NYT Report links Trump Tower meeting to Kremlin Transcript 10/27/17 The Beat with Ari Melber

Howard Fineman, Leticia Gonzalez, Peter Grosz, Michael McFaul, Renato Mariotti, Natasha Bertrand, Evelyn Farkas

Date: October 27, 2017
Guest: Howard Fineman, Leticia Gonzalez, Peter Grosz, Michael McFaul,
Renato Mariotti, Natasha Bertrand, Evelyn Farkas

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: Thank you, Chuck. We`ll be watching you
on Sunday. The breaking news tonight is a break in the Russia probe. The
Russians who met with top Trump aides at Trump Tower had a trail that
directly linked back to the Kremlin.

Now, this may sound familiar tonight because many people believe those
Russians were linked to the Kremlin and there has been public and some
circumstantial evidence of links to the Kremlin, including the previous NBC

But, tonight, “The New York Times” is reporting on direct evidence that the
Russian lawyer offering dirt on Clinton discussed her plot in advance with
a key Russian government official. And that official was the same
prosecutor named in those Trump Tower emails.

So, tonight, “The New York Times” is adding, confirming evidence that those
Russian claims that they have dirt on Clinton offered to the Trump campaign
was coming from the Kremlin. This is an account that those claims were
true, that they did have Clinton oppo from Putin allies. And that,
obviously, contradicts the longstanding defense from the Trump team.

Now, regardless of what was promised in that original email that leaked,
the actual meeting they said was a nonsensical discussion of adoptions not
Kremlin help for defeating Clinton and that it was a short pointless


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: It was sort of nonsensical, inane
and garbled and then quickly went on to a story about Russian adoption and
how we could possibly help. And, really, that`s what where shut it down.

short meeting from which there was absolutely no follow-up.


MELBER: President Trump did not attend that meeting, but he also pushed
this adoption defense.


listened. I guess they talked about - as I see it, they talked about
adoption and some things. Nothing happened from the meeting. Zero
happened from the meeting.


MELBER: They talked about adoptions and nothing happened. OK.

But, tonight`s “New York Times” report says that “records show that in the
months before the meeting, that Russian lawyer discussed the allegations
with one of Russia`s most powerful officials, Putin ally and prosecutor,
Yuri Chaika.”

And while Donald Trump, Jr. had said the idea that the information came
from Putin`s prosecutor was just goosed up puffery.


TRUMP, JR.: I think what happened - he sort of goosed up. He built up.
There was some puffery to the email, perhaps to get the meeting, to make it
happen. And in the end, there was probably some bait-and-switch about what
it was really supposed to be about.


MELBER: Listen to that closely. That is an account that the references to
the dirt on Clinton and the links to this Russian prosecutor was puffery.
It was just to “get the meeting.”

No. Tonight`s report in “The New York Times” shows that, number one,
evidence that Trump Tower meeting trail does lead back to Putin officials,
it was not just puffery.

And number two, that very Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya not only
represents Kremlin interest, which knew about some of that, but she was an
ongoing contact with Putin`s prosecutors about this alleged dirt on

Now, before tonight, there were reports on her many links to the Kremlin
and on links to that prosecutor. NBC`s Ken Dilanian reporting in September
that she said the Russian prosecutor`s interests in a legal case stemmed
from her pressuring him about it and providing information.

“The Times” report specifically, though, is contradicting her claim in
another interview that she had no connections to the Russian government.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian government attorney, that means you.

certainly flattered by being mocked and called as a government attorney,
but I have never worked for the government in the first place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do
you have connections to the Russian government?



MELBER: Net. Well, this week began with those new reports on the Trump
side of the table. The Trump digital team asking for foreign help getting
stolen Clinton emails and it ends here with a Friday night bombshell about
the Russian side of the table.

Evidence that the Russians, who marched into Trump Tower, claiming to speak
for Putin allies, were speaking to Putin allies. That looks bad.

Now, it does not prove whether or not Trump aides accepted any Russian
offers. It does, though, raise more questions about why so many Trump
aides have said so many things about this Trump Tower meeting that no
longer appear true.

I`m going to speak in a moment to the former US ambassador to Russia. But
right now, Ken Dilanian, NBC`s intelligence and national security reporter,
who, as I mentioned, has been reporting on this for some time.

The Russia side of this, what do you take away from it?

Ari, as you just laid out there, NBC News has interviewed Veselnitskaya,
this Russian lawyer, on two separate occasions.

One on camera with Keir Simmons and the second time by phone in September.
Her story really changed over the course of those two interactions.

As you saw there, she initially denied that she had any connection to the
Kremlin or to the Russian government for that matter. And she also denied
in that interview that she offered any dirt on Hillary Clinton in the Trump
Tower meeting.

In the second interview in September, she acknowledged that she did bring
information she thought was derogatory to Clinton and the Democrats to that
meeting. She gave us a copy of the memo. We had it translated. It talks
about potentially some political contributions that she thought would be

She also acknowledged that she had been in talks with this Russian
prosecutor. Now, as she tells it, she was the one that got the Russian
prosecutor interested in this tax evasion case that she says happened.

But “The New York Times” story raises a question about whether it was the
other way around, how closely they were coordinating.

But here`s what`s clear. This is a lawyer who has very close connections
to the Kremlin and to an official with close connection to Vladimir Putin.
There`s just no disputing that, Ari.

MELBER: And you`re digging in on some of the complexities. So, I want to
pause on it because there`s so much that can rattle around here in the

You`re raising two points. One, the chicken and egg of the source of that
information. Was she pushing this Putin ally? Was she getting it from a
Putin ally?

But, that, for our purposes here, journalistically, seems less important
than the core claim, which was, is she in touch with this prosecutor? “The
New York Times” reporting yes, which is the opposite of what I just played,
of the Trump team`s defense. No, this was just pretending they knew
someone. Oh, I know a lot of people and that was a way to get the meeting.

Reading from “The New York Times” account, it says, how Ms.
Veselnitskaya`s allegations made their way to the upper reaches of the
Russian government and then to the Trump campaign is a tangled tale.

Indeed, it is. But, Ken, when you look at the tale, would you stay the
ongoing evidence - some of which you`ve reported and some of which is in
this new story - undercuts the Trump characterization of the meeting?

DILANIAN: I think that`s a fair characterization, Ari. And let`s remember
what this is about. This is about the Magnitsky Act, which is a series of
sanctions on wealthy Russians, on Putin`s friends. It is one of his top
priorities, is to get rid of these sanctions. And this woman has spent a
career lobbying and trying to do that.

And now, it`s very clear that she was doing so in coordination with a
senior Russian prosecutor, who is a close associate of Vladimir Putin.

MELBER: Stay with me. Ken, I want to bring in Howard Fineman, a global
editorial director for “Huffington Post” and former US ambassador to Russia
Michael McFaul.

Ambassador, Yuri Chaika, this Putin-allied prosecutor in the mix here.
Explain why this matters according to this new reporting.

of the most senior people in Putin`s world. He has been very close to
Vladimir Putin for many, many years. It would be meeting with one of the
top people in the cabinet in the Trump administration, if you think about
in a comparative way.

And the second thing I just want to add for context is about how the nature
of the Russian political system works. Think about, had she just shown up
by herself, meeting with the campaign team, the son of the possible -
possibly the next president of the United States.

It seems rather naive to believe that she would do that just all on her
own, especially working in the - I think it`d be naive to think about that
for any country. But in Russia, in Putin`s world, of course she was in
contact with the Russian government about that trip. There`s just no doubt
in my mind.

MELBER: Howard, what are you thinking about on this Friday night?



MELBER: I wish I could participate. Someone tell me what it means.

FINEMAN: I`m thinking a couple of things. First of all, if Donald Trump,
Jr. repeats under oath, in front of the committees or in front of the
prosecutor the baloney that we now know he was spewing out on television,
he is going to be in serious trouble based on what we now know.

MELBER: You`re saying - let`s pause on that, Howard. You`re saying the
false statement offered to “Fox News”, if these accounts are correct, is
unfortunate. But if you offer the same statement in a legal proceeding, it
becomes felonious.

FINEMAN: I think potentially very dangerous legally because I think we are
increasingly learning that this was a substantive act here, that this was a
- by the way, this theory about the Democratic donors and the Magnitsky Act
and so on, this is something they`re talking about openly in Russia right

Vladimir Putin has been at a couple of conferences recently, as “The New
York Times” reports in their story, talking about this very theory.

And that leads me to the other thought I have tonight, which is that the
Russians even now are directly involved in trying to discredit Robert
Mueller and the investigation and distract attention from the probes of
Donald Trump and trying to throw them elsewhere. Putin isn`t done yet.

MELBER: You make such an important point you often do, drawing the link
from what is international coverage, what Putin is saying abroad, all the
way in.

Let me play for you, Howard, for your response and then the ambassador.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders denying collusion, as is her right and she`s done
before, and then referring to some of the arguments that are now being put
back in some sort of investigative climate that tries to sort of accuse
everyone else of what is under investigation with regard to the Trump, this

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s been a number of politicians over the past two
weeks, including Chris Christie here at the White House yesterday, who have
said that Rob Mueller should step aside from certain investigations within
the special counsel. Does the president share those views?

to see this completed. There`s still no evidence of collusion between the
president and anyone. If any collusion took place, it would be between the
DNC and the Clintons.


MELBER: Howard and then the ambassador.

FINEMAN: Yes. I think that`s what`s happening here. And I think the
reason that Putin is talking about this openly, the theory that
Veselnitskaya was trying sell to Don, Jr. is because they wanted - the
Russians want to help Donald Trump turn the attention away from the probe
against him and back on the Clintons.

Don`t forget, Vladimir Putin has a double interest here. He wants to ally
with and help out Trump if he can, I think, ultimately still, despite their
public disagreements, and he is still interested in payback on Hillary

MELBER: Ambassador?

MCFAUL: Two things. First of all, on collusion. Veselnitskaya came to
that campaign meeting with the Trump campaign people to achieve an
objective to lift sanctions. She claimed that she had something to offer
in return. And based on that transaction, they attempted to do a
transaction. Whether they did or not, we don`t know exactly the tales -
the details. But the attempt at collusion was there.

And number two, the thing about Clinton and the DNC, that`s a classic Putin
strategy called what aboutism. Let`s detract from the story at hand and
talk about something that is totally peripheral and insignificant, in my

DILANIAN: Ari, can I just make one other point? Here`s what my
intelligence sources say about this meeting. The Russians would not send
their A-team to a first meeting to try to test whether the Trump campaign
was willing to collude because what if the Trump campaign had called the

So, when you look at these Russian players - and point of fact, the
information that they said was derogatory to Clinton and the Democrats,
I`ve looked at it, it really wasn`t. It was very superficial. It was kind
of a nothing-burger.

But the fact that the Trump campaign took the meeting based on a promise of
help from the Russian government, that`s what I think is most significant
about this.

MELBER: Ambassador, you`re shaking your head. Briefly?

MCFAUL: Yes, I agree. You`re not going to give everything away in the
first meeting. That was a fishing exercise to see if they wanted to play.
It turns out that maybe they didn`t and we need to know the details.

But the point was, they were coming to do some business together and both
sides wanted to interact in that exchange. Looks like attempted collusion
to me. Whether it`s illegal or not, that`s somebody else to decide. But
they wanted to cooperate and were trying to cooperate. I think that`s
pretty self-evident.

MELBER: Right. And whether it was illegal, I have a federal prosecutor
who is going to join me after the break on that question. And also, we`re
going to dig in to what you were raising, the what aboutism because there
is a lot more on the Russia-Putin side here that`s really, I think,
important for where the story goes.

So, Ken Dilanian and ambassador McFaul, thank you both. Howard, stick

DILANIAN: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: About the Trump Tower meeting ahead. What does Bob Mueller do
with some of the new reporting coming out tonight?

And a new investigation launched. Investigators want to know about the
Trump team campaign walking and talking to Assange about Clinton emails.

Also later, many calling this a morally reprehensible act in the Trump
administration. This is a 10-year-old Mexican national with cerebral palsy
detained by border patrol after emergency surgery occurring in Texas. It`s
an important story we`re bring you. And the family`s attorney is going to
be on THE BEAT live.

I`m Ari Melber. Stay with us.


MELBER: Breaking news from “The New York Times” tonight. New evidence
tying the Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower meeting back to Vladimir Putin.
At the top of the show, we were reporting on how this news puts Bob
Mueller`s investigation of the Trump campaign in a new light.

Now, we turn to the Russia side of attempted collusion. What can we learn
from the specific Russians involved in this clearly expanding story? We
start with the Russian lawyer who denied Kremlin links.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian government attorney. That means you.

VESELNITSKAYA: No. I am certainly flattered by being mocked and called a
government attorney, but I have never worked for the government in the
first place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do
you have connections to the Russian government?



MELBER: But, tonight, “The Times” reporting, there were connections to the
government and that that lawyer was talking to the Putin ally named in the
emails. The crown prosecutor of Russia offering this dirt on Clinton as
part of the Kremlin`s support of Trump.

That`s a reference to prosecutor Yuri Chaika as we were just discussing.
Now, he is known as the master of Kompromat, a political attack dog for
Vladimir Putin. He reportedly leaked a salacious video - I`m going to put
it up here. This was a big deal at one point in Russia and it was used to
take out one of his points.

Now, that public history added some circumstantial credibility to the story
line that Chaika was offering dirt to help Putin again, and this time
offering to it Trump. Chaika also filed charges against one of Putin`s
domestic political rivals, an exiled oligarch who recently told THE BEAT
that when Chaika offers something, like dirt on Clinton, it comes from


MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY, FORMER OLIGARCH: Were he to decide to take such a
step, he would get permission from Vladimir Putin beforehand.


MELBER: So, that is the Putin ally that was invoked in the Trump Tower

And there`s more. Tonight, “The New York Times” saying the very material
that that Russian lawyer brought to the meeting closely followed a document
from Chaika`s office. As they say in court, boom.

And that is also not all. We have more tonight. “The Times” reporting
that the Russian lawyer was pushing information, she believed, was not only
bad for Clinton. It was also bad allegedly for Bill Browder.

Now, Bill Browder is a familiar name to Russia watchers. He clashed with
not only Putin, but specifically with that Russian lawyer, Veselnitskaya,
in court and I asked him about that this week on THE BEAT.

against the lawyer. When I see a woman who is effectively representing
accused money launderers, who are then trying to - effectively, she`s
trying to change US law, this is not about bias, this is just about stating
that it`s absurd that the Russian can be running around trying to spend
millions of dollars influencing US policy, and think that that`s OK and not
even report it under any of the reporting guidelines that are required when
you do that type of stuff in Washington.


MELBER: It was this very week that Putin again put that man you just saw,
Bill Browder, on Interpol`s most wanted list.

So, as the US investigators are zeroing in, Putin dialing up the pressure.
And while Browder`s history is complicated, in this story, Browder equals

It was his lawyer who died in a Russian jail after exposing corruption
there and it was that suspicious death, which led to sanctions on Russia,
restricting adoptions. Sound familiar? Yes. Those are the adoptions that
the Trump side says were discussed at Trump Tower.


TRUMP: Actually, it was very interesting. We talked about adoption.


TRUMP: Russian adoption. Yes. I`ve always found that interesting because
he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with
him, which is interesting, because that was a part of the conversation that
Don had with that meeting.


MELBER: That is interesting. That was Donald Trump talking about how his
discussions with Vladimir Putin included adoptions, which he says, Don had
in that meeting.

You know what else is interesting? Tonight, we`re looking at a lot more
evidence that is not the full story.

I`m joined now, as promised, by Renato Mariotti, a former federal
prosecutor, who is also, we should mention, running as a candidate for the
attorney general of Illinois; and also, Natasha Bertrand, a “Business
Insider” correspondent, who`s been following the Russia probe; and Evelyn
Farkas, a former Pentagon official and Russia expert.

A lot to go through. Great experts here.

Evelyn, I start with you. The significance of these new accounts, which,
for people who follow this story, make you go, yes, I figured this all went
back to Putin.


MELBER: But it`s one thing to say I figured it, another thing to see this
evidence in public.

FARKAS: Yes. I mean, basically, what “The New York Times” is saying, Ari,
is that Veselnitskaya went. She produced a document. She gave to it
Donald Trump, Jr. The document contained the same information as the
document that Chaika, Yuri Chaika, the guy you just mentioned, the
prosecutor general, very close to Putin, as you said, almost like a cabinet

He had given the document to a member of Congress. We can talk about that
as well. But that same document - basically, what she gave Trump, Jr. was
a very similar document.

That means that she must have coordinated with Chaika. And, of course, we
know from the email trail that set up the meeting for Donald Trump, Jr. -
remember, there was the Goldstone guy, the British talent agent.

He essentially said, the prosecutor general, he referred to him as the
crown prosecutor, but anyway, that this information was coming from him.
So, we already had a sense that she was connected to the Kremlin or Chaika.

We also knew about her business dealings. Her business dealings also made
it highly likely that she was in the good graces of the Kremlin, if not
known to them.

So, this idea that she was somehow not a - of course, she wasn`t strictly
speaking a Russian government lawyer. But she was doing the bidding of the
Russian government. Make no mistake.

MELBER: Natasha, have you seen the Chaika memo?


MELBER: And what does it tell you?

BERTRAND: It is essentially verbatim, give or take a few lines here and
there to the memo that Natalia Veselnitskaya brought with her to Trump

And when I noticed the similarity a few weeks ago, I asked Bill Browder
about it, and he said that this is the strongest evidence that we have to
date that she was an agent or is an agent of the Russian government.

The memo essentially was all about Bill Browder, basically trying to
undermine him in every way possible because if you undermine Bill Browder,
you undermine the Magnitsky Act.

And the Magnitsky Act, of course, it`s - repealing the Magnitsky Act is one
of Putin`s biggest foreign policy objectives. So, the entire memo was
especially attacking him, alleging that he had worked with these investment
brothers called the Ziff Brothers to try buy up Gazprom shares outside of
the purview of the Kremlin.

And there was one or two lines in there about Hillary Clinton, but, in
essence, the entire memo, both of the memos, both from Yuri Chaika`s office
that was given to Dana Rohrabacher and the one that Veselnitskaya brought
with her to Trump Tower were about Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act.

MELBER: Right. A lot of names in the story, but Kremlin - it goes back to
the Kremlin.

BERTRAND: It goes back to the Kremlin.

MELBER: And, Renato, that is different, as was pointed out at the top of
the show, than the public defense offered by Don, Jr. explicitly and, we
see from reporting, allegedly by the president, in weighing in on the
meeting, to say that, to the extent - this was their argument.

Again, we look at theories of the case here. They argued that, to the
extent, there was people name-checking these powerful Kremlin folks, that
was puffery. That was like trying to get past the bouncer by saying, I
know these A-listers when you don`t.

And now it looks like, no, they knew these Kremlin A-listers. Renato, what
is the legal path?

I was taking a look at this issue earlier today when I read “The New York
Times” article and I was writing a Twitter thread about it.

And I went back and looked at the public statements that Kushner and Trump,
Jr. made about this meeting, which I had previously dissected. And it was
very interesting to read those statements because in those carefully
prepared statements by their lawyers, they didn`t quite say that this woman
was not affiliated with the Russian government. They kind of danced around
that issue.

And what it tells me is, their lawyers recognized already some time ago
that this was a problem. And so, despite what was said publicly to the
press, they were very careful about what they said to Congress because that
would potentially be a crime.

MELBER: Two things. One, I didn`t know you really used Twitter. JK,
you`re always on Twitter.

But two things besides that. That`s number one. Number two is, you`re
saying that your legal analysis is that what Trump Jr. was saying there on
the clip on “Fox News” was knowingly false as evidenced by the fact that it
was put very differently under legal tutelage when submitted in a legal

MARIOTTI: Exactly right. I think that that was walked back, to use the
way that lawyers like me would talk to us, walked back in his testimony.
So, they were very careful when he was talking to Congress because that is
a federal crime if you lie to Congress.

MELBER: Right.

MARIOTTI: So, they, I think, were dancing around - the way it was worded
gives you the impression that the person is not a government lawyer, but
they never come out and say that, which I think was a very careful attempt
to make sure he didn`t lie to Congress.

MELBER: Evelyn, here is those new statements from Vladimir Putin, big
around the world, hasn`t gotten a ton of US attention, on Bill Browder who
figures in. Criminal activities, he alleges, of an entire gang led by this
man. I believe, Browder condemned in the activities. He says they are “on
the verge of being illegal.” This was earlier this month. Put that in
context for us.

FARKAS: Well, so apparently, the Ziff Brothers were investigating with
Browder. And Putin and the Kremlin have made allegations that, first of
all, that Bill Browder was doing something illegal. They`re just trying to
smear him.

I mean, I really don`t want to take time dissecting whether Bill Browder
did something wrong in Russia or not. First of all, we worry about him as
an American citizen, complying with American laws. So, that`s Russia`s

But the fact of the matter is that what Russia did to his company and to
his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was illegal according to international law.
Certainly, torturing and killing a lawyer. Certainly, seizing Bill
Browder`s company would be illegal under international law.

Of course, Bill Browder has not been able to receive any kind of
restitution for that. And the money that was taken from that,
interestingly enough, it appears that it may have ended up with this
company and that Veselnitskaya was trying to help.

So, the whole thing is very tangled.

MELBER: But the way you put it - yes. The way you put it, Evelyn, is so
important. You`re talking about the seizing of private property for
political ends. The abuse of the legal system. And allegations of
political murder.

And the reason that`s important is for the reasons that Rachel Maddow and
others have said on this program and on her program and elsewhere, which is
that`s the crew you`re dealing with that`s offering this dirt. That`s the
crew driving into the heart of the 2016 campaign and getting meetings. Go

FARKAS: And the US Congress said, if you`re going to kill an American
citizen`s lawyer in jail, then we`re going to consider that an
international human rights violation. And all of the people we can tie
back to that crime will be sanctioned.

Many of them, of course, are close to Putin and this made Putin very angry
because, of course, the whole murder and the whole seizing of Bill
Browder`s business was sanctioned by the Kremlin and by Putin.

MELBER: Evelyn Farkas, thank you as always for your clarity. Natasha
Bertrand, thank you for your reporting. And, Renato, thank you for your
Twitter fingers.

MARIOTTI: Thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate all of you. Now, coming up, WikiLeaks confirming the
Trump campaign reached out for help. Hear what the top Democrat on the
intel committee is now saying about what that story means.

And later, as I mentioned, a different important story. This 10-year-old
Mexican girl with cerebral palsy rushed for ER surgery in Texas, only to be
taken into custody by Trump immigration officials. The family lawyer joins
me for an exclusive live.


MELBER: More on that breaking Russia news that the Russian lawyer at the
Trump Tower meeting shared her material with the Putin ally. The story on
the Russia side comes with continuing fallout on the other big piece of
this. On the Trump side of the ledger, his digital team reaching out to
Julian Assange to ask for help to get Hillary Clinton`s stolen e-mails.
Investigators turning up the pressure, and tonight we can tell you
something else. There`s a top Democratic Senator demanding new info and
from that Trump digital firm and from Facebook. That Democrat, Diane
Feinstein making the push without the Republican Chair on her committee. A
sign she is going someplace that Republicans don`t want to go. Meanwhile,
the top Dem on the House side says this all matters because it takes the
number of campaign connections of people from the Trump world to people who
might steal e-mails to an extraordinary level.


There are extraordinary number of connections between the campaign and
those who are stealing, those who are publishing the e-mails and a picture
begins to emerge.


MELBER: The picture is of a campaign considering trying to get help from
WikiLeaks which was said by the U.S. administration now, Trump`s CIA
Director, that WikiLeaks is a hostile foreign intelligence service. At
least that`s how they view it. Meanwhile, Trump`s former Campaign Manager
and a current White House adviser not backing down.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, ANCHOR, CNN: Are you uncomfortable with trying to bring
in WikiLeaks to help?

was totally unnecessary. Any of that was completely unnecessary for a very
simple reason. We beat Hillary Clinton fairly and squarely.

CAMEROTA: Are you comfortable that the Trump campaign, through the
Cambridge Analytica had a connection to WikiLeaks.

CONWAY: They didn`t have a connection to WikiLeaks. I know nothing about
that because I was the campaign manager and I can`t be bothered with any of
that. And the reason is –

CAMEROTA: But, Kellyanne –

CONWAY: – we wanted to beat her fairly and squarely on the issues.


MELBER: Joining me now, The Nation`s Joan Walsh and back with me Howard
Fineman. Joan, is the issue that it could win without it or is the issue
that they asked for help?

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The issue is that they asked for help
and it`s such an arrogant and ridiculous thing for her to say that she
can`t be bothered figuring out whether they reached out to Julian Assange
who many people in the intelligence committee – I`m not going there – do
feel is a hostile power, it`s not a United States citizen. So we know that
that`s confirmed but she can`t be bothered to know about it. All right,
that`s just crazy.

MELBER: Howard?

FINEMAN: Well, what I`m interested in is who inside the Trump circle
certainly not Kellyanne Conway, because she was only the Campaign Manager,
why would it be she? But somebody in the Trump circle said to Cambridge
Analytica, you know, why don`t you go see what they know, what WikiLeaks
knows and can get us about the e-mails. Now maybe Alexander Nix, the Head
of Cambridge Analytica was just trying to impress he the boss, namely
Donald Trump. Maybe Nix was also trying to impress some of the most
powerful and wealthiest backers of Donald Trump, namely the Mercer family
in New York who were behind and owned a big piece of Cambridge Analytica
and who after they got out of the Cruz campaign were big and remained big
with Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.

So why were they reaching out in that way at the time when Donald Trump was
openly saying, gee, I wish the Russians would find the 33,000 e-mails?
Well, if you believe the American intelligence community that WikiLeaks is
a part of the Russian intelligence operation, then basically, Trump was
basically making an appeal to part of his own empire there to go ask the

WALSH: Right, and the –

MELBER: Well, Joan, I mean, there are people who say, there`s no purpose
of having Kellyanne Conway on interviews because she is a serial fable
teller. But one purpose from an –

WALSH: All alternative facts.

MELBER: Alternative, excuse me, alternative fables.


MELBER: But one reason to talk to from an investigative view would be
right there. You know, it`s easy enough to say we didn`t do it. It is a
bad idea. Anyone who would do it shouldn`t be involved with us. That`s
not what she said in the interview.

WALSH: Not at all.

MELBER: And we had a White House reporter on this show last night who
said, you know, who`s really close to Rebekah Mercer who received
reportedly the e-mail about the Assange outreach is Kellyanne Conway.

WALSH: She came with the Mercers from the Cruz campaign to the Trump
campaign. So the idea that she somehow exists in a realm separate from
Cambridge Analytica and the Mercers is completely crazy. We know that is
an alternative fact, I guess. That`s a light. So she`s not protected from
this either. It`s – you know, it will likely go to her too.

MELBER: We have so much to process here at the end of what has been a real
busy I would say interesting at times even alarming week. I want to ask
you two to try something new on with me on THE BEAT. We try different
stuff on this show. And as everyone knows, some of it works and some of it
doesn`t, but that`s always on me. It is time now for to us try our Friday
night lightning round. Let`s start –

FINEMAN: Is there going to be a bell? Was there going to be a bell, Ari?


MELBER: My first question to both of you starting with Howard, is asking
Assange for campaign help a good idea or no?

FINEMAN: A good idea now, obviously in retrospect, not. At the time, the
Trump people had already shown they`d go for anything from anybody at any

MELBER: Joan, good idea?

WALSH: Bad idea. Obvious, it should have been obvious bad idea back then.

MELBER: Howard, who`s calling their lawyer today?

FINEMAN: I think Donald Jr. is rechecking with his lawyers as we`ve been
discussing tonight. I think Kellyanne Conway having said you know, I don`t
know anything about it, I was the Campaign Manager might want to check with
her lawyer.


WALSH: Kellyanne, absolutely. She did herself no favors with that blanket

MELBER: And my last question. Maybe we`ll run the animation one more time
because are excited about it. Do we have it? Do it. It`s just, I get –
I work on T.V. for now and we like the animation. My last question to both
of you starting with Howard, what`s the most important thing we`ve learned
for the Russia investigation this week?

FINEMAN: We`ve learned that Veselnitskaya worked for the Russian

WALSH: I`ve got to go with that and I`m really glad he said Veselnitskaya
before I did. I always bungle it, so thank you, Howard, I owe you one.

FINEMAN: I`ve been practicing. I`ve been practicing.

MELBER: Joan and Howard, thank you both and we will be right back.


MELBER: Another important story tonight. Right now, a 10-year-old
undocumented girl with cerebral palsy is fighting for her life in a Texas
detention center. Late Tuesday night, Rosa Maria Hernandez was being
rushed to a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas for emergency gallbladder
surgery. The ambulance though hit an immigration checkpoint at a border in
Texas. The border protection agents let the ambulance go through but they
followed it. The agent stood outside her hospital room the entire time and
then they took her into U.S. Customs and Border Protection Custody as soon
as she was cleared from that surgery. Her mom, understandably struggling
to confront what comes next.


FELIPA DELA CRUZ, ROSA MARIA`S MOTHER (through translator): When she
realizes her family isn`t with her, she is going to start to cry. She is
going on start to get uncomfortable and she may hurt her surgery scars. I
don`t want them to deport her. Mexico isn`t safe and she needs therapy,
her doctors.


MELBER: I`m joined now by the attorney for the Hernandez family Leticia
Gonzalez as well as Howard Dean, a former Governor and a Doctor. First,
Leticia, tell us about this story. There are laws and rules in this
country but it does seem to be a very humanitarian challenge here. What
happened and what are you doing?

10-year-old with cerebral palsy who is unable to be with her mother. She
keeps requesting mommy. As I ask her if she needs anything, what I can do
to help, she says mommy. What she vocalizes to her mother over the phone
is, when do I get to come home and when do I get to see you?

MELBER: Well, you say, when does she get to come home. I will read here,
reporting on this, the DHS side from the Trump administration says they`re
committed to enforcing immigration laws of the nation and “once medically
cleared, Hernandez will be processed accordingly.” Your response.

GONZALEZ: The immigration laws allow for discretion to be utilized in
every case. Certainly, in this case, I think everyone would agree that
Rosa Maria, a 10-year-old with developmental delays due to the cerebral
palsy, she does not present any sort of threat. She`s not a risk to
national security or the United States.

MELBER: Your position – your legal position and your humanitarian
position is, there is established discretion and if ever there were a case
providing for that, it would be here.

GONZALEZ: Absolutely.

MELBER: Let me – let me go to the Governor who has experience here as a -
- as a chief executive and a doctor. You know, I`ve covered stories.
Sometimes I don`t know what to ask. I guess Governor, Dr. Dean, I ask you,
is this – is there any heart here with a policy like this?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR, VERMONT: No, this is ridiculous policy.
Trump promised to deport criminals. A 10-year-old with cerebral palsy
post-surgery is not a criminal. This is an exceptionally foolish thing to
do from a medical point of view and we`re going to make it an exceptionally
foolish thing to do from a political point of view. Even the most hard-
hearted anti-immigration person can`t think this is a good thing to do and
certainly is not consistent with American values. Trump has shown very
little interest in American values and I think he`ll pay a price for that
in 2018 when he loses a Congress.

MELBER: And Dr. Dean, Washington Post reported on this beyond – I would
call it the heartache of looking at this case. There`s policy implications
saying that immigration advocates say, well, this raises anxieties in these
communities where people have to choose between getting emergency care and
risking deportation.

DEAN: Well, it also makes crime more likely or less punishable because
what local police forces for the most part, who have had actually a good
relationship with the Latino communities have done is create the
opportunity for people who are victims of crime to come to them regardless
of whether they`re undocumented or not. Now those people are going to shut
up when they see criminal activity and everybody is going to be a victim of
that. This is just stupidity. It`s just plain stupidity.

MELBER: Leticia, final word from you. What does – the family you
represent, what do they want to say to the Trump administration?

GONZALEZ: They would like their daughter to come home. They want Rosa
Maria to be home where she can return to her normalcy. She can return to
her routines, she could return to school, her special education teachers.
Those that know her needs both psychologically, emotional and just go back
to normal.

MELBER: Thank you for sharing this with us. Leticia, please tell the
family we`re going to stay on this story. And we invite you and them to
keep us posted as we`ll stay on it. And Governor and Doctor Dean, thank
you as well.

DEAN: Thank you.

MELBER: Turning the page here, coming up, I`m going to show you some
exclusive video coming in of Carter Page on the Hill and a leader of the
Foreign Affairs Committee live.


MELBER: Breaking into our newsroom, NBC News exclusive video. This is
Carter Page, former Trump Foreign Policy Adviser leaving Capitol Hill after
a meeting with what we understand to be staff investigators in the Russia
probe. This is NBC exclusive. You`re not going to see this anywhere else.
And this is interesting because Carter Page, of course, is an individual
who has publicly talked about allegedly claiming the Fifth Amendment
protection against incriminating himself from presumably federal crimes in
resisting to talk on the investigations. He is also someone who has
changed his characterization of his cooperation at various times.

What you see here on this video that is new and exclusive to NBC News and
our newsroom is that Carter Page was there presumably talking to staff.
Interesting development in a case that continues to have all sorts of
twists and turns and on those I`m happy now to be joined by Congressman
Elliott Engel, a Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We
booked you not to talk about that although if you have a thought you could
share it. But about this story that there is evidence linking the Kremlin
and Putin`s handpicked prosecutor to the Trump tower meeting, your

Well, it doesn`t surprise me. We`ve thought all along that there was
direction, contact, working together between the Trump campaign and the
Russians during the campaign. This just corroborates it. I want to get to
know the truth. I think the American people want to know the truth. And I
hope Mr. Mueller will keep his investigation because this is part and
parcel of it.

MELBER: There`s his investigation and as we`re talking, we`re looking at
as I mentioned this footage of the other investigation, the Congressional
investigation, Carter Page a key figure there. He`s also as viewers may
recall someone who was named in a previous U.S. indictment of Russian spies
operating in the United States. And he was not named as a conspirator, he
was named as “male one” as just having been around it. Can you shed any
light on where all of this figures into the investigation?

ENGEL: Well, again, it figures into the Russians collaborating with the
Trump people. I mean, we know there were several meetings. There are a
lot of denials, obviously, but, you know, it just gets to a point where one
thing after another after another, you know –

MELBER: It adds, it adds, it adds.

ENGEL: – where you think there`s smoke, you think there`s fire. The
lawyer that met with Trump Junior claims she was independent. She was
doing it on her own. Nobody believes that. She even – we even have a
picture of her sitting in the audience at a Foreign Affairs Committee
hearing that we held. So she was – she was there at the behest of the
Russians. She has close ties to Putin and the Kremlin.

MELBER: And WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign not denying it and no one in
leadership saying it was a bad idea. Was it a bad idea to ask Assange to
try to obtain stolen e-mails?

ENGEL: Of course. I mean, you don`t have to be a (INAUDIBLE) scholar to
understand that.

MELBER: I know some of my questions are – sound ridiculous, but these are
questions we have to ask.

ENGEL: No. The question is – that`s why an investigation – you know, if
someone is not guilty, I don`t want them to be found guilty.


ENGEL: So Mueller is a pro. Let him keep doing what he`s been doing and
we`ll get to the truth. The American people want to know the truth. The
Congress wants to know the truth. You know, we passed a bill more than 60
days ago which the President has signed into law which slapped the
sanctions on the Russians.

MELBER: On the sanctions and we`re only seeing a list. It`s not

ENGEL: Right.

MELBER: I`d love for you to come back and talk about what`s going to make
them – make the sanctions real. Congressman Elliot Engel, fresh off, you
said the west side highway traffic. Thank you for making it in. We`re
going it take a quick break and then talk about who needs to fallback.


MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT so you know, what time it is. It is time
to fallback. “FALLBACK FRIDAY,” something we do here. I`m joined by Peter
Grosz, Executive Producer of the President Show on Comedy Central and an
Actor in Veep and The Nation`s Joan Walsh back with us. Peter –


MELBER: – who needs to fallback?

GROSZ: Well, the man I portray on The President Show, Mr. Mike Pence, who
signed or who broke the tie in the Senate that allowed – or that prevented
consumers from suing credit card companies. And I think Mike Pence needs
to check his bible. Most people know that it says the meek shall inherit
the earth. But I think Pence`s bible says the market shall inherit the
earth, so he needs to get the right version of the bible there.

MELBER: I didn`t learn that line in Hebrew school, but I believe it.

GROSZ: I went to Hebrew school either, I didn`t go anywhere near that part
of the bible.

WALSH: I never heard it in Catholic school either so –

GROSZ: I stop at the first five verse.

MELBER: Joan, who needs to fallback?

WALSH: Fallback, Ed Gillespie. I don`t believe you`re as much – I don`t
believe you`re racist. You`re running a racist campaign in the state of
Virginia. He`s running against Ralph Northam. He`s trailing and he has
decided to go full Trump. He`s running ads accusing Northam of supporting
Sanctuary Cities. He does not. He – there aren`t any Sanctuary Cities in
Virginia so it`s kind of moot. He`s associating him with M13 and now he`s
blaming Terry McAuliffe and linking him to Terry McAuliffe, his the
Lieutenant Governor for restoring the right to vote for felons last year,
which in an earlier lifetime Ed Gillespie said he supported.

MELBER: He said he supported it. Peter, who else needs to fallback?

GROSZ: Mark Cuban says he might run for President. I don`t think the
answer to Donald Trump is Donald Trump in sneakers or in a polo shirt.
Cuban is a shark. He should remain a shark and stay in those waters.

WALSH: Yes. Stay in the shark tank.

MELBER: Well, never forget what Woody Allen said.

GROSZ: This could go a lot of places.

MELBER: A relationship is like a shark. It needs to keep moving.

GROSZ: Yes, exactly.

MELBER: Alvy Singer character said that.

GROSZ: That`s true.

MELBER: Maybe everyone should fallback, just everyone.

GROSZ: I`m just going to say Woody Allen should fallback maybe every


GROSZ: Maybe every day.


GROSZ: And every day.

MELBER: Peter Grosz and Joan Walsh, thank you both. You could catch
Joan`s new political show Sunday calling on WNYC on Sunday. Check it out.
HARDBALL with Chris Matthews starts now.



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