The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/26/17 Senate Hearing on firing Mueller
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: September 26, 2017
Guest: Glenn Thrush, Renato Mariotti, Jelani Cobb, David Wohl
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: We`ll be back more with “MTP Daily”
tomorrow. Post-election recap. It`s going to be wild. Trust me. THE
BEAT with Ari Melber starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Chuck -
TODD: Whatever I missed, you have.
MELBER: I`m sure we have it. I`m going to be watching your show extra
closely tomorrow for making sense of Alabama.
TODD: There you go.
MELBER: very excited. Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: Cheer the Lynyrd Skynyrd.
MELBER: Now, when it comes to Russia, we don`t know if President Trump is
guilty, but we do know he`s upset.
New reports that in a meeting with Americans for Prosperity with President
Tim Phillips from that group, Heritage Foundation Founder Ed Feulner and
other conservative leaders, Trump suddenly brought up Russia out of the
blue and slammed Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from it, leading to
this “Wall Street Journal” report and his comments also allegedly “dripping
All this comes as Trump`s longtime adviser Roger Stone facing congressional
investigators today. Now, he last testified before Congress during the
Watergate hearings. Today, he said he`d tell the truth about Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, (INAUDIBLE).
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Stone releasing a sort of audiobook of the statement he gave
Congress today and then later said this after facing investigators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: The accusation that I knew about John Podesta`s email hack in
advance was false. I`m aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the
Russian state or anyone in the Trump campaign.
I don`t know whether the DNC was hacked. Computer science seems to
indicate an inside job. I think it`s an entirely political exercise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that the president should fire Bob
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Love him or hate him, Roger Stone is known to embody Donald Trump,
something on display in that Netflix documentary, GET ME ROGER STONE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE: We`re in age of Stone because the change in our politics, the rough
and tumble, cutthroat politics, the slash and burn of what was just
probably the dirtiest, nastiest campaign in American political history are
now in vogue.
I revel in your hatred because, if I were ineffective, you wouldn`t hate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Meanwhile, in the Senate today, some progress on efforts to
protect Bob Mueller from exactly the kind of meddling that Stone is calling
for. Hearings on two bills that would insulate Mueller from any effort to
Now, we can tell you those bills reflect a concern about Trump`s
potentially unlawful behavior. But let`s be clear, current binding law
already protects the special counsel from firing without cause.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, former prosecutor, says
today he is “99 percent sure there will be some criminal charges from the
Russia investigation.” He actually speculated that both Manafort and Flynn
will face indictment.
With me now is Nick Akerman, a former assistant special Watergate
prosecutor, and Katty Kay, anchor for “BBC World News America”.
Nick, your view of what we learned there from Roger Stone`s denials and the
wider discussion of looming potential indictments.
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I think two
things. One, he clearly lied. He just - there`s three items that he lied
First, the Podesta situation where he tweeted in 2016 that John Podesta
would soon be in the barrel and a couple of days later emails that were
hacked out of his computer were released. His excuse for this was, well,
it was going to be information coming out about John Podesta`s brother, I
mean, which just doesn`t ring true at all.
Secondly, he acknowledged actually communicating with Guccifer 2.0, who was
presumably the hacker that took emails out of the Democratic National
Committee. You`ve got to ask yourself, what was he communicating with the
And secondly, he kind of changed his story about whether or not he
personally had conversations with Julian Assange. He initially said that
he spoke to him personally.
Now, all of a sudden, it`s an intermediary and he won`t even identify who
that intermediary is. But if you step back for a second, you`ve got to ask
yourself, what`s he doing, dealing with the people that hacked out the
emails out of the Democratic National Committee and then with the very
people that published those emails.
None of that adds up to the truth.
MELBER: And that`s your view and you`ve tangled with Stone. In fact, I am
going to show some of that in a moment.
But, Katty, the flip side would be the argument that Roger Stone has made
many bows. He tries to insert himself everywhere as a matter of dirty
tricks in media, but that doesn`t mean he actually was everywhere.
KATTY KAY, HOST, “BBC WORLD NEWS AMERICA”: Yes. And the fact that he
loves attention that he gave this hugely long opening statement, slamming
the committee, that he takes every opportunity to grab the media spotlight,
including going out of that hearing, that testimony and speaking to
This is somebody who wants attention. And I think this whole business
about the identity of this intermediary, who has been described in the past
as somebody in the media, on the opinion side, an American of a libertarian
bent, it`s almost as if that`s adding to the mystery.
I mean, if he has gone into this committee and he`s being asked to tell the
truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I don`t understand why
he hasn`t come up with the name of this intermediary.
He says it was because it was an off-the-record conversation that he had
with him. At some point, this person`s name is going to come out, so he
just has to come up with it fairly soon.
MELBER: Right. Off-the-record being a great term of art if you were a
journalist. He certainly isn`t, and so it sounds more like secret
Now, Nick, as promised, you have tangled with Roger Stone for a long time,
something that we revisited on MSNBC and you had a lot of choice words for
him. So, let`s go ahead and look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AKERMAN: Total nonsense. That never happened.
STONE: Wrong, wrong.
AKERMAN: It`s never ever happened. You are absolutely wrong. You are the
man behind this whole business with Trump and with this Gucifer and with
the Russians and you have the nerve to get on television and make these
wild accusations when you`re on television before predicting exactly when
the WikiLeaks information (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was your exchange. We heard from both of you. We always try
to hear all views and we`ve quoted from some of what Roger said.
Your view, though, of his responses, though. You really threw the book at
him in that interview and there`s been other times where people have thrown
the book. But Roger Stone, let`s be clear, has got out from under all
this. Do you actually believe from the public evidence that there is
AKERMAN: I think there`s more that came out since that exchange. What we
know since that exchange in the early summer is about this June 9th meeting
at Trump Tower.
We know that two weeks later, after supposedly the Russians were showing up
with all of this dirt on Hillary Clinton, suddenly all this dirt shows up
Guccifer 2.0`s website and then shows up a couple weeks later on the
Who is the person that was dealing with both ends of this transaction?
MELBER: You believe there is an operational link, which hasn`t been proven
yet, but is interesting. I want you both to stay with me.
Another important story. There is a pretty bizarre and important twist
here. We first told you about this last week. The Trump administration
finally warning 21 states they were targeted by Russian hackers in the 2016
election. That was 10 months late and include key states like Wisconsin,
Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Now, the feds apparently did not get it right even after the ten months.
Take a look at this, new tonight. “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” reporting
Trump officials now, today, telling Wisconsin they actually were not
targeted by those Russian hackers after all with regard to election-related
I want to bring in Michael Haas. He is the chief election official in
Wisconsin. Michael, let`s go through this piece by piece. There is a lot
of blame potentially at the federal level. You`re on the receiving end.
So, number one, when were you first informed that elections were hacked in
MICHAEL HAAS, ADMINISTRATOR, WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION: Good
afternoon. As with other states, we received a phone call last Friday from
the Department of Homeland Security. And in that phone call, they advised
that they consider Wisconsin to be one of the states that was targeted by
Russian government actors in order to scan our voter registration.
MELBER: Did they say why it took 10 months? Did they say why it took so
HAAS: Well, as you know, this has been a point of contention and a lot of
the state election officials have expressed their concern over receiving
this type of information since last June.
And there is a process in place to setup a coordinating council of
national, state and local election officials as part of the critical
infrastructure designation of election systems.
And one main goal of that coordinating council is to help the Department of
Homeland Security communicate more effectively with election officials.
And I think that is may be one reason why Homeland Security has gotten to
the point of being comfortable sharing this information.
MELBER: So, they tell you this Friday. And then, when did you later hear
from them that they got it wrong?
HAAS: Well, we were given a contact at DHS to obtain further information.
We wanted to find out exactly what was communicated last October.
Yesterday, they provided an email communication which did not appear to
mention Russian actors in it. We asked for follow up.
After they investigated further overnight and this morning, they informed
us late this morning that, in fact, the IP addresses that they were looking
at were scanning a different state agency in Wisconsin or attempting to
scan a different state agency -
MELBER: So, let make sure I understand it. The flow of this is so
important. And as you mentioned, sir, there is so much confusion. I want
to make sure the point you just made comes across clearly.
You are saying, they left it on Friday as we, the federal government, Trump
administration, telling you this was Russian hacking. And only because of
your follow-up questions or clarifications did they come back and correct
the fact that it didn`t hit election-related cyber. Is that correct?
HAAS: Essentially, yes. I think the initial phone call was to try to get
the states all contacted within a one-hour period of time. So that
information was very brief. And my understanding is that DHS is fielding
follow-up inquiries from a bunch of other states.
MELBER: Sure. And just in my limited time, Michael, the last question
that I want to ask you is, if they told you after a ten-month delay, the
Trump administration, on Friday that your key state of Wisconsin here was
hacked by Russians to some degree, and then, this week, they tell you they
got it wrong and it wasn`t, how does that instill confidence? How can the
public know if the source of the information, is DHS, Trump administration,
and it changes over these days, how do we have confidence from here?
HAAS: I would note that it`s important to be precise. And nobody ever
mentioned that Wisconsin was hacked. The terminology here is important.
It was always that there was an attempt to scan a system in Wisconsin.
MELBER: That`s what I mean, yes.
HAAS: DHS is a newcomer to the election administration. I think they will
acknowledge that there`s been a learning curve there. Whether it`s under
the Obama or Trump Department of Homeland Security, that personnel is
needed to get up to speed on what state and local election administration
(INAUDIBLE 1:35). We consider DHS and FBI to be essential partners.
MELBER: Sure. I got to tell you, just sitting here as a journalist and a
citizen, I respect the work you do and the difficult environment you`re in
and you have to work with all these folks.
What you`re telling me is completely scary and shocking that, on Friday,
you are being told there was Russian scanning in the critical state of
Wisconsin. And you do follow up. And by Tuesday, no, there wasn`t. And
we`re still ten months out and you have a president who apparently isn`t
sure there was any hacking at all from foreign powers or scanning or these
intrusions as we`ve been covering them.
I appreciate you joining us. Katty Kay, your response, your thoughts on
KAY: Score one for Vladimir Putin, right? Whether Wisconsin`s systems
were scanned or not, the fact that Russia has managed to cause this amount
of doubt and confusion about America`s electoral systems is exactly what
President Putin was setting out to do when he was interfering in the
In fact, this probably goes beyond his wildest wishes. He can cause
confusion, he can cause the government to tell Wisconsin. Wisconsin
officials have now spent the last three days looking at their systems,
trying to figure out where they need to put security systems in place and
beef up their security, so that they don`t get hacked or scanned in the
future again, if or if they didn`t.
And possibly, the Russians did absolutely nothing. But what they`ve gained
is an ability to undermine our belief in the American democratic process by
getting involved or possibly not even getting involved. Either way, it`s a
win for Putin.
MELBER: Right. And again, there`s a lot going on. The president is
fighting with football players. There are worries in North Korea. There
is Puerto Rico. There is a lot going on.
But what we just heard on THE BEAT tonight here, this Wisconsin official
basically telling everyone he was informed of one thing on Friday and
another thing by Tuesday. And is that going to reverse again? Clearly,
more needs to be done on the DHS side.
Nick, Katty, thank you very much. My thanks to Michael Haas for joining us
on that story.
Now, later tonight on THE BEAT, a special report on private memos that Paul
Manafort wrote to pitch his volunteer services to Trump and why it might be
newly relevant getting developments in the Russia case.
Plus, Trump doubling down on the NFL attacks. I`m going to speak to a “New
Yorker” writer whose article on this issue has gone viral.
And who in the Trump White House wasn`t using a private email account and
how is the hypocrisy playing today. I`m talking to a strategist who helped
Hillary Clinton prepare for all of those attacks on email in the debate.
I am Ari Melber and you`re watching The BEAT on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: She lied when she said
she had turned over the email. She lied when she said that she provided
everything to the FBI.
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR POLICY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: She hid her
emails because she knew what she did every day could never survive public
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump campaign officials argued the very act of using personal
email is a sign you are hiding something. Today, several are failing that
Trump email standard as those true Trump aides you just saw - Reince
Priebus and Stephen Miller - among a list of six Trump officials using
private email for government work. Plus, Bannon, Gary Cohn and Trump`s
daughter and son-in-law.
How rampant was this private email habit? Well, Chief of Staff Priebus,
while he was in government, tried to shut down the private emailing by
telling people to lock their personal phones in secure lockers at the White
House, but the request was largely ignored.
You heard that right. Priebus wanted to lock them up, the phones, not the
people. Now, this is not a story because personal email is so super
important. It`s a story because of the apparent cavalier hypocrisy of some
Trump aides and the double standards of parts of the political press,
including “The New York Times,” now downplaying a supposed email scandal
recast with new characters.
The exhaustive inquiry into Clinton`s personal email found no criminal
wrongdoing and featured a pretty unprecedented presentation by FBI Director
Comey, saying the evidence showed no intent to break the law, but personal
email use did reflect carelessness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: Although we did not find clear
evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws,
there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of
very sensitive, highly classified information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That carelessness may apply whenever officials rely on personal
email, though, there are no signs of an FBI investigation into personal
email in this Trump White House. Now, that is the government side.
Then there`s the media side, which is difficult maybe for the media to
face. Reporters covered Clinton`s personal email more than any other
issue. A Harvard study here comparing coverage of Clinton and Trump`s job
plans also compared it to coverage of Trump`s treatment of women and ties
to Russia - those red bars - dwarfed by total coverage of her emails. You
see it there. That`s Clinton email print coverage, not even close. Wasn`t
And this record may be painful for some reporters, who now want to
defensively justify the record instead of reassessing it and maybe some
hope to avoid reliving the trauma. The truth can hurt.
But the press may need to rethink this approach and take some advice from
Jay Z. We know the pain is real, but you can`t heal what you never reveal.
I`m joined now by Philippe Reines, longtime Clinton adviser, and Matt
Miller, former Justice Department spokesman under Obama. Matt, your
MATT MILLER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think you`re right,
Ari. I mean, look, in a normal world, this wouldn`t really be that big a
deal. I will tell you most senior government officials at times will have
emails that are work emails that come across their personal accounts for a
variety of reasons, but we`re not in a normal world.
The Republican Party, from the president, when he was a candidate, on down
to members of his staff and members of Congress set this new standard for
Hillary Clinton, as you outlined, that use of personal email account for
government business was a completely appropriate offense, something that
ought to be investigated, and so they created those rules for Clinton.
I think Donald Trump has to live by them. And what needs to happen now is
we need to look at this and see, were these just a few emails, as they have
said, or was this a widespread attempt to avoid the Presidential Records
And I think it`s important that the questions we ask not just about email,
but about reports that Trump officials were using Signal, using WhatsApp -
MILLER: Using other devices that can avoid any detection, and unlike
emails, whether personal or business, disappear after a time.
MELBER: Signal disappears. Donald Trump has said under oath in
depositions that he doesn`t use email for a similar reason, which is not
having the records.
Mr. Reines, I put the question to you. Do you think ultimately hindsight
and the historical record will show that the political press covered
Hillary Clinton`s emails in a fair and proportionate way or not?
PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: I don`t think
it well. At the very least, it`ll portray it in hindsight as a false
equivalency, as you showed in your chart. She really had one issue that
came up all the time, that the media brought up all the time - email,
And somehow, that had a greater impact or got more time than the dozens of
things from his taxes to his treatment of women to his bankruptcies before,
but I think -
MELBER: As well - it`s up on the screen. We`re going to leave it up on
the screen. We`ll put it back up. To your point and this issue, this
again is not my chart, it`s just a Harvard study and it just counts what
the media said. So, it`s only bias is whatever the media covered. And
it`s not only about blue and red, although we show that.
It`s also - if you`re a voter, Mr. Reines, who wanted to know about the
respective jobs plans, as you see on the chart, you got very much less
information about the two candidates` jobs plans and more than triple the
same information about email.
REINES: And even worse, if you probably were watching TV or reading the
paper about her jobs plan, you would then hear or read several paragraphs
about Donald Trump saying lock her up because of her email.
The email wasn`t just covered too much and every day. It permeated
everything. You would see biography, biographical stories of Secretary
Clinton when she worked for the Children`s Defense Fund. Presumably,
that`s a positive time in her life that we can all agree on with a noble
You would see paragraph after paragraph about how she has violated this,
she has deleted her email. There was a need, a false equivalency to insert
email into everything every day.
MELBER: Mr. Reines, do you think “The New York Times” in particular was
invested in this story for any particular reason?
REINES: I don`t have any reason to believe that. I could go on about “The
Times” coverage of the secretary going back the last 15 years. But in this
case, I think what was at play among “The Times” and other people was that
there was an assumption she would win. And I think that was in the media
writ large, that was in the Obama White House.
People did things because of that. President Obama supposedly because of
that didn`t feel the need to intervene on the Russia stuff. And I think
that played out in a lot of ways, including how she was vetted versus how
he was vetted.
MELBER: So, Matt, in a couple of sentences, what is the investigator or
government side of this from here?
MILLER: Well, unfortunately, there is no inspector general for the White
House. It`s up to Congress to look at this now. Trey Gowdy has said he`s
going to take a look at it. We`ll see. He`s not been a very aggressive
overseer of this administration as he was the previous one.
MELBER: Matt Miller and Philippe Reines, thank you both.
Ahead Paul Manafort`s pitch to join the Trump campaign, what his memos may
reveal in a new context, giving developments in the Russia case.
And later, what Trump is missing about the history of black athletes and
political protests, according to a guest who joins us with a viral essay.
MELBER: Now, to an exclusive on THE BEAT, Paul Manafort`s secret memo
making his case for getting a job with Donald Trump. We have Manafort`s
This is a document which has never been published in its entirety. It`s
actually a fascinating read, especially given that we now know Bob
Mueller`s investigators warned Manafort he could be indicted.
Now, we have the five pages that Manafort wrote back in 2016. This is from
“New York Times” reporter Glenn Thrush. He first wrote about Manafort`s
written appeal for a campaign job earlier this year.
Thrush did not release the entire memos at the time and the memo shows
Manafort making his case as a volunteer laborer who`d fight the Washington
establishment and shows how he played down his potential links to Russia.
Manafort approached Trump in February when they were primary victories
being racked up, but Trump was facing that revolt from the establishment
with talk of a contested convention and heartburn over his racial
controversies. This was the headline the day of Manafort`s memo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Tonight, the Klan
controversy exploding around Donald Trump after refusing to condemn the
KKK`s former leader. What he`s saying now and what we found him saying
Plus, tensions boil over at Trump`s rally. And tonight, some Republican
leaders alarmed, scrambling to stop him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Manafort wrote that very day, trying to play on Trump`s ego and
promising to deploy the skills of an insider. He said, “continue to manage
the campaign the same, nothing really needs to change on,” what Manafort
called, “track one,” winning the primaries.
But he warned of a revolt on track two, the convention, where Manafort
writes that Trump`s enemies in the party establishment would fight him
there, stack key committees with never Trumpers and use the platform to
undermine Trump`s position on key issues.
Now, remember that, because Bob Mueller may scrutinize why Russia got such
cozy treatment in that platform. Now that`s the why.
Then there is the who Manafort says he was. This secret memo showing
Manafort pitched himself as that rare species in Republican consulting an
altruistic free bird, willing to volunteer for months on end with no
compensation. “I`m not looking for a paid job,” he wrote. And Manafort
notes asked the Trump advisor Tom Barrack to use that to make the case.
Now, remember as well because while it is legal to volunteer for a
campaign, no problem, it`s not legal to donate your service if they were
compensated by any illegal source. And finally, there`s who Manafort says
he was not. He wrote he was not a part of the Washington establishment,
not someone with client relationships dealing with Washington, not someone
with Washington baggage and not cozy with political establishment in
Washington. Out of nowhere, he added, “my blood enemy in politics is Karl
Rove” who Manafort cast as an insider trying to stop Trump by playing up
his anti-Washington work.
Now, Manafort was also playing down the clients he had instead of D.C.
Republicans, dictators like Ferdinand Marcos and Putin-backed figures like
Yanukovych and Putin-linked oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska. Now, the only
time Manafort even brought up that work in the memo was to distance himself
from it saying, his work with Black, Manafort, Stone, Stone-linked firm who
actually spoke of course to investigators on the Hill today as all over.
“I`ve not been partner with Roger Stone since sold the firm in 1992,” he
wrote. And having begun the memo by promising Trump that he didn`t have to
change, stoking that emotional ego, Manafort closed with a flourish to the
financial ego, “I live in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue,” he wrote, even
including the specific apartment number in case you wanted verification.
An outsider, a fighter, a supporter, a tenant, those were the core messages
that Manafort delivered to Trump before they teamed up for one of the most
chaotic upsets of the American politics. Neither man could have known how
quickly their paths would diverge. Trump becoming the tenant of the most
priced public housing in America, Manafort finding his home raided and his
lawyers trying to spare him indictment and any risk of becoming a tenant in
some of the scariest facilities in America. I`m joined now by Glenn Thrush
who reported this story out and obtain those memos as well as former
Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti. Glenn, how might investigators look at
the way these two men linked up and what we`ve learned from your reporting
GLENN THRUSH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, what you
have to view this through is the prism what we have learned really over the
last couple weeks. We know that Bob Mueller has sifted through tens of
thousands of Paul Manafort e-mails and several of them pertained to
interactions he had with Russian oligarchs in which he reportedly offered
this guy weekly briefings on what the Trump campaign was up to. So it`s
clear that Manafort was obviously mixing both of his businesses. What is
less clear is what were his motivations? Were they nefarious? Were they
commercial? Were they just relatively innocent? It`s impossible to sort
of tell from the – from the info that is out there what his motivations
were, but this much is clear. People at the time on the campaign wondered
why this guy was hanging around. Why he would have pulled himself sort of
out of semi-retirement in American politics to jump on the campaign of
somebody who seems certain to lose.
And what was interesting is the person you mention, Tom Barrett is a
longtime friend of the President`s. He was the Chairman of the Inaugural
Committee. He`s somebody to whom the President speaks with quite a bit.
He`s an enthusiastic backer of the President. He also happens to be fairly
close to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. And the prominence of the
Manafort letter also tells you about what – how this particular world
work. Barrack got it from Manafort and barrack handed it to Ivanka who
then handed it to Donald Trump who then liked what he saw. And my sources
at the time I wrote that story, told me that Trump was especially impressed
by two factors. The fact that Manafort wanted to work for free, Trump
loves it when people work for free and the fact that Manafort had already
given him money in the form of purchasing a co-op in Trump Tower. So
Manafort rang all of Trump`s bells and thus this relationship which is of
such great consequence was born.
MELBER: Such great consequence. Your reporting really flushes that out.
And Renato, I mean Glenn makes the point that the money wasn`t coming into
Manafort from the campaign and yet there was “mixing.” As a former Federal
Prosecutor, is that an area of an investigative interest and when does
mixing potentially become misconduct?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, what I would say, you
know, my takeaway was very – this document was really a very interesting
read. And I think that Mueller`s team would also take a look at it in –
with great interest. And I think that you know, you could put this
document in context of the recent revelation we heard that there were e-
mails that Manafort sent, essentially trying to you know, appeared to be
selling access to a Russian billionaire. I mean, you wonder when somebody
is doing – willing to do something for free, what do they get out of it?
MELBER: It is not a crime Renato?
MARIOTTI: Well, you know, it`s not – in a straightforward way, it`s not a
crime. In other words, in and of itself, it may not be a crime, but it
could be. And so, it`s a little bit of a complicated question. In other
words, if he`s lying to someone to get money back, it would be a crime. If
he`s concealing what he`s doing from the Trump campaign, that could make it
a crime. If it`s – he`s getting income from that that he`s not reporting
in his tax returns, and we found out today there was further reporting that
confirmed what we knew that Mueller was looking – working the IRS to get
tax return information on Manafort investigating tax crimes.
So you know, if he wasn`t disclosing income from foreign sources, if he
wasn`t disclosing info on his tax return, that could get him in trouble.
And I think the issue for Manafort is, you know, whenever you are hiding
activities you`re doing with foreign governments or people tied to foreign
governments, it`s a very explosive thing that you know, ultimately, a jury
wouldn`t like and a judge would not like at sentencing. And so –
MELBER: Right, and it paints – I mean, what it paints is a problematic
picture for Paul Manafort. The biggest question in Washington is
knowledge, Glenn. It`s whether Trump knew or came to know that and how he
reacted to it, or the best theory of the case from the Trump criminal
defense team is that he was out of the loop and that as he learned, he
changed. So sometimes we show clips of politicians about inconsistencies,
other times the Trump theory of the case would be we`ll know when he
learned, he distanced himself. That`s what you`re supposed to do if you
find a wrong person on the team. Here is Trump over the months about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paul Manafort has done an
amazing job. Here`s here someplace. Where`s Paul? Paul Manafort. Oh,
good, you made it. Paul Manafort has done a fantastic–
Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place. He was
only there a short period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: It changes fast, Glenn. From vital to who is that guy, he was
here for a second? But does your reporting shed any light on whether
Donald Trump came to learn more about Paul Manafort or really knew the
THRUSH: I don`t think it`s – I don`t think it`s clear. The issue with
Trump is you know, what we`re learning now and we learned with his son Don
Junior and his interactions with the Russians is it`s often done through
these intermediaries. Trump drifts in and out of meetings. He deals with
sort of the vagaries of these things. Manafort, you know, again, was
brought on principally to deal with the issues of the convention which were
not small issues at the time. Trump was really facing an insurrection. We
saw that I think pretty graphically in Ted Cruz refusing to explicitly
endorse him during the convention.
So I think Trump was – my sense of this is, Trump may have been a little
more distant than others in his family who dealt with Manafort directly.
And the one element of truth that Trump, you know, I guess, when you watch
those clips and they are astounding Ari, and we`ve seen it over and over
again with people drifting in and out of his world. Which version of those
events is true? Was Trump telling the truth when he was lavishing praise
on Manafort or was he telling the truth when he said he didn`t know him
very well? I think the answer to that question is going to be the one that
really tells the story in this case.
MELBER: Right. And other people may weigh in on that under oath. I got
to tell you. Your reporting, I always like to read and your evidence, this
memo was also very interesting. Glenn Thrush from the New York Times,
thank you. Former Prosecutor Renato Mariotti, thank you, both. Donald
Trump meanwhile with new attack in the NFL feud. I`m going to talk to the
New Yorker`s Jelani Cobb who`s articles going viral. And how Trump could
suffer a bruising loss in Alabama today aided and abetted by Steve Bannon.
MELBER: President Trump continued his football fight for the fifth
straight day in the middle of a diplomatic appearance with the Prime
Minister of Spain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I wasn`t preoccupied with the NFL, I was ashamed of what was
taking place because to me that was a very important moment. I don`t think
you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem. I`ve heard
that before about, was I preoccupied? Not at all, not at all. I have
plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work. For people to disrespect
that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem I think is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There`s a long history of public protest in sports. One in `68
Olympics and the now iconic display of raised fists from U.S. medalist
Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Bill Russell, NBA Legend and one of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom sending out this message today of solidarity.
Trump`s request of players to be sanctioned for their free speech does have
precedent. Those very Olympians were suspended for the raised fists. Most
team owners though lately have been rejecting that kind of approach and
while the backlash that athletes should just play, be quiet and be grateful
is itself causing controversy. Author Jelani Cobb writing in a new piece
that when people lecture black athletes to just savor their position in
silence, they`re pushing a toxic stereotype, “ungrateful is the new
uppity,” he writes in a piece drawing much discussion today. Jelani Cobb
is here. What do you see in this dispute?
JELANI COBB, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORKER: Well, I think it is pretty
clear, we did not see the President talk in this kind of strident terms
about the neo-fascist group that`s were protesting in Charlottesville that
he`s reserved with bile for these athletes who by and large, African-
American. He`s accused them of behavior that he found “shameful” which is
almost surreal given you know, the track record that he has compiled during
his time in office, of having disrespected virtually every major
institution in American life and American democracy along with very many
individuals in the society as well. And so what people actually doing here
is engaging in their constitutionally protected right to protest. And you
would think that a President that understood democracy would say that,
while I might not agree with it, this is actually protected. But that`s
not what he said.
MELBER: Right. And talk about democracy, I`m going to put on the screen,
something you wrote about– you said Trump being a small man. Would you –
this is your words – I`ll let you read them up there.
COBB: Trump is a small man with a fetish for the symbols of democracy and
bottomless hostility for the actual practice of it.
MELBER: What do you mean by that, “the practice of it”?
COBB: So, when you look at you know, the institutions of American
democracy and the values and the norms and long that we`ve seen him
consistently attack and insult them. He`s insulted the press, he`s
insulted the intelligence community, he`s insulted the majority leader in
his own party, he`s insulted the house speaker of his own party. He has
insulted a gold star family. We can kind of go through the litany of these
individuals and entities that he`s taken aim at. And with the very little
concern – seemingly very little concern for the bigger ripple effect of
what his does to the society at large. You know, democracy, as I`ve always
said, you know, whenever I talk with my students, that democracy is really
a frail thing but we haven`t been doing that it long. And it is like
person who quit smoking, but the general habit of human history has been
autocracy and tyranny. And it re-broken that habit relatively (INAUDIBLE).
It`s like a person who quit smoking three weeks ago.
MELBER: Right, and that we are always in danger if we are not patrolling
it together as a pluralistic society. I mean, that`s what comes through in
COBB: That`s right.
MELBER: That`s why people respond to you. Stay with me because I want to
bring in for another view, a former Trump campaign surrogate David Wall who
argues, none of this is about race and the players are actually protesting
in the wrong place at the wrong time. David, what do you mean by that?
DAVID WOHL, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: Well, let me start by saying,
look at Mr. Cobb`s exercising his first amendment rights. How eloquent,
how powerful, how appropriate form of protest he used to get his point
across. When you`re talking about kneeling at the national anthem, it`s
completely inappropriate. Look, what you`re talking about is how your
actions are perceived. And this is what the players have to be sensitive
to, by the fans, by the millions of fans who fill the stadiums. The fans
who watch the telecast, the fans who buy the merchandise, these fans are
passionate about the team, they`re passionate about the sport, they`re
passionate about the way that patriotism is interwoven in the fabric of
MELBER: Do you think the government – David, do you think the government
should then be instructing private companies to fire them for that free
WOHL: No, no. I don`t think Mr. Trump was instructing anyone. He was
acting – he was talking in a form of outrage that many millions of
Americans felt that these players, who are basically are doing the same
thing as throwing a middle finger at the flag, at the troops who have died
for our rights to freedom, at the fans, at America in general, why should
they continue to be employed by teams that benefit from the millions of
dollars that these hard working people have–
MELBER: Right. And what you`re saying somewhat like – somewhat like the
President. Jelani, go ahead.
COBB: Well, let`s just be clear that you know, these players are being
given the amount they`re giving because they`re generating vastly larger
sums for the pea who own these stadiums, for the people who own these
teams, the people who sell this merchandise and so on. So this is not you
know, philanthropy or charity and any kinds or ways it performs. And then
secondly, you know, Mr. Trump explicitly said that they should fire them
right before he called them SOBs. And so, there`s really no way around
that. I appreciate David, you know, calling me articulate but I think that
fact of the matter is that their protest was articulate. It got us to
actually have this conversation.
WOHL: Well, you know, here`s the problem with that though. You`re –
they`re biting off their nose to spite their faces. They`re damaging their
industry, they`re damaging their profession, their damaging their careers,
and future ballplayers as well because the boycotts are coming. I mean, we
saw it already, some empty seats in stadiums. You saw fans burning
jerseys, you saw fans destroying hats. You saw outrage among millions of
fans who are completely sickened by what they perceived as a disrespectful
act toward America and toward the national anthem.
COBB: People burned LeBron James` jersey because he left Cleveland and
went to Miami. And so, no, that`s not the reason to (INAUDIBLE) for this.
Beside the fact that there`s never been – for people who are in power,
people who are comfortable, there has never been a convenient time for
people who have, you know, dissent to express their views. There`s always
a problem. People said that about Rosa Parks, people said that about Dr.
King, people said that about abolitionist. You`re doing this in the wrong
way. There`s always the kind of concern that you`re making people
uncomfortable. Well, the point is that we`ve been uncomfortable with the
issue of police and – policing and police brutality in our communities.
And so they simply wanted to make a point, to get a point across that the
values that we purportedly hold as a society, they are not extended to
everyone in our society equally. And you they did it in a way that brought
attention to it.
WOHL: You know what, I agree. Do you know what I think? The targets of
the protest need to be the people causing the problems, the police, the
police stations, the federal authorities. But when you – the target of
the protest is the national anthem, the patriotic sort of song that is
America, people get offended and your message is lost. And that`s the big
MELBER: People – I suppose David – I guess we`re almost out of time.
David, the problem is, like the President, you`re still taking the position
that you should have the final word and that`s understandable. A lot of
people want the final word on what other people should do. That`s not how
free speech works in a democracy. As an attorney, I think you would
WOHL: No, I recognize the right of free speech, I also recognize the right
of employers to prohibit free speech on the company clock. And I also
recognize the rights of fans to speak with their wallets. And when they
see something offensive, they`ll respond in due kind and I tell you what,
it`s going to hurt the players, bottom line.
MELBER: Final word – Jelani, final word.
COBB: Well, if that were the case. If we were trying to say that we
wouldn`t have politics engaged in sports as all, we would never have had
the national anthem played and we would never have had the military there
in the first place. We would say, we want no kind of recognition of
anything relating to any political institution in the United States but we
don`t say that. We say that we want the military to be recognized and we
want the flag to be saluted, we want the national anthem to be played and
those in and of itself are political acts.
MELBER: Jelani Cobb and David Wohl, thank you both for being here.
WOHL: Good for you, Jelani.
MELBER: Still ahead, Steve Bannon –
WOHL: Thank you.
MELBER: – about to deliver another potential big fight and not on Donald
MELBER: You know the comedian George Carlin had a famous list of
ridiculous oxymoron terms, like jumbo shrimp, mandatory options, wireless
cable, and mutual differences. Well, for the Trump era, maybe we could add
another, united government. Because while Republicans control both elected
branches, their united government looks very divided. Polls close in
Alabama within an hour now where Trump`s candidate was just roasted in
person by Steve Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, WHITE HOUSE: They think you`re a
pack of morons. Mitch McConnell and this permanent political class is the
most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So it is Trump versus Bannon versus McConnell and eight months in
we`re seeing results of this divided government as it appears. Remember,
Republicans have control of the House and Senate and the White House.
Compare that to 2008, the last time there was united government. By this
point in time, laws were passed on equal pay, a stimulus and new, clean
energy rules. Health care was ultimately passed the following march. By
contrast as of now, Trump has signed no major pieces of legislation and
Trumpcare looks pretty dead. Outside Washington, Trump also feeling the
This entire island of Puerto Rico still basically without power seen here
in satellite images of Puerto Rico before and after. Some pointedly asking
whether Trump is doing enough. In Vox they ask not only is Trump barely
doing enough for Puerto Rico, he`s essentially argued that Puerto Rico is
at fault and responsible for these problems. Today, six days after
Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, Trump finally announcing he will go
visit, but in a week from now. Let`s remember, 3.4 million Americans`
lives and well-being still hang in the balance. Trump though explained the
difficulty of getting supplies to Puerto Rico in describing the home to
millions of Americans as follows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s very tough because it`s an island. In Texas, we can ship the
trucks right out there. And you know, we`ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and
on Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico. But the difference is, this is
an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. And it`s a big ocean; it`s a
very big ocean
MELBER: I`m Ari Melber, that does it for THE BEAT. I`ll see you back here
the at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Unnecessary roughness.
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