The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 9/29/17 Tom Price is out
Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: September 29, 2017
Guest: Heidi Przybyla, Howard Fineman, Howard Dean, Rev. Al Sharpton,
Aisha Moodie-Mills, Darren Soto
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you, Chuck. Have a great weekend.
Breaking news right now, Tom Price, President Trump`s point person on
Obamacare is out, ousted from the White House on a Friday night staff
This is clearly, certainly, the most significant policy staff change that
Donald Trump has made to his team and it comes as Price was under fire for
that private jet scandal boiling all week and at a time when Trump just
comes off losing that key Obamacare fight.
Now, Price wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private
jets. Late today, Trump announced that he would decide whether to fire
Price “tonight,” which was quickly followed by this announcement asserting
that Price resign.
Joining me now live from the White House briefing room is NBC`s Kristen
Welker. Kristen, what was the nail in the coffin for Price tonight?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the fact that
there were days of negative headlines and that it kept mounting, Ari. And
the president was growing increasingly angry, felt as though this ran
counter to his campaign promise to drain the swamp, felt as though it was
distracting from his agenda quite frankly.
Let me read you a little bit of what Secretary Price had to say in his
resignation letter. He writes, “I regret that the recent events have
created a distraction from these important objectives.” And I think that
was really the crux of it, Ari. It seemed as though this was distracting
from what the president wanted to be talking about.
In a way, the writing seemed to be on the wall. If you go back a couple of
days, he was asked if he planned to fire Price. The president said, we`ll
see. And then, yesterday, he was asked if he still has confidence in
Price, he didn`t respond to that question.
And then, right before leaving for Bedminster, he again sort of voiced his
frustrations with these headlines and with the fact that Price had spent so
much government money.
MELBER: And that goes to the big question as your reporting shows, was it
the headlines, the scrutiny and the attention and not the underlying
conduct, all that wasting of taxpayer dollars. Kristen Welker, working the
Friday night at the White House. Thank you for your reporting.
I want to turn now to “USA Today`s” Heidi Przybyla, “Huffington Post`s”
Howard Fineman, and Dr. Howard Dean, a former governor and DNC chairman.
Governor Dean, what does this say about Tom Price`s tenure and the state of
Obamacare as well?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: I`m not sure. I`m sure that
Trump is - Trump is already sabotaging Obamacare. He`s basically by
executive action undeclared (INAUDIBLE) to cut out and Price was his
henchmen for doing this, all the funding for navigators, all the funding
for helping people to sign up for this.
So, I think Trump - Trump hates to lose. And when he does, he usually
lashes out and doesn`t have much regard for the law. So, he`ll probably
put another guy like Price in there to do his dirty work for him.
MELBER: Howard, take a look at the many people who have departed this
administration. We have been through this on Friday nights before. This
firing, though, matters to a lot more people, if you think about the policy
implications as opposed to say The Mooch there on the far-right part of
But the national security advisor is out, Sean Spicer was out, Reince
Priebus was out. Now, Tom Price there, lower right, on the full screen you
see. Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon. A lot of people have been run out of
this administration in a short amount of time.
Howard, how do you view this?
HOWARD FINEMAN, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”: Well, I
agree with Howard Dean that in terms of policy, this isn`t going to make
any difference particularly.
I think Donald Trump was pressed by the politics of it. As you said, as
Kristen said, he campaigned as a swamp drainer. And Tom Price was one of
the bigger, hungrier alligators in the swamp.
He had to get rid of him and he never should`ve nominated Tom Price to
begin with. If you took five minutes to look at Tom Price`s ethical
record, he would`ve seen that when Tom Price was a member of Congress -
MELBER: Let me hold on that, Howard. We`re going to get to the ethics,
but just on the Obamacare part, for your reply, I want to play for you,
Donald Trump saying something that he often likes to say, but apparently is
kind of what happened this week, saying that it was key that Tom Price help
him get this repeal vote on Obamacare, which, of course, failed this week.
Take a listen from July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hopefully, he`s going to
get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing
known as Obamacare. By the way, you`re going to get the votes?
He better get them. He better get them. Otherwise, I`ll say, Tom, you`re
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And today, Howard, he`s out.
FINEMAN: Boom. Boom, yes. First of all, I`m not sure that he wanted
Price to begin with. I think that was one of the establishment Republican
type picks he was convinced against his will, probably the guy from the
Hill will be good.
Tom Price, like Mitch McConnell, didn`t deliver. So, he was on thin ice
anyway. And then, not only did he take all these flights, he agreed, as of
yesterday, only to pay back a small fraction of the amount he owed. So, he
was tempting fate with Trump.
Look, we`ve so lowered the standards here in this cabinet, in my view, in
terms of possible conflicts of interest, in terms of the history of these
people, in terms of the president of the United States doing deals at his
own hotel down the street from the White House, that when somebody who`s
such an obvious chiseler gets booted, the president can take some small
sense of satisfaction.
But only very small because this begs the question of what other conflicts
of interest, what other flights, not to mention a tax bill that “The New
York Times” says will save Donald Trump $1 billion. Where is the outrage
MELBER: Yes. Howard, you make the point the bar is low. Heidi, there`s
an old country song ” from the gutter to you ain`t up” and that`s how a lot
of people feel looking through all of these jet scandals.
And then you look at the tenure, Heidi, compared to Tom Price here, coming
in at just eight months on the job to other folks who served in the health
secretary job, I mean, most people go years, not months.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “USA TODAY”: Well, Price
is off the island, but the question here is, is this just the top layer of
a much more problematic culture within this administration, where you have
literally a record number of billionaires, lobbyists and bankers who are
not just running the agencies, but actually calling the shots at that layer
just below cabinet secretary level.
And you`ve already seen some evidence of that with folks like Stephen
Mnuchin, thinking that he should be able to take a military jet for his
Now, looking into possibly the jet travel of two other cabinet secretaries
as well that may have been running up the dollar on that.
Just like corporate culture, you have to ask the question whether there is
a tone being set at the top when, for instance, we`re talking here about
Secretary Price spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Trump, talk
about optics, is at his golf course this weekend and he is taking really a
record number of trips here that cost millions of dollars on the taxpayers`
dime, straining agencies like the Secret Service.
MELBER: You`re making such an important point here about why it`s bigger
than Tom Price. I mean, Heidi, pick your dystopian movie or novel that you
like, Animal Farm comes to mind, though, in that the offense of Tom Price,
right, was bilking the government for taxpayer spending on travel,
something that Donald Trump has been doing a lot of.
We`ve covered on this show. I know your paper has cover it. I think
“Huffington Post” where Howard is has covered it.
The journalism is out there. The knowledge is out there. The emperor
wastes a lot of taxpayer dollars too. And apparently, that was the firing
offense, Heidi, for Tom Price.
PRZYBYLA: That is the great irony of this administration, is the thing
that allowed a gold-plated, literally billionaire who lives in the sky in
Manhattan, to appeal to the forgotten man. Why? Because he convinced them
that he was going to drain the swamp.
We never really understood what that meant. Well, now, we`re finding out
it most certainly does not mean kicking out the billionaires and the
bankers who the forgotten man feels is taking advantage of them.
It means going after the civil servant. It means going after the agencies
like the EPA that are problematic for their industry billionaire friends.
And I think, right now, Ari, America - really, the idea of America is built
on revolt against this type of aristocracy or feeling of entitlement.
And right now, I think the American people and his base are OK with this
because they feel like it`s OK if he`s winning as long as I`m winning.
But when you have things like this tax plan coming out, like the budget
that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy, like the budget which has cuts to
many low income and middle-income programs, the question is when the
American people start to feel that they aren`t winning too.
MELBER: Well, Howard, Heidi used the W word, the winning. I mean, this
has not been a week of winning for Donald Trump. He lost a GOP primary.
He lost a health secretary tonight. He lost Obamacare vote.
DEAN: Which Howard?
MELBER: Great question. Fineman? Fineman first.
FINEMAN: Well, yes, clearly. And I think Heidi`s point, among others,
among many good points, is that Donald Trump can`t afford to have this kind
of thing be the number one topic of conversation.
And Tom Price had made it the number one topic of conversation because then
you quickly get to Mnuchin, then you get to other frequent flyers, then you
get to Mar-a-Lago, then you get to the hotel down the street, then you get
to the tax bill, then you get to the budget, then you get to the whole idea
of Donald Trump as a billionaire supposedly cleaning things up in
So, you pull the threat of Tom Price and you unravel the whole thing
potentially. And politically, this is the kind of thing that Main Street
America, that swing state America, that voters who voted for Donald Trump
will understand and conceivably get shaken by.
So far, nothing that Trump has done has shaken their resolve. This is the
kind of thing that if it continues as a narrative is a mortal threat to his
presidency. And I think Donald Trump understood that.
MELBER: Right. And you`re putting your finger on something we`re going to
be covering more on the hour, which is the corruption. There is a stench
of corruption. There is evidence of corruption.
DEAN: Culture of corruption.
MELBER: That goes to the swamp. So, you said, Howard Fineman, you would
defer to the other Howard. We appreciate that because we`re going to
release you and Heidi. Thank you both. And the other Howard, Governor
Dean, stick around. I want to talk healthcare with you. And we`re going
to stay on this breaking news tonight.
Next, we`re going to look at Trump`s promises, as I just mentioned, on the
swamp. How does this shakeup address the larger problem? I have the
Reverend Al Sharpton making his debut on THE BEAT.
Plus, growing outrage over Trump`s handling of, of course, this
humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. The mayor of San Juan with an
emotional wake-up call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN: If anybody out there is listening to
us, we are dying and we`re going to see it`s something close to a genocide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m going to speak to a Congressman about that. Also, big news on
Vice President Mike Pence and Bob Mueller`s Russia inquiry. We have a lot
more news to cover. I`m Ari Melber and you`re THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news. Tom Price is being ousted from the Trump
administration. Trump aides now claiming he resigned shortly after Donald
Trump said this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to take any action on Mr. Price?
TRUMP: We`ll see what happens. We`ll see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what about your other cabinet
TRUMP: We`ll see. I mean, we have a - he`s a very fine man, but we`re
going to make a decision sometime tonight. He`s a very, very fine man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Fine man, a compliment that now looks like the kiss of death. And
Price is not only gone because of his own failures, as we were just
discussing on the top of the show, there is something larger hear about the
Donald Trump is trying to claim he will drain the swamp. Meanwhile, you
have a cabinet secretary who came to personify the swamp.
Take this exchange on “Fox News,” which turns out to be Price`s last
interview on the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, “FOX NEWS” HOST, “SPECIAL REPORT”: You are saying the
statement that taxpayers won`t pay a dime for my seat on those plane, but
we`re writing a check for, we understand, from your officials, $51,887.
The total cost is estimated at more than $400,000 for the 26 flights since
May. Is that OK?
TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, as I said,
there`s an ongoing review being done by the Inspector General.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Here are the facts. Price was basically offering to pay 13
percent of the total cost of his private plane use. That means you pay the
other 87 percent.
The swamp doesn`t stop there, though. Several other Trump officials under
fire for their own private jet scandals.
I`m now joined by a very special panel. Reverend Al Sharpton who needs no
introduction, but is the host of “PoliticsNation;” Aisha Moodie-Mills,
president of the Victory Fund; and back with me, Dr. Howard Dean.
Rev, you look at the situation, does it stop with Tom Price or is he just
the beginning of the hypocrisy?
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, “POLITICSNATION WITH AL SHARPTON”: No, it
continues with Tom Price.
I think that if you look at the fact that we have a president that openly
not only travels a lot and vacations a lot and plays golf while we`re in
the middle of hurricane disasters, we have a president that now has
government officials, Secret Service, et cetera, that stays in hotels that
he owns and makes money from.
So, if you have a president -
MELBER: So, he`s paying himself.
SHARPTON: Yes. If you have a president that engages in unprecedented
amount (INAUDIBLE) to his property that runs up all kinds of hotel bills to
himself, then, I guess, 26 private plane trips at government expense might
be considered minor by one of his cabinet members.
MELBER: Well, Rev, you know who was a big critic of private plane travel?
MELBER: Because you know. Take a look at him on the House floor in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRICE: Well, I want to say to the speaker, don`t you fly over our country
in your luxury jet and lecture us on what it means to be an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Speaking, I should say, at CPAC about Nancy Pelosi from the House.
This ultimately did catch up with him, though, because of the reporting,
because of the journalism.
SHARPTON: It caught up with him because of the journalism. And then, what
do they say, a preponderance of the evidence. You`re talking about - we`re
only in the ninth month of the presidency. How do you take that many trips
at government expense, whether it is authorized by the agencies or by the
White House military trips in nine months?
We`re not talking about over a period of three or four years. And I think
that this is outrageous by any count.
But again, the climate is set by a president that engages in self-profit at
government expense over and over again. The same resident that said that
President Obama went golfing too much, who didn`t do near as much golfing
as he did and he didn`t own the golf course and sell hotel rooms to Secret
Service men, government and the media.
Every time he goes on a trip, he makes a killing off of taxpayers, personal
killing that is.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VICTORY FUND AND VICTORY INSTITUTE:
What is so bad about this to me is just the sheer hypocrisy.
If they weren`t running around trying to claim that they were so pious,
right, then I don`t even think that journalists would be as busy digging as
they were digging.
But the fact that Donald Trump spent an entire campaign season, trying to
attack President Obama and all this waste in this government spending and
the swamp, and he himself is the swamp is the problem.
I wish they would just shut up and do what they`re doing or what they`re
not doing and, in fact, stop being so hypocritical because that to me is
the biggest problem.
I`m hoping that his voter base, all the people around America who have
loved his tough talk perhaps be watching this now and saying, you know
what, Donald Trump is actually trying to gaslight us and throwing at us,
like, a lot of lies and a lot of deceit.
MELBER: Right. Well, you talk about gas lighting. Governor Dean, the
idea there that he is out - Donald Trump is out to confuse everyone, there
is another word for this, which is looting.
When we often report on other countries, we`re quick to say that if the
government, or officials therein, are misusing government resources to
enrich themselves, whether it`s a trip or whether it is something else,
getting actual money in your pocket, we call that looting.
I want to play for you Kurt Andersen who has studied and written about
Donald Trump for 20 years. If people think nine months is too long, he was
battling with him in New York for years. And he came on THE BEAT and he
had a word for what he says Donald Trump has always been.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURT ANDERSEN, AUTHOR: He has a kind of uncanny instinct for what will
sell. He`s an extraordinary grifter, a salesman, and he sold himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is Tom Price out tonight because he was a grifter just like his
boss, Donald Trump?
DEAN: The grifters tend to choose other grifters. They like each other
because they`re all conmen.
Here`s Trump`s big problem for the short-term. Ryan Zinke is doing this.
Scott Pruitt at EPA is doing this. Mnuchin, we already know, has a record
of doing this. The VA guy was just caught with paying for some boat cruise
he went on with federal dollars.
So, the press is - what you write - I know a lot - Al and I were in the
2004 campaign. We know a lot about how the press works. Once they smell
blood in the water, you`ve had it. There`s going to be stories about this
every day about one of these other cabinet officials is doing the same
thing until one of them has to leave.
And Trump has no moral compass. He won`t fire them because of his moral
offense. He`ll fire them when it`s inconvenient -
MELBER: Honestly, because it`s on TV. You mentioned Rev running for
president. That`s the next thing I want to ask you about, this
transactional approach to everything. It is like a projection an it`s
revealing that the Trump aides, staff, cabinet folks, they seem to think
everything as any kind of transaction even when it shouldn`t be.
And I want to play for you something that hasn`t gotten a lot of attention.
Very prominent entertainer, rapper mogul 50 Cent was on a radio show. I`m
sure you saw him. I`m going to play for everyone to know. He basically
says they wanted to buy his endorsement.
You`ve run for president. That`s not how it`s supposed to work.
SHARPTON: And so has Howard.
MELBER: And so has Howard. So, take a listen. Here this is new. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asked me to go to - before he got elected, there was
a lot of issues with the African-Americans vote. Asked me if they - if I -
they wanted to pay me 500,000 as a part of the campaign to (INAUDIBLE).
And I was like, no, that`s not good money. I said I`m not going to do
that. That`s now over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s a lot of money, Rev, $0.5 million to try to get an
SHARPTON: It`s not only a lot of money if you want to get an endorsement.
Now, you`ve got to remember now, these are the people that call people that
do legitimate work around voter protection, voter rights, civil rights with
They`re going to a rapper who has not done any of this and they`re going to
give him half a million dollars.
First of all, I respect the fact that he wouldn`t take it. But the other
part is it shows who did they think 50 Cent was going to influence to vote
for Donald Trump.
MELBER: Right. No, there`s layers to it.
DEAN: He was never going to get paid.
MELBER: Governor, you think they would offer half a million and not pay
DEAN: Absolutely. I don`t know what all these lawyers who are working for
him think, but they are not going to get paid because Trump has a long
history of not paying his bills and not doing what he promised he was going
MELBER: Yes. There`s a long trail of contractors and law firms that have
complained about -
SHARPTON: And I`m not degrading at all 50. I`m saying I don`t know where
their head was and think that 50 ought to put Trump on the power and get
him out of the way.
MELBER: That sounds like a good idea. I know you weren`t going after 50.
In fact, on THE BEAT, we almost never go after 50. I mean, it could
happen. But, yes, we`re good there.
This is what I`m going to do. I want - Rev and Aisha, would you both stick
around. I want to talk about one other thing later in the show, if you
Governor Dean, thank you for joining. I`ll see you again on the show in
Next, calls from Congress to investigate the other private jet scandals.
Reaction from a Democratic lawmaker tonight, live with the Tom Price news
and Puerto Rico.
Also, Donald Trump`s new comments there on the response to the island and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is an island surrounded by water - big water, ocean water -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President is not taking this devastation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are starving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`ve been following the Tom Price news here, but we want to turn
to the other major breaking story today, the humanitarian crisis that
continues to unfold in Puerto Rico.
Here is what President Trump said today about the relief effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was the president`s approach to riffing on this. We watch to
show you something else very important. This was just a few hours later.
And it was the mayor of San Juan making a heartfelt and emotional appeal to
Americans and to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: We are dying here. If anybody out there is listening to us, we are
dying and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.
We`re see something close to a genocide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Congressman Darren Soto, a Democrat from Florida
in a district with many Puerto Rican American immigrants as well.
This has been a busy and difficult time, I know. I appreciate you making
some time for us. Walk us through what people need to know and what you
think the president should still do now.
REP. DARREN SOTO (D), FLORIDA: Well, first of all, we don`t need second
grade geography lessons. We need solutions. And it`s been seven to eight
days before we got any real action.
This is an island that`s without power, without cell phone service, people
drinking water from their pools and from rivers and supermarkets are out of
food. But we finally got first a one-star, now a three-star general
appointed, we had the USS Comfort and other naval vessels coming down with
abilities to make water, abilities for hospital services.
We also had the Jones Act waived, which will allow us to have foreign help
as well. But we`ve done a better job of invading enemy nations that we
have of helping out American citizens on this. And it`s just unforgivable.
MELBER: When we look at the comparisons to other hurricanes, this has come
up a lot here. With Katrina, there was a 10 billion aid package. That was
within four days of landfall; Harvey, 15 billion with some inflation and
two weeks of landfall; Hurricane Maria, there is not yet a formal funding
request for Puerto Rico from this White House. Your view?
SOTO: Well, I could tell you. We`ve had early estimates that the total
damage could be $50 to $85 billion. Of course, Puerto Rico is not going to
get that kind of money from the federal government no matter how hard we
fight. But it`s disastrous. The whole grid is down. 85 percent of the
cell phone hours are down. And the real key right now is distribution.
Now that we have supplies on the ground, getting them to these places in
the mountains that are isolated, they are sending SOS signals hopefully to
flying aircraft. And we just need the President to take this seriously and
show some interest.
MELBER: Congressman, I want to ask you about another fairly basic or even
obvious point. One that`s so important that our reporting hopefully
conveys which is obviously the end of the hurricane itself is not the end
of the emergency threat to people`s lives. And depending on the response,
it can actually get worse. I think a lot of coverage has shown that. I
think it`s clear the President and some of his aides don`t seem to reflect
that basic reality. So with that in mind, I want to play for you and get
your response from people, our journalists on the ground have spoken to and
other journalists have spoken to about what it looks like right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is not taking seriously this devastation,
this catastrophe on the island.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need all the help we can get. We need food, we need
gasoline, we need security, we need everything to get set up because the
people are starving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need food, water, right, we have nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Congressman, what else do you want to add to that, to what`s going
on down there so people and hopefully the administration understands?
SOTO: Well, this has already become a Katrina. We have American citizens
who pledge allegiance to our flag, they serve in the military and pay taxes
and they don`t know when the power is going to get back on. They don`t
know whether they`re going to get water, whether they`re going to get food.
And so, we need Trump administration to get up and act.
MELBER: When you say Congressman, this is a Katrina, what do you mean by
calling it that? What are you saying?
SOTO: That it is an act of negligence, that they completely underestimated
the scale of this and are only now starting to react after we stood on our
desks for days screaming about the lives – the lives in jeopardy. And we
see that today and we`ve seen it in the past week.
MELBER: Congressman Darren Soto who has been leading on this issue, thank
you for coming on the show today.
SOTO: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: I want to turn now CNBC`s Editor at Large John Harwood. I want to
speak with you about what the Congressman just said. I mean, that`s
obviously a very significant thing in the political life of the United
States to say something is a Katrina, what people here, what that means.
Respond to that view from a Democratic Congressman leveling that charge
here against the President on a night when the other big story, our other
breaking news that we`ve been covering on a flight when he`s ousting his
health care chief after losing an ObamaCare vote, losing a GOP primary and
just having a bruising week all around.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, the entire week has been like
Katrina in the sense that all of the episodes that you just mentioned. I
don`t know that I would be that quick to label what`s going on in Puerto
Rico as President Trump`s Katrina. But you can understand the anguish of
the officials down there who feel that the assistance they`ve gotten hasn`t
come fast enough, that their request for money hasn`t gone fast enough.
It`s going to come though, and this is going to be a big challenge for the
administration to follow through and make sure this island filled with
American citizens, gets back up and running, minimizes loss of life,
minimizes disease, and treats this with the urgency that it deserves. And
the very awkward phrasing the President used about island, big water, ocean
water, I don`t know what he thought he was doing there. I don`t understand
what he thought he was doing by saying Puerto Rico is going to have to work
with us to figure out how we`re going to pay for the rebuilding.
MELBER: Well, isn`t it – isn`t it fairly clear – I mean, let me put it
like this. Isn`t it fairly clear at this point that the President does not
look at a constitutional obligation to give equal protection to all
citizens? I mean, that`s his job, that his oath. He`s supposed to do
that. The government is supposed to do that. On its good days, the U.S.
government does that. A lot of the people in the building behind you, I
think try to do that sometimes. This President doesn`t even – this
President doesn`t even claim that that is how he views things. And so
there are selective responses, I can give the list for our viewers know the
list. And we all know what`s going on. We see the selective and desperate
HARWOOD: Well, I think that`s a fair point, Ari. You know, what is the
common characteristic of people that he feels less inclined to assist
through his government? This is somebody, you know, he`s been connected to
the white nationalist movement. Steve Bannon who was his Chief Strategist,
I`m a nationalist, I`m not a white nationalist, but in the responses that
we`ve seen to various issues, you`ve seen Donald Trump as somebody who has
instinctive sympathy with people who are like him as opposed to people who
are not like him.7
MELBER: It is – it is really something else and it all unfolding here at
a time that is – we`ve been reporting is a true emergency, humanitarian
crisis. John Harwood, always appreciate your expertise on this show.
HARWOOD: You bet.
MELBER: Coming up, some new reporting and legal analysis on what may lie
ahead for Vice President Mike Pence in Mueller`s Russia probe. And later,
losing a cabinet secretary, the NFL fight, remember that, losing the Senate
primary. We have some experts here who say this may literally be Trump`s
worst week ever.
MELBER: Welcome back. We have more ahead on the ousting of Tom Price in
Trump`s rough week as I was mentioning. But amidst those headlines,
there`s something else. New reporting that Mueller was meeting with Mike
Pence`s lawyer. Now Pence has stir clear of the entire Russia probe and
he, of course, to be fair was not on most of the Trump campaign but he was
in the room literally during key meetings about Jim Comey, about Jeff
Sessions` recusal from the case and of course, how to handle Mike Flynn.
Pence was not in the room when Trump booted him from the Oval Office in
order to ask Comey to go soft on Mike Flynn in that criminal inquiry, at
least according to Comey`s the testimony under oath.
And we now know that Trump gave Pence reportedly a copy of the secret draft
letter about why he really want to fire Comey, a letter that Trump`s White
House Counsel Don McGahn wouldn`t even allow him to send. So Pence may
have known better than to offer this defense two days after the firing.
That was not Mike Pence, but what he said after the firing, I`ll paraphrase
for you. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the President fired Director Comey to impede the
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, as you know very
clearly, as has been stated repeatedly and the President has been told, he
is not under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Intelligence officials have said there`s into
potential ties between campaign officials and Russian officials.
PENCE: That`s not what this is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That wasn`t the whole truth. And after all the talk about Mike
Flynn making false statements to Pence, there is a question here about
whether Bob Mueller cares about that statement which Mike Pence made to the
world. With me now, the former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti.
Renato, will Bob Mueller care about this?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he certainly will. I
think he`s going to care a lot about what the President discussed with Mike
Pence particularly after he had that explosive conversation with Pence and
others, I think Don McGahn, the White House Counsel at Attorney General
Sessions when he found out that Sessions had recused himself and Mueller
has been appointed as Special Counsel. I mean, there was reporting that
the President was just, flew off the handle. He had this intense angry
reaction. And you know, what he said, and more importantly, what Pence
said to him to convince him not to fire Sessions, I think that will be very
important. I think it`s going to be something Mueller is going to want to
MELBER: As a Prosecutor, how do you decide the calculation or the balance
on asking someone at this high level, the Vice President, to sit for an FBI
interview? I mean, I imagine that`s not just a quick, easy kind of thing.
MARIOTTI: I agree with that. I mean, it`s certainly a weighty request
when it`s the Vice President of the United States. And I think really,
what it would take is whether or not Mueller believes that Pence will have
something to tell him that other witnesses wouldn`t have to say. In other
words, did Pence witness things and have information that other witnesses
MELBER: Right. It`s unique – that it`s unique information and not just,
oh, we`ve got a VIP or a big shot. Renato, I want to ask about something
else. I think like most Americans, you probably think there aren`t enough
e-mail investigations in American life. I think everyone agrees on that.
MARIOTTI: For sure.
MELBER: But it is – it is with that backdrop in mind and the dripping
hypocrisy of some Trump officials that I put this headline on the screen.
There is a new White House investigation of private personal e-mail use,
not of Clinton people but of Jared Kushner. Your thoughts?
MARIOTTI: Well, frankly, I think that`s the right thing to do. I`ll tell
you what, I`ll take this rare opportunity to applaud with the
administration is doing because, you know, frankly, it is not a crime to
use a private e-mail when you`re in government service. That`s why all
those chants of lock her up were pretty ridiculous. But I will say, it is
against the law and there has been a lot of reports that it`s widespread in
this White House which is of course – you know, a lot of hypocrisy given
what had happened during the campaign.
MELBER: Right. Especially given the – especially given the history.
Final quick question, Renato. Our viewers know you as a Federal
Prosecutor, a legal expert, as maybe a guest on MSNBC. There are reports
about you considering a run for Attorney General of Illinois. Are you
going to do that?
MARIOTTI: Well, I`m seriously considering it. I am not going to make any
announcement here on the program but it is something that I`m thinking very
carefully about. And I – frankly, I`m interested in everyone`s comments
and thoughts and support on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere.
MELBER: Well, now I have to insult you a little bit and say, you sound a
little like politician. Usually, you give such clear answers. But I get
it. You`re thinking about it, it sounds like.
MARIOTTI: For sure. I don`t want to make any final decisions here but I`m
certainly thinking about it. Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: All right. Thank you as always for your expertise. Renato
Mariotti, former Federal Prosecutor and have a good weekend.
Tom Price out at the White House, that`s the big news we`ve been covering
but it is not the only story that is haunting the Trump White House. We`ll
MELBER: The breaking news tonight, Tom Price ousted from the Trump
administration. A Friday night development that actually caps a bruising
week for Trump which I`m about to discuss with my panel. Back with me, the
Reverend and Aisha. Now, think about it. This week – and we`ll put this
up on the screen – Donald Trump lost his Health Secretary. He lost the
last key ObamaCare battle before the deadline had changed the law with 51
votes. He lost a GOP primary where he personally campaigned and all those
losses piled up while many critics say he has failed on dealing with Puerto
Rico and dealing with the other private jet scandals in his administration.
So now I want to ask my panel, are you tired of winning yet?
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: You know, you could celebrate if you forget that
he`s still in the White House and he still has power to continue to hurt
us. And don`t forget, he lost this week. He`s the only one that has
united NFL owners who supported him with protesters who are actually
getting on their knees. Only Donald Trump could get Republican owners of
NFL teams to join protesters, saying we need to do something, that they`re
not dealing with the issues of race and police brutality way that this
done. They`ve tried to re-create the issue which I`m totally against. But
at least, they are having to acknowledge righteousness of the right to
dissent. But he`s had a very bad week following bad weeks. But as long as
he is there, he has the bottom line and we should not celebrate.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, PRESIDENT, VICTORY FUND: No, that`s absolutely right.
The fact of the matter is that America and Americans keep losing under
Donald Trump no matter what kind of week he has. And that`s the thing that
is so frustrating. Right now, we have our people in Puerto Rico who have
not had power beyond nine days now and are not getting food and are not
getting resources. They are losing, they are suffering. We hopefully will
not be sending Roy Moore from Alabama who`s the biggest bigot to come out
of the south since probably Jim Crow. But you know, Donald Trump loves
America is losing.
MELBER: Well, let me – let me push you on that. I think everything you
said is right, so I don`t disagree with the analysis about how important
the stakes are. But you could add to that that this was an effort in a
Republican-controlled Congress to repeal health care and take it away from
18 million-plus people and that if someone told you a year ago, forget who
is President. And that If someone would have told you a year ago, forget
who`s President, if someone have told you a year ago, there`s going to be a
Republican Congress and a Republican President, you`d think, well, it
sounds like they would have the vote to repeal ObamaCare. Is that lost in
your view, again for the public or people who have that health care?
MILLS: Of course, I think the preserving ObamaCare is critical, necessary
and important. And the truth of the matter is that it has more to do with
the fact that the Republicans in Congress who are in leadership don`t know
what in the world they`re doing and can`t actually rally their troops
towards anything that benefits the American public.
SHARPTON: No, she`s right. I think it also says to a lot of people that
voted to make that a Republican President, Senate and Congress that you
referred to, Ari, that these are the people that told us repeal and replace
and we thought they had something to replace it with. Not only did they
lose, they lost, never coming up with a plan. So if you had any second
guesses on whether they were just conning their supporters and playing on
emotions and biases and prejudices, this health care fight showed you that
they had nothing. When you pulled the veil back, we`re looking at the
Wizard of Oz. They don`t exist.
MILLS: So, I caution the Democrats not to get caught into that same trap
because I`m all about the resistance, and I am with the resistance. But
the truth is that we have to be for something and so while we can sit
around and applaud the fact that Donald Trump keeps losing, the question
becomes whether the Democrats for and when are the Democrats going to start
SHARPTON: And who`s going to be the one that personifies what it`s for and
you can`t do it by going after Trump voters. You need to go to your base,
you need to stop running from the people that have always been there and
bring more of them out. You need to fight these voter suppression laws
that really cost a lot of votes in `16. They would not deal with that
issue of voter suppression and they have here now coming with some voter
fraud. The fraud was the voter suppression that they tried to in many ways
camouflage as something else.
MELBER: Reverend Sharpton, we always learn something when you`re here and
I appreciate it. And Aisha Moodie-Mills, always great to see you. And –
SHARPTON: I`m always trying to stay in THE BEAT with Ari.
MELBER: And be sure to catch Reverent Sharpton on “POLITICS NATION” there.
It is Sundays 8:00 a.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.
MELBER: Now, still ahead, the segment you love or love to hate or hate to
love or maybe you`re hearing about for the first time. It`s called
“FALLBACK FRIDAY.” It`s fun, maybe, and it`s next.
MELBER: Welcome back. It`s Friday on THE BEAT and you know what that
means. It`s time to fall back. To fall back means it`s a chance to tell
someone to chill out, relax or maybe even reassess your poor choices in
this rough week we`ve had. With me now is the CEO of allhiphop.com and a
Ted Talker, Chuck Creekmur and a Pop Culture Critic and Host of
Entertainment Weekly, The Show Lola Ogunnaike. Thank you for both being
LOLA OGUNNAIKE, HOST, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY THE SHOW: Thank you.
MELBER: Chuck, who needs to fall back?
CHUCK CREEKMUR, CEO, ALLHIPHOP.COM: It was a really tough decision but I
got to go with Steven Seagal.
MELBER: Really? Why?
CREEKMUR: Well, Steven Seagal did an interview in Russia with a British
television network and called the NFL players disgusting. But Steven`s
demeanor was quite zesty on the interview. And I think he needs to fall
back a little bit, check his hairline. Maybe –
OGUNNAIKE: His hair needs to fall forward.
MELBER: And he`s kind of out on his own. I mean, a lot – anyone who`s
chosen to speak up about the NFL, most people, including the owners, we
were talking about this earlier with Reverend Sharpton, have said, hey,
let`s all get along if we can.
CREEKMUR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, there`s an attempt at unity and
solidarity and he`s calling names when, in fact, we can probably be calling
him some names. So –
MELBER: Lola, what`s yours?
OGUNNAIKE: I think Justin Timberlake needs to fall back. It`s rumored
that he`s going to be headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I don`t
think he should get a do-over unless he does it with Janet Jackson. It`s
14 years after Nipplegate. 14 years after –
MELBER: That was 14 years ago?
OGUNNAIKE: 14 years ago, 14 years ago. We were introduced to the phrase
wardrobe malfunction. And as you know, Justin accidentally ripped off
Janet`s top and exposed one of her breasts which is covered in a broach and
that set the world a flame. Justin Timberlake`s career continued to
flourish, however, Janet`s floundered a bit. It`s back now.
MELBER: You`re saying they were in this together but she`s being punished.
OGUNNAIKE: (INAUDIBLE) Some have said it`s because gender, some people
have said it`s because of race. Either way, I think Justin Timberlake has
to fall back unless he`s committed to bringing Janet along for the do-over
MELBER: That`s a – that`s a good one and it goes to music and sports but
also gender equality and the insidious way this goes down. So that`s a
really interesting one. Mine is not –
OGUNNAIKE: (INAUDIBLE) the scarlet nipple on her forehead. It`s not fair
MELBER: Reminder of the day on THE BEAT and it poses a question. Mine is
not maybe as good as that but it is near and dear to my heart. I`m calling
on IKEA to fall back. They just bought task rabbit which is that service
that lets you do your own – you know, your own thing. You get someone
come over and put it together for you. And I can`t – it`s impossible to
put themselves together. They need to fall back and need to make step that
we can either assemble ourselves don`t tell us we can. I feel this
purchase proves what we all knew. IKEA, please fall back. Why are there
always the extra parts? There`s always extra. You know what I`m talking
CREEKMUR: Always, always.
MELBER: I want to thank you both for a fun segment and great color scheme.
I got to tell you this, you guys coordinated. Beautiful. That does it for
our show. I`ll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday. “HARDBALL” is up
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