The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 8/9/17 Predawn Raid of Trump’s Former Campaign Chair’s Home
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: August 9, 2017
Guest: Hendrik Hertzberg, Wesley Clark, Julia Lurie, Howard Dean, Rick
Berke, Virginia Heffernan, Ira Stoll
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: Honor of the Rooster being this
year`s zodiac animal. And the artist says its resemblance to the president
is a coincidence and unintentional. OK, sure it is.
That`s all for tonight. THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. I
don`t know. Ari, I thought that was possibly some sort of bizarre KFC ad
or something that this is the latest attempt at getting the Colonel.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: I promise you this. We`re going to get
to the bottom of this rooster story.
TODD: You got it.
MELBER Good to see you, Chuck.
TODD: See you, brother.
MELBER: Paul Manafort said he was cooperating with this Russia
investigation. Today, we`re learning the FBI had a very different view,
and that`s why the FBI raided Paul Manafort`s home.
The big news today, the FBI surprised Paul Manafort in a predawn raid of
his home. This occurred in July, the first reported whole raid in the
special counsel`s investigation into Russia ties.
According to new “Washington Post” report, the raid came the day after
Manafort privately spoke to senate investigators and gave them his notes
from that controversial Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.
That is a key detail. Manafort says he was already handing over evidence
voluntarily. So, why did the FBI knock down his door to get that very
evidence? The answer tonight is important. It offers key clues into where
the Mueller investigation is heading.
One, this raid shows that Manafort is a priority in the Russia probe. They
are going at him first.
Two, this raid shows that Mueller is following the money. NBC reporting
tonight, the search includes scrutinizing Manafort`s financial dealings
around the world.
Three, the FBI cannot legally just raid anyone`s home. It must prove to a
judge there is good reason to think that Manafort`s home had evidence of a
Reporter Rosalind Helderman broke the story. She writes that a judge may
approve such a raid if investigators showed Manafort could not be trusted
to turn over all records in response to, say, a grand jury subpoena.
Now, that`s crucial. A federal judge had to find cause that there was
evidence of a crime in Manafort`s home. As former prosecutor Alex Whiting
writes today, “a judge would have reason to think there was evidence of a
specific crime in the location to be searched. And since it was Manafort`s
house that was searched, it is likely he is implicated in the crimes, but
that might not necessarily be the case.”
Translation, investigators have cause to think there is evidence in
Manafort`s house that somebody committed a crime. Him or maybe someone
And this is a very high-level raid. There`s no going back. Mueller and
the FBI must`ve weighed the pros and cons of a predawn raid, designed to
keep the defendant from destroying anything.
Mueller`s approval to go that route shows he was willing both to shake
Manafort up and to communicate that they are playing this aggressively.
That is an explanation from former prosecutor Harry Litman. He will join
me along with two former Watergate prosecutors, a Washington reporter and
the former chairman of the DNC in a moment on this big story.
But we begin with “Washington Post” reporter Rosalind Helderman. What were
investigators looking for? And, Ros, why did this story break now?
ROSALIND HELDERMAN, REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: It broke now because
now is when we were able to confirm it to put it in the paper. I think
there have been some rumors over the last several days that such a raid
occurred and it took a little work - journalistic work to nail it all down
and get the details right.
A raid is a thing that ultimately is hard to keep secret. It may be a
little bit surprising that they kept for as long as they did. I mean, when
you show up with those FBI jackets banging on someone`s door, people can
see that and it generally gets out.
MELBER: Do you know if Mr. Manafort informed anyone in the Trump circle or
the White House about this at the time?
HELDERMAN: I do not know the answer to that question. I`ve seen some talk
online noting that, on the same morning of this raid, the president tweeted
some of his displeasure with the special counsel investigation, but we just
don`t know if he was actually aware of the raid when he did that or if that
happened to be a coincidence.
MELBER: Right. Fascinating. You have such a big story on your hands, so
I want you to stay with us as I bring in some experts here. Former US
attorney Harry Litman, July makes a former Watergate prosecutor and general
counsel for the U.S. Army; Nick Akerman, also a Watergate special
prosecutor; Francesca Chambers, who covers the Trump administration for
“The Daily Mail”; and a former governor and former DNC chairman Howard
Nick, this is big. When you were doing Watergate, did you ever execute a
search warrant raid like this?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Never, never.
MELBER: In all of Watergate?
AKERMAN: In all of Watergate. No, this is absolutely extraordinary. It
means not only did they have, in a very detailed affidavit, this is a
document that` provided to a judge, it puts together all of the
investigation that`s been done to show probable cause, reason to believe
that a crime was committed and evidence of that crime could actually be
found in Paul Manafort`s home. So, this is a fairly major step.
And I can`t believe that Mueller would have done this without having some
really solid evidence to go into a federal district court judge with to get
a search warrant.
MELBER: And, Harry, continue on the point I quoted about what you say this
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER US ATTORNEY: Sure. I mean, it`s true he had the
evidence, but that didn`t mean he had to do the pre-dawn raids. I think
the pre-dawn raid, which is the sort of thing you do with drug defendants
and common criminals, was meant to send a message.
Not a message to the public at large. Mueller is not a grandstander that
way, but a message to potential co-defendants that says, look, you may be
used to gentle treatment, but this is not a gentlemen`s game. You`re
looking at jail time, at being treated like a common criminal, you better
think very carefully about whether you want to cooperate.
And I think this has a sort of seismic collateral effect within the White
House now when everyone has to look around and size up who may be the next,
who is cooperating, who isn`t all the while, of course, as they are having
to figure out what to do with North Korea and other smaller matters of
MELBER: Right. You say your experience suggests this is seismic for the
White House where we know other potential witnesses work.
MELBER: Jill Wine-Banks, speak also, though, to Harry`s point that we see
this kind of maneuver, a secret and aggressive raid in drug cases and other
criminal cases because there`s no belief or expectation that those
potential suspects or defendants will cooperate with grand jury subpoenas.
Obviously, in more corporate settings, what you tend to see is an orderly
grand jury request and then the documents and other evidence provided. Do
you agree, Jill, that this suggests potentially investigators` belief that
Manafort would not provide materials? In other words, break the law on an
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR AND GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE
U.S. ARMY: It certainly sounds like that. Could be the reason for asking
for a search warrant, is to get things that you think aren`t going to be
It`s also a message to other witnesses that if they don`t produce
everything that is expected and requested that they too may face this kind
of a raid on their home, something that will embarrass them with their
neighbors and will become a public issue.
So, it can be an effective tool to get everybody to cooperate right away.
MELBER: Ros, you previously reported on the search for the documents about
this now-infamous Trump Tower meeting with folks promising dirt on Hillary
Clinton on behalf of the Kremlin.
You reported basically Manafort`s notes could provide information about
what was said at the meeting and how participants responded back in July.
Do you have any indication that this is now in Mueller`s hands and what
HELDERMAN: We don`t know exactly. We do know that some of the records
that were taken from Manafort`s home included documents that had been used
to prepare his congressional testimony.
So, it stands to reason since he was testifying about that meeting that
those notes or material that reflected the content of those notes were
Our reporting also shows, as you indicated, NBC`s reporting shows that it
included bank records and tax records belonging to Mr. Manafort.
It is important to remember that it appears as though the special counsel
has consolidated some investigations that had already been underway into
Mr. Manafort`s work unconnected with the Trump campaign. His work in
Ukraine and potentially how he accounted for the money he was paid by
political consulting contracts in Ukraine.
MELBER: Right. Which is fascinating if that foreign money trail is also
part of this.
Nick Akerman and then Francesca, I`m going to ask you a legal question.
So, I`ve got to ask it twice. Would these notes about this famous meeting
with the Russians be exculpatory or inculpatory to Paul Manafort?
And two, same question, is it good or bad for Paul Manafort?
AKERMAN: We don`t know. I think the big evidence - everyone is talking
about documents here.
AKERMAN: But if it were me, and all the search warrants I see that they do
now, all include computers and data to be seized as well as documents. So,
I think that the real proof -
MELBER: When using data - when you say data, so does that mean that Paul
Manafort, say, texted a friend or a family member that same day and said
you`ll never believe the meeting I just had. Is that, you`re saying, was
something that could have gotten out his home?
AKERMAN: Oh, sure. They could`ve gotten that out of his computer. They
could have seized his phones. They could`ve seized USB sticks. All kinds
of data devices. And that`s where they`re going to really find the
If you go back to that June 9 meeting, certainly, what I would be looking
for are all of the connections surrounding that, all of the communications
that were made. And in particular, I would be looking at the unallocated
space of the computers to determine whether documents have been destroyed -
MELBER: Which itself would be a felony.
Francesca, Harry said this is seismic in his legal view for people at the
White House. Do you have reporting that suggests they agree with that
assessment or what`s playing out today?
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “THE DAILY MAIL”: The White
House isn`t saying much on this topic. I`m at the White House now. But
most of the White House in either next door at Eisenhower office building
or they`re in Bedminster, New Jersey with the president today.
Now, I did have a chance to speak with Paul Manafort`s spokesperson Jason
Maloni and they are not saying much on this topic either. They`re saying
that he is cooperating and they confirmed that there was, in fact, a raid.
But whether or not he`s been called before the grand jury at this point is
something that they`re not revealing.
MELBER: Ros, you also write another piece - there are so many pieces to
this story right now that we want to get to and building on what Francesca
is saying there about how it`s playing out.
You say Manafort`s allies, so I take that to mean people who are
sympathetic to him politically or otherwise fear Mueller hopes to build a
case against Manafort unrelated to the 2016 campaign, so he would provide
information against others in Trump`s inner circle in exchange for
lessening his own legal exposure.
A fascinating sentence. Do they fear that because they think there is a
criminal case against him in unrelated matters or they fear that just
HELDERMAN: Well, I would say that`s a pretty classic technique of federal
prosecution. You build a case against one guys, bring it against him in
and urge him to cooperate and share what he knows about others to get the
I think they fear it because that`s a terrible legal position for any
person to be in. It`s also been suggested to me that he, in fact, doesn`t
have any information to share about other members of the Trump campaign.
That`s typically what people say regardless of what the ultimate outcome is
going to be.
MELBER: Right. Governor Dean, we just went through a lot of the law and
the investigative tools here. Talk to us about the right way to handle
this sort of thing if you`re chief executive and any of the potential
politics that you see in this charged inquiry.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT AND FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, the
politics is extraordinary, but I think the legal stuff is much, much
tougher. There was a firm, Manafort, Black and Stone - Roger Stone, who
was somewhat notorious, shall we say - these guys have been playing with
the Russians and Russian stooges like Yanukovych for a very long time.
And I think the notion that Mueller hopes to build another case and gets
Manafort to turn is a pretty good one. They`ve taken large amounts of
money. That`s public record. The ledger sheets have actually been in the
newspapers. From Yanukovych, which means that money came from Putin.
So, this is pretty tempting. There`s a lot of stuff here that`s really
extraordinary, including possible tax evasion. When you get large amounts
of money, you don`t pay American taxes on it. That`s a problem too. So,
this is a very deep, potential case. Manafort is a guy who`s been playing
along the edges for a very, very long time with some incredibly
I think it`s unlikely they are not going to find something that he`s going
to wish they hadn`t found. And that`s going to help him turn.
MELBER: Governor, you`re mentioning that there is this Kremlin-backed
figure from Ukraine that basically had Manafort as a multimillion dollar
paid consultant and advisor and that whole money to a -
DEAN: For a long time.
MELBER: For a long time. Now, governor, if you`re looking at this from
the position of what`s best for the United States, what should the people
who still work at the White House who are linked to this and the president
himself do today, now that everyone`s learning the FBI - non-partisan - was
so concerned about this that they knocked down his door in the morning
essentially, not with the grand jury, but secretly, so they could get all
his stuff. What should we be hearing from the White House?
DEAN: Well, what we should be hearing from the White House is we`ll give
you whatever you want and we`ll be happy to open our records. I think
that`s incredibly unlikely, given this president who has taken lots of
Russian money and his son-in-law had said so that his business was heavily
financed by Russians. So, that`s the problem and it`s almost too late to
make a clean rest of it because there`s a lot of stuff in there and we`ll
find out if it`s criminal or not.
MELBER: Such a fascinating story and one that`s, obviously, unfolding
before our eyes because of Ros` reporting. Thank you to Ros. Governor
Dean, Nick and Harry, stay with me. Ros, Jill, Francesca, thank you all.
Really appreciate your expertise.
Coming up, who else should worry about these potential FBI raids? Does
cooperation stop that knock on the door?
And Trump now reportedly was ad libbing when he made major threat to North
Korea yesterday with “fire and fury.” Later, we`ll dig into it with General
And have you ever seen the president attack the senate leader of his own
party. Trump throwing shade at McConnell on recess.
I`m Ari Melber and you`re THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: The FBI surprised Paul Manafort on the early morning hours there
on July 26, pre-dawn, no warning. This raid came a day after Manafort
spoke to congressional investigators.
And it tees up a major question. What does it mean to cooperate with the
Russia inquiries? How does this approach compare to other FBI crime raids?
And do other individuals in the Trump administration or orbit who say
they`re cooperating, do they - as we were just discussing earlier this
hour, do they have to worry about having that knock on their front door?
Or to be fair, was this for some legal reason, specific to Manafort`s
situation? I`m telling you now, we may be hearing a lot about the word
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I think it`s a very clear sign from
Special Counsel Mueller, they`re not messing around, they`re serious about
this investigation, they`re going to demand cooperation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: They`re going to demand cooperation. Back with me former
Watergate special prosecutor Nick Akerman and former federal prosecutor and
senior DOJ official Harry Litman.
Harry, I`ve spoken to you. You said you`ve overseen over 100 of these kind
of knock raids that are judge approved. How do you get them approved and
what is the purpose, the point of surprising someone in the morning like
LITMAN: Well, generally, you get them approved just by showing there`s
probable cause, that there is evidence of a crime there and you want to do
it typically to keep any evidence from being destroyed.
But I`ve suggested here that there is an ancillary reason, which has to do
with sending a message to not only Manafort, but to other co-defendants,
including - this is an important point that struck me.
The logic of going after Manafort for these old financial dealings with the
pro-Russian Ukrainian forces is identical, indistinguishable from going
after or investigating President Trump himself for his financial dealings
with Russian entities over the last ten years.
In other words, Mueller has shown himself willing to cross the so-called
red line that Trump drew about financial dealings pre-2016, which sets
things up for a major showdown.
MELBER: Nick Akerman, a major showdown and one that some potential
analysts or allies of Donald Trump are already turning back into an attack
on Rod Rosenstein, who Donald Trump himself appointed.
Take a listen to Sean Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, HANNITY: Russia investigation, which is being
overseen by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is beyond corrupt,
beyond political and has now turned into an open-ended fishing expedition.
And just like Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein has glaring, inexcusable
conflicts of interest that we can no longer ignore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is there evidence for the idea that Rosenstein or Mueller are
corrupt, as Sean Hannity is alleging, and why do you think he`s doing that?
AKERMAN: He doesn`t know what he`s talking about. He`s doing it truly
political. My sense is, look, Paul Manafort was the campaign manager for
Donald Trump. That is a very high official in the Trump campaign.
The allegation here is there was collusion between the Trump campaign and
the Russians. Mueller would not have gone into a federal district court
judge without real powerful evidence on three points.
One that a crime was committed; two, that there`s evidence of that crime in
Manafort`s house; and three, there was a real danger that somebody would
destroy that evidence -
AKERMAN: - so you couldn`t use the regular process of a subpoena. This
is a big deal.
MELBER: And that evidence, Harry, is potentially contemporaneous notes or
data, we discussed, or the money trail. Put the money trail from an
investigator`s perspective in the context of the fact that no money
allegedly ever went from Donald Trump`s campaign to Paul Manafort, that he
was the most senior volunteer in the history of American politics.
LITMAN: Yes. It has to be the latter. Look, there`s no doubt that, with
or without a search warrant, they were going to get the notes from the June
16 meeting. He`s already turned them over to the House.
So, they must be interested in the sorts of financial records. And you`re
exactly right. It`s not records that deal with Trump exactly. It`s those
that deal with Manafort`s own adventures in the Ukraine.
So, in that sense, it`s like other special counsel prosecutions where they
were looking at crimes specific to the person they were going after, like
Webb Hubbell, as a way of turning the defendant into a cooperator and to
someone who would fess up and give the information he knows against the
MELBER: Well, you both taught us a lot. Three highlights to that come out
to me is, number one, you execute this raid because you want something
other than the notes; number two, you want to surprise the individual, so
there`s some FBI belief the individual might be engaged in a felonious
cover-up or obstruction; and number three, you`re looking at money from a
guy who didn`t take money from the Donald Trump campaign, which during the
campaign was always odd, but he said he was doing it as a matter of service
and belief. Now, obviously, the FBI might be looking at other reasons.
Nick and Harry, thank you both for teaching us so much tonight.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
LITMAN: Thank you.
MELBER: Now, the other story, of course, also significant. The world
reacting to President Trump`s fire and fury comment. What did Trump`s
national security team know and what didn`t they know?
Plus, Mitch McConnell, he goes there on a hometown speech slamming the
president in a way he might not have heard before. Why now?
Stay with us on THE BEAT. You`re watching MSNBC.
MELBER: New reports, President Trump was ad libbing when he threatened
North Korea with fire and fury. The presidents word surprised even his own
“The New York Times” reporting that actually the piece of paper you may
have seen Trump looking down at was not about North Korea. It was a fact
sheet on the opioid crisis. And Trump`s ominous warning was improvised.
And among those taken by surprise was, yes, John Kelly, the retired Marine
general who has taken over as White House Chief of Staff.
New, this hour, North Korea has now fully responded to the fire and fury
threat, saying it`s a load of nonsense and vowing to finalize attack plans
on the US territory of Guam by mid-August.
I`m joined by Hendrik Hertzberg from “The New Yorker” and a former Carter
administration official and Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme Allied
Commander and now a senior fellow at UCLA Burkle Center.
General, your thoughts on all of these developments?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER AND SENIOR FELLOW
AT UCLA BURKLE CENTER: First of all, it`s no surprise that the North
Koreans have managed to miniaturize nuclear weapons. They are reasonably
competent people. They have had help from outside countries. And despite
the best efforts of US anti-proliferation efforts, they were eventually
going to reach this point.
They believe this is essential for their regime`s survival. So, they`re
not likely to give it up. So, there`s a big shock now as this intelligence
report came out. But the truth is we have deterred North Korea attacks on
the South since the Korean War.
Sometimes, it was all open conflict, but we deterred them because they knew
they would be destroyed if they actually launched another major attack.
That deterrence still holds.
What we need to do now is de-escalate the rhetoric, work a diplomatic
arrangement so that we can make sure they understand that their acquisition
of a nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile changes nothing.
They`ll still be destroyed if they do anything.
And maybe there`s a way of giving them greater reassurance, using economic
sanctions, so forth, but got to be very careful what we say publicly.
MELBER: Exactly. You`re talking about being careful, Rick Hertzberg, on
the spectrum, this is sort of the opposite of careful. It`s literally made
up on the spot. I would note a lot of people took fire and fury to mean a
certain type of weapon. But now that we know how made up it was, it may
not have meant any weapon at all, which in a way, although this isn`t
really good for the president, it`s not as bad as it may have looked to
people who said, oh, that means X when it didn`t maybe mean anything.
HENDRIK HERTZBERG, SENIOR EDITOR AND STAFF WRITER, “THE NEW YORKER”: You
said that this wasn`t scripted. I think it was scripted in this sense. I
think he thought up that phrase himself, fire and fury. And when you watch
the full segment of his saying it, it certainly appears that way because he
goes back to it.
MELBER: All right. Let`s play it and then we`ll get your thoughts on it
when we return.
MELBER: So, viewers can see again. Here was President Trump making these
remarks heard around the world. We don`t have it? I thought we had it.
Well, we had it at one point but he basically says they best not test us.
We have this - we`re going to have fire and fury.
HERTZBERG: Right. And that`s a very - that`s not a phrase you come up
with on the spot. No, I`m not - I think it`s absolutely impossible that he
was given that phrase by any responsible person.
MELBER: We have it, let`s take a listen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: North Korea best
not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire
and fury like the world has never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERTZBERG: Yes. And then he goes on to say fire and fury again.
Obviously, this was not cleared with anyone. He doesn`t - does he have any
- can anyone think of a person that`s close enough to him?
MELBER: I mean no, and that`s why when I ask the General, we`ve heard a
lot of complaints about leaks. The people who leaked this information were
in that room looking at the piece of paper and speaking on behalf of the
national security team. Is this – people close to the generals trying to
make it clear they weren`t a part of this?
WESLEY CLARK, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED GENERAL: You know, it`s
inconceivable to me that a President of the United States would react
publicly this way with this kind of a statement without at least his Chief
of Staff and the White House National Security Team clearing a statement.
You just don`t do things like that. I mean, I`ve never heard of a
President ad-libbing like this especially a President who`s not experienced
in the region or in foreign affairs. So, it raises a lot of concerns about
the direction of U.S. policy. And I say that for this reason because when
I hear the administration say it`s intolerable that North Korea has the
missiles and the nuclear weapons, it won`t be permitted, that`s what the
President said at other times, where`s that coming from? And what`s it
Because if you articulate these goals like this you get in the same
position as saying that we`re going to get rid Bashar al-Assad and then
someone says, well how? And then you`re left with, well, I`m going to look
to the military. And we`ve looked at the military for years. There`s no
military option here. So what is it that we`re actually pointing toward?
What I`m concerned about is I don`t want to see the United States march
down the road to diplomatic failure here. And it`s all about settling the
right context and then having the right objectives.
MELBER: Right. Well, General Clark, I appreciate that. I appreciate your
context for the viewers because you`re saying let`s dial it down. Hendrik
Hertzberg thank you so much. Now up next, President Trump promised to help
with the opioid crisis. Why is he rejecting some of his own experts and
what we`re now learning about the propaganda packets in the Oval Office?
MELBER: Some of America`s biggest problems get the least attention. Drug
and substance abuse impact millions causing problems with work, health and
crime and tragically taking the lives of over 30,000 people on an annual
basis, that`s 91 overdoses a day. Many hope President Trump`s talk about
opioids could lead to more action. Trump created a Commission in March
this week releasing recommendations drug experts say some of the ideas are
promising like declaring a national emergency on all this, putting money
towards treatment, and looking at alternatives to absence only programs
including those pursued about by the Obama administration. Then the
President spoke yesterday and he made it clear he is actually rejecting
some of his own commission`s policy ideas in favor of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and
telling them no good really bad for you in every way but if they don`t
start, it will never be a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Tackling complex health challenges of drug addiction as if they
are only a matter of personal discipline has a long history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say yes to your life and whether it comes to drugs
and alcohol, just say no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your brain and this is heroin. This is what
happens to your brain after snorting heroin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those ads often ended with someone asking any questions? And the
answer is, yes. What do you if you`re already addicted and say first time
abusers, should they be treated in a hospital or prison? Well, the Trump
administration`s already answering this kind of questions with their own
policy. They proposed cuts to the drug control office and also cuts to the
prevention programs and they degraded the “use of opioid addiction
medications and replacing one with another and they`ve taken a hard line
approach towards drug use reminiscent of the war on drugs” as Mother Jones
Opioid Reporter Julia Lurie explains. She joins me now along with Rick
Berke, Executive Editor of STAT News, a publication focused on Medicine and
Health and, of course, Dr. Governor Howard Dean back us with who`s worked
on these issues from health and policy perspectives. I appreciate you all
being here. Julia, what do you think of what Trump has rolled out?
JULIA LURIE, MOTHER JONES REPORTER: Well, you know, yesterday a lot of us
were expecting him after he said that he had a big opioid announce. We
were expecting him to declare a state of emergency. And that`s you know,
the top thing that his Opioid Commission that he created had recommended to
him last week. That is definitely not what happened. What happened
yesterday as we just saw was he was basically recommending exclusively law
enforcement tactics to combat this drug epidemic. So he wanted to increase
the use of mandatory minimum sentencing, he wanted to crack down on drug
dealers, he wanted to crack down on the Mexican border. There was almost
no mention of treatment for active drug users.
LURIE: There was -there was not very well informed mention of prevention.
We know already that just say no does not work. People learn that the hard
MELBER: Let me take that to Dr. Dean. They are literally cutting
prevention programs in the proposed budget.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Right. Look, I think anybody who takes
Donald Trump seriously as President of the United States is making a
mistake. So it may not be - he did say essentially nothing but nonsense
and pap yesterday. And maybe that`s good. Maybe the states are going to
be the ones to have to really deal with this. We`ve learned a lot.
Interestingly enough, I actually banned Purdue Pharmaceuticals Oxycontin
from my formulary when I was governor and Medicaid probably 20 years ago
because I knew it was incredibly addicting and that`s really in many ways
what`s started all this. And then when they had to reformulate their drug
so it couldn`t be cooked and snorted, heroin became the cheap substitute.
And that`s really how this exploded. I don`t think we`ll get any Trump
help from Trump at all. Sessions has no idea what they`re doing. I`m not
sure Price has any idea what`s going on and certainly, Trump doesn`t. The
states are on their own here. Disease this is a disease. This is not some
choice by evil people. This is a disease. We have to treat it as a
disease. Should we go after the pushers? Sure. But the low-level pushers
that are easy to go after are only feeding their own habits. The real - if
they want to go serious, they have to go after the kingpins. And this
nonsense that we`re going to have a wall from Mexico that is going to stop
this stuff being imported is asinine. First of all, most of it doesn`t
come in over the Mexican border anyway it comes from China and Afghanistan
and places like that.
MELBER: Right. Let me go to Rick - let me bring Rick in on that and say,
does the Trump administration have the balance that governor is proposing
as looking at this as a health issue or not in your view?
RICK BERKE, STAT NEWS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, it`s interesting what the
governor said about Purdue Pharma because that - we`re in litigation right
now with Purdue trying to get the company to unseal documents about
Oxycontin and the whole genesis of the opioid epidemic. And the genesis of
it as the governor has said is not - and the problem isn`t necessarily law
enforcement. It`s legal drug that`s have led to this opioid epidemic. I
think that`s something that I`m not clear the Trump administration is
seeing eye-to-eye with many of the experts.
The other thing I`d say, Julia has mentioned the expectation yesterday that
the President would declare a national emergency, a national crisis on
this, I talked to Michael Botticelli right before that announcement, the
former - Michael is a former Obama drug czar. And I said what do you think
of this thing that we thought Trump was going to announce? And he said,
you know, it has merit. Even Obama`s drug czar was thinking declaring a
national emergency had merit.
MELBER: That`s the whole - that`s the whole issue we`re hitting on.
Exactly. And Julia, this is a commission that made some good points and
then as with many other things, none of that seemed to go upstream to the
President even though it`s his commission. Speak if you will to that and
the political context that we now know from the President`s unvarnished
thoughts when he talked about winning New Hampshire which he did win in the
primary, not the general. “I won new Hampshire because it`s a drug
infested den.” Julia?
LURIE: Yes. So you know, he`s at a sort of interesting cross roads right
now. On the one hand, he`s getting advice from Jeff Sessions and the
Attorney General`s Office generally to crack down on drug dealers and on
illegal immigration and things like that. On the other hand, he has this
report that recently came out from the commission that he created to give
him recommendations on what to do about opioids. And you know, that report
came out last week and it did not mention law enforcement almost at all but
what did it mention a lot was increasing access to treatment and to
(INAUDIBLE) and you know, to a lot of things that would help people who are
addicted get better. And so he sort of has to choose at this point. And
to Howard Dean`s point, it`s kind of unclear what he`s going to do because
he didn`t really say much yesterday.
MELBER: Well, he said - yes, I mean, we`re sort of out of time. He said
almost nothing but he left people with the impression and what Sessions is
doing with the impression that they`re going hard on mandatory sentences
and not doing rest of it. The report, by the way, is a good read. I`m
sorry we`re out of time. I hope we can return to this topic Julia Lurie,
Rick Berke, and Dr. Dean. Thank you, guys.
DEAN: Thank you.
MELBER: What if the propaganda is coming from inside the White House? A
new report that President Trump`s team is giving him a folder of only good
news to read.
MELBER: You know, what they say the truth hurts which makes you wonder if
maybe false information feels good. A new report suggesting Trump may be
getting a distorted picture of current events because his own team gives
him partial information designed to avoid painful truths. Vice News
reporting Trump gets packet full of positive only news all about himself
twice a day. A 25-page packet with screen shots of good cable news chyrons
like ones you might see on this channel admiring tweets, transcripts of
funny TV interviews, praise filled news stories and pictures of trump on TV
looking “powerful.” All of this may shed light on all sorts of moments in
Trump history as well as the future of Trump information consider the
launch of Trump TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you for joining us as we
provide you the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York. I`m
Kylie Mckinane and that is the real news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I don`t know about that but I`m going to go right to a real News
Professor. Jay Rosen writes the much read press thick blog. He`s a
Professor of Journalism at New York University and he is a thoughtful
critic of what all of us do. So thank you for being here.
JAY ROSEN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: You look at the propaganda file, does it matter if Donald Trump is
misinformed when he misinforms the public?
ROSEN: Well, as a lawyer you know that we live in a system of checks and
balances and one of the checks on the President was always a soon to be
reality itself. With Trump, that has become a kind of obstacle to his
agenda and to his psychology. He can`t actually handle a reality check.
And that is why this spice report is so interesting because the staff is
solving a kind of problem for him which is that he can`t survive a reality
check and they`re giving him the positive news.
MELBER: How do you - yes. The question is how do you solve a problem like
reality? And then you - then you were writing about we`re going to put on
the screen, Trump as an information source and there`s a study looking at
the trustworthiness of different sources of information and what people
think is not trustworthy. So at the top, you have, you know, occupy
Democrats, Brightbart, and Trump. Walk us through this chart. Those are
the least trusted.
ROSEN: Yes. So Trump is here presented as an information source in
himself. Widely mistrusted, compared to the others. And what I think is
so interesting about this way of displaying the information, is that you
know, one of the - one of the big trends in the presidency over the last
decades has been the growth of executive power. And each president has
assumed more and more power as you know as a lawyer.
ROSEN: And with Trump, this has gone to a further extreme where he is
trying to assert power over reality itself.
ROSEN: Over the definition of what will count as a fact over who will be
trusted as a source of information.
MELBER: And when he sets that tone from the government, I mean, he`s using
taxpayer dollars, public resources to do that. Here`s one example that
hasn`t gotten enough attention. Anthony Scaramucci saying something about
Trump that then was changed in the “government transcript” that we pay for.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I`ve seen
this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I`ve seen him at Madison
Square Garden with a top coat on. He`s standing in the key, he`s hitting
foul shots and swishing them. He sinks three-foot putts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: He sinks three-foot putts. And then the government transcript
ROSEN: Well, that`s an expression of this idea that executive power is so
majestic that it can extend to changing reality itself. And that`s what
the aides are doing in that Vice report. That`s what Trump is constantly
doing when he`s discrediting the main stream media. And it`s really a new
concept in democracy that we can survive an executive who tries to redefine
what is real in the world.
MELBER: Fascinating. Professor Jay Rosen, I`m a long time follower of
your work. I really appreciate you coming in here.
ROSEN: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Now, you can check us out on Facebook and Twitter @thebeatwithari
where we will give you our sense of reality. Next up, the Senate is on
recess but it`s top Republican working overtime and throwing some shade at
Donald Trump. Why Mitch McConnell told the President, this is what
democracy looks like. Next.
MELBER: The Senate is on recess but Republicans aren`t taking a recess
from infighting. Trump throwing shade at Mitch McConnell saying, “he said,
I had excessive expectations. I don`t think so. After seven years of
hearing repeal and replace, why not done?” He was responding to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: Now our new President, of course, has not been in this line of
work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly
things happen in the democratic process, and so part of the reason I think
people feel we`re underperforming is because too many artificial deadlines
unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating may not have been
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Not fully understood. I`m joined by Ira Stoll, former Editor at
the Conservative New York Sun, and Politico Contributor Virginia Heffernan
Co-Host of Slate Trumpcast. Virginia, Mr. McConnell, a smart politician,
what is he trying to do here and why say the President doesn`t understand?
VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN: Look, I love that you caught this throwing shade but
this was not a Scaramucci rant, infinitely quotable rant from Mitch
McConnell. I mean, he`s at a distance. He makes a whimsical joke about
something we know to be true which is that the President is not in this
line of work and has not done this before. That was a selling point of his
base. That shouldn`t offend anyone.
MELBER: I think you`re being very fair which I appreciate but Ira, he`s
got to know that no matter how measured the comment, Donald Trump will clap
IRA STOLL, FUTUREOFCAPITALISM.COM EDITOR: And look, this is a fight that
Republicans don`t need. I mean, Donald Trump is already in a fight with
North Korea, he is in a fight with the press. The last thing he needs is a
fight with Mitch McConnell. They`re supposed to be on the same side.
Mitch McConnell`s wife is Trump`s Transportation Secretary for heaven`s
sakes. So the fact that this has degenerated to this level, you know, it
just - it`s another example of Trump kind of turning governance into kind
of reality TV and it is pretty disappointing.
MELBER: So as a conservative, do you think this is something the President
should have left alone?
STOLL: Well, I think McConnell started it and if he thinks Trump`s
expectations are unrealistic, he ought to say that to the President
privately. He doesn`t need to get in a public disparaging match.
MELBER: Right. Well, Virginia, it is very 2017 for our political analysis
to be, well, McConnell started it, although I take Ari point. It depends
how far back you go. We put the tweet of Donald Trump out of the blue,
originally tweeted, “the outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget
reconciliation is killing R`s in the Senate” and all that.
HEFFERNAN: I mean, it`s - they`re both such wonderfully cartoonish men
that of course, we want to make this a world wrestling federation thing. I
just think conservatives may be excited about it because they`re worried
about it because they don`t want to see more infighting. Liberals are
excited about this kind of thing because we`re waiting for the Republicans
to turn. We`re just on the edge and this is the word that`s not being
spoken as we have the impeachment fantasy, every one of them. Every time
one of them makes a sound or casts a vote that looks like it`s anti-Trump,
everybody`s heart starts to pound faster. Maybe the leadership is turning.
I`m not sure that`s happening. I think McConnell is looking out for his
legacy as the most powerful man in Washington and I think this is his way
of saying, I`m not to blame for health care.
MELBER: And Ira, would you say Mitch McConnell has not been productive in
his first six months as Majority Leader or hold on to your hats because the
fun is just beginning.
STOLL: I think It`s been a somewhat disappointing first six months but you
know, President Obama didn`t get ObamaCare pass in the his first year
either. Health care is complicated. On the other hand, Republicans have
been promising to get rid of it for seven years as Trump correctly pointed
out so you know, I think the impatience is a little bit understandable and
so is a lack of progress.
HEFFERNAN: I mean, I like how Ira says he`s slightly disappointed, maybe a
slightly disappointing in the last six months. I would call the last six
months catastrophic. But you know, these are small shadings for
difference. I think that neither Trump nor McConnell wants to be held
responsible for the other man`s style, just so different from his.
McConnell hates that Trump tweets, he hates that he`s a brander. McConnell
is a proceduralist and obstructions is just kind of procedurals in reverse.
Trump is not a proceduralist and has thrown out that handbook and they`re
just going to fight like wrestlers.
MELBER: Right. And the undertow of this choppy waters is a failure on
ObamaCare despite having the Republican majority that may give lie to the
Republican promise that if we win, we`ll do what we said. In the first six
months that hasn`t happened and we are done. Thanks for watching THE BEAT.
Thanks, Ira and Virginia. “HARDBALL” starts now.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Pre-dawn raid. Let`s play HARDBALL.
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