The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/19/17 Manafort reponds to wiretap reports.
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: September 19, 2017
Guest: Howard Dean, Rachael Bade, Leah Wright Rigueur, David Ignatius,
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: - father. But a senior Trump aide tells
“NBC” that President Trump`s use of the phrase was “all him” and that “he
doesn`t need any help in the branding department.” So true.
That`s all for tonight. THE BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now. Ari,
you`ve got to take this thing away from me. I lost the reins at the top of
the show and it`s just been a train wreck ever since.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Well, you know what Elton John says in
Rocket Man, don`t you, Katy?
TUR: No, Ari. Enlighten me.
MELBER: He says, “I`m not the man they think I am back home.” The idea
that going into outer space can really change your perspective on things.
TUR: Thank you. It`s fascinating that you just dropped that.
MELBER: Well, you dropped it. I`m just dropping -
TUR: Dropping it back.
MELBER: Based on what you dropped.
TUR: I think if we`re going to do this, Ari, we`ve got to do fish lyrics
at each other. We`ve been to a concert.
MELBER: I refuse. I respectfully decline. But, Katy Tur, I know you`re
busy balancing. I`m going to say a lot of anchoring and your book tour.
TUR: Thank you, Ari Melber. Appreciate it.
MELBER: I hope people check it out.
TUR: I do too. In book stores now.
MELBER: We turn now to a bit of a more serious topic. Developing news
breaking in the last hour. Paul Manafort responds.
The president`s former campaign chair is now punching back after reports
that he was allegedly wiretapped before and after the election.
Here is a new statement just now into our news room from Manafort`s
spokesman and I`m going to unpack it for you.
First, he says, “If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA
warrant” - those foreign surveillance warrants - “regardless of the fact
that no charges ever emerge. The DOJ`s inspector general should
immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks” - which I`ll explain
- “and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration`s effort
to surveil a political opponent.”
Manafort also demanding right now that if there are transcripts, the DOJ
should release them now.
Now, the context, these alleged wiretaps were continuing into this year
when Manafort was known to speak with President Trump. And it`s “unclear
whether Trump himself was picked up on the surveillance,” according to that
And that`s not all. The other bombshell story still reverberating today.
“The New York Times
reporting that after that early morning raid on Manafort`s house in July,
Mueller`s team informed Manafort they did plan to indict him.
Meanwhile, another top Trump aide today is laying out a public defense.
This is new. Michael Cohen, Trump`s personal attorney and executive, who
infamously asked the Kremlin for help with a Trump business project in
Moscow in 2016, was out there in the Senate today, denying that either he
or Trump colluding with the Russians.
And he got specific. Let me explain. He said he was never paid by the
Russians or anyone else to hack or interfere with the election, to hack
Democratic Party computers.
Or specifically, he denied creating fake news stories to assist the Trump
campaign. All of that from Cohen`s opening statement to Senate
investigators, which we would normally be reporting on on a day like this,
but this was no normal day because after Cohen emerged from behind closed
doors for just over an hour - and you see him there with his lawyer in the
Senate Harte Office Building - something weird happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN RYAN, MICHAEL COHEN`S ATTORNEY: The committee has chosen to
postpone today`s meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say why was it postponed? Why was it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was it postponed?
MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Just a comment. It`s
tough for me to have to answer (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it your request to postpone? Was it your request
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you doing there today if you weren`t
COHEN: (INAUDIBLE) giving all the information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That body language is what it looks like when one lawyer is trying
to get his client another lawyer to not speak to the press. Although we
lawyers - sometimes, we can`t stop speaking.
Now, here`s what`s important here. The Senate leaders did later say Cohen
should not have released that statement I just read to you and that they
want him to now testify in public on October 25th.
They are treating this as a breach. So, as these investigations all close
in, today, we are seeing some strong reactions. Cohen breaking his
agreement with those Senate investigators. That`s at least according to
the chairman and ranking member from both parties.
And then, Manafort pushing back on this allegation that he was targeted in
a wiretap and suggesting that, if he was, this may raise the specter of
Obama administration political retribution.
I`m lucky to say we have a great panel to digest all of this. “NBC`s”
chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, who has been covering these
stories for some time; former Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman, a partner
at Dorsey and Whitney; and Anne Gearan of “The Washington Post”, a veteran
of many of the issues I just mentioned.
I want to start with you, Nick, on this brand new Manafort statement. In
fairness to Paul Manafort, ending up in surveillance doesn`t mean you
automatically did anything wrong. His statement does not suggest a formal
confirmation of this account.
And there are - as we`ve explained before, and I`m going to have a bigger
legal dive later in the show, there are multiple ways to end up in a
surveillance stream. What do you view as the work he`s doing in this
statement and how ominous or acerbic do you see this reference to political
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think,
look, they went into a federal judge with probable cause, a very detailed
affidavit that set out exactly why it was they wanted to put that wiretap
on his phone.
They followed the law. The judge directed that there be this wiretap and
they were able to do it again later on after they had stopped it. These
affidavits are not something that`s a couple pieces of paper. I mean, this
is something that is quite extensive that can go for 30, 40, 50 pages.
MELBER: What about Manafort`s concern that, if it is leaking, that itself
is a crime?
AKERMAN: It may be. It depends who leaked it. Yes, sure, it can be a
crime. And he wouldn`t know one way or the other, to tell you the truth,
whether or not he had been the subject of such a surveillance.
AKERMAN: So, this whole thing could be a lot of nothing. On the other
hand, he has been told he`s going to be indicted. He`s been given a
MELBER: Right. According to that target reporting. Anne Gearan, there
has been a lot of adjectives thrown around, red hot, high stakes, shock-
I don`t know that those are that helpful for understanding the
investigation. I do think that some of the leaks we`re seeing suggests the
stage we`re in.
I want to read you from Susan Hennessey, who is a former counsel at NSA.
She says “Mueller`s investigation has reached a critical stage. He may
soon start making allegations in public. The search warrant for Facebook
is indication of investigation reaching critical mass. The idea that these
aren`t just leaks from people touched by, but rather they`re going
ANNE GEARAN, NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes.
I mean, Mueller has over the last several months not only amassed a large
staff of investigators who are looking into, from what we can tell by, what
we know what they`re looking at and their own backgrounds as investigators,
the potential for financial crimes, potential for shenanigans in past
business deals and, obviously, any nexus to Russia.
Given the length of time that those investigators have all been working and
what we`re now seeing happening with Manafort, it`s logical to assume that
Mueller is getting close to the point when he either brings an indictment
or threatens an indictment in order to get something else he wants.
I want to say one thing about FISA, though. I mean, it`s not one judge,
it`s a panel of judges. It`s a secret court of federal judges who have to
review these requests from the federal government before they grant a FISA
warrant for an investigation, which would then lead to the wiretap. And it
has to involve a foreign subject.
So, if, in fact, Manafort was the subject of a FISA warrant that allowed
the wiretap, it`s because they would have thought or had probable cause to
think that he was doing something nefarious with a foreign power, a foreign
businessperson, foreign something or they wouldn`t have been before FISA at
HALLIE JACKSON, “NBC NEWS” CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, Paul
Manafort`s spokesperson`s statement that just came out a couple minutes
before this show does a couple of things, Anne and Nick.
And when you look at the discussion of threatening an indictment, there has
been a lot of talk about in that “New York Times” piece. That is exactly
To see who exactly is going to flip, what will they say and how much will
they say, all of that right now, as it relates to Manafort and Mike Flynn,
is speculation, but it is certainly going to be a factor that we`re going
to be looking at over the next period of months.
Here`s what the spokesperson for Paul Manafort said. He threw up a shiny
object and said, hey, this could be a crime. And as you point out, he`s
right. It could actually be a felony.
But the other part of it is he said, hey, release it all, I call on the
Department of Justice to release everything, take a look, my client did
nothing wrong. That is never going to happen. They had nothing to lose by
coming out and saying this.
MELBER: Hold on. Hold on, Hallie Jackson. You are not suggesting that
these lawyers for Paul Manafort would make a demand upon the government
about which they know the government cannot comply.
JACKSON: I`m just saying. From a PR perspective, that statement did what
it needed to do. But you know what it didn`t do, it didn`t say anything
about the veracity or not of that report.
MELBER: Well, that`s the most interesting part. And again, I say this a
lot. And sometimes people think I`m being annoying. It is true in
fairness to people caught up in investigation that being caught on
surveillance or being interviewed or going before the grand jury doesn`t
mean anything automatically negative. We say that a lot around here.
The response, though, here has not been to speak publicly to this report,
about the targeting or about whether he`s facing an indictment threat or
basically an indication of being a target. It is much more, as you say it,
to throw it back at them and say, well, maybe you should be under the gun.
Meanwhile, the politics of this, which I want to get you on because you
were all over 2016 campaign trail, is was Paul Manafort the most important
person with these high-level contacts both in the Trump campaign apparently
going to Russia or was he some guy that no one can remember.
I want show Donald Trump at the convention when he did seem to know who
Paul Manafort was. RNC Convention, Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES: Paul Manafort has done an amazing job. He`s here some place.
Where is Paul? Paul Manafort. Oh, good, he made it.
Paul Manafort has done a fantastic - and all of Paul`s people. Paul
brought on staff and we really do. We have a great staff of talented
people. A great staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Hallie, is that the truth or is it the later Sean Spicer denial
that this was some rando-volunteer?
JACKSON: And the implication that Paul Manafort really had nothing to do
with the campaign. No, that is not the case, right? You can tell all you
want after the fact that Paul Manafort wasn`t involved, but he was a
peripheral player. He was not.
He came in - remember, the context of when he came in, this moment when the
never Trump drum beaters were sounding the alarm, when he thought, hey,
maybe there is a chance.
When we were out there covering the primaries that Kasich is going to do
something, there might be delegate drama. So, Paul Manafort was brought in
for that, to try to work the room there. And then, was ended up elevated,
right, to this position of importance inside the campaign.
He was the de facto campaign manager, Ari, until all this Russia stuff and
his connections to Viktor Yanukovych and all these other people started
trickling out, and he himself acknowledged when he stepped back, he said, I
don`t want it to be about me, right? I want it to be about then-candidate
Donald Trump and his campaign and what he`s pushing for.
But the bottom line is, yes, he was involved. You might hear Sean Spicer
or whomever say, no, he was just a sideline player. That is noise. That
is not the case.
GEARAN: He was the turnaround artist. He was the guy who was supposed to
come in and fix the campaign when things were falling apart. Trump kept
doing stuff every day that made his own situation worse. Delegates were
peeling off. Supporters were peeling off.
JACKSON: His family members were a fan of Corey Lewandowski.
GEARAN: Right. Here was this guy, this experienced Republican hand who,
yes, had spent the last several years doing stuff that people were a little
unsure about, involving foreign clients, but his background was as somebody
who understood the delegate process, somebody who understood the Republican
Convention rules and he was supposed to fix things.
AKERMAN: But don`t forget, he was also the person that was at that June 9
meeting at Trump Tower. I mean, he was there with Don, Jr. He was there
with Kushner. He was there with all of the Russians when they were
supposed to show up with all of these documents that incriminated Hillary
Clinton. So, he was a key person in this whole Russian situation as well
as the campaign.
MELBER: And, Hallie, why was he working for free for the Trump campaign?
JACKSON: Because it served his interests. I mean, one perhaps charitable
explanation and one that you had heard from the time was that he was the
guy who was not like a player in politics at the moment.
He`d been around a long time before, he was considered kind of this guy
from the old guard, coming back. When he came back, I think a lot of
people went, `wow, him?`
Pulled up the photo albums from back in the day. So, perhaps, he saw it if
you`re going to look at it from one perspective. It`s a chance to try to
reobtain some relevancy inside the political sphere in DC, make some
He had a consulting firm. Not the worst thing in the world, get your name
attached to a guy who was heading over to the RNC. That`s my explanation.
AKERMAN: Don`t forget. He was brought in by Roger Stone. Roger Stone was
the individual that put him in there as campaign manager. He recommended
him to Donald Trump.
MELBER: What is the investigative significance of the ongoing
conversations between Manafort and Trump reportedly occurring long after he
vacated the campaign?
AKERMAN: Well, the significance is that Donald Trump could have put
himself in the soup by saying something incriminating. What were they
talking about -?
MELBER: Is it possible that the president is on a tape somewhere? We
talked about the Nixon tapes. He set up those tapes. You think it`s
possible that President Donald Trump not during the campaign, but after the
November election could be on a tape that Mueller has.
AKERMAN: Could be. I mean, because what were they talking about?
Manafort presumably had nothing to do with the president at that point.
And it was at that point that Trump was saying, oh, this guy really had
nothing to do with me and nothing to do with the campaign.
MELBER: Yes. A lot of questions. And I will note the obvious, which
sometimes - it`s our job. We anchor and sometimes we say obvious things.
But there have been a lot of reports that Paul Manafort has not come out
and specifically addressed. He has been a fairly quiet person in this
Tonight, here, within the last hour, him breaking his silence through his
spokesperson. Hallie Jackson, Nick Akerman, Anne Gearan, a power panel,
thank you so much.
So, how exactly does the FBI do this kind of secret surveillance? I have a
legal breakdown. I`m going to walk it through for all of you right after
And does this new Republican healthcare bill pass the so-called Kimmel
test. The late-night host tweeting he is going to weigh in on that in his
monologue tonight. I have an exclusive interview with Sen. Chris Murphy.
All that, plus the world`s reaction to Trump`s debut at the UN and those
comments about “destroying North Korea.” I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching
THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Welcome back. And now to our break down. That CNN report that
the feds wiretapped Trump aide Paul Manafort, which NBC has not confirmed,
has an explosive account in it that secret evidence suggests “Manafort
encouraged Russians to help the Trump campaign.”
And that`s a big claim and evidence indicates the head of Trump`s campaign
was encouraging Russian meddling. But what is the evidence? Let`s break
down the long legal road that may have led to a wiretap of Paul Manafort.
Reportedly, the feds began looking at him as the subject of an
investigation in 2014, scrutinizing his work in Ukraine, including with
Russia-friendly operatives. Now, that inquiry was discontinued sometime
last year with no charges for a lack of evidence.
Manafort was then reportedly tapped again in some manner in the fall of
2016 and early 2017, part of the FBI`s efforts to investigate ties between
the Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives.
Now, Manafort, of course, was fired in 2016 August of that year and he
continued conversations with Donald Trump before and after the election.
This could include the time that he was allegedly tapped.
“Manafort and Trump kept talking by phone until lawyers for the president
and Manafort insisted that they stop.”
So, that is the background. But, legally, how do one of these wiretaps
come about. Well, let me walk you through it.
The FBI first can ask the DOJ to make a wiretap request. Then the DOJ
decides if it has a legal case for a warrant. And for these types of
foreign warrants, the request then goes to a special secret foreign
If anything out of that court warrant that`s approved is used and becomes
lawful evidence, it can go into any court case.
The question of whether there is evidence here. Now, Manafort is not only
not confirming this story, but within the last hour says, if there is any
evidence, he`s asking for it to be immediately released.
And with me now for more is former FBI agent Clint Watts and former federal
prosecutor Cynthia Alksne.
I want to ask you, Clint. If you get a warrant to do it, how does this tap
work and what do you get out of it for the authorities?
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes. So, it has to be limited to
an individual and a scope, meaning that whenever the application goes
forward, you can`t collect information on everything. Even if it is
collected, it needs to be minimized.
So, anything that isn`t pertaining to your actual investigation has to be
narrowed down and minimized to protect any innocent people that come in or
anything that`s outside of that scope.
So, it could become a very narrow tool. Once that`s employed, then it goes
to dedicated communication devices that are confirmed to be with that
person or known to be connected with that person. So, that could be email
addresses, phone numbers, things like that. That`s where the actual
collection is done. And that would be done through whatever the provider
of that communication service is.
So, it is very narrow. And there`s a key thing that people should remember
about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is about state
sponsors, either a foreign terrorist organization or a state-sponsor of
And the standard is lower. You`re looking for probable causes. If
somebody is an agent of a foreign power, it does not mean that they are
involved in any criminal activity.
And important to know in this story is that this was picked up, it sounds
like, overseas. There was some sort of intercept that must have mentioned
Manafort. So, they may have been trying to actually pull this application
together, not just to see, was he an agent, but to see if there`s any
connection or anything of value related to it.
So, I think people need to be careful not to move too far down the road
with their assumptions when we really don`t know what the target of this
was or what the scope of it was.
MELBER: Right. And you`re speaking to an important point that`s come up a
lot. And, Cynthia, we`ve cited reporting by CNN - again, I mention “NBC
News” has not confirmed - about the notion that Manafort is being picked up
in this surveillance.
One possibility is that he was explicitly targeted. The other is, of
course, is as we`ve reported many times, people can get picked up in
surveillance in all sorts of ways.
But if he was targeted and if, as I quoted, there were discussions with the
president, could those ever be used in a potential case?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, they could be. But,
first of all, we don`t know what the conversations are and we have to be
careful not to jump to conclusions what the conversation would be about.
And according to way these warrants - they work, it`s very important, if he
starts a conversation with a president about Thanksgiving, they`re not
supposed to listen to that. They are only supposed to listen to what has
to do within the scope of the warrant.
So, it really depends on what was said. And if it falls within the scope,
then it`s criminally indictable.
MELBER: How do they do that? Because you could imagine a conversation
with a person, be it Donald Trump or any other person, might jump from
topic to topic?
ALKSNE: Right. Well, they make a determination. They`re trained. They
make a determination. If it seems like it`s about something totally
unnecessary or unimportant, they turn it off and they stop listening.
MELBER: Clint, when it comes to the secret surveillance court, it has, by
the way, been a matter of some controversy on the left and the right for
being too permissive, for granting warrants to just about anyone.
And then there`s a counter argument that, no, it`s a rigorous process and
the reason why the acceptance rate - the warrant rate is high is because
people only go in there when they really have espionage and other bad
stuff, to use a legal term of art.
Let me play for you Jim Comey describing what he thought the thickness, the
requirements were just to get these kind of warrants. Let me play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: The FISA applications are almost
always - have skinny risks, but significantly thicker than my wrist. It is
a pain in the neck to get permission to conduct electronic surveillance in
the United States. A pain in the neck and that`s great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The pain in the neck standard, if you will, is the idea that you
really have to have something to get in there. How do you view it?
WATTS: Yes. I agree completely with that assessment. It is the most
intrusive and most difficult form of an investigation tool that you ever
try and go after as an investigator and it`s very difficult to get.
The amount of evidence that you have to build up for, the reporting
requirements that go along with it are very significant and they take an
overwhelming amount of manpower to actually keep up with.
So, any investigator that`s going to push for that level of intrusiveness
and that technique is going to put in a lot of hard work, do a lot of
evidence collection and only those applications that are sound actually
move forward to the actual court for some sort of ruling on it.
So, I do agree that the only reason that you see a very low declination
rate essentially that comes on those applications is because there`s such a
rigorous process to get there and you always try and avoid using that
technique at all costs.
MELBER: And, Cynthia, in cases you`ve worked, do you find that individuals
who ought to know better, folks involved on the periphery of a criminal
enterprise or otherwise engage in ongoing unlawful conduct still end up
saying things they shouldn`t say, and that`s why these taps are valuable
because folks watching at home and watching movies think - yes, go ahead.
ALKSNE: It is shocking what they say. But I want to echo what Clint is
saying. I think it`s really important. And that is, not only is the FISA
Court very rigorous about what it`s willing to grant, but there`s a huge
process at the FBI, and it`s a big bureaucracy and you`ve got to go through
all the steps, and then it goes to Justice and you go through stacks and
stacks of steps and approvals. It`s not easy to get these warrants.
MELBER: Stacks on stacks on stacks.
ALKSNE: Stack on stacks. Lot of bureaucracy.
MELBER: Amen. Well, sometimes people say that`s good for people`s Fourth
Amendment rights. Clint and Cynthia, thank you both for your expertise on
this. Thank you.
Coming up, does the new GOP healthcare pass that famous Kimmel test. He`s
actually going to weigh in on that and I`m going to speak with Democratic
Senator Chris Murphy.
Plus, President Trump facing a roomful of world leaders vowing to take on
North Korea and dubbing Kim Jong-un “rocket man.” What was wrong with that
speech according to some critics ahead.
MELBER: Another important story right now. Republican senators working on
a new push to undercut Obamacare. And if it feels like Groundhog`s Day,
maybe it`s because it is for some people.
Once again, days before a final Obamacare deadline, Mike Pence racing from
New York to Washington to throw his weight around the capital. Republicans
could only lose two votes here.
Now, they`ve already lost one, Rand Paul. While other key hold-outs are
saying this about what is now called the Graham-Cassidy bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any update on where you stand on Graham-Cassidy?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, senator.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a lot of concern and it`s very difficult to
evaluate a bill when you don`t have the CBO analysis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: No CBO numbers yet. And Republicans know this is it as a
parliamentary matter. Lindsey Graham, who named the bill, and, obviously,
co-sponsored it has warned if it doesn`t pass, Republicans could face
something they think is terrifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Paul Ryan told me to my face, if
you pass it, we pass it. You can have different opinions about the quality
of this bill. At the end of the day, this is the only process left
available to stop a march towards socialism.
It`s pretty well clear to me where the country`s going under ObamaCare and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Bernie Care. Rachael Bade is Congressional
Reporter from Politico covering health care. Leah Wright Rigueur, a
Historian from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Dr. Howard Dean,
former Governor, and DNC Chair. Governor/Doctor, I start with you, a march
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Yes, Lindsey is – I like his
foreign policy. He just sticks to foreign policy. This is ignorant. The
truth is, this is an insurance-based bill. It was written as an insurance-
based bill and it was written by people from the insurance industry. I
mean, it`s ridiculous this kind of talk.
MELBER: When you say insurance base, you mean it`s going to help companies
more than patients?
DEAN: No. I not talking about (INAUDIBLE) bill. I mean, I`m talking
about ObamaCare. It was a bill written by and for insurance companies. It
does do a lot of good things but to say it`s socialism is ridiculous. It
is a private sector bill. It`s a silly thing to say and it`s not true.
MELBER: You`re saying that Lindsey Graham is full of it because he
literally referencing a market-based solution?
DEAN: I wouldn`t say he is full of it but I just say he doesn`t know
anything about health care and he should stick to foreign policy because
that`s his area of expertise.
MELBER: Governor, you`d never say – you`d never say –
DEAN: And furthermore, Cassidy is a doctor. He should – he`s going to
take $2 billion away from the people Louisiana if this bill passes. That`s
his home constituency. They pay his salary, not the Koch Brothers. Get
with the program and stop this ridiculous bill.
MELBER: Professor Rigueur, building on that point and how this affects
people, pre-existing conditions, a lot of discussion about that. I want to
read here from an analysis from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Insurers would still be required to offer coverage to people with pre-
existing conditions but they could offer them plans with unaffordable
premiums of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per month.” What
does that mean?
LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY`S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT
PROFESSOR: So, it feels a little bit like we`re experiencing someday deja
vu here, right? Different games, slightly tweaked plan but still doesn`t
pass the, you know, the – cool bill but it still doesn`t pass the Kimmel
test in terms of providing people with affordable and acceptable health
care. And so, this is the real problem.
This is the dilemma for the GOP, kind of rushing things in here without
having a CBO score and having a bill that inherently does not allow people
to – people to have really good and quality health care, and also make
cuts in areas that were – even Republican Senators have said are, you
know, over the line. Just too much in terms of providing health care for
their people. I think, you know, to Governor Dean`s point, you know, 33
percent of Americans support single payer, 60 of Americans think that the
government should be responsible for health care. And that`s something
that the Republican Party really has to take into account.
MELBER: And Rachael, the issue seems to be, the closer Republicans get in
public perception to undermining ObamaCare, the harder it is to do. And
so, there was a whole big fight than they lost. Everyone remembers
McCain`s no vote. Now it seems to be (INAUDIBLE) back and I think for the
– for the normal people around the country they will – is this real? Is
this happening? Are they closer? What`s your view?
RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: You know, they certainly
have an uphill battle. And they have some whipping to do if they think
they`ll make it – this pass. You`re going to see as you`re talking about
now, a lot of the same debates right now were conservatives who want to
take this bill a little further to the right. And then you have more
moderate centrist Republicans who are worried about their constituents
losing health care, getting kicked off Medicaid. So, I think – my
Republican sources on the Hill are basically telling me that there`s
something different right now.
And that is that we`re nearly ten months into the year and they don`t have
a single big legislative accomplishment coming out of Congress. Trump is
getting mad. He`s – you know, having Chinese food with Chuck and Nancy
and cutting deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling. He`s talking about
working with them on DACA and tax reform. They`re saying this is a warning
shot right now and they want to get their act together and show them that
they can do something not only just for him but for themselves and for the
mid-term elections as well.
MELBER: Right. Well, Governor Dean, as you know, Bob Marley among others
said every little action, there`s a reaction. And so maybe dinner with
Chuck and Nancy, the reaction is House Republicans demanding another go
with this. Your view of the politics which you know quite well?
DEAN: The politics is money. The Koch Brothers have basically said –
told Paul Ryan, they`re not going to help unless they get rid of this bill.
So this is about money from the Koch Brothers. I think it`s a disgusting
undermining of American – of American health care and American politics.
There are – I mean, I can`t imagine, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who
voted for this – voted against this before and got a hero`s welcome at
home are going to vote for this. I can`t believe Shelley Moore Capito is
even thinking about this. West Virginia is one of the most Medicaid
dependent states in the entire country. This is totally contrary to what
the people of their own party who voted for Donald Trump want or need.
MELBER: Well, and to that point, Governor, this isn`t negotiation toward
some other middle ground. I mean, I want to put up on the screen what`s in
the Graham-Cassidy bill because we get all these different terms flying
around. Some of the key points to know, no true protection for pre-
existing conditions, a gutting of those essential health benefits. Ending
the Medicaid expansion which is not only, of course, people who might have
less annual income but is also an overwhelming number of seniors and people
with disabilities who need that, and then repealing the mandate. So as far
as I understand it, and you`re the doctor, but as far as I understand it,
this is in some ways a harsher version of reform than earlier Trump care.
DEAN: This is the worst version of reform and it decides that it takes
money away from the states both Republican and Democrats who did the right
thing and ensure many people as possible and gives it to the states who did
nothing, like Lindsey Graham`s state. It is a disgraceful bill. It`s
based on money and envy and there`s no merit to this whatsoever.
MELBER: And Rachael, speak to the policy point the Governor just raised
which is something that Rand Paul also noted, the criticism that this bill
basically try to shuffle money specifically over into Republican states.
BADE: Look, I think that I have a lot of people in Congress who are
concerned about how states that took Medicaid expansion, are basically –
what is going to happen to them? What is going to happen to them when they
lose a bunch of this money that they`re losing to help people who can`t
afford health care right now? So I think that that policy debate or that
policy point is absolutely valid. But you also have to look at Republicans
are hearing from the more traditional wing of the Republican Party on the
further right side of the party. And they`re talking about driving down
prices and you know, yes, people are worried about people with pre-existing
conditions and those folks being priced out of market.
But if you talk to conservatives on the Hill, they`ll argue that you know,
we got to do this to bring down prices. And we got to think about what`s
best for you know, the majority of Americans. So it`s – you know, it`s
not that a lot of Republicans don`t want to do this. In fact, I would say
that probably 80 percent of my sources and lawmakers on the Hill that are
Republican want to do this and are not really concerned about all these
MELBER: Right. All these other things being I think somewhat we`ve been
discussing the gap between the political pressure and what is actually a
comprehensive health care plan. It`s going to work at the state level
because this will be judged if it passes for years to come. Rachael Bade,
Leah Wright Rigueur, and Howard Dean thank you all. I appreciate it. Now,
ahead, whether the health care bill can pass the Kimmel test, as I mention,
I`m going to speak with Senator Chris Murphy and Donald Trump bringing his
Twitter insults all the way to the U.N.
MELBER: There are some pundits who like to talk about you know, those
moments when Donald Trump became the President. Well, maybe today was not
one of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has great
strength and patience but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies,
we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocketman is on
a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How did it play? Well, there`s Trump`s Chief of Staff John Kelly
during the speech at the U.N. Now, this is just a moment in time. We
don`t know what Kelly is thinking there as he puts his hand to his face but
it`s getting a lot of attention, that picture. Also, world leaders looking
on at times stone-faced as Trump warned of a quote hell on earth and
boasted about America going it alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are
going to hell. I will always put America first.
We can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: With me now is David Ignatius, Foreign Columnist and Associate
Editor for the Washington Post covering Trump`s speech, How do our allies
view Trump`s performance today? And he talks about the most surprising
thing in the speech. What is it?
DAVID IGNATIUS, THE WASHINGTON POST FOREIGN COLUMNIST AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
To me, Ari, this may shock your viewers, the most surprising thing when you
got past the grossly undiplomatic language was, what a conventional speech
it was. I thought he didn`t add any new specific threats about Iran,
tearing up the agreement. He was surprisingly supportive of the United
Nations as an institution, as a conflict solver. He said at one point
dealing with North Korea really is problem at the United Nations or should
be the job of the United Nations. I thought the rhetorical overkill was so
pronounced that I think leads people to overlook what are to me some
important aspects of the speech.
This was a President who then months ago, I thought, was setting out to
basically wreck the international system on which the United States is
depended for its security, its prosperity. And I saw the language in this
speech contrasted even with his inaugural speech, to be different and more
supportive. It was a President who was accepting that the international
institutions, the U.N. in particular, matter to the United States. And I
just would note that. I mean, I`m not going to tell you that I think that
was the right language to use, talking about the rocket man but I think
it`s worst looking at some of the details in the speech because of they
really do contrast with where he seemed to be at the beginning of his
MELBER: Well, I think what you are articulating here in this annual sort
of historic forum is very familiar to our viewers. Not to suck up to my
viewers but I think they follow politics closely and know that Donald Trump
has a long history of trying to get credit for screaming about things
without ever doing anything about them. Whether that`s the swamp or the
wall or now a slightly more perhaps internationally esoteric set of issues
about whether or not he`s actually going to do anything about how United
Nations runs or whether the (INAUDIBLE) structure changes or who`s on
Security Council or how these things are negotiated. I mean, there`s a lot
of stuff there that he may just be screaming about it. I will play for you
his Reaganesque moment of attacking the U.N. although with his typical
Trump being over flair. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It`s not a friend
to freedom. It`s not a friend even to the United States of America, where,
as you know, it has its home.
Did you ever hear that he the United Nations solved a problem? It`s become
a political hornet`s nest. The United States pays much more than anybody
else even though other people benefit much more than we do. So we`re going
to get it stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, that was him telling his supporters this is how he`ll deal
with the U.N. Did he say to it their face today or did you find that he
focused on some other issues?
IGNATIUS: I thought that he made several important statements about the
U.N. over the last two days. I thought in Monday`s sort of odd session to
discuss U.N. reform, he very much committed himself and his – I think his
favorite diplomat, Nikki Haley to this project of U.N. reform which does
matter. Anybody who follows the U.N. knows that it really is too
bureaucratic, it wastes too much money. Trump is far from alone in
thinking that. The new Secretary General Guterres is quite aggressive on
this reform issues.
He now has strong direct support from Trump. The other thing I was pleased
to see. I`ve been distressed as I think many observers have been by the
way in which Rex Tillerson the Secretary of State has backed away from
human rights issues. So I was noted with interest that Trump specifically
called out the U.N. human rights body which does have too many human rights
violators as members and said that that`s not appropriate. And I think
again, observers of the U.N. who like the see it be more active wouldn`t
disagree with that.
MELBER: Right of the so a few reasonable ideas tucked under the rocket man
headline. Out of time, David Ignatius, thank you so much.
IGNATIUS: Great, thanks for having me.
MELBER: Absolutely. Now, is the new GOP health care bill passed the
Kimmel test? The host responding, and I`m going to talk about it with
Senator Chris Murphy.
MELBER: Here`s something interesting. Late Night host Jimmy Kimmel back
in the news about health care. You may remember in May when he gave that
emotional monologue about his baby son`s emergency heart surgery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: They did an echocardiogram, which is a sonogram of
the heart and found that Billy was born with a heart disease. If your baby
is going to die and it doesn`t have to, it shouldn`t matter how much money
you make. I think that`s something that whether you`re a Republican or a
Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right? I mean, we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Then Republican Senator Ben Cassidy pledged to uphold a Kimmel
test about any health care bill that he would support. Now many analysts
say Cassidy`s new bill doesn`t come close to passing that test and late
today, Jimmy Kimmel tweeting this photo with his son and writing, Billy is
helping me write tonight`s monologue. I`ll give our thoughts on the
Graham-Cassidy health care bill.
I`m joined by Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, a member of
the relevant committee who has been speaking out on this all over the
place. Thanks for making time on a busy day. First, this question, in
your view, does this fail the Kimmel test and thus, is Senator Cassidy
going back on his word?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D) CONNECTICUT: This is a big fat F. This fails the
Kimmel test worse than any other version of Trumpcare. And the irony of
this is that the reason that Bill Cassidy was on that show is because he
proactively made a statement during the prior debate that any bill that
Republicans considered should pass the Kimmel test. That`s why he got to
be on primetime late night T.V. and the bill that his name is now attached
to violates that test in a way that none of the other previous versions
did. The reason for that is that it A, allows every state to waive the
protections for people with pre-existing condition and then it essentially
requires them to waive that protection because it gets rid of the
individual mandate. Without the individual mandate, every single insurance
executive and expert will tell you cannot protect people with preexisting
conditions. (INAUDIBLE) eliminate those protections.
MELBER: So, Senator, on that policy point which is so important, you`re
saying that under the facts of the bill, this new proposal, this new stab
at repealing ObamaCare or doing some Trumpcare would make it easier to
discriminate against people with those conditions at the state level?
MURPHY: It will guarantee that states have to remove the protection for
people with preexisting conditions because without a mandate for healthy
people to buy insurance, no state can require insurance companies to charge
sick people and healthy people the same thing. So this is the first
version of the bill that has been introduced as the seventh version. This
is the first version that`s been introduced proactively forces states to
repeal the protection for people with preexisting conditions. It`s the
most extreme on this issue. And the irony is it`s the guy who said that he
was going to stand up for people with preexisting conditions that`s
MELBER: Right, irony being a very nice word for it. And I know that you
are a collegial senator. Another word here on the fact would be blanket
and obvious hypocrisy given his prior claims to do something for people
with those conditions. Let me ask you this way, that`s the policy. What
about the politics. Health care is something that Republicans did get
clobbered on, that did become a source of a civil war between Donald Trump
the President, the Party, the blame, the tweets. Do you know politically
why they`re going back at it and do you think they have a better chance
MURPHY: Well, the issue of repealing healthcare is kind of like the zombie
apocalypse for Republicans. It won`t die. And I think they remain worried
about a very small sliver of the Republican base that may give them trouble
when primary time comes around. The overall numbers are the same when
polls come out about this version of Trumpcare. It will still be at about
17-20 percent approval rating. But you know, they`re worried about a small
segment of Trump loyalists and the Republican Party that might come after
them if they don`t pass this. It`s all about politics, it has nothing to
do with policy. And the end result is that a lot of people are going to
get hurt and a lot of people are going to die if this bill passes.
MELBER: Turning to Russia while I have you, new reports that Paul Manafort
may indeed be a target of the Mueller investigation, that is to say, that
he could face future indictment and that he was wiretapped with his contact
with foreigners and that some investigators believe he was seeking Russian
help to tip the election. Do you view these new reports as something we
have to wait and see and unpack or does it look to you like a key element
in the case that there was some kind of collusion?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, the smoke continues to billow and billow. And it`s
really hard to believe that there isn`t fire underneath. I think you have
to go back to the beginning. Paul Manafort was a very curious choice to be
Campaign Manager. He had largely been out of U.S. politics for a long time
that never managed a race like this. His only real qualification was that
he had been working in Ukrainian and Russian politics over the course of
the better part of the decade. So you have to ask why was he picked in the
first place, was it because of his connections to Russia? And maybe
Mueller is starting to see some of those questions right now.
MELBER: And finally, do you think President Donald Trump may have to
ultimately testify? Are you prepared to rule that in or out?
MURPHY: He absolutely may have to testify. In the end, you know, Mueller
is going to have to answer one central question. Did the President of the
United States know about collusion between his campaign and the Russian
government if they can prove that it happened? So first he`s going to try
to figure out whether the proof of that collusion exists, more evidence
suggests that it did today than six months ago. The second question will
have to be whether Donald Trump knew about it and only Donald Trump can
answer that question really.
MELBER: Only Donald Trump? Interesting.
MURPHY: Well, not only Donald Trump, there`s other people that can answer
that but he would be obviously definitive on that question.
MELBER: Right. Senator Murphy, thank you for making time on a busy day.
MELBER: And that`s our show. You can always find us on Facebook or
Twitter @THEBEATWITHARI or e-mail me. Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL”
with Chris Matthews starts right now.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Don`t mess with Mueller. Let`s play
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