The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/27/17 FEC commissioner on Russia hack

Jose Serrano, Maya Harris, Ellen Weintraub, Kurt Anderson

Date: September 27, 2017
Guest: Jose Serrano, Maya Harris, Ellen Weintraub, Kurt Anderson

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, “MTP DAILY”: Ari, you`re kind enough to hold me
over because 60 minutes weren`t enough for us today.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Well, I hope you - you are totally out
of time. Will you give me three minutes to talk out -

TODD: I`m all yours. Please.

MELBER: All right. My big question, and you touch on some of this,
though, is we saw Trump and Bannon go down there. We`re all looking
nationally at that impact. Would all of this still have gone down in your
view the same way without the outside intervention?

TODD: Look, I think Roy Moore - look, there was a unique situation. I
think we forget there`s some local dynamics here that we`re missing.

First of all, Roy Moore has a following in a constituency that`s very loyal
to him. So, he started off I think with a bigger advantage than perhaps
some in Washington realized.

And the fact is there was that local - I mean, you can`t under estimate the
impact of the scandal with the former governor now Bentley and then how
when he appointed Strange, Strange was investigating him, I mean it wasn`t
hard to say, oh, geez, the swamp of Washington, the swamp of Montgomery,

That wasn`t hard sell. So, here is the only way I would have war gamed
this differently. The candidate that was the most, I think, potentially
supportive of the Trump agenda and the most reasonably insurgent was Mo

What would this race have looked like if the president who I think - if you
look at his politics and how he would like to shakeup Washington, really Mo
Brooks is the guy that most resembles what he wants to do. And what if he
had gone in for him and what if the establishment had picked him -

MELBER: Right.

TODD: - frankly as sort of that middle ground between a Strange and a

MELBER: Doesn`t that go to the other thing? I mean, many years ago when I
did work in the Senate, one thing that everyone agreed on is you stick with
your party and the incumbents. I mean, there isn`t a senator really in -

TODD: No doubt.

MELBER: - either party that ever wants to mess with that. And yet things
have changed. We talk about whether people know how to adjust to changing
rules. Trump went with that rule. McConnell went with that rule.

And does he risk, Mitch McConnell, a perception among Republican base here
that he`s always involved in losing, whether it was this loss or Obamacare
this week.

TODD: Look, Mitch McConnell is in a vice here, all right? Internally, he
gets a lot of grief from the rank and file on the Republican conference
because they think many of them are sort of worn out by the partisan way
they believe he`s been running the Senate, even if they`ve individually
agreed with each decision, whether it`s how he handled the Supreme Court
nomination or the two reconciliations.

On the other hand, the president is ramming against Mitch McConnell for
essentially not being partisan enough in how he runs the Senate and the
grassroots thinks he isn`t running the Senate in a partisan enough way.

So, he`s really caught in this vice grip, I think, politically that - he is
in a box that I don`t know how he gets out of. And at the end of the day,
I think he is saying himself what`s in the best interest of keeping the
Republican majority intact in 2018. And I think he looks at Roy Moore as a
potential problem for Republicans nationally.

MELBER: Is Moore difficult for Republicans? Absolutely.

TODD: That`s right. It`s something that they have to answer for and it`s
not something they`re looking forward to.

MELBER: Right. Chuck Todd, three extra minutes, well spent. Thanks for
staying overtime with us.

TODD: You got it, brother.

MELBER: OK. Appreciate it, Chuck.

MELBER: Standing by here to get more into this on Trump, the GOP and the
Democrats, I got former DNC Chair Howard Dean, Former Clinton Adviser Maya
Harris, and Julius Krein, a conservative who has publicly recanted his vote
for Trump.

We`re going to talk in a second and we`re going discuss this brand-new
response from Trump running away from his candidate`s loss last night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about Mitch McConnell? Is he in trouble?

about that. No, you`re going to have to ask senators.

I know what they did with Mitch and they used him very much in the
campaign, but he works hard and I`m sure things will work out. They use
him in the race and I was very honored by the way I was treated in the
race. But they used him in the race.


MELBER: Were you honored? It`s not about you, but that is what you sound
like if you lost last night apparently. Some blaming of others, some
juggling. Meanwhile, the winning side says this is just the beginning.


state after state after state, people that follow the model of Judge Moore,
that do not need to raise money from the elites, from the crony
capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington DC, New York City, Silicon


MELBER: That though could be bad for Republicans because of the fact Judge
Moore now the Republican Senate nominee is actually a former judge because
he defied judge`s orders.

In fact, judges in Alabama ultimately booted him from office for defying
orders to remove this 10 Commandments monument.

And let`s be clear, the issue there was not pro or anti-monument. People
can have that debate. It was pro or anti rule of law. And Moore took the
lawless or, call it, anarchist position that he should personally override
lawful orders, he lost his job over it. He also advocates for jailing
people based on whom they have sex with.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homosexual conduct should be illegal? Should be



MELBER: He also has advocated a religious test against Muslims for
Congress. Now, that is not any kind of left or right issue. Judges take
an oath to uphold our constitution, which has always said no religious test
shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.

Roy Moore knowingly violated that oath with his position and basically
argued that he could be a more radical person in the Republican field than
Donald Trump. And as of last night, he won.

What does that mean? I want to get to it with Howard Dean, former chair of
the Democratic Party. Chuck Todd comes at this objectively. You come at
it as a former leader of a party. Chuck Todd was just saying this
development could be good for Democrats. As a Democrat, do you agree?

country. So, I think what`s bad for the country, it`s never good for the
Democrats. I think this is a problem and this is going to be a real test
for Alabama.

Alabama is not what it was when George Wallace was governor. There`s a lot
of better jobs down there, the economy is better, the University of Alabama
has become a, relatively speaking compared to what it was, progressive
place, known for its football team, but also now it`s beginning to be known
for its academics.

This is a real test for the voters of Alabama. Roy Moore is crazy.
Basically, he is. And Jones has got a stellar record of somebody with some
real courage. And he`s fairly conservative. I think we have a shot.

MELBER: Governor, when you assert that Roy Moore is crazy, do you mean
crazy like cuckoo for cocoa puffs crazy, like just bonkers, or do you mean
crazy like a fox with a very clear political agenda that he has been
pushing now and is at the precipice, if he wins this Senate race in
Alabama, of having more power than he`s ever had in his whole career.

DEAN: Well, he may or may not have more power. That depends how he gets
treated when he`s here. If you`re an American and you believe that you can
be the Supreme Court justice in the State of Alabama and violate the law of
the land as described by the Supreme Court, not once but twice, I think
there`s something really the matter with you.

MELBER: Yes. Stay with me, governor. I want to bring in two other guests
that I just mentioned. Maya Harris is a former Hillary Clinton adviser and
conservative Julius Krein who voted for Trump, but says that Trump`s
administration has turned out to be “disgraceful.”

On that spirit, let me start with you, Julius. As a conservative thinker,
you heard of my other guests here walk through it and you heard my
treatment of the facts. Given your concerns about where Trump is taking
the Republican party, what`s your view of Mr. Moore here?

think it does show that the Republican voters` discontent with the
Republican congressional leadership goes deeper than any sort of
personality cult around Donald Trump.

At the same time, I don`t think Trump will pay much of a price for
endorsing Moore`s opponent. But the fact is these are still all sort of
protest votes without much of a coherent positive agenda. And as we have
seen, that clearly has its limitations, to say the least.


mean, I think that Moore and the other thing that he stands for is a real
abomination in terms of the arguments that he made on the trail.

I think that, any day, when you have someone Corker saying that they`re
going to leave the Senate, you have someone like Moore being elected to the
Senate, you really have to say where`s the face of the Republican Party,
where is the Republican Party going.

I think this election is a real reckoning for the Republican Party. For
many years, the Republicans over decades gerrymandered districts to create
an advantage over Democrats. And now, they`re sort of reaping what they

They`ve created an environment where - that`s ripe for falling prey to
these kind of out-of-the-mainstream candidates, who are running against
them and actually winning.

I expect that we`re going to see more of that. And the more of that that
we see, I think we`ve seen this movie before in terms of the rise of the
Tea Party.

MELBER: Well, you`re making a fundamental point that they may have
contracted for stability, Republicans gerrymandering and doing other
mechanisms to try to get safe seats in the House side or in the Senate
side, basically appeal to the base, and what they have gotten instead is
more of a civil war.

I want to play some of Roy Moore here, also other controversial comments
he`s made, appearing to blame 9/11 on atheists or unbelievers. Again, this
is now the Republican nominee. So, the party is going to carry this for
some time. Take a listen.


MOORE: You know, we`ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe
because we`ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands
to heal this land.


MELBER: Maya, what he`s saying there is, with regard to 9/11, we`ve
distance ourselves from the one, from God, and that somehow is responsible
for 9/11 rather than, I don`t know, the people who perpetrated the attacks.

HARRIS: The interesting thing that`s going to happen for Republicans is -
because he has said plenty, he wants to criminalize LGBT, he says we
shouldn`t have Muslims in Congress, he`s an original birther.

And the challenge for Republicans is going to be, now that he`s won the
primary, they`re going to have to stump for him in the general because
they`re going to not want to lose the seat, so they`re going to have to
link arms. And that is only further going to color the picture of what the
future of the Republican Party is.

MELBER: So, let`s also look at the broader picture because the Alabama
results do go beyond Trump. It has now been five years since a Republican
senator had lost a primary.

It was moderate Dick Lugar who lost in 2012 and he`d been in for 35 years
in the Senate. There was a wave of six other incumbent Republicans who
lost their seats in primaries that year.

Tea Party Republicans also ousted, of course. The second most powerful
House member, Eric Cantor, in 2014. And last year, we checked the history,
two Republican incumbents lost their primary.

So, in the last three cycles, Gov. Dean you have 12 Republicans and 8 Dems
who have lost seats as incumbents, basically losing out, governor, to their
own base. So, we`re seeing it in both parties, but more on the right even
in the Trump era as of last night.

DEAN: I think that`s true. And I always thought the Republican Party
would be remade, but I thought it would be remade after Trump lost, not
after he won it.

They`re actually moving even further to the right, which is not where the
voters are moving. The voters are moving further to the left.

I saw a poll the other day which stunned me, which says 60 percent of
Americans were in favor of Medicare for all. That`s a big - and you have
got 15 Democratic senators supporting a bill instead of just Bernie

So, they`re not where Americans are. Americans are not bigots and they`re
not as intolerant, but that`s what the hate wing of the Republican Party
is, which is so active in primaries, and that`s how Roy Moore wins.

I think Jones has got a shot in the Senate and I hope the Democrats in
Washington understand that.

MELBER: And, Julius, to this larger point, there has been months and
months of conventional wisdom, I think, shared across the political elites,
across the media, I hear it all the time that, well, there`s these really
passionate base Republicans and they love Donald Trump, and so you have to
factor that into everything you do.

Well, they didn`t love Donald Trump enough last night to go with his chosen
candidate. And to your point, I think you were speaking about earlier, it
seems that maybe that anger, that energy there has overlapped with Trump
rather than fully powered him. And if people understand that or that
becomes the conventional takeaway, then last night was really bad for
Donald Trump.

KREIN: Well, my personal view is that Trump won by offering himself as the
sort of rebellion against the Republican leadership.

And to pick up on Maya`s point, it`s not just with gerrymandering and so
on, but as Republicans basically failed to fulfill any of their own
professed goals.

And as much as their agenda, their economic and foreign policy agenda, was
discredited, they really turned to this sort of populism, demonizing
opponents, ruthless, relentless obstruction of Obama, for example, and now
they`ve lost control of it.

MELBER: And lastly, Julius, real quickly, you spoke out in a major way.
We had you once on THE BEAT before saying you found Trump disgraceful and
you took back basically your vote.

Have you heard from anyone in the Trump or conservative circles? Are you
finding any growing movement for the points you made?

KREIN: Yes. I think there is, although it remains more in the
intellectual circles rather than in political ones.

MELBER: Gov. Dean is nodding. And I don`t know if he`s giggling or
smirking. I don`t know, what I would call it?

DEAN: No, I`m not smirking. I think that`s exactly right. It`s very
hard. Populism is based on a lot of very complex, but deeply emotional
feelings. And it`s very hard to get to people`s emotions when they have an
investment and not knowing what the facts are, and that`s what the Trump
supporters do.

MELBER: It`s funny - you put that so well, emotions invested and not
knowing the facts, which is something actually we`ve got a very special
guest on much later in the hour.

Gov. Howard Dean, Julius Krein, thanks for coming on. Maya, I want to
talk you about Puerto Rico. So, please stay with me.

Coming up, Trump rolling out the tax plan without releasing his own tax
returns. We have reporting on how much money from the plan could go to the
Trump family and yours also.

This dire crisis facing millions of Americans in Puerto Rico. A
congressman joins me along with Maya to discuss.

And some major news in the Russia probe tonight. A new report that
Facebook, Google and Twitter will all have to face investigators. We`re
going to talk social media and Russia in my exclusive interview tonight
with a top elections official at the FEC.

I`m Ari Melber and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: This week, Donald Trump lost an Obamacare fight and a Senate
primary where he campaigned and a portion of the NFL, and it`s only
Wednesday. Today, Trump turned to the fight he thinks could deliver the
first major law of his presidency, tax reform.


TRUMP: Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will
protect low income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well
connected. They can call me all they want, it`s not going to help. I am
doing the right thing. And it`s not good for me, believe me.


MELBER: So, Trump is branding this as not good for him and rich people.
But Trump has really never been consistent about who he wants the tax code
to target.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe in raising taxes on the wealthy?

TRUMP: I do. I do, including myself.

For the wealthy, I think frankly it`s going to go up. And you know what,
it really should go up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should pay - the wealthy need to pay more taxes.
What do you define as wealthy by the way?

TRUMP: Here is - let me explain - somebody like me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On taxes for the wealthy where you said you were open
to taxing them more, as you know that`s against the conservative.

TRUMP: I didn`t say that, Chris.


MELBER: He didn`t say that. Now, Trump is not still really saying what
the plan would do, which makes it difficult to say whether middle income
families will see the most benefit from the tax overhaul or if it will
favor the richest Americans.

According to “The New York Times” analysis today, “but continuing this
class war branding, Trump is touting two Goldman Sachs bankers that he
hired, Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin as wealthy people who would not do well
under the plan.”

Now, we do have some public information about what those two bankers are
worth, but very little about Donald Trump as he still refuses to release
his tax returns, which makes it especially odd, perhaps even brazen, for
Trump to pitch this whole tax plan today by invoking his own tax bracket.

Joining me now is Fordham professor Christina Greer and a former Obama
economic official Austan Goolsbee. Austan, what can you tell about this
plan based on what`s available?

he announced - I mean, it would be like if you said I`m going to go to the
most expensive restaurant in the city, and somebody said, but that`s going
to cost $100, how are you going to pay for it; and you said, oh, no, no,
trust me, I`m going to go get some coins out of the sofa and I`m going to
find all the money that I dropped in it in the last week.

It doesn`t come anywhere close. What he`s outlined are a bunch of multi-
trillion dollars cuts for high income people. And how they are going to
try to square that circle - I assume they`re just not going to try to
square the circle.

MELBER: Right. Then it`s still a wish list. It`s funny. That`s
something people often say about Bernie Sanders or other folks who put out
these big plans that are expensive and sometimes people claim they don`t
add up.

But Professor Christina Greer, that`s basically what the economists are
saying is the issue with Trump.

UNIVERSITY: Well, we know that this particular president has zero history
of public service. We know that he has oftentimes pledged to give money
and has shirked on that. We still have yet to see his tax returns.

So, when he says this is great for the middle class, he hasn`t defined who
the middle class would be. He has clearly not said - besides speaking in
platitudes, he`s just saying, well, you know, no one `s going to lose,
well, clearly, someone has to lose.

So, will it be poor people who are going to be penalized more or is it
going to be wealthy folks? He can`t say, but we`re not even sure that he

And I think the last piece is this is him having unified government and
still not really have any legislative victory.

MELBER: Right.

GREER: He said day one he`s going to have this wall. He`s going to repeal
Obamacare, all these things, because he has a Democratic House and a
Democratic Senate. And legislatively, he is a failure.

MELBER: Right. And on the class piece, I want to play some sound here,
Austan, of the president basically saying, well, maybe the rich people will
pay more with a new bracket, maybe not, it`s sort of all up in the air.
Take a listen.


TRUMP: We have also given Congress the flexibility to add an additional
top rate on the very highest income earners to provide even more tax relief
for working people.


MELBER: So that`s the rate side. But then, Austan, of course, there are
the deductions which is a big feature here.

As you know, Lauren Hill famously said “it ain`t about what you cop, it`s
about what you keep.” You can make a lot of money, but what do you have at
the end of the year leftover is what you keep. These deductions seem to be
a big sticking point. Can you give us some insight on that?

GOOLSBEE: Look, my only insight on the deductions will be there`s a reason
they haven`t specified what deductions they`re going to get rid of. It`s
because they know perfectly well, as soon as they say that, there will be a
large number of Republicans who say, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, we can`t raise
taxes on that group.

You`ve got - they`ve discussed getting rid of the state income tax and
state tax deduction. There are 50 some Republican House members that are
from high tax places who are going to say, well, we are for your plan, just
take that part out of it.

MELBER: Well, let`s dig it on that because I want to bring in Professor
Greer. I mean, that`s a key point Austan`s making here, which is in the
abstract, you can say, oh, we will save money, right, by eliminating that

But a lot of conservatives like that deduction because it operates on an
idea that if you pay tax to a state, you shouldn`t also have to pay the tax
to the feds, that there`s some fairness in that. And a lot of the
Democrats frankly like that deduction because it`s in a lot of blue states.

GREER: Right. And the governor of New York has already come out and said
that this would be devastating for the State of New York, the governor of
California said the same thing, New Jersey.

So, we are seeing the blue state - if you will, blue state Democratic
governors saying the little bit that we`ve seen today is so detrimental to
the entire population and we know that this particular president likes to
speak in platitudes, right?

We`re doing great in Puerto Rico. Everything`s just fine. But when it
comes to tax policy, if you haven`t been able to successfully move the
chains on building the wall, you haven`t been able to successfully move the
chains on repealing and replacing Obamacare, why do you think that you
would have a victory of one of the most complex tax structures.

MELBER: Right. This is the thing.

GREER: And people who are far better politicians and intellects have not
been able to. I don`t understand why this particular president thinks,
well, you know what, we need a win before the Senate, let`s just do it.

MELBER: And you had to have more of a working coalition. Look, it`s hard
to do tax segments on TV and make them really fun. I will say this was
better than doing taxes. And I hope the viewers agree. Economist Austan
Goolsbee, Professor Christina Greer, thank you both.


MELBER: Ahead, THE BEAT exclusive I mentioned tonight, the federal
elections official who warned about foreign powers interfering with our
elections. And she has a new warning.


They are trying to push whatever buttons they can to try and affect our
elections and we need to do more to stop that.


MELBER: Right now, in Puerto Rico, over 3 million Americans hunkering down
for a night without power and, in many cases, severe food shortages. The
lines for water and fuel can run for hours.


MELBER: Now, we turn to Puerto Rico tonight where millions of Americans
are grappling with an unfolding crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning in Puerto Rico, lines for necessities like
food, water, cash and gas are sometimes stretching for blocks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very frustrating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need diesel, we need gas, we need running water,
we need our hospitals not to become deathtraps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A humanitarian crisis is unfolding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In some remote parts of Puerto Rico, calls for help are
written on rooftops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nearly 12,000 people remain in the emergency shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No electricity no food, no planes, we feel desperate.
It`s just me. This is a scary situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roads obliterated by mudslides and flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s trees down, power lines down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a nightmare. This is not where I planned to
be or I wanted to be during the first two weeks of my baby`s life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is facing criticism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re seeing that there is no action being taken, so
it`s not working. Here it`s not working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are US citizens. We are
supposed to be treated equally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We really need help. We don`t
have anything and we need to start over.


MELBER: This is a key test for the Trump administration and there is
criticism pouring in from both sides of the aisle. Sen. Michael Rubio
says, “what I`m more concerned about in the next 48 to 72 hours is ensuring
that we don`t have a Katrina-style event.” Other lawmakers have been even
more blunt.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: The response has been anemic. Back
when we had Katrina, I said to the world in a news conference, God would
not be pleased with our response to Katrina. God certainly wouldn`t be
pleased with this response.


MELBER: And it took plea from Hillary Clinton to get Trump to deploy a
hospital ship Comfort to aide residents. That ship, though, will not leave
until four days from now. It takes five more days to reach Puerto Rico.

Trump himself, though, has sounded this note about the response to Puerto
Rico, calling it great, amazing and tremendous.

He heads there for a scheduled trip on Tuesday. I`m joined now by
Congressman Jose Serrano, a Democrat from New York who notes he was born in
Puerto Rico. Thank you for joining us. What are you calling on the
administration to do now for Puerto Rico?

REP. JOSE SERRANO (D), NEW YORK: Well, not to wait a day longer, to
declare this a full emergency. It has been declared in words but it now
hasn`t been done in action. The President`s visit is welcome but it should
have been much earlier. The fact that we`re having trouble moving assets
around, federal assets around, is something that has to be taken care of.
In fact, I`ve called for the Department of defense send in boots to Puerto
Rico because they know how to build towns, they can how to rebuild
communities. They know how to create roads. We have to know where we can
move because in some cases, items are getting to Puerto Rico but how to
move them inside of Puerto Rico within the condition of the roads and the
trees were all over the place and the water that`s creating a situation
that is very difficult to deal with.

MELBER: There`s as you know been bipartisan criticism about a real failure
on the Trump administration`s part to make changes that apparently could it
make rather swiftly, like changes to shipping rules, the so-called Jones
Act. Senator McCain saying, “Shipping industry supports this Jones Act
because it`s protectionist. Puerto Rico deserves better than policy
decisions driven by special interests.” What should the administration do
about that?

SERRANO: At the minimum, they should wave it for the length of this
crisis, at the minimum. We can look at the whole Jones Act, you know, down
the road, soon but at the minimum, wave it. Secondly, understand
something, Mr. President, this is not a foreign country. These are
American citizens. I was born there. I was born an American citizen. I`m
now here, a United States Congressman from New York, simply because I moved
to New York. Nothing changed in my status. There was no immigration
status to deal with. So please understand that these are your folks, too.
And he is a New Yorker. He of all people should understand our community.

MELBER: Congressman, when you say Mr. President, Puerto Rico is not a
foreign country, are you concerned that he doesn`t know that? Do you think
there`s evidence that Puerto Rico is being treated differently?

SERRANO: The territories are always treated differently. In fact, for all
the years I`ve been in Congress, I`ve always said that if I`m remembered
for anything is, don`t forget the territories or include the territories.
This is a time to prove that I`m wrong. This is a time to prove that we,
the United States, consider the territories part of United States and that
the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have to be taken care of. I just got a
report this afternoon that told me, that in towns where the water is
beginning to go down from the flooding, they`re finding hundreds if not
thousands of dead pets, dead animals, cats dogs, in the mountains, cats,
and horses, not to mention who might be out there that are human beings.
So this is beyond anything you can imagine. The hurricane went through the
center. It has destroyed the agriculture. It has destroyed everything
else. The houses are down, the roads are down. No electricity, no water
no, food.

MELBER: Congressman Serrano, thank you for joining us on a busy day on
this important topic. I want to turn back to Maya Harris who has advised
Hillary Clinton. I want to run through some more of the numbers because
obviously, the evidence matters here. The federal hurricane response for
Harvey, about 31,000 federal employees went to Texas, Irma, 40,000 to
Florida. For Hurricane Maria, under 7,000 deployed to Puerto Rico and the
U.S. Virgin Islands.

MAYA HARRIS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I don`t know where to begin
in terms of the response to Puerto Rico. It is an absolute dereliction of
Duty for Trump to not do everything humanly possible to save lives for 3.5
million Americans who are living in Puerto Rico, devastated by this – by
this event. And when you look at the response that`s been, you know, had
so far, I agree with my friend (INAUDIBLE), the response has been puny.
It`s been cold. When you look at the responder numbers that you`ve just
identified in terms of responders he sent to Texas and Florida, look what`s
happening in Puerto Rico is that you know, it is puny. But it is also cold
when you know, it took him days to say anything. And when did he finally
say something, what have he talked about? He talked you know, about
property damage, not people. He talked about infrastructure, not lives.

MELBER: He talked about their foreign debt obligations, which they`re not
the only part of the United States where there are debt issues but he
didn`t talk about that in Texas where people also have underwater mortgages
and homes and other issues.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

MELBER: So Maya, I want to continue on this story. We`ve been covering it
repeatedly. I appreciate the Congressman`s time, as well as yours. Thank
you. Coming up, Facebook`s Mark Zuckerberg has a brand new statement
breaking tonight in our newsroom and it is further backpedaling on his
prior claims that any blaming for fake news on Facebook is crazy. And the
woman you see right there, my exclusive conversation with an FEC
Commissioner who wants to take on social media and deal with the Russia
threat. And later, is Trump ready to say you`re fired to a Trump official
racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Your money on his
private travel.



the idea that you know, fake news on Facebook of which you know, it`s a
very small amount of the content. It influences the election in any way I
think is a pretty crazy idea.


MELBER: Crazy that fake news influenced the election. That was Mark
Zuckerberg in November. Tonight we can report he`s recanting. Facebook of
course under fire in the Russia probe. Last Monday, right here on THE
BEAT, I put it this way.


MELBER: So the social network facilitating these foreign frauds and
profiting off them doesn`t think it owes Americans any information about
that. Mark Zuckerberg resounding like a combination of Equifax and Alex
Jones here.


MELBER: He was sounding like that but tonight, Zuckerberg is walking it
all back. This is brand new in our newsroom. He says, “Calling that crazy
that fake news had influence was dismissive “I regret it.” Now, the
foreign meddling was a shock to a lot of people, but there were some
officials sounding the alarm like Ellen Weintraub. She`s an FEC
Commissioner warning about the danger of foreign nationals, all the way
back in March. That was before Trump even won the nomination when she
warned that foreigners could evade the restriction on foreign influence by
simply setting up shell contributions through which to funnel their
contributions. And here she was in, I should say, in April 2016.


need to do a much better job of disclosure of the political money and
there`s this issue have foreign national that I think has not been
addressed since Citizens United opened the door to corporate money which
can be an opportunity for foreign money to come into our elections.


MELBER: That concern is now taking hold. Two Senators pushing legislation
to force new rules on spending for ads online.


MELBER: Here`s Ellen Weintraub joining me now, a voice perhaps from the
wilderness Commissioner. I think you were proven correct in your concerns.
What do you see as the key to stopping this foreign money and should social
media companies be more regulated, the way, for example, T.V. ads are?

WEINTRAUB: Thank you, Ari. As you know, I have been concerned for a long
time that foreign nationals might be in a position to take advantage of
various loopholes in our laws in order to try and exert influence over our
democracy. And the law is flat on that. Foreign nationals are not allowed
to spend directly or indirectly in connection with any election in the
United States. What we`ve seen recently, this explosion and information
about what`s been going on in social media is I think more evidence that
there`s a lot of very ingenious thinkers going on out there and they are
trying to push whatever buttons they can to try to affect our elections.
And we need to do more to stop that. Now, whether we can stop it all
together at the FEC, I think maybe a little bit ambitious but we can
certainly do more.

MELBER: But let me – let me push you on that. Like I noted, you`ve been
a leader on this but you know, Facebook is often thought of by a lot of
people positively. And is something that doesn`t need regulation. People
don`t think of it like a bank or an oil company. We looked in the history
here back in 2011, Facebook was saying that you guys, the FEC, should
exempt it from all the rules on advertisers to disclose who`s paying and
they argued that they are more like small campaign items, like a bumper
sticker. Is Facebook just no biggie like a bumper sticker?

WEINTRAUB: Well, a bumper sticker is only seen by the people who happen to
drive by that car. And Facebook obviously has a much broader impact than
that. I think what has happened is that the internet and the capabilities
of it have changed so dramatically since the last time the FEC actually
took a serious look at this. We haven`t done any rulemaking on internet
political activities since 2006. When we started that rulemaking, YouTube
had been in existence a few a few weeks. So obviously, technology has
really taken off from there. Some people are still relying on an advisory
opinion that the commission is shooting 2002. The technology has totally
changed since then.

When Facebook came in in 2010 or 2011, to ask for that exemption, they were
– their point was that, well, this is all very small and it`s hard to put
a disclaimer on an ad on the internet. But the one thing that the
commission and the public agreed on, even as far back as 2006, the last
time we address this was that yes, we want to have a lot of opportunity on
the internet for people to exchange ideas and to engage in robust debate
but we still want to have limits on paid advertising. I want to make sure
that people know who`s behind them.

MELBER: Well, isn`t that – let me – isn`t that the key? Isn`t that the
key that – we`re not hearing about Russians having secretly bought T.V.
ads, right? We`re hearing about this money coming in sort of a dark route
to the web.

WEINTRAUB: Yes. That is absolutely right. I think that we leave the door
open. When we leave room for people the act without disclosure, then we
just leave the door open for people to take advantage of that. And that`s
what we`re seeing. If we have firmer disclosure rules, stronger disclosure
rules that has both a deterrence and a detection function. What the
Supreme court has long recognized is really important in addition to just
informing people where they`re getting their information.

MELBER: Right.

WEINTRAUB: Because who wants to get their information from a Russian troll

MELBER: Right. And once you know that, it actually may break some of the
value to propaganda. Ellen Weintraub, I will say, you were concerned about
foreign meddling before it was cool. Thank you for joining us.

WEINTRAUB: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you.


MELBER: Ahead, coming up, a special look at fake news in America and the
forces behind Trump`s rise. Bestselling Author Kurt Anderson is out with a
new book and he joins me live.


MELBER: Some of the most influential people in today`s politics are not
famous and they`re liars and they admit it. Take Paul Horner, a 38-year-
old who spent six years peddling fake news with headlines like, Donald
Trump signs executive order allowing the hunting of bald eagles, drugs in
Colorado, new deadly strain of marijuana, turning users gay, and “Donald
Trump protesters speak out I was paid $35,000 to protest Trump`s rally.
That last false story was tweeted out by non-other than Campaign Manager
Corey Lewandowski and that link you see right there makes it
pretty hard to tell that the “.co” at the end means it was actually a
fraudulent story impersonating ABC. And this man claimed responsibility
for electing Trump.


PAUL HORNER, FAKE NEWS WRITER: I do it to try to educate people. I see
certain things wrong in society that I don`t like and different targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you educating?

HORNER: Within my stories, I`ll have links to all the different facts that
the purpose of a story I`ll pick a purpose to write about. And then,
within that story, I`ll have links to everything to back up the different
purpose behind the story.


MELBER: That was Paul Horner. He was found dead in his apartment on
Tuesday, Arizona Police announcing that death. They pointed to a suspected
drug overdose. And that death made it into the New York Times today
because of a judgment call, that fake news is now so politically
influential that it is worth reporting on even people like that you may not
have heard of. It may also be illegal, those reports that Mueller is
ceasing thousands Facebook ads to investigated they were part of an
international fake news conspiracy of crime. Now, if you find a post-fact
world depressing, maybe you`ll start wishing you could travel back in time
before these problems existed. As the old protest time goes, what do want?
Time travel. When do we want it? It`s irrelevant. See, the timing is
irrelevant if you have a time machine. And we have dad jokes. It`s all –
it`s all good.

Our next guest, though, says you have to travel far back far in time
because American politics has long struggled with lies and conspiracies.
Kurt Anderson the Author of Fantasyland and he`s working with Alec Baldwin
on a forthcoming takedown book, You Can`t Spell America Without Me. Thanks
for being here.


MELBER: Is there something uniquely American about these conspiracies?

ANDERSON: Well, there is something I think definingly American about our
passionate desire to believe the untrue, to believe the excitingly untrue.
And conspiracy theories is part of it. There`s a long history of that.
But also so is fake news. Back in the 1830s, the great time of P.T.
Barnum. The New York Sun for six days had this extraordinary series about
discovery of bat people on the move with great temples and so forth.
Everyone believed it in New York City in 1835. So there`s a history of
fake news. We need to be careful, though, in this day and age about fake
news because of course, this guy who says, yes, I did these fake stories in
order to get the political results that I wanted.

That is unquestionably fake news. But just today, the President of the
United States says Facebook always anti-Trump. New York Times, Washington
Post, always anti-Trump, hence, fake news. So let`s be careful about the
various definitions of fake news. For Donald Trump, it`s anything that is
unflattering to or inconvenient for him. That is, therefore, fake news.
And of course, that`s always been not so much an American idea but a
totalitarian idea to undermine the truth.

MELBER: Right, but this, this goes – this goes to what might be
different. I think you do an interesting job showing the roots of this,
which may be why it took hold. I read one quote from the book. You said
Trump was elected President because of his nonstop lies. The old fringes
have been folded into the new center. The irrational has become
respectable and often unstoppable. That seems to be an important point,
that in the old days, leaders and politicians sought to be credible –

ANDERSON: Correct.

MELBER: – and may have lied when convenient. Now Trump seeks to make the
factual part of the world not credible.

ANDERSON: Exactly right. And also, it`s not just lies. If it were just
lies, you`d say, OK, Donald Trump is lying. In the case of Donald Trump
and many of his followers, the distinctions between truth and falsehood are
irrelevant. And I`m not sure that Donald Trump couldn`t pass a lie
detector test for many of the – for many of the conspiracy –

MELBER: I`ve never heard that. That – which tests only whether you`re
nervous about lying.

ANDERSON: Exactly. I think he probably, for instance, believed that
Barack Obama was not born in the United States for a while, maybe. But the
more worrying, more disturbing to me is that he doesn`t care about truth
and falsehood. It`s all the same to him as long as it gets him over in
this instant.

MELBER: Now, you have a history. I want to put up Spy Magazine which you
and Graydon Carter ran back in the day before Trump was ever thought
possible. You had these jerks cover you, you put Trump on it. You guys
upset him, but he won. He beat you guys.

ANDERSON: He did? He became President. I don`t know if he beat us in any
sense. But he certainly –

MELBER: You and Graydon Carter spent a lot of time criticizing him,
putting forth a theory, a case about him.

ANDERSON: About being a bully and a liar and a blowhard and a –

MELBER: And a lot of Americans agree and more Americans chose the other
candidate. But what does it tell you, there must be something on his mind
here that he did do well here after all that.

ANDERSON: Well, no. I think he has a kind of uncanny instinct for what
will sell. He`s an extraordinary grifter, salesman, and he sold himself.
You know, we were astounded that he was able to sell all the things he
sold, bad condos and vodka and everything else that he sold back in the
day. And now he was able to sell a whole other set of fantasies to 46
percent of the American people.

MELBER: Right. You documented one thing that a lot of those sales have in
common is they sold for a period of time and then they went bankrupt and
that`s the big question, is whether his business career will look like the
political career. Kurt Anderson, I hope you come back.

ANDERSON: Pleasure. Thank you.

MELBER: Interesting stuff. The book is Fantasyland, How America Went
Haywire. Now, next, is a Trump top official on his way out for wasting
your tax dollars on private planes?



border security as part of that and I think something can happen. We`ll
see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, will you attack North Korea.

TRUMP: We`ll see.

I think we had a very successful meeting in Russia. We`ll see. We`ll see
the end result.


MELBER: We`ll see. That is the assessment for Trump`s pick to take on
ObamaCare. Tom Price losing that key battle over health care this week.
Now he`s under fire for wasting taxpayer money on private jet travels,
MoJets, MoProblems as they say. Politico says price has spent 400,000 on
this including a plane to get to an island at an exclusive Georgia resort
where he and his wife own land and chartering a private jet to fly to
Nashville where has a condominium and where his son lives. Now the House
Oversight Committee pressing for details. Some Democrats calling even for
his resignation. Now Price gave up his seat in Congress to join the Trump
administration just this year. Can he expect loyalty From Trump now?


TRUMP: I am going to see – I`m looking at that very closely. I am not
happy with it. I will tell you, I am not happy with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you fire him, Sir?

TRUMP: We`ll see.


MELBER: We`ll see. Now, the last time Trump said that about an employee,
it was Steve Bannon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us broadly what your – do you still have
confidence in Steve?

TRUMP: We`ll see. Look –

We`ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.


MELBER: We`ll see what happens. Bannon, of course, gone within the week.
Now, here`s the big difference. Price under fire, for one thing, spending
your money on his travel. Firing him for that offense would bring more
heat on Trump, potentially validating all of the criticism of Trump
spending millions on his travel, billing taxpayers even to reimburse Mar-a-
Lago over $3 million, which is now the subject of ethics and legal
complaints. So is wasting taxpayer money on travel a fireable offense for
the Trump administration for everyone but the President? The answer
obviously is we`ll see. That does it for us. “HARDBALL” starts now.



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