt about the Clintons in Haiti.
There`s a suspicion that there was an effort like that in the rust belt,
too, that was sort of targeted at voters to try - Democratic voters to get
them to stay home. And that`s been something that the parent company has
done in other parts of the world in elections. But what you`ve really got
here is just sort of more points on the board. And this latest thing with
Flynn is interesting, just because, I mean, we know Flynn has contacts that
he didn`t disclose that were cozy with Russians, and that`s - that was part
what got him to resign.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Right, and our reporting here - and speaking of
Comey today, is they said, well, yes, we did contract there six days out
but didn`t give any money. And it just raises the question that closes to
an election what was going on there. And maybe -
MAYER: Well, you know -
MELBER: Go ahead.
MAYER: I mean - I mean, what is - the company, Cambridge Analytica which
is owned by this near billionaire mostly in America, Robert Mercer, who you
mentioned, and Steve Bannon had a big piece of it, too, it tries to get
military contracts here and it has been very aggressive in pursuing them.
And so you can imagine that if they thought the Trump campaign was going to
lose, that Flynn may have been making a play to try to sort of go work with
Cambridge Analytica and it was going to try to get military contracts. And
so, it may just be that. It`s really hard to know yet.
MELBER: Right. And Issie, take a look here at what Jane was talking
about, some of these strategies they used. Here`s one where they talk
about targeting neurotic voters. They say target different personality
types with tailored messages, highly neurotic viewers were shown this
advertisement highlighting the failures of National Security Policies. How
do you cut through whether they, like a lot of companies, are just trying
to make what they do sound fancy?
ISSIE LAPOWSKY, WIRED SENIOR WRITER: Yes, that was sort of the party line
about Cambridge during the election which was that everything they promised
was overhyped, that they promised to do this so called psychographic
targeting based on your own character traits and that really was just a run
of the mill data firm. Now that Trump has won and somewhat unexpectedly
and people feel that this company has an information that the rest of us
didn`t, now it seems that they`re more confident than anyone else. And so
I think we need a little bit of clarity there. But if you talk to people
from the Trump campaign or from Cambridge, they will say, you know, we
really didn`t end up using that kind of psycho graphic targeting. Whether
that issue is covering their trail or whether that is really what happened.
MELBER: Right. And investigators are looking at not only whether the
Trump folks used it, whether anyone else around the world did. Jane and
Issie, thank you so much for your time. Later we`re going to look at a new
fight in the resistance. Rahm Emanuel suing Jeff Sessions today and more
fallout from Trump telling police maybe they can rough up suspects as
Baltimore Police under fire for this video allegedly planting drug
MELBER: The Trump administration announced it`s going after a city that
won`t help round up undocumented immigrants, today, of those cities hitting
back. Rahm Emanuel is suing the Trump Justice Department alleging the
administration is withholding key grants if they don`t cooperate which goes
against Chicago`s sanctuary city policy. The suit is Chicago versus
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. And it argues the Trump
administration`s effort to make Chicago detain its own residents at the
request of Trump administration officials violates the constitution.
Sessions hitting back hard. He says today, it`s this simple, comply with
the law or forgo taxpayer dollars. The dispute comes while other policing
controversies are in the nation. Baltimore Police under fire for this
video that shows an officer allegedly planting evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see three city officers in an alley. Seconds
later, audio of the officers begins to be recorded. The officer is seen
returning to the spot where the three were just standing, picking up a can
and pulling drugs from it. The same can that it appears he placed the
drugs in seconds earlier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Critics say the video suggests the suspect was innocent and the
officer guilty. He is now suspended. Obama administration meanwhile put
Obama under DOJ supervision. Trump`s DOJ asked to put that program on ICE
which a judge rejected. So, the question we want to dig into, why does the
Trump administration want the DOJ to step out of overseeing Baltimore
consider the city has had 211 homicides this year alone. What is happening
to policing in this Trump era? We go now to former NYPD Officer Eugene
O`Donnell and the Center for Policing Equities President Phillip Atiba
Goff, both individuals, I should mention teach at the John J. College of
Criminal Justice. Eugene, looking at Baltimore, what do you think when you
see that video, and should the DOJ be involved?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Well, those scandals are as old as
policing itself. There is a role for the federal government if the
President and the White House and the administration want to get into gear.
Policing needs a lot of help in this country. We have a recruiting crisis,
we have a training crisis, we have leadership needs. We should probably
have a command college for police chiefs so they can be deployed when we
need them. Really, an infinite number of needs for policing, likely none
of that`s going to happen. These DOJ consent decrees while well
intentioned have to be revisited. We need a collaborative system that
brings the police together with the community. The problem with the DOJ
consent decrees is that giving the police every reason not to be involved
in neighborhoods, not to approach people, and to worry all the time in
MELBER: Well, that position - let me bring in Phillip on that because
that`s a position that Sessions has taken. We read from this, he says it
would reduce the lawful powers of the Police Department and result in less
safe city. That was his criticism of Baltimore in April. Here we are,
Phillip, in the summer now and we`re looking at a situation where if
anything, some folks are arguing there should be more oversight.
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITIES PRESIDENT: Yes, I can`t
say that I agree with that. The people of Baltimore wanted this. The
leadership wanted this. And what you`ll find in city after city, everybody
wants to prevent a consent decree from happening until it`s there. And
then the chief of the commissioner, or the superintendent, they will say,
this is what I needed to make the change that was necessary. I think it`s
really - it`s terrible that we`ve seen in the last four years that the
federal government has played an active role in supporting law enforcement,
being more consistent with the values of America, and now you have a
President who`s claiming that he`s going to be a law and order president.
But when Commissioner Johnson in Chicago says, “thank you, we want you to
come into Chicago, here are the things that we need. We need, better
community policing, we need more money for cops on the street and we need
better data accountability,” they say, well, you can have the same money,
but only if you round up people that we think are suspicious and you don`t.
I don`t know how you - how you claim to be law and order when the folks
enforcing the laws say that you`re disturbing the order.
O`DONNELL: Well, I think the people have to collect themselves on this
issue. We have - we have many violent crises in many places, not all over
the country. This country is safer by and large but we have a very, very
troubling spike in homicide shootings, deterioration of quality of life and
we have to get real about that and the police are disengaged. That happens
to be a fact. And DOJ Consent Decrees do not do anything to make policing
more engaged to solve crimes. We`ve got city after city where people are
shooting and shooting again and getting away. And that goes (INAUDIBLE)
the public safety.
MELBER: And while I`ve got you, Eugene, as a Former NYPD Officer, when you
see the President of the United States say, don`t cover people`s head when
you put them in the back of the car, don`t be “too nice,” what do you think
O`DONNELL: Well, to be charitable, it`s bad advice. Cops are used to
getting bad advice especially from people who didn`t do the work ever. Bad
advice, and because ultimately they`re responsible and that we`re not going
to go back on that and we should never go back on that. There`s a
framework now if police people abuse people as a matter of federal criminal
law, a matter of state criminal law, civil lawsuits, departmental
consequences, so any cop who takes that seriously would be - would be doing
so at his or her peril.
MELBER: Phillip, final word?
GOFF: Yes - no, I agree with that and I also agree that we need to get
together on some of these violence prevention issues. I think the
collaborative approach has got to be the best but at the very least, can we
agree that the chiefs that say we want to reduce disparity and we want to
reduce violence at the same time, we want to be supporting them, we want to
be giving them the resources they need and we want to be giving the same to
the communities that want that. And if we can agree on that, then we have
to stand in direct opposition of what the heck this current DOJ is doing.
MELBER: Appreciate you both.
O`DONNELL: Can I just -
MELBER: We`re out of time, so super quick.
O`DONNELL: OK. The problem with some of the city governments might need
to be taken over because they are the people who ultimately - the mayors
are the responsible people in these cities and they`re failing and they`re
calling on the Justice Department to do their work for them.
MELBER: I hope to have you both back and I appreciate this civic dialogue
on such an important policing issue. Thank you, guys.
Still ahead, is it too soon for the Mike Pence 2020 race? And you may
remember Kanye West says he misses the old Kanye but what about the old
Trump? Has he changed, can he? A very special guest straight ahead.
MELBER: Donald Trump`s critics and supporters alike say at 71 he`s too old
to change but is that true? Judith Floyd writes into THE BEAT,” that means
that a 71-year-old can`t change is too simplistic. Many 70 plus adults do
keep changing in useful ways, Trump won`t change because he doesn`t want
to.” A personality study shows people change the most before age 30, and
after age 70. The Trump we see today has also changed a lot. Look at his
first appearance on the Today Show in his 30s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I like the inner
cities. I see the inner cities being a wave of the future now. I think
with the - with the problems of the fuel and the gasoline shortages and
everything else and the transportation, especially in the major cities,
such as New York and Los Angeles and Chicago, I see the inner cities as
being probably in terms of a real estate - or a real estate sense, probably
the most viable investments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Decades later, Trump had changed on style and substance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The inner cities, in so many cases, are like living in hell. Crime
is rampant, horrible. You can`t walk to a store without getting shot.
Schools are terrible, as bad as it gets.
I will fix it. What the hell do you have to lose?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Our special guest for this discussion is the Author and legendary
New York Times Journalist Gay Talese, who`s covered America changing over
the years from MLK in Selma to celebrities Frank Sinatra. He`s the author
of 13 books and we should mention is 85 years old. Thanks for being here.
Too old to change.
MELBER: Can he change? Any -
GAY TALESE, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: I don`t think so. I don`t think - I
don`t think he can change. Whether he`s too old or too young is beside the
point. What I think the point is, he is the most famous man in the world
now. I say that having known some famous people. I knew Muhammad Ali, who
a quarter of a century ago was the most famous man in the world. Now, 30
years ago, Muhammad Ali was and he couldn`t change. Sinatra, as you
mentioned, can`t change.
There`s a certain level of fame that very special people dwell within that
stratosphere and we are who write about them, interview them, comment upon
them, write books about them, are without doubt unaware of the special
place that the super famous people of the kind like Sinatra was, Muhammad
Ali was, and Trump now is, that they are - they are oblivious to all
(INAUDIBLE) and grand - all the commentary by the Dershowitz`s of the
world, that`s beside the point. This is not a political guy you`re talking
to but this is an observer. And there`s something about the grooving and
bending of certain people who are consumed with fame. And when they
achieve it, they dwell in a place that we don`t know how to measure them.
To Trump, it`s powerless in a sense because he`s so powerful. He`s - in my
MELBER: What do you mean? You say he`s powerless because he`s so
TALESE: He can`t do anything to change his own sense of self, which in a
stratosphere, in the world of unreal reality, he`s there.
MELBER: And you`re saying the fame around him makes him more committed to
the identity he`s constructed?
TALESE: I say that in this celebrity culture that we`ve been a part of for
a while, there are certain people who have ascended to a certain level of
that fame that they dwell in a place that are beyond our commentary, or
measurement, or educations. There`s something very special in this time of
Trump. Without Trump, I don`t think that the New York Times columnists, I
think they`d be - they`d - they`ll have behave writer`s block if it weren`t
for Trump. Trump is something we talk about besides the weather. We`ve
talked about Trump for a whole year, every day, every day. It`s amazing.
It`s amazing. Why is it? because this man is so grooved, his body is so
bent, his mind is so misshapen perhaps to the realm of the celebrity that
he is, that is beyond our reasonable doubt, that`s beyond all kinds of
commentary. It`s a strange phenomenon.
MELBER: Let me -and yet, let me read this because he says in a biography
when I look at myself in the first grade, and I look at myself now, I`m
basically the same. But we just show - but we just show the video of how
much more mild manner he was, that he seems to particularly through the
apprentice and through the next step of fame get much louder?
TALESE: I don`t think so. I think when his father or mother were angry at
him, they sent him to the military school. But now he is going to the
military school with the generals all around him but he lives rises above
them. He is that man who has an extraordinary sense of self.
MELBER: You think he picks the generals because of military school.
TALESE: I think (INAUDIBLE) the generals because now he is ruling the
generals. He runs will military school now. this guy is a great soul, we
all deal with it every day. But it`s - we are underrating the phenomenal
case of Donald Trump. It is an extraordinary story of a lifetime. This is
really a -
MELBER: Fascinating. Gay Talese, it`s such an honor to have you here.
TALESE: We`ll talk later.
MELBER: We will have you back. Appreciate it. Mike Pence, of course,
wants everyone to believe he`s the most bashful Vice President in history.
Why Trump`s most loyal teammate may be spending some time in the barrel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: Under President Trump`s
leadership we`re returning power to the American people.
America finally has a President who`s going to support and fight for you
every single day.
It`s the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to President
Donald Trump. I`m proud to call him my friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Right here to tackle the reports of a 2020 Pence run, the Guardian
Sabrina Siddiqui. What is going on with the politics here??
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, look, what`s
unusual here is that while it`s not -while it is customary for vice
presidents to keep a busy political calendar, Mike Pence has created his
own separate political fund-raising committee which has reportedly outpaced
the fund-raising for President Trump`s own and separate outside political
group. Now it is not implausible that money could eventually go towards a
Trump-Pence reelection ticket, but I do think if you`re Vice President
Pence, you`re looking at the Trump`s legal and political obstacles and
you`re thinking that there might be a window for you four years from now.
MELBER: And so, you got it up on the screen there over the half a million
although the Pence people says that goes to help everybody.
SIDDIQUI: And it can go to help everybody. I think this really speaks to
the vulnerability that Trump faces as President. Where if you look at his
approval ratings, we know he has historically low approval ratings with the
American public but they are also dropping noticeably among Republicans and
his base. There was a recent Quinnipiac Poll showing just one in four
Republicans approve of the job that the President is doing. He also lack
good will among Republicans on Capitol Hill so depending also on how this
investigation to Russia plays out. I think that Pence is certainly keeping
his options open.
MELBER: But don`t you - isn`t he - (INAUDIBLE) that he`s so offended at
the idea that he should be ever running for president. He should be like
the under study in Hamilton. Be like, how dare you think I should be
Hamilton. I`ve memorized all of the lines, but I never ever want the job.
It doesn`t make sense.
SIDDIQUI: I think probably Pence, his overreaction to these reports
actually speaks to him performing for an audience of one and that is Trump.
Trump is someone who not only demands loyalty, he`s ver sensitive to being
overshadowed by those within his orbit. And we saw even if you are one of
his most loyal allies, like Jeff Sessions, he is not afraid to throw you
under the bus the moment you appear to an inconvenient to him. So I think
you noticed Pence use some of Trump`s favorite buzz words, calling the
Times report fake news. But they haven`t demanded a correction from the
Times nor have they disputed basic facts that yes, he has been keeping a
very busy political calendar.
MELBER: Great point Sabrina Siddiqui, always appreciate your political
insights. That is THE BEAT. I`ll be back tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern
and “HARDBALL” starts now.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Full steam ahead. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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